This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. A healthy leader–follower relationship relies on trust, respect, competency, and commitment to the organization. A leader has the power to influence and shape the employee’s job experience and the organizational culture. Destructive leaders, however, abuse their power by using coercion to manipulate for personal gain, and employ fear as a motivator. The negative impacts of a leader’s destructive behaviors are detrimental and painful to the followers in an organization, and the long-term impact on corporate culture can be costly. Followers are pivotal to the success of good and bad leaders.
In Dr. Martin’s study on the Millennial generation as followers, she found they were adversely affected by destructive leaders. Specifically, they felt devalued, participated in unethical behavior induced by fear, lost faith in the organization because it implicitly condoned leaders’ bad behaviors, or chose to retaliate against these leaders. Destructive leadership will perpetuate until followers and organizations stop enabling the destructive behaviors and take action by educating, training, and empowering the workforce to be active participants.