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Toxic Leadership and Voluntrary Employee Turnover: A Critical Incident Study Open Access

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Contributing to the burgeoning corpus of literature examining the deleterious impacts of toxic leadership upon employees and organizations, the present study utilizes 15 study participants' reported critical incidents of toxic leader targeting to conceptualize and to narrate the relationship between toxic targeting and voluntary employee turnover. The study found evidence to support a direct link between toxic targeting and voluntary employee turnover and reports the categories of leader characteristics study participants' identified as toxic. Utilizing data gleaned from study participants' experiential narratives, the study presents an original metanarrative conceptual model to illustrate the stages of an overarching process all study participants reported having traversed as they reached their decision to resign in order to escape their respective toxic leaders. The process study participants traversed is examined within a broader organizational context which reveals complex organizational support systems among human resource practitioners and senior organizational leaders, who are found to collude in protecting toxic leaders to the detriment of employees. The study found that while much scholarly and practitioner-oriented literature has traditionally presented organizational leaders from a positive perspective, the negative characteristics of some leaders, and the consequences of these leaders' actions, require overt analysis and discussion because of the harm they inflict upon employees and organizations. The study concludes with recommendations for future empirical research and with practical recommendations for organizations seeking to neutralize toxic leaders and their deleterious impacts upon employees and organizations.

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