ArticlePDF Available


While the construct of character is well grounded in philosophy, ethics, and more recently psychology, it lags in acceptance and legitimacy within management research and mainstream practice. Our research seeks to remedy this through four contributions. First, we offer a framework of leader character that provides rigor through a three-phase, multi-method approach involving 1,817 leaders, and relevance by using an engaged scholarship epistemology to validate the framework with practicing leaders. This framework highlights the theoretical underpinnings of the leader character model and articulates the character dimensions and elements that operate in concert to promote effective leadership. Second, we bring leader character into mainstream management research, extending the traditional competency and interpersonal focus on leadership to embrace the foundational component of leader character. In doing this, we articulate how leader character complements and strengthens several existing theories of leadership. Third, we extend the virtues-based approach to ethical decision making to the broader domain of judgment and decision making in support of pursuing individual and organization effectiveness. Finally, we offer promising directions for future research on leader character that will also serve the larger domain of leadership research.
Mary M. Crossan
Ivey Business School, Western University
London, ON, Canada, N6A 3K7
Alyson Byrne
Memorial University
St. John’s, Newfoundland
Gerard H. Seijts
Ivey Business School, Western University
London, ON, Canada, N6A 3K7
Mark Reno
Ivey Business School, Western University
London, ON, Canada, N6A 3K7
Lucas Monzani
Ivey Business School, Western University
Postgraduate School of Management - Plymouth University
London, ON, Canada, N6A 3K7
Jeffrey Gandz
Ivey Business School, Western University
London, ON, Canada, N6A 3K7
We would like to acknowledge the financial support of the Social Science and Humanities
Research Council of Canada, the Ian O. Ihnatowycz Institute for Leadership at the Ivey Business
School, and three anonymous reviewers and editor who provided invaluable guidance on this
manuscript. We are also grateful for the input and support from Julie Carswell, Brenda Nguyen,
Erica Carleton, and the executives who participated in this study. Finally, we are grateful for the
constructive feedback from academics with whom we have interacted at conferences and
This article has been accepted for publication and undergone full peer review but has not been
through the copyediting, typesetting, pagination and proofreading process which may lead to
differences between this version and the Version of Record. Please cite this article as a Journal
of Management Studies (‘Accepted Article’), doi: 10.1111/joms.12254
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
While the construct of character is well grounded in philosophy, ethics, and more
recently psychology, it lags in acceptance and legitimacy within management research and
mainstream practice. Our research seeks to remedy this through four contributions. First, we
offer a framework of leader character that provides rigor through a three-phase, multi-method
approach involving 1,817 leaders, and relevance by using an engaged scholarship epistemology
to validate the framework with practicing leaders. This framework highlights the theoretical
underpinnings of the leader character model and articulates the character dimensions and
elements that operate in concert to promote effective leadership. Second, we bring leader
character into mainstream management research, extending the traditional competency and
interpersonal focus on leadership to embrace the foundational component of leader character. In
doing this, we articulate how leader character complements and strengthens several existing
theories of leadership. Third, we extend the virtues-based approach to ethical decision making to
the broader domain of judgment and decision making in support of pursuing individual and
organization effectiveness. Finally, we offer promising directions for future research on leader
character that will also serve the larger domain of leadership research.
Keywords: (4-6 keywords) character, effectiveness, leadership, sustained excellence
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
The scholarly account of character dates back millennia and yet debates about the nature
of “good character” remain (Hackett & Wang, 2012). While progress has been made in moving
beyond the debates as evidenced by the work of Peterson and Seligman (2004), and its recent
incorporation into management research (e.g., Gentry, Cullen, Sosik, Chun, Leupold &
Tonidandel, 2013; Hannah & Avolio, 2011a; Quick & Wright, 2011; Sosik, Gentry & Chun,
2012), there continues to exist a significant gap between the scholarly account of character and
the understanding, legitimacy and application of character to leadership in the practice of
governance and management. Our line of research is anchored in virtuous character and we
adopt the definition of character as the habits of cognition, emotion, and behavior that embody
human excellence and produce social betterment (Bright, Cameron & Caza, 2006; Moore, 2005).
Our exploratory research seeks to address two fundamental questions: What are the
essential dimensions of leader character in organizational contexts? And how do these
dimensions relate to one another? We adopted a three-phase process to address these questions,
using an engaged scholarship approach. As advocated by Van de Ven (2007), developing
leadership theories that are accepted and actionable for the business context may be better served
when formulated through “engaged scholarship,” defined as “a participative form of research for
obtaining the different perspectives of key stakeholders in studying complex problems. By
involving others and leveraging their different kinds of knowledge, engaged scholarship can
produce knowledge that is more penetrating and insightful than when scholars or practitioners
work on the problems alone” (2007, p. 9). In the first phase we used a Q-sort methodology and
focus groups with practitioners to help define and refine the dimensions and constituent elements
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
of leader character. The second phase employed an on-line Q-sort with 874 leaders in two
organizations to assess the relative importance of the leader character elements. The third phase
used a network analysis to investigate the relationship between a 360-degree assessment of
leader character and performance measures with 833 leaders in a North American organization
which we then replicated in a sample of 64 leaders from two organizations in Latin America.
Our research brings leader character into both mainstream management theory and
leadership practices through four core contributions. First, we offer a framework of leader
character that provides rigor through a three-phase, multi-method approach involving 1,817
leaders, and relevance by using an engaged scholarship epistemology (Van de Ven, 2007) to
validate the framework with practicing leaders. This framework articulates the character
dimensions and elements that operate in concert to promote effective leadership in organizations.
That the dimensions of character operate in concert is an important redirection in the current
research on character, which has been evolving toward treating the dimensions of character as
discrete constructs, in part because of the analytical techniques used to study it. Second, we
provide a robust framework of leader character, which has been validated by practitioners
through an engaged scholarship approach, serving to bring leader character into mainstream
leadership research. We extend the traditional competency and interpersonal focus on leadership
to embrace the critical component of leader character (Seijts, Gandz, Crossan & Reno 2015;
Thompson, Grahek, Phillips & Fay, 2008; Tsui, 2013). We articulate how leader character
complements and strengthens several existing theories of behavioral approaches to leadership,
responding to the call for more integrative theorizing and research in the field of leadership
(Avolio, 2007). Third, we extend the application of character research from a focus on well-
being and ethical decision making to the broader domain of judgment in support of pursuing
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
individual and organization effectiveness, specifically effectiveness that leads to sustained
excellence. We leverage and pivot the important concept of practical wisdom in character
research, to connect it to judgment and position judgment as a central dimension of character.
