Petty tyranny (or petty authority or petty power) is authority exercised by a leader, usually one unchosen by the led, in a relatively limited or an intimate environment, such as that exercised by a fellow peer of a social group. It is a pejorative term, that carries with it a sense of authority that was gained, or is used, in an unfair or capricious manner.
Ashforth discussed potentially destructive sides of leadership and identified petty tyrants, i.e. leaders who exercise a tyrannical style of management, resulting in a climate of fear in the workplace. He proposed the following six characteristics to define petty tyranny: