A Study on Relationship Between Subordinates’ Perceptions of Destructive Leadership and Upward Bullying

  • Sameeksha Kaushik School of Business and Management CHRIST (Deemed to be University), Bengaluru
Keywords: Upward bullying, destructive Leadership, subordinate, supervisor, workplace bullying


Many studies have been conducted to understand the existence of workplace bullying in subordinate-supervisor relationship in relation with leadership. However, not many studies have focused on the study of bullying caused by subordinates to the managers (upward bullying) and which behavior of the leader or subordinates leads to this bullying.

Upward bullying includes bullying behaviors such as threats or malicious accusations shown by subordinates to their supervisor and destructive leadership includes behavior that undermines motivation or work-related satisfaction of subordinates. The purpose of this study is to explore a significant relationship between subordinate perceptions of destructive leadership and upward bullying. A questionnaire of scales consisting of 34 items was used where upward bullying was found out by using Negative Acts Questionnaire Revised (NAQ-R) scale and to measure destructive leadership, rater form of Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) was used. One hundred and ninety-three software engineers who are employed in digital (IT) firms have completed an on-line questionnaire of their perceptions of the leadership style and behavior of their immediate supervisor, and the frequency with which they are engaged in specific bullying behaviours targeting their supervisor.

The results of the study helped to explore the lacked evidences of upwards bullying and to know the subordinates’ perceptions due to destructive leadership at work environment. The findings revealed that subordinates’ perceptions of destructive supervisory leadership were moderately correlated with an increased incidence of upward bullying. This paper offers support for prevalence of upwards bullying which can be a response to destructive leadership, and as this research is done with a specific sector, it further enhances need of future researches. Few recommendations like educating employees about workplace behaviours at organisations are discussed. Practical implications to be taken by the managers such as self-assessment of managers to improve leadership skills are discussed.

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