Illuminating and applying “The Dark Side”: Insights from elite team leaders

Cruickshank, A., orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-8893-2341 and Collins, D. orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7601-0454 (2014) Illuminating and applying “The Dark Side”: Insights from elite team leaders. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 27 (3). pp. 249-267. ISSN 1041-3200

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In contrast to socially desirable behaviors, recent work has suggested that effective elite team leadership also relies on socially undesirable behaviors. Accordingly, this study aimed to further explore the authenticity of dark side leadership behaviors, what they look like, and how they may be best used. Via interviews with 15 leaders, behaviors associated with Machiavellianism/mischievousness, skepticism, social dominance, and performance-focused ruthlessness were found. Moreover, these behaviors were enabled by leaders’ sociopolitical awareness and engineering as well as their adaptive expertise. Findings promote practitioner sensitivity to dark side leadership and, for leader effectiveness, sociopolitical and temporal features of its application.

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