When a leader dies

Paula Hyde*, Alan B. Thomas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


The reactions of followers after losing a leader are an important and neglected area of study. In fact, little is known about reactions to changes of leadership in organizational settings, generally. The effects of loss and specifically of bereavement within the family are well known. Whilst organizational life differs from family life, some relationships and reactions to loss may be comparable. One way of illuminating reactions to the loss of a leader is to look empirically at cases of leadership loss. This article presents one example taken from the health service of a team whose leader died after a short illness. Members of this team reacted differently according to their previous attachment to the leader and their reactions ranged from grief to indifference. The death of a leader is an extraordinary occurrence that may illuminate reactions to loss more generally within organizations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1005-1024
Number of pages20
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Bereavement
  • Followers
  • Health service
  • Leadership
  • Loss


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