Dawn Eubanks explores the dark side of leadership

08 March 2013

Dawn Eubanks

There are thousands of books on how to be a great leader, but what about the bad leaders. How did they get into power? And can we learn anything from them?

Associate Professor Dawn Eubanks looks at the dark side of leadership, and by looking at leadership at a unique angle she finds out new things about what it takes to get to the top.

When leadership goes bad it can act as a warning for the rest and gives us some valuable lessons thanks to Dr Eubanks’ research.

Dr Eubanks said: “We look at how organisational and environment factors would enable a destructive leader to emerge.

“There are certain characteristics needed to become a leader such as agreeableness, conscientious and technical expertise. The things that can make a leader go bad might be personality based or group that they are in or the environment.

“If they are operating in an environment where they feel like things have been taken away and feel justified in what they are doing then that could tip somebody over the edge.

“There are lot of people exposed to similar things but not everybody becomes destructive.”



Dr Eubanks has had papers published on ‘Criticism and outstanding leadership: An evaluation of leader reactions and critical outcomes’ and 'Leader errors and the influence on performance: An investigation of differing levels of impact'.

The Associate Professor of Behavioural Science also says that leaders do not have to be charismatic to be good at their job

“It is often asked what makes a good leader? People will say it is somebody who can inspire, who is charismatic and can motivate people,” said Dr Eubanks. “But there are other types of leaders who are equally effective, like the pragmatic leader.

“They can gather together groups of people to solve very complex problems, but they do not necessarily have a compelling vision. Yet they are excellent problem solvers and would be considered leaders.

“It is not all about the charisma, if people don’t feel like they are particularly charismatic it does not mean that they can’t be an effective leader - they might just have a different leadership style.”

Dr Dawn Eubanks teaches Advanced Leadership on MSc Marketing & Strategy and Management, Organisation and Society and Leadership on the Undergraduate courses.


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