Finally, we identify the need for considerably more empirical investigation to fully understand
the theoretical underpinnings of what leader character is and how it can be applied in
organizational contexts. We offer promising directions for future research on leader character,
including preliminary insights into the structure of leader character, the introduction of a network
based analytical technique to explore the structure, and an agenda for future research that will
also serve the larger domain of leadership research.
Character Overview
Philosophers have debated the role of virtue and character in pursuit of the good life for
millennia, with early work rooted in Plato and Aristotle and more recent revivals attributable to
Anscombe (1958), MacIntyre (2007), Solomon (1992), Kupperman (1995) and Hursthouse
(2001) amongst others. There is a substantial amount of philosophical theory (Hursthouse 2001;
MacIntyre, 2007) and, to a lesser extent, psychological theory on character (Peterson &
Seligman, 2004) yet there is comparatively little actionable research applied to leadership in
organizational contexts (Crossan, Seijts & Gandz, 2015; Dyck & Wong, 2010). As research on
leader character is only recently emerging within the management field, it is not surprising that
there is little agreement on how to formally define and apply character amongst practitioners
(Conger & Hollenbeck, 2010). Hannah and Avolio (2011a; 2011b), Wright and Quick (2011)
and Quick and Wright (2011) debated the theoretical underpinnings of leader character and
concluded that leader character is something that occurs within the leader; has a moral
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
component that is related but separate from values and personality; and can be developed in
people. They recognized in their discussion series that the work on leader character in the field of
management is only beginning and ongoing attention to important debates is necessary (e.g., see
Beadle, Sison & Fontrodona, 2015; Sison & Ferrero, 2015) as we forge stronger links between
theory and practice.
As articulated, we align our research in virtuous character, where the habits of cognition,
emotion, and embody human excellence are able to produce social betterment (Bright, Cameron
& Caza, 2006; Moore, 2005). Cameron (2011) described the important differences between
virtue and character: “The term virtue refers to singular attributes that represent moral excellence
…Virtue is sometimes equated with character strengths (Grant & Schwartz, 2011; Peterson &
Seligman, 2004), but virtue and character strengths are not synonymous. One can possess too
much or too little of a strength, and in doing so it may become a weakness or produce a negative
outcome (as when too much tolerance becomes spinelessness and too little tolerance becomes
bigotry). Virtuousness, on the other hand, cannot be exceeded” (p. 27). Therefore, in further
unpacking Bright et al.’s (2006) definition of character, it is important to recognize that virtuous
character (henceforth, character) is an amalgam of virtues, personality traits and values that
enable excellence, as discussed by Seijts et al. (2015). Virtues refer to situationally-appropriate
behaviors that are widely considered emblematic of good leadership. Some of these virtues are
personality traits, such as conscientiousness and openness, which are relatively stable
dispositional variables (Bono & Judge, 2004). They predispose individuals to behave in certain
ways, if not overridden by other forces such as organizational culture, reward systems or peer
pressure. We acknowledge that most virtues are not trait-based and hence there is significant
potential to develop character. Some of the virtues operate as values, such as being equitable.
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
However, we concur with Wright and Huang (2008) that character is not simply a set of any
deeply held personal values. Character encompasses only values that are virtuous.
The definition of character upon which we base our conceptualization of leader character
is consistent with MacIntyre (2007). He defines character in relatively open terms as a “set of
dispositions to behave systematically in one way or another, to lead one particular kind of life”
(p. 38). MacIntyre explains that character can be good or bad and that “good character” is
distinguished by a mutually-reinforcing combination of character strengths that not only enable
the individual to achieve excellence in the practice of these strengths “but will also sustain us in
the relevant kind of quest for what is often termed the “common good” or “good” by enabling us
to overcome the harms, dangers, temptations, and distractions which we encounter, and which
will furnish us with increasing self-knowledge and knowledge of the good” (p. 219).
Specifically, we propose that good character involves various forms of coherence among
character strengths that are aimed at achieving an intended good, as directed by practical wisdom
(MacIntyre, 2007; Sison, Hartman & Fontrodona, 2012; Surendra, 2010). We build upon
Aristotle’s conceptualization of virtues as a desirable mean state between the vice of deficiency
and the vice of excess. The mean state was not viewed as an average point between strength and
weakness but rather a depth of the virtue that resists excess because of its connectivity to other
virtues. For example, courage is a virtue that can be deepened in its own right and also by relying
on other virtues such as integrity or temperance. Related to courage, cowardliness is a vice of
deficiency and recklessness is a vice of excess (Nicomachean Ethics, 1106a26-b28). High
courage without corresponding high temperance may lead to recklessness. The interconnectivity
between the virtues and the possible explanation for why some behaviors that appear to be
virtuous are vices has been neglected in most research on leader character.
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
To achieve the virtuous mean state individuals must draw upon the concept of phronesis,
meaning practical wisdom. This involves knowing how to secure the common good effectively
in any situation (Mele, 2010; Roca, 2008; Smith & Dubbink, 2011). Practical wisdom requires
situational appreciation — the capacity to recognize, in any particular situation, the features that
are salient for decision making and subsequent action (Price, 2000; Rest, 1986, 1994).
Importantly, it implies that individuals are able to draw on, and exhibit the required virtues as
needed. Thus all virtues are important in human excellence and producing social betterment.
The importance of all virtues and their interconnectivity is consistent with the ontology of
character, however current approaches to studying character typically emphasize only certain
virtues such as humility, courage or integrity without regard for the connectivity to other
dimensions (Tangney, 2000). This is largely due to current research methods and practices that
tend to isolate the dimensions of character.
While many scholars have been exemplary furthering research on character, primarily
emphasizing its moral aspects (e.g., Hannah, Avolio & May, 2011; Jennings, Mitchell &
Hannah, 2015), there are important distinctions to be made when focusing on virtue-oriented
character. Moral character is most strongly associated with ethical behavior (Cohen, Panter,
Turan, Morse & Kim, 2014) and is captured in the language of right/wrong, good/bad and
should/ought (Bass & Steidlmeier, 1999). Virtue-oriented character is concerned with a broader
set of issues associated with practical wisdom, which we equate to judgment, as discussed below.
