This experimental study examined the influence of leader–follower relationships (i.e. LMX) and target salience on perceptions of leader toxicity and intentions to challenge the leader. There are no studies that evaluate the effect of leader–follower relationships on these two variables. Participants (n=298) with work experience viewed a video of a leader acting in a destructive manner toward a target. As predicted LMX out-group participants perceived the leader to be toxic to a greater extent than participants with favored status and indicated greater intent to challenge the leader. With regard to target salience the results also showed that observers perceived the leader to be toxic to a greater extent when the leader was targeting someone in their LMX grouping but there were no significant differences in challenging intentions based on the target's LMX status. Implications for leaders followers and organizations are discussed.
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