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The Other Side of Adversity: Surviving a Destructive Leader Experience Open Access

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This study contributes to the understanding of how and why many different individuals, from different walks of life, educational backgrounds, career fields, and generations, are able to survive a destructive leadership experience. This study focused on those who lived through the experience of a perceived destructive leader, rather than focusing on the destructive leaders themselves. This purpose was to gain insight and a better understanding of what those who survived these experiences went through, the strategies they unconsciously implemented to help them survive and how they responded, what they endured in the short and longer term of their experience, and what changes they experienced because of the destructive leadership experience. A qualitative phenomenological research strategy was employed, involving interviews with 13 purposefully selected individuals. The participant data were analyzed to provide insight into the essence of the experience, and participants’ responses were interpreted through affectivity as an emotional style of resilience, outlook, social intuition, self-awareness, sensitivity to context, and/or attention as the conceptual framework (Davidson, 2002). Within the context of the researched literature and the presented contextual framework, this study explored the remarkable links between affective science, cognitive science, and emotional states and styles that are a result of a natural emotional and biological human response to a perceived situation. Ultimately, the results led to nine conclusions: (1) optimism is a survival tool; (2) happiness stems from a strong commitment to purpose; (3) adapting is beneficial but difficult; (4) trusted social interaction provides individual strength; (5) fear can be a primary decision driver; (6) physical and emotional effects face with resiliency; (7) perception can differ from reality during retrospection; (8) experience provides knowledge; and (9) transformation can result from intense situations.

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