Rawlings School of Divinity
Doctor of Education in Christian Leadership (EdD)
Servant leadership, Christian leadership, Toxic Leadership Scale, followership, conservation of resources (COR) theory
Cushman, Barry, "Toxic and Nontoxic Leadership: Examining the Relationships Among Variables in the Toxic Triangle" (2022). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 3434.
The purpose of this combined quantitative experimental and ex post facto survey study was to explore the relationships between followers' perceptions of toxic and nontoxic leadership and how those relationships are associated with followers' self-reported follower variables, specifically, general self-efficacy (GSE), work engagement (WE), and job satisfaction (JS) with and without any effects of Leader-Member Exchange (LMX) in-group/out group status, organizational culture (OC), workgroup cohesion (WGC), and follower sex. Together, the three domains of the toxic triangle (leaders, susceptible followers, and environment) are believed to covary to support toxic leadership. Variables from all domains were assessed to explore how they support toxic and servant leadership. The overarching framework was Conservation of Resources (COR) Theory, which predicts that servant leadership and a positive environment provide followers with resources, and toxic leadership and a negative environment deplete resources. COR Theory predicts OC and WGC (environmental variables) could vary with the effects of either leadership type, which should be reflected in followers' self-reports of WE and JS. Participants with exposures to toxic and nontoxic leaders were randomly assigned to rate their most recent toxic or nontoxic leader. Those exposed to only one type rated their most recent leader. Existing scales were used to measure toxic and servant leadership, WE, JS, LMX, OC, WGC, and GSE. COR Theory's predictions were generally supported. GSE was found to moderate the effects of toxic/servant leadership on JS, and OC and GSE also interacted positively. In the presence of the covariates, WGC was not a significant explanatory variable.