MacIntyre (1966) argues that practical wisdom “is not only itself a virtue, it is the keystone of all
virtue. For without it one cannot be virtuous” (p. 127). Practically wise people are skilled at
balancing personal interests with those of others, and in deliberating with moral purpose in the
service of the common good (Baltes & Staudinger, 2000; Mele, 2010; Sternberg, 1998, 2008).
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
While character can be conceived as virtuous, vicious or incontinent (Hursthouse, 2001; Müller,
2015), it is through practical wisdom that individuals can exercise their will to control
temptations towards vice (Hursthouse, 2001) and manifest good character (MacIntyre, 2007) that
works to achieve the common good. Current frameworks of leader character recognize wisdom
or judgment as a dimension of character, but have not accounted for the central role it plays to
integrate the other dimensions of character (see for example Peterson & Seligman, 2008).
In sum, we endorse the view of character by MacIntyre (2007) where the combination of
character strengths, supported by practical wisdom, embodies the notion of character. The
ontology of character is that it represents a wholeness of being (Bauman, 2013; Palanski &
Yammarino, 2007). In order to operationalize such wholeness of being, we have adopted the
term character dimension to refer to the higher order character strengths, and character elements
to refer to the behaviors that support the dimension. The dimensions and elements work together
to foster this wholeness, and through practical wisdom, various dimensions and elements are
exercised both in appreciation and analysis of any given situation and through the decisions and
actions taken. It is the interconnectivity between the dimensions of character and their
corresponding elements that provides the necessary depth to each dimension and avoids the
deficiencies and excesses previously discussed.
Leadership and Character
Although scholars have examined the role of virtues in developing character with several
different frameworks emerging, e.g., Hackett & Wang (2012), Riggio, Zhu, Reina & Maroosis
(2010); Thompson et al. (2008), recent reviews of leadership research reveal little reference to
leader character or virtuous leadership (e.g., Avolio, Walumbwa & Weber, 2009; Crossan, Vera
& Nanjad, 2008; Dinh et al., 2013; Hernandez, Eberly, Avolio & Johnson, 2011). Thus we see an
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
important opportunity to contribute to the broad domain of leadership research. Our preliminary
inventory of leader character dimensions, and its constitutive elements, builds significantly on
the work of Peterson and Seligman (2004) who have done extensive work to synthesize the
scholarly literature on character. They conducted a comprehensive review of the philosophy,
psychology, sociology, religious and historical literatures, identified 24 character strengths,
clustered them within six broad virtues (wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance and
transcendence), and associated them with personal qualities that are conducive to individual and
collective human outcomes including achievement and job performance, stress, health and
wellness, and both work and life satisfaction.
We concur with Hannah and Avolio (2011b) that “character and competence become the
raw building blocks of effective and sustainable leadership” (p. 979). Character is not simply
something that is nice to have, or good to have, but rather something that is foundational in
enhancing leaders’ competencies in a way that drives superior and sustainable performance. For
example, Cameron et al. (2004) examined the relationship between virtuousness and
performance in 18 organizations representing 16 different industries. Their survey measured
virtuousness among organizational members as well as virtuousness being enabled by the
organization. Hierarchical regression analysis showed that virtuousness and most of its five sub-
factors – compassion, forgiveness, integrity, optimism and trust – were positively and
significantly related to measures of organizational performance, namely, customer retention,
innovation, quality, turnover and profit margin. Sosik et al. (2012) examined the behavioral
manifestations of the character strengths of bravery, integrity, perspective, and social intelligence
as influences on top-level executive performance in for-profit and not-for profit organizations.
Their hierarchical regression analysis revealed positive relationships between direct reports’
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
ratings of executive bravery, integrity, and social intelligence and bosses’ and board members
ratings of executive performance. Each character strength accounted for variance in executive
performance above and beyond direct reports’ ratings of executives’ developing and empowering
behaviors. Accordingly, character may serve an important role as a foundation to both support
and integrate leadership theories, thus responding to Avolio’s (2007) call for such theorizing and
subsequent research. For example, connecting character and leadership elevates the role of
judgment (or practical wisdom) within behavioral approaches to leadership. We assert that it is
character-based judgment coupled with competencies that results in increased leader
effectiveness and sustained organizational performance.
While there are many ways character could inform leadership theories we focus on two
broad areas to illustrate character’s potential contribution to leadership. The first relates to the
promise character provides as a foundational personal resource that both serves existing
leadership theories, while highlighting potential gaps and shortcomings of those theories. The
second relates to recasting the view of contingency or situational theories of leadership, which
tend to rely on competencies and leadership style to suggest that different situations call for
different kinds of leadership (e.g., delegating versus directive leadership approaches).
Understanding that character can be developed and that judgment is an important mechanism
employed to activate different dimensions of character in different situations (the essence of
practical wisdom) broadens the versatility of leaders thereby enabling them to adapt to the
context rather than the context dictating the type of leader that is required.
As a foundational personal resource, character supports leadership theories affirming that
effective leadership of others and the organization is derived from leadership of self (Crossan et
al., 2008). Examples of leadership theories that emphasize the self as critical to leading others
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
include transformational (Bass, 1985), authentic (Avolio & Gardner, 2005; Sosik & Cameron,
2010), ethical (Brown & Treviño, 2006), and servant leadership (van Dierendonck, 2010).
Character supports these leadership theories by offering dimensions that leaders can draw on as
required by a specific situation, exercising judgment to orchestrate the behavioral expression of
the various character dimensions whether it be courage, humility or justice.
Leader character and the critical role played by the dimension of judgment may renew
contingency or situational theories of leadership. This set of theories focuses on the
characteristics of the situation (e.g., task characteristics or features of interpersonal relationships)
that should determine the appropriate leadership style. Hence effective leaders must be
situationally aware, insightful and adaptable – in short, demonstrate good judgment – that
contributes to the success of a team or organization. For example, Bass (1995) clarified that
transformational leadership is not a pure style, as transformational leaders can display
transactional behaviors if warranted. Thus, judgment is central in orchestrating and activating the
character dimensions as required by the situation. The dimensions of character may therefore
serve to explain why some leaders have versatility to lead across different contexts.
