Leaders may engage in abusive behaviors due to impulsive or strategic drives, but it is unclear whether impulsive and strategic abuse can be differentiated and if they have distinct outcomes. The current research, framed by self-regulation theory, represents an effort to differentiate impulsive and strategic drives of leaders' abusive behaviors and examine their effects on subsequent supportive behaviors toward subordinates via goal attainment. Leaders' abusive behaviors, when driven by impulses (strategic rationales), undermine (promote) their goal realization. Because leaders constantly regulate their interactions with subordinates, once they achieve high (low) goal realization, leaders increase (decrease) their supportive behaviors toward those subordinates. Overall, leaders' impulsive abuse negatively (strategic abuse positively) relates to their subsequent supportive behaviors toward subordinates, through its negative (positive) effect on goal realization. Moreover, self-regulation theory suggests that the effect of leaders' strategic abuse depends on subordinates' ability to understand and meet leaders' expectations; accordingly, subordinate competence strengthens the positive effect of leaders' strategic abuse on supportive behaviors toward subordinates via goal realization. We first establish a reliable, valid scale to measure impulsive and strategic abuse, and then conduct two experience sampling studies that offer support for the proposed theoretical model. This article concludes with a discussion of both theoretical and practical implications.
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Project sponsorNational Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC)