Cognitive Biases of Destructive Leadership: A Special Focus on Machiavellianism

Toker Gültaş Y., Ok A. B. , Ceylan S.

in: Destructive Leadership and Management Hypocrisy: Advances in Theory and Practice, Selin Metin Camgöz,Özge Tayfur Ekmekci, Editor, Emerald Ink Publishing, Bradford, pp.197-210, 2021

  • Publication Type: Book Chapter / Chapter Vocational Book
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Publisher: Emerald Ink Publishing
  • City: Bradford
  • Page Numbers: pp.197-210
  • Editors: Selin Metin Camgöz,Özge Tayfur Ekmekci, Editor


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.