There is also a strong link between our research and the burgeoning field of ethical
decision-making (EDM). In a comprehensive meta-review of EDM empirical studies, Lehnert,
Park and Singh (2015) built on four extensive meta-reviews of the literature, covering almost
400 previous empirical studies. It is clear that many aspects of leader character are involved in
each of the four steps or stages of ethical decision-making as described by Rest (1986):
awareness—recognizing a moral action in a situation; judgment—deciding or judging whether
the action or decision is ethical; intention—making a goal of moral action; and behavior—
engaging in ethical actions (Crossan et al. 2013). Humanity, integrity, justice, courage and
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
judgement, for example, affect whether people see situations and decisions in an ethical light,
how they analyze them, how they assess competing interests on their decisions, what they decide
to do and how they enact their decisions. Indeed, the process of character development is very
much akin to the process of cognitive moral development and its association with EDM in most,
but not all, of the studies reported in the Lehnart et al.’s (2015) review.
In summary, there is a substantial body of literature in the domain of philosophy, and
more recently psychology, management and EDM research, that seeks to understand character as
it relates to both individual performance and EDM. Prior research reveals that character is not
just about knowing the right thing to do, but also having the capacity to act in the right way given
the specific circumstances. It also reveals that virtue-oriented character is fundamentally
different from the characteristics of an individual as captured in personality traits or their deeply
held personal values, and finally that character can be developed. The assertion we make is that
character is not only important to individual and collective well-being and EDM but it is also
essential to effective leadership in organizations. While we make the theoretical argument for
the importance of character to leader effectiveness through the mechanism of judgment, our
primary purpose is to examine empirically how leaders perceive leader character. Specifically,
we seek to understand whether leaders perceive that elements and dimensions of character are
essential to leader effectiveness. We also provide preliminary evidence for the structure of
character and its relationship to effectiveness.
Next, we build upon prior research and clarify the specific underpinnings of our
theoretical approach. Specifically, we assess whether the dimensions of character are perceived
to be essential to leadership in organizations and provide preliminary evidence of effectiveness.
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Though our attempts to provide language and structure around character are necessary to
advance both theory and practice, there are important methodological limitations that need to be
addressed at the outset. The underlying theory suggests that there should be strong correlations
between the dimensions and across their respective elements. Consequently, attempts to find
clean or orthogonal dimensions will tend to undermine the theoretical foundations of character.
One of the shortcomings of prior research on character is that it has drifted from this underlying
ontology to treat character like certain personality constructs (e.g., the five-factor model of
personality) and thus seeking to establish the discriminant validity of its dimensions searching
for factor-type structures. This treatment of character has fueled some of the debate regarding
the ontology of character mentioned earlier. We seek to provide an approach that recognizes the
interconnectivity between the dimensions and elements while also identifying meaningful
differences between the dimensions and elements that can serve the advancement of both theory
and practice, thereby addressing some of the existing debate in leader character research.
To deliver on our aim of examining leaders’ perceptions of leader character and explore
the structure of leader character essential to sustained excellence, we sought to close the gap
between theory and practice using a three-phase multi-method and multi-source engaged
scholarship approach. Van de Ven (2007) argued that the gap between theory and practice is not
simply a knowledge translation problem, but rather it often is a knowledge production problem.
As well, he suggested that it is through the process of engagement that “common meaning” (p.
246) is established. Such an approach is neither purely inductive nor purely deductive. Rather it
uses prior theory to inform the engaged scholarship approach while using the perspective of
practicing managers to inform the underlying theory.
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Phase 1 involved face-to-face sessions using Q-sort methodology to examine how
business leaders (N = 46) define character. Phase 2 involved an on-line Q-sort task with 874
leaders from two organizations rating the importance of the leader character elements. Phase 3
built on the findings of phases 1 and 2 to examine responses on leader character in one
organization involving 111 leaders and 722 raters using a 360-degree assessment of leader
character. We replicated the findings of phase 3 in a sample of 20 small and medium enterprise
(SME) owners and 44 senior managers working for a public organization to assess the
generalizability of our findings. We also related leader character to measures of performance.
We provide a brief overview of the Q-sort methodology before describing the three phases in
more detail.
Q-sort Methodology
Q-sort methodology is ideally suited to establish the bridge we seek to make between
theory and practice, which also entails bridging rigor and relevance. The methodology employs
a range of techniques to provide a systematic study of individuals’ personal beliefs, values,
attitudes, and viewpoints on a topic (McKeown & Thomas, 1988; van Exel, 2005). A group of
respondents are presented with a sample of statements, called the Q Set, about some topic. Most
Q Sets contain between 40 and 60 statements. The respondents are asked to rate the Q Set
statements according to their personal judgments about them. In our study, participants were
asked to rate how essential each element of character is to effective personal leadership in
organizations. Participants also used the Q Set to sort elements into leader character dimensions.
Phase 1
In phase 1 we identified an initial pool of character elements and dimensions and then
conducted a face-to-face Q-sort with nine executives to (1) identify the importance of the
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
elements; and (2) assess the alignment of the elements with the dimensions. The Q-sort provided
the full description of each element. The primary aim of phase 1 was to forge an initial bridge
between theory and practice in a co-creation process. We took the existing theory as a starting
point and used the face-to-face Q-sort process to modify it. We then piloted an on-line Q-sort
with the nine executives.
Step 1 - Identifying character elements and dimensions. As input into the Q-sort we
identified character elements that had not been included in the Peterson and Seligman (2004)
classification of twenty-four and subjected the new elements to the same criteria they employed.
That is, that the elements be: fulfilling; intrinsically valuable; non-rivalrous; not the opposite of a
desirable trait; trait-like or habitual patterns that are relatively stable over time; not a
combination of the other character strengths; personified by people made famous through story,
song, etc.; absent in some individuals; and nurtured by societal norms and institutions. We did
not invoke Peterson and Seligman’s criteria that the element be observable in child prodigies
given that they themselves noted that it was not applicable to all character strengths and, given
our interest in the context of leadership in organizations, we deemed this to be tangential. Our
intention was to cast a wide net to allow practitioners, through the Q-sort methodology
employed, to surface the meaning they associated with the elements of character. Therefore,
when in doubt, we erred on the side of inclusion in the initial stages.
