Dr. Kara Arnold

Highlight-Dr-Kara-ArnoldA new approach to leadership theory examines different combinations of leadership styles, and their impact on employee well-being.

Dr. Kara Arnold has co-authored a paper with Dr. Amanda Hancock (M.Sc.’10, PhD’22), assistant professor at Memorial’s Grenfell Campus, called Good, bad and ugly leadership patterns: Implications for followers’ work-related and context-free outcomes. It was published in the Journal of Management.

To date, most related research has concentrated on individual styles in isolation. Their paper is among the first to acknowledge that different leadership styles are likely to co-occur.

Dr. Arnold, a professor of human resource management and organizational behavior, says they found three main patterns of leadership styles: one constructive (the good) and two destructive (the bad and the ugly).

Good leaders embodied a transformational style combined with contingent reward, the latter of which rewards employees for completing tasks and for positive outcomes.

On the destructive side, the researchers found a passive-abusive combination is particularly negative for employee physical health. Dr. Arnold says they were surprised to find that passive leaders can be equally or more damaging than passive-abusive leaders to employees’ work-related attitudes and physiological well-being.

Another interesting finding contradicted the popular perception that visionary leaders who exhibit abusive behaviours – think Steve Jobs, for example – are common. Dr. Arnold’s research didn’t find this combination of leadership styles, suggesting such anecdotal examples could be considered an exceptional or outlier circumstance.

Further co-authors on the paper were Dr. Ian Gellatly, University of Alberta, Dr. Megan Walsh (BA’12, MER’13, PhD’17)), University of Saskatchewan, and Dr. Catherine Connelly, McMaster University.