In this thesis, I provide the rationale for the introduction of critical leadership as important leadership behaviors in relation to the management of daily errors. I further develop and validate an assessment tool for their measurement and I investigate its effect on the emotional reactions of followers and a variety of safety and performance related behaviors in three companies operating in different sectors.
Transformational, charismatic, and related leadership theories play an important role in understanding how leaders motivate better performance. However, these approaches have paid surprisingly little attention to the management of error in organizations. In fact, current studies in transformational leadership tend to define the management of error as one of the negative features of leadership. Preventing errors and learning from error is a high profile leadership role in a wide variety of industries, and therefore, it is important that leadership theories encompass these critical tasks. I draw on different streams of research to provide a more integrated and positive approach to leadership and the management of error. I discuss how error learning culture can inform leadership behaviors that will enhance learning form error. I also draw on regulatory focus theory to illustrate how managing errors in the workplace can be differentiated from other leadership activities focus towards the attainment of gains. The integration of these ideas with current leadership theory provides a more comprehensive framework of understanding the role of leadership when error management is critical.
Taken together, results from the three empirical studies contained in this thesis indicate that critical leadership positively influence followers and therefore this thesis enhances academic understanding of how leadership may treat errors in the workplace as well as providing insight for practice regarding the benefits of displaying certain leadership behaviors in relation to errors in the workplace