We reviewed publicly available documentation from organizations, such as annual
reports, web sites and articles, and employed our judgment to identify missing character
dimensions and elements. For example, accountability was central to the leadership profile of
many organizations and fit the criteria established by Peterson and Seligman (2004). In addition,
we had many opportunities to test the face validity of the evolving set of dimensions and
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
elements given presentations on leader character and roundtable discussions that we conducted
during this period, which lasted one year.
It is important to note that although this research is intended to inform both theory and
practice, there is a natural tension that exists between the two. In particular, there are often
significant differences in the language employed by researchers and practitioners. Although we
employed semantic analysis to investigate the differences, we needed to rely on our judgment
throughout the research. For example, the commonly used practitioner term “vision” does not
adequately capture the virtue of transcendence as identified by scholars. On the other hand, the
commonly used practitioner term “judgment” proved to be a reasonable substitute for the virtue
of “wisdom” and, in fact, our research revealed that it more accurately captured the scholarly
underpinning of wisdom in the minds of practitioners. Wisdom carried with it the unwanted
connotation of needing to be “old and grey” as we often heard. Similarly, we replaced the
character strength of “love” with the more corporately acceptable “compassion”. We
acknowledge there are differences in the research traditions underlying love and compassion, and
concluded that compassion might provide the closest approximation to love in organizational
In the course of assessing whether additional character dimensions and elements should
be added we also encountered a more difficult question of whether Peterson and Seligman’s
(2004) six virtues (again, what we refer to as leader character dimensions since this is the
language that practitioners more easily relate to as opposed to virtues and character strengths)
adequately captured the way in which practicing managers experienced them. It became apparent
from discussions with executives that some character elements needed to be elevated to the level
of dimension to recognize the weight placed on it in practice. For example, whereas integrity
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
was a character strength in the Peterson and Seligman classification, we identified it as a
dimension with associated character elements. This was not simply prompted by practice, but
also by the burgeoning theory supporting leader integrity (e.g., Dineen, Lewicki & Tomlinson
2006; Gentry et al., 2013; Moorman, Darnold & Priesemuth, 2013; Palanski & Yammarino,
2011). Similarly, we included accountability as a dimension given the heavy emphasis placed on
it in both organizations and in the governance of those organizations. Whereas humility had
been housed under temperance in the Peterson and Seligman classification, we identified it as a
dimension given the emerging research pointing to the importance of this virtue in leadership
(e.g., Ou, Tsui, Kinicki, Waldman, Xiao & Song, 2014; Owens & Hekman, 2012; Owens,
Johnson & Mitchell, 2013). Finally, we included collaboration as a dimension given the heavy
emphasis placed on it in practice.
As with the character elements, our intention was to err on a broad rather than narrow
conceptualization and allow participants in the study to assess their perceived importance.
However, we excluded some character strengths identified by Peterson and Seligman from our
framework including spirituality and humour. It was not simply that these terms were not part of
practitioners’ everyday language or vocabulary since words like temperance and transcendence
did not evoke the same resistance. Rather, the practitioners argued quite strongly that these
terms did not have a place in an organizational context. While they accepted the inclusion of
spirituality and humour in frameworks of character that focus on individual well-being in life,
they were concerned that including these terms would undermine the credibility and application
of the leader character framework in organizations. We return to this point in our discussion.
Figure 1 depicts the original Organizational Leader Character (OLC) framework we
employed in the Q-sort study as well as the revised framework based on the initial findings. The
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
original OLC contained 10 organizing dimensions: integrity, courage, accountability,
temperance, justice, humanity, judgment, collaboration, transcendence, and, humility, along with
43 associated character elements. So, for example, in the original OLC the dimension of courage
contains the following elements: bravery, vitality, self-confidence, determination and resilience.
Insert Figure 1 about here
Step 2 - Pilot study of face-to-face Q-sort methodology. We conducted a face-to-face Q-
sort methodology pilot study with nine executives (3 women; 6 men). These executives were
highly experienced and reputable business leaders including former CEOs and board members of
companies in industries such as financial services, packaged goods and consulting who had been
engaging in discussions with both graduate students and scholars about leader character. Hence
they were able to provide the kind of informed expertise we were seeking in our engaged
scholarship approach to bridge theory and practice. There were two groups of three participants,
and three individual interviews. Each session took between 120 and 180 minutes. All sessions
were audio taped and reviewed to ensure we captured key insights. Participants were presented
with a set of cards, each of which provided a set of statements that describes a potential leader
character element. They were asked: Please rate each of the following character elements
according to how strongly you agree or disagree that it is an essential or very important element
of effective personal leadership in organizations. The rating scale used was a 7-point continuum
ranging from -3 (strongly disagree) to +3 (strongly agree), with 0 as the neutral midpoint.
Following this, participants were asked to clarify their reasoning for the ratings. They
were also invited to identify any additional elements of leader character that came to mind during
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
the process, but were not among the cards provided. Those who identified additional character
elements were asked to rate these additional elements. Finally, the participants were asked to
organize the character elements into broader categories of related dimensions. Upon completing
this process, we conducted a group discussion and debriefing, focused upon soliciting
participants’ feedback about the process itself and the character elements under consideration.
The participants’ ratings and categorizations were captured on score-sheets.
The pilot test groups provided valuable feedback and suggestions for improving the face-
to-face group process and clarifying the inventory of potential leader character dimensions and
elements. As well, the groups identified many nuances important to interpreting the results of
the study. The following were the key findings.
(a) A large majority of the character elements were rated "Strongly Agree" or "Agree" as
being very important or essential to effective personal leadership in organizations. This
finding provided a preliminary indication of a high degree of consensus at the "Agree"
end of the response continuum.
(b) Only a small list of the character elements were rated "Disagree" or "Strongly Disagree"
as being very important or essential to effective personal leadership in organizations and
there was no consensus on these elements. This result provided a preliminary indication
of a low degree of consensus at the "Disagree" end of the rating continuum.
(c) There were different interpretations of the meaning of some of the character elements.
The lack of consensus prompted discussions that helped to clarify the meaning
participants ascribed to the character elements.
