Date of Conferral







Cheryl T. Balkcom


The existing quantitative literature on toxic leadership in the military has primarily explored negative outcomes, gendered military experience, and toxic leadership separately; however, relatively few studies have included all 3. The unidentified connection was critical in determining how toxic leadership varied and left a gap for further research to be conducted from a qualitative, phenomenological perspective. Therefore, this study addressed the manner in which encounters with toxic leadership differed across gender and military rank according to those experiencing it. Using a convenience sampling method, data were gathered through semi structured interviews with 12 Army veterans. Thematic analysis of the data revealed 63 meaningful statements and 3 emergent themes. Results affirmed that for both men and women, the higher the rank the more exposure to toxic leadership they encountered. Results also introduced race as a key factor for both genders because it was reported as the leading cause of participants' toxic encounters across rank and gender. The findings of this study also suggested that females were more susceptible to negative mental health outcomes after toxic leadership exposure versus their male counterparts. The results of this study contribute to positive social change by providing a thorough understanding of the qualities characteristic of experiences with toxic leadership to clarify the specific ways in which toxic leadership leads to negative outcomes. Results from this study will be useful for practitioners, military officials, and researchers seeking to better understand the leadership needs of contemporary military personnel.