AbstractThe literature on destructive styles of leadership usually suggests the negative consequences at the individual and firm level, whereas the combined effect of dark dyads with susceptible followers lacks attention. Drawing on the cognitive appraisal theory, we examined the underlying psychological mechanism through which tyrannical leadership undermines employees’ task performance via work withdrawal behaviors in construction projects. Moreover, the moderating effect of subordinates’ Machiavellian personality trait on the relationship between tyrannical leadership and supervisor-rated subordinates’ task performance was investigated. We collected data using questionnaires from 215 leader-subordinate dyads working in the construction industry. The results supported the negative effect of tyrannical leadership on task performance as well as the mediating effect of work withdrawal. This study provides evidence that tyrannical leadership induces work withdrawal behaviors, which in turn reduces subordinates’ task performance. Moreover, the interactive effect of subordinates’ Machiavellian personality trait with tyrannical leadership style positively impacts the subordinate’s task performance, confirming the effectiveness of leaders-follower dark dyads in construction projects. The study expands theoretical as well as empirical evidence on destructive leadership in construction projects and demonstrates the relationship among psychological variables and their effects on task performance through the unique dynamics of the follower’s personality trait in the construction industry.