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
(d) Participants also identified an additional 18 potential character elements they deemed
important or essential to effective personal leadership in organizations. However, there
was no consensus on the Agree – Disagree ratings for these additional dimensions.
We probed the differences of opinions in ratings for importance of the elements and
discovered that there were two main sources of variation. First, there were different
interpretations around the element descriptions. For example, there appeared to be a common
concern amongst practitioners that many leaders are simply “jerks” with other more colorful
language often used. While there are many sources for this behavior, capturing the virtuous form
of the desired behavior seemed to be important. The term “agreeable” was intended to do that.
However, respondents revealed that this term had an unwanted connotation around simply
“agreeing” or “being easy.” The nature of the discussion around this term was similar to the type
of discussion with many of the elements and their definitions. Thus we sought to clarify labels
and definitions to weed out any confusion arising from semantics. With an engaged scholarship
approach the semantics are very important.
Second, there were differences in interpretation about what “essential” meant. For some
respondents it meant that the element should be present all the time and without concern for any
limit. For example, integrity was viewed as something that should be employed all the time and
one for which there is no danger of having too much, whereas something like humility was
viewed as not always required and in fact could be counterproductive when present in excess. As
well, since the executives did not employ the full range of the scale, we adjusted the scale in
subsequent administrations from 1 (not at all important) to 5 (extremely important).
The participants identified 18 additional potential character elements. Many of these
were closely connected with, or subsumed within, the original 43 character elements. However,
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
the conversations revealed a dimension and set of elements that had been overlooked – the
dimension of drive which became associated with the following elements: strives for excellence;
demonstrates initiative; results-oriented; vigorous; and passionate. Participants were insistent that
drive should be viewed as a critical dimension of character. Given that the elements it subsumes
were consistent with the criteria we had established for inclusion, and that there is a considerable
literature connecting vigor (an element of drive) and well-being, we included drive as a
Our discussions with these practitioners also reminded us that the dimension of judgment
plays a central role in character, which was not captured in the original framework. Consistent
with Aristotle’s view of practical wisdom, judgment is a dimension in and of itself. For
example, on a daily basis, business leaders face a host of pressures – economic, regulatory,
political, competitive, financial, market-based and so on – in their decision making. However, as
Aristotle described, it is the judgment arising from the virtue of practical wisdom, shaped by
practice and reflection, which enables individuals to apply virtues, or in our terminology
character dimensions, in context. For example, Tichy and Bennis (2007) wrote that “Any
leader’s most important role in any organization is making good judgments – well-informed,
wise decisions that produce the desired outcomes. When a leader shows consistently good
judgment, little else matters. When he or she shows poor judgment, nothing else matters” (p. 94).
However, judgment also serves a special role in activating the other dimensions of character as
the situation requires. One of the participants provided us with an appropriate metaphor:
judgment acts like the air traffic controller, orchestrating the various dimensions in a given
context (e.g., when it’s appropriate to demonstrate humility and when to show confidence; or
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
when to be temperate and when to be bold). The metaphor is consistent with the work of Shotter
and Tsoukas (2014) on phronetic leadership, or the application of practical wisdom.
As a result, in the revised framework, we placed judgment in the middle. We also
reassembled the positioning of the dimensions in the framework as discussions revealed some
possible groupings and tensions that might prove useful for future research. This was immaterial
to the process we pursued in our study since the framework was not revealed to the participants.
However, during the course of our research we continued to gather feedback on the framework
with various audiences and found it to be meaningful to academics, students and practitioners in
the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. As we note in subsequent sections, placing
judgment in the middle of the framework is also borne out by the quantitative data we obtained.
We moved from a face-to-face Q-sort to an on-line Q-sort using the revised framework
shown in Figure 1. Definitions of the 11 character dimensions are provided in Table 1.
Insert Table 1 about here
Step 3 – Pilot on-line Q-sort. We returned to the nine executives involved in the pilot
study to ensure that the translation from face-to-face to the on-line methodology captured the
essential elements and engagement of the face-to-face process. We expanded the on-line pilot
test with the executives to include 37 executive MBA students, representing diverse industry
backgrounds. The results from the on-line Q-sort suggested the task could be easily ported and
we obtained consistent results concerning the importance of the character elements. However, it
was clear that the rich insights such as the interpretation of the meaning of each character
element, and why it was deemed to be important, attained in the face-to-face approach could not
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
be captured with the on-line version. We accepted this limitation as the feedback we received
from the executives in the face-to-face sessions was that we were “tweaking” what they saw to
be a very sound set of dimensions, elements and approach.
In summary, phase 1 was instrumental in the engaged scholarship approach to address
both substantive and semantic issues associated with leader character. It provided an important
foundation to move forward to phase 2 and ensured that both the content and the approach
moving from face-to-face to the on-line Q-sort was sound.
Phase 2
Van de Ven (2007) describes one of the challenges of an engaged scholarship approach
as being able to actually engage practitioners. It is a testament to the importance of leader
character that we secured business organizations to participate with relative ease and a high
response rate (over 60 percent) of their leadership.
Q-sort. We conducted an initial on-line Q-sort with one organization to assess the
importance of the leader character elements. The organization is a large industrial, multi-
divisional conglomerate with operations mainly in Canada and the United States. We
approached this company because it is considered a leader in management development and
training, running its own executive MBA program. We received a 62 percent response rate with
502 responses from the pool of 800 leaders. There were missing responses to parts of the survey
with 364 respondents completing the entire survey. Respondents were between 35 and 54 years
of age. Thirty-four percent of the respondents were first-level leaders (e.g., supervisors and
managers); 60 percent were leaders of leaders (e.g., senior managers and directors); and 6
percent were identified as executive leaders (e.g., vice-president, senior vice-president, or
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
executive vice-president). Eighty-three percent of the respondents were male which reflects the
male composition in the managerial ranks of the organization.
