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Cognitive Biases of Destructive Leadership: A Special Focus on Machiavellianism

Destructive Leadership and Management Hypocrisy

ISBN: 978-1-80043-181-2, eISBN: 978-1-80043-180-5

Publication date: 8 July 2021


Organizations are investing their resources to identify effective leaders; however, the most commonly utilized assessments of leadership potential do not cover the social cognitions of individuals. Trait assessments, which are explicit in nature, also have other problems, including faking and socially desirable responding. In this chapter, we highlight the importance of leaders' implicit reasoning processes, with a particular focus on cognitive biases, in an attempt to understand how destructive leaders frame the world, situations and people and how they justify their choice of behaviours and decisions. Empirical evidence in the literature supports the valid use of implicit reasoning measurements in organizational contexts. Thus, we first summarize and list the cognitive biases of destructive leaders as identified in the literature. We then turn our focus on Machiavellian leaders as they have been associated with destructive leadership. We present the most common six cognitive biases and justification mechanisms of Machiavellian leaders based on our qualitative analysis of interview responses from 72 employees. We aim to encourage researchers and practitioners to make use of the literature on implicit reasoning and to further contribute to developing measures assessing such implicit reasoning processes.



Toker-Gültaş, Y., Başak Ok, A. and Ceylan, S. (2021), "Cognitive Biases of Destructive Leadership: A Special Focus on Machiavellianism", Camgöz, S.M. and Ekmekci, Ö.T. (Ed.) Destructive Leadership and Management Hypocrisy, Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 197-209.



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