Toxic Leadership in HR

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Authors
Garcia, Kim
Issue Date
2020-06-24
Type
Dissertation
Language
en_US
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Abstract
This Dissertation in Practice explored the lived experiences of human resources (HR) professionals who worked under toxic HR leaders. Toxic leadership and its negative effects have been studied in several industries and functions over the past two decades. While HR departments are often called upon to help identify and address toxicity, little research exists on the presence of toxic leaders within the HR department. This phenomenological study was conducted to explore the experiences of HR professionals who worked under toxic HR leaders. Seven themes emerged from the research: (1) the toxic HR leader was manipulative, controlling, and demeaning, (2) the toxic HR leader was incompetent and self-serving, and therefore did not match participants’ expectations of an HR leader, (3) the toxic HR leader also displayed some positive traits, including intelligence and kindness, (4) various coping techniques were utilized by HR professionals when working for a toxic HR leader, including trying to explain the leader’s behavior, (5) working for a toxic HR leader impacted followers’ work performance, lowered their confidence, and took an emotional and physical toll, (6) the experience of working for the toxic HR leader had negative consequences after the experience ended, but participants ultimately felt they were in a better place, and (7) others in the organization were complicit in the leader’s toxic behaviors or their retention of a leadership role; senior leaders were often blind to the toxic behavior. These themes and participants’ stories were utilized to develop an interview guide to avoid toxicity in HR leadership. The implications of this research are significant given the negative effects of toxic leadership and the role of HR in developing other leaders.
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Creighton University
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Copyright is retained by the Author. A non-exclusive distribution right is granted to Creighton University and to ProQuest following the publishing model selected above.
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