We were given an opportunity to conduct a similar on-line Q-sort in a second
organization - a large, multi-line insurance company with operations across Canada. The results
showed that the differences in the assessment of the importance of the elements between the two
organizations were immaterial and hence we aggregated the data to increase the robustness of
our analysis. Given the large sample size, and the small absolute differences in scores on the
elements, the differences, although statistically significant, were not practically relevant as the
effect size was only small. The average Cohen’s d for all items was .18. For example, the two
scores for adaptable were 4.14 and 4.23, demonstrating the element’s importance to participants
from both organizations; Cohen’s d = .12. We received a 62 percent response rate with 372
responses from a pool of 600 leaders. There were missing responses to parts of the survey with
324 respondents completing the entire survey. Respondents were between 25 and 64 years of
age. Thirty percent of the respondents were first-level leaders (e.g., supervisors and managers);
59 percent were leaders of leaders (e.g., senior managers and directors); and 11 percent of
respondents were executive leaders (e.g., vice-president, senior vice-president, or executive vice-
president). Fifty-seven percent of the respondents were female.
Table 2 provides the results of the combined responses for the two organizations (N =
874) on the perceived importance of the elements. For ease of reference we aggregated the “very
important” and “extremely important” categories and ordered the elements by the percentage of
respondents in the combined category. The results reveal that there is a high degree of consensus
that the elements are important with minor exceptions. For example, at least five percent of
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
respondents felt that being appreciative, purposive, reflective, modest and magnanimous were
“not at all important”. Magnanimous at 9.27% was the highest in that category.
Insert Table 2 about here
The results from Phase 2 provided the foundation to move to Phase 3 where we examine
the dimensionality of the constructs in further detail.
Phase 3
The behavioral statements used to describe the character elements from phases 1 and 2
were the basis for a survey designed for a 360-degree feedback assessment. Behavioral
statements are the preferred method of assessment given that they measure what people actually
do on the job, are less susceptible to biases outside the control of the person being evaluated, and
typically show higher inter-rater reliability than trait-based measures (Latham & Wexley, 1994).
However, the behavioral statements embed within them important cognitive/emotional
components as consistent with the definition of character. For example, the dimension of
temperance requires significant self-regulation of emotion and cognition and the dimension of
humanity invokes empathy and compassion, which have both cognitive and emotional aspects.
As described by Crossan et al. (2013), character is shaped through a learning process that
involves important cognitive functions such as awareness, intent and reflection. Emotions are
certainly invoked because cognition is amplified by emotions (Russell, 2003). Hence character is
manifested in behavior but has embedded within it habits of cognition and emotion. As well, it
is important to keep in mind that all of these aspects of character are essential for behaviors to be
reflective of the virtuous form.
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
The survey was conducted in a large multinational organization that had expressed
interest in our work on leadership. And, like the industrial, multi-divisional conglomerate in
phase 2, the organization invests heavily in leadership development. The participants included
111 leaders (79 males and 32 females) identified by the senior leadership team as having high
potential for promotion to higher leadership levels. Age and gender were not collected for
confidentiality purposes. Given the importance of the initiative there was a 100 percent response
rate. Respondents assessed the likelihood they exhibit the behaviors associated with the
character elements. Scale scores ranged from 1 (extremely unlikely) to 7 (extremely likely). We
augmented this process with ratings from supervisors (N = 73 raters providing 213 ratings
overall), peers (N = 194 raters providing 434 ratings overall), direct and indirect reports (N = 347
raters providing 407 ratings overall) and other source ratings (N = 108 raters providing 245
ratings overall) so that we had multi-rater assessments. Raters were asked to select the rating that
best represents their judgment of how likely the leader is to engage in the work behavior.
Whereas phases 1 and 2 allowed us to examine leader perspectives on the importance and
categorization of the character elements, this phase allowed us to tap into how leaders (or high
potentials as the organization labeled them) assessed themselves on these elements and how they
were assessed by others. In addition, we received performance ratings from supervisors that
allowed us to explore the predictive validity of the leader character dimensions.
The data captured from phase 3 allowed us to assess the reliability of the behavioral
measures associated with each of the 11 dimensions. All dimensions, regardless of rater, had
reliabilities above .7 with the majority above .8. In spite of the underlying theory suggesting
high correlations among the dimensions, 49 out of 55 inter-correlations were below the .85
threshold (Campbell & Fiske, 1959) for the supervisor assessments of subordinates. There were
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
multiple leadership perspectives on each individual with 73 supervisors providing 214 ratings on
the 111 leaders. This occurred because in some cases the leader operated in a matrix structure
with two managers and in other cases the leader opted to receive feedback from a former
supervisor as well as the current supervisor. We are using the term supervisor, however, these
were essentially leaders of the participants surveyed.
The dimensions with less discriminant validity were the pairings of collaboration with
both humanity and humility, and also humanity with humility. Accountability was closely
connected to both courage and drive, and courage and drive were also connected. These results
are not surprising since both humility and collaboration were derived from the virtue of
humanity; and drive was derived from courage (see Peterson & Seligman, 2004). However, it
was surprising that accountability was aligned with courage and drive as it was expected that it
might be more closely associated with justice.
Our revised model of leader character (see Figure 1) assumes that although each
character dimension is distinct from each other, the dimensions and their elements are inter-
connected, and thus form a complex network of correlated constructs. A novel approach is
required to disentangle such complexity embedded in the theory of leader character.
Network Theory and Concepts
Network theory, which is derived from graph theory in mathematics, is ideally suited to
investigate the interconnection between complex, correlated constructs in management research
(Borgatti & Halgin, 2011). Network theory, and particularly social network analysis as its main
application, has been steadily gaining traction across management disciplines (for a review on
the different theoretical approaches to network theory, see Borgatti & Halgin (2011)). At the
macro level, network theory has been applied to explain the effect of diversity on innovation
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
(Mors, 2010), corporate governance (Mcdonald, Khanna & Westphal, 2008), directorate
interlocks (Martin, Gözübüyük & Becerra, 2015), and to propose protection mechanisms by
which boards may prevent knowledge spillover to indirectly connected rival firms (Hernandez,
Sanders & Tuschke, 2015).
Network theory has been used at the micro level to predict individual and group
performance (Sparrowe, Liden, Wayne & Kraimer, 2001), team viability and performance
(Balkundi & Harrison, 2006), and the emergence of a justice climate in self-managed teams
(Roberson & Williamson, 2012). It has also been used to predict leader emergence as well as
followers’ attributions of charisma (Balkundi, Kilduff & Harrison, 2011; Pastor, Meindl &
Mayo, 2002). Lastly, network theory has been applied by scholars to explore the theoretical
connections between mainstream leadership theories (Meuser et al., 2016).
