Disengaging Leadership Scale (DLS): Evidence of initial validity

Irina Nikolova, Marjolein C.J. Caniëls, Wilmar Schaufeli, Judith H. Semeijn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The main goal of this study was to develop a scale for measuring Disengaging Leader-ship (DEL) behaviors and to provide preliminary evidence for the validity of this new instrument. Developing such new measures is needed given current concepts that tap into negative leadership behaviors are rarely based on a sound theoretical framework. Drawing on the core premises of Self-Determination Theory (SDT) regarding employees' basic needs and, more specifically, building on its more recent extended framework, including employees' needs frustration, we derived four dimensions that constitute Disengaging Leadership behaviors (coercive disengaging leadership, isolating disengaging leadership, eroding disengaging leadership, and demotivating disengaging leadership). To examine the factor structure and psychometric properties of the new Disengaging Leadership Scale (DLS), Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA), Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA), and reliability analyses were conducted. Results supported the hypothesized four-factor structure of the DLS and showed that this factorial structure remained invariant across employees occupying blue-collar, white-collar, or managerial positions. Finally, we successfully tested convergent, divergent, and construct validity of DLS. We established that DEL is associated with employees' needs frustration and with their experiences of emotional exhaustion. It is concluded that the DLS has sound psychometric properties and can be used in future research on the dark side of leadership.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2824
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

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