Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Paul E. Spector, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Jennifer K. Bosson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Logan M. Steele, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Wally Borman, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Michael T. Brannick, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Janelle E. Wells, Ph.D.


abusive supervision, negative leadership, social support, workplace help


In studies of the dark side of leadership, leaders are often depicted as bad people who engage in abusive behaviors. While some leaders have self-serving motives and engage in cruel behaviors, negative leadership outcomes are not limited to abusive supervisors. This research casts light on an understudied form of negative leadership: unhelpful supportive leadership. Unhelpful supportive leadership characterizes leaders who perform supportive acts that the recipient believes were intended to benefit them but are perceived as unhelpful or harmful. Results of two quantitative survey studies (Study 1: N = 1,257 employees; Study 2: N = 161 employee-supervisor dyads) demonstrate that unhelpful supportive leadership is associated with some of the same detrimental outcomes linked with stereotypical negative leadership, more job-related negative affect and poorer job performance. Support was found for hypotheses based on self-determination theory that unhelpful supportive leaders may fail to fulfill their direct reports’ psychological needs, which may have far-reaching implications on employees’ wellbeing and organizations’ effectiveness.