Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Title

Leadership Lessons from Compelling Contexts (Monographs in Leadership and Management, Volume 8)


Emerald Group Publishing, Ltd.

Publication Date



Business | Marketing


Leaders in organizations face numerous challenges. Among these is helping employees cope with the fact that, over time, some in the organization will succeed and some will fail, leading to potentially disruptive emotions. One of the leader’s roles is to understand and manage these emotions to ensure they do not result in negative interpersonal or organizational outcomes. Further, through their words and deeds, leaders can foster a culture in which more positive emotional reactions to others’ fortunes are more likely to occur, ultimately benefitting the individuals involved and the organization as a whole. Although there are numerous possible reactions to the positive and negative fortunes of others, this chapter will focus mainly on benign or malicious envy in response to another’s success and the implications of these two types of envy for destructive or constructive responses to a successful other. We will give particular attention to one example of the consequences of malicious envy, schadenfreude, pleasure when the more fortunate other suffers a setback. We will examine why malicious envy creates the conditions for schadenfreude and suggest how leaders can prevent it from harming their organizations. We will suggest that leaders, through their influence on employee’s perceptions of justice, feelings of control, and organizational culture, can shape their envy so that it is benign rather than malicious in nature -- thus minimizing negative responses and promoting positive responses instead.


© 2016 Emerald Publishing Group

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