The research on the association between power abuse from transformational leadership and creativity benefits has been detailed and led to rather conflicting findings.
On the one hand, a considerable bulk of research and business world success stories suggest that creativity culture, emotional intelligence, support, and an appropriate working atmosphere are critical to fostering and enhancing employees’ creative activity (Smith, 2017). For instance, Catmull (2008) emphasizes that Pixar’s success is deeply rooted in its leadership ability to establish a creative culture within teams working on projects. Radwan (2020) argues that power abuse has an adverse impact on people’s cognitive functioning, which is specifically true when employees have to deal with chronic stress. Jahanzeb et al. (2019) add that abusive supervision leads to employees’ willingness and attempts to conceal knowledge and new ideas, avoiding any collaboration within the team. That this process is mediated by the organizational and personal orientation toward creativity (Sonmez Cakir and Adiguzel, 2019). Although negative effects of power abuse are apparent in many cases, they are not found in other settings or with other teams.
On the other hand, Josefsson and Blomberg (2020) claim that the recent creativity discourse is characterized by a “hegemonic positivity,” while creativity is a multi-faceted phenomenon (p. 1). The negative effects of abusive supervision are mediated by the leader’s charisma (Lee, Wang, and Piccolo, 2018). Moreover, the cultural peculiarities of employees also play a mediating role (Crede, Jong, and Harms, 2019). Leadership styles and their effects tend to have fluctuating nature due to cultural diversity in modern organizations (Cunha, 2021). Some teams perform better and display creativity under abusive supervision, so new leaders also choose authoritatively and, to different extents, abusive supervision (Tu et al., 2018). Moreover, it can be difficult to maintain a completely favorable culture as leaders tend to use diverse techniques and methods in different settings (Lumby, 2018). Diverse meta-analysis studies suggest that various factors affect employees’ creativity, and abusive supervision is not always associated with eliminating or impeding it.
Catmull, E. (2008) ‘How Pixar fosters collective creativity’, Harvard Business Review, Web.
Crede, M., Jong, J. and Harms, P. (2019) ‘The generalizability of transformational leadership across cultures: a meta-analysis’, Journal of Managerial Psychology, 34(3), pp. 139-155.
Cunha, M. (2021) Paradoxes of power and leadership. New York: Routledge.
Jahanzeb, S. et al. (2019) ‘The knowledge hiding link: a moderated mediation model of how abusive supervision affects employee creativity’, European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 28(6), pp. 810-819.
Josefsson, I. and Blomberg, A. (2020) ‘Turning to the dark side: challenging the hegemonic positivity of the creativity discourse’, Scandinavian Journal of Management, 36(1), p.1-10.
Lee, J., Wang, G. and Piccolo, R. (2018) ‘Jekyll and Hyde leadership: a multilevel, multisample examination of charisma and abuse on follower and team outcomes’, Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 25(4), pp. 399-415.
Lumby, J. (2018) ‘Leadership and power in higher education’, Studies in Higher Education, 44(9), pp. 1619-1629.
Radwan, H. (2020) ‘Leadership styles in the hotel sector and its effect on employees’ creativity and organizational commitment’, International Journal of Social and Business Sciences, 14(3), pp. 169-179. Web.
Sonmez Cakir, F. and Adiguzel, Z. (2019) ‘Evaluation of open leadership and innovation orientation on employees and culture of the organization’, Business: Theory and Practice, 20(0), pp. 432-445.
Smith, G. (2017) ‘Bullying versus creativity: mutually exclusive workplace behaviors’, Advances in Social Sciences Research Journal, 4(14), pp. 220-224.
Tu, M. et al. (2018) ‘Breaking the cycle: the effects of role model performance and ideal leadership self-concepts on abusive supervision spillover’, Journal of Applied Psychology, 103(7), pp. 689-702.