Harvey Weinstein was powerful, well connected, and wealthy. In 2011, he was named one of Time magazines


Harvey Weinstein was powerful, well connected, and wealthy. In 2011, he was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. Well known in the film industry, his name might not have been instantly recognizable to the average person, but that changed in 2017.

On the outside, Weinstein was a highly acclaimed film producer generously mentoring talented performers and launching them into stratospheric careers. He was a respected Hollywood gatekeeper, and garnering his favor meant entrance to an exclusive, lucrative industry and access to rare opportunities for career success.

The story, however, was somewhat different from the inside. Highly acclaimed? Definitely. Powerful, wealthy, and well connected? Most certainly. Respected? Yes, but the word feared came up just as often. Generous mentor? Not so much. An article in The New York Times on October 5, 2017, threw open the shutters and revealed Weinstein’s dark side. “Harvey Weinstein Paid Off Sexual Harassment Accusers for Decades” was the culmination of an investigation by journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey that revealed substantial allegations of sexual misconduct by Weinstein. The article outlined eight known settlements to effectively silence actresses and other female employees who had made sexual harassment claims against the media mogul. It was just the tip of the iceberg. Weinstein and his brother, Bob, founded the Miramax film production company in 1979, which was a very successful venture, producing award-winning, blockbuster films. In 1993, Disney Productions purchased Miramax, infusing it with cash but leaving the Weinsteins in charge. Miramax had at least one Oscar-nominated film every year from 1992 until 2003 (Eltagouri, Rosenberg, & Hui, 2018). In 2005, Harvey and his brother left the company after a dispute with Disney and formed The Weinstein Company (TWC), a privately held production company of which the brothers had significant control through their ownership of 42% of the company’s stock. As a condition of employment, TWC employees were required to sign nondisclosure agreements, binding them to a “code of silence”—they could not criticize the company or its leaders in a way that could harm their “business reputation” or “any employee’s personal reputation” (Kantor & Twohey, 2018). Under the Weinsteins’ control, the working environments at both Miramax and TWC were considered unstable by many employees, with Harvey Weinstein described as a capricious leader. While reputed to be “charming and generous,” showering those in his favor with gifts, cash, and personal or career assistance, Weinstein apparently had a “volcanic personality . . . given to fits of rage and personal (verbal) lashings of male and female employees alike” (Kantor & Twohey, 2018). Noting that the Weinstein brothers had a reputation for being ruthless in business dealings, employee Stuart Burkin, who started at TWC in 1991, said “‘Miramax ran on fear. They’re intimidating, they shout a lot, they foam at the mouth’” (Eltagouri et al., 2018).

But for actors and actresses, a meeting with Harvey Weinstein could open a world of possibilities, from lucrative scripts and acting roles to media coverage and endorsements. However, the price could be high. The New York Times article detailed allegations of decades of sexual harassment, coercion, and payoffs by Weinstein to actresses and female company employees, including actresses Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan, who divulged their experiences in the story. Many of the article’s accounts were eerily similar, though very few of the women interviewed had ever met one another: A business meeting was arranged with Harvey Weinstein at either his office or a hotel restaurant, and the woman was to be greeted by an assistant, usually female, and told the meeting location had been changed to Mr.

Weinstein’s hotel suite, where the assistant would escort the woman and then abruptly leave. After that, Weinstein would try a variety of means to coerce or intimidate the women into sexual activities, including

“appearing nearly or fully naked in front of them, requiring them to be present while he bathed or repeatedly asking for a massage or initiating one himself” (Kantor & Twohey, 2018).

The article set off a firestorm. Weinstein was dismissed as the head of TWC, and four members of the company’s all-male board of directors resigned. And the allegations kept pouring in. The number of women coming forward to reveal their personal stories of Weinstein’s conduct toward them multiplied quickly. Less than a week after The New York Times published its exposé, the New Yorker magazine published the findings of a 10-month investigation of its own by Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Ronan Farrow. Thirteen more women, including actresses Rosanna Arquette and Mira Sorvino, shared their stories with The New Yorker, including allegations of rape and assault. The article highlighted what had been intimated by the victims and others involved: that Weinstein’s behavior was common knowledge within the company and the entertainment industry........


1. The book lists three characteristics of destructive power. Discuss how each of these does or does not apply to this case.

2. The chapter discusses a model known as the Toxic Triangle, which outlines three key components that work together to make toxic leadership possible.

a. Destructive leaders: The text lists three characteristics of a destructive leader. Discuss how each one applies to Harvey Weinstein and provide examples.

b. Susceptible followers: A key component in enabling destructive leadership to take hold, the Toxic Triangle model discusses two categories of followers: conformers and colluders.

i. Based on the model’s definition, whom would you classify as conformers in this case? Why?

ii. Whom would you classify as colluders? Why?

iii. Do you think a follower of a destructive leader can be both a conformer and a colluder? Explain.

c. Conducive environments, or the context that promotes the development of destructive leadership and includes the following four factors. Discuss how each of these factors contributed to the toxic environments of Miramax and TWC under the leadership of Harvey Weinstein.

i. Instability 

ii. Perceived threat 

iii. Certain cultural values

a. High avoidance of uncertainty

b. Collectivism

c. High power distance 

iv. Absence of checks and balances and institutionalization

d. The chapter lists the following factors that make humans susceptible to bad leadership. How does each of these apply or not apply to the followers in the case?

i. A need for reassuring authority figures 

ii. A need to feel chosen or special 

iii. Our need for membership in the human community 

iv. Fear of ostracism, isolation, and social death 

v. Fear of powerlessness to challenge a bad leader 

3. The text discusses various ways in which destructive leadership can be confronted and avoided in practice by leaders, followers, and context. For decades, Harvey Weinstein’s unscrupulous practices were known by many but were not stopped.

a. How was Weinstein able to thwart challenges to his behavior?

b. Within the structure of the organization he created, do you see ways in which this behavior could have been confronted and dealt with much sooner than it was?

c. What do you think it took to finally expose these behaviors and bring about change?

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