Although destructive leadership creates largely negative outcomes for organizations, some members undoubtedly prosper in the short term and even over the longer term. Ambitious people seeking social status sometimes engage in exploitative relations. They are willing to support and encourage toxic strategies if they advance their personal agendas.78

The same dynamics are at work in every organization. The collapse of Enron shows that when opportunities to profit exist, ambitious colluders are easy to recruit. More recently, former U.S. presidential candidate John Edwards was tried for alleged campaign law violations and funneling campaign money to his mistress, Rielle Hunter. The government charged that Edwards used about $1 million to finance a complex scheme to keep Hunter, a former campaign videographer with whom he had an extramarital affair, from his wife and the public while he pursued the presidency. When Hunter became pregnant, rumors grew that Edwards was the father. However, a close aide to Edwards, Andrew Young, claimed paternity and took Hunter across the country to stay in various places to avoid the media. Two wealthy Edwards campaign contributors reportedly paid for the cross-country trips. Edwards was eventually found not guilty of violating campaign laws on one of six campaign finance fraud and conspiracy charges but the federal jury could not reach a verdict on the five remaining corruption charges.79


The lowest prices in town: ...

Get Leadership: Leaders, Followers, Environments now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.