A network consists of a set of entities together with relationships between those entities
(Butts, 2008). Entities may include individuals, groups, organizations, or constructs such as
leader character dimensions. Network theory requires that each entity, also referred to as a node,
be unique and separate from each other, so that they can be easily distinguished from other
entities, or nodes. Likewise, the set of potential relations to be studied within a network, further
referred to as ties, must be constrained not by content, but by their formal properties.
Specifically, relations must be defined on the basis of pairs of entities (i.e., a tie connects two
nodes) and must reveal a dichotomous qualitative distinction between relationships which are
present and those which are absent. In other words, there must be a clear way to determine
whether a tie between two nodes exists. A tie can be operationalized, for example, by calculating
a Pearson correlation coefficient between two nodes that systematically covary.
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Network theory may be of service to understand leader character in three distinct ways.
First, by using a measure of association across its nodes (or, in our case, the character elements)
(e.g., Pearson’s r), an adjacency function can be used to determine which of the paths are
relevant to the network. Furthermore, researchers can conduct a modularity analysis in order to
identify modules (i.e., equivalent to latent or higher order constructs in traditional latent variable
approaches such as EFA or CFA) that emerge from the network configuration. In network
theory, modularity refers to the tendency of a network’s nodes to form modules. If such modules
appear, researchers can then explore the assortative mixing of those modules, understood as the
tendency of nodes to group together with similar nodes (or, in our case, whether the similar
character elements group together into the expected dimensions) (McPherson, Smith-Lovin &
Cook, 2001). This approach has a number of advantages over other latent-variable approaches to
scale construction and validation aimed at complex, intertwined systems. Some of its advantages
are: (a) similar to EFA, it is a data-driven approach, which does not force a pre-existing
theoretical model to fit the data; (b) since a network is an undirected cyclic graph, it does not
assume that observed variables are directed towards a latent construct; and (c) it is a more
efficient approach in terms of statistical power and sample sizes, allowing the testing of complex
intertwined models within relatively small samples, even when compared to CFA robust
estimation methods for ordinal data that use polychoric correlations and asymptotic covariance
matrixes such as robust weighted least squares (N < 300; Moshagen & Musch, 2014).
Second, unlike latent variable approaches, a network analysis allows researchers to
evaluate the relative position of each module (or, in our case, the dimension) vis-à-vis other
modules and hence the role they play within the network. For example, social network analysis
has shown that individuals who have a more central role within their groups tend to perform
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
better (Sparrowe at al., 2001). This is because they have more relationships to draw upon to
obtain resources and hence are less dependent on any single individual. In our research,
judgment plays a central role in the theory of leader character. It allows individuals to
consciously regulate the behavioral expression of the other character dimensions, which may act
as a resource that they can draw on.
A third feature of network analysis is that researchers can test the network centrality of a
module by weakening it (from 1.0 to 0) and examine its effect on the overall efficiency of the
network (or the ability of the module to connect to all other modules in the network). Typically,
the more central a module is, the higher the reduction in the network’s efficiency.
To explore the structure of leader character we employed the network approach. We
used R statistical software to run the analysis in two steps. First, we conducted a modularity
analysis taking each character element as a node. The tendency for a network’s nodes to attach
to others that are similar is called assortative mixing (Newman, 2002). Newman’s assortative
coefficient ranges from -1 to +1. A positive coefficient indicates a tendency towards the
clustering of similar elements. We chose this approach because we expected similar character
elements to be more strongly connected among themselves rather than other dissimilar yet
related elements. The assortative coefficient for the sample was .25 thus suggesting a modular
network as expected. That is, the 61 elements clustered into the expected character dimensions
(see Figure 2). Second, we ran a centrality analysis for each of the 11 dimensions. The results
showed that, as leader character theory suggests, judgment emerged as the most central
dimension in the network as it is the module with the highest betweenness score (see Figure 3).
This centrality score is obtained by counting the number of shortest paths (i.e., the most efficient
route to connect any two nodes in a network, or in our case, modules which act as higher-order
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
nodes, that go through a given node). The network’s efficiency, understood as the ability to
adequately connect its modules (Latora & Marchiori, 2001), decreased when we reduced the
centrality of judgment. The results in Figure 3 show that all character dimensions are connected
to judgment either directly or indirectly through other dimensions (all p’s < 01).
Insert Figures 2 and 3 about here
We replicated our network approach in a second sample, which was substantively
different from the first sample, to test the generalizability of our findings. The sample consisted
of 20 SME owners (mean age 40.57, SD = 9.94; 54.2% female) and 44 senior managers (mean
age 44.36, SD = 8.37; 52.5% female) of a public institution, both from Latin America. For the
SME owners, the mean tenure as leader was 12.09 years (SD = 10.52) and the average span of
control was 392.25 reports (SD = 738.54). The public institution was a large university which
has a strong local reputation for excellence in the technical disciplines (e.g., engineering
androbotics, etc.) and management education. The invitation to participate in the study was
extended to leaders who occupy a senior administrative position. The mean tenure as leader was
4.99 years (SD = 3.86) and the average span of control was 72.07 reports (SD = 236.65). All
participants completed the self-report measure of leader character.
The network analysis showed that the assortative coefficient was .35 and that the
elements grouped into the expected dimensions (see Figure 4). The centrality analyses revealed
that judgment emerged as the most central dimension in the network (see Figure 5). Finally, the
network’s efficiency decreased when we reduced the centrality of judgment. In sum, we
replicated the results we obtained with the large multinational organization.
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Insert Figures 4 and 5 about here
We examined the correlations between the peer assessments of leader character and the
supervisor assessments of the various measures of leader performance as shown in Table 3. The
nine performance items were written specifically for this study. The results of an exploratory
factor-analysis showed that the items clearly loaded onto one factor. The Cronbach’s alpha of
the performance scale was .78.
Insert Table 3 about here
The results showed that the correlation between courage and performance as well as the
correlation between transcendence and performance were not significant; the other character
dimensions correlated positively with performance. We draw from this analysis the general
predictive validity of the leader character framework, with caution that these are supervisor
assessments of likelihood of promotion and derailment, as opposed to actual assessments.
Importantly, these results in conjunction with those from the network analyses reveal strong
reliability and solid discriminant validity given the ontological nature of leader character.
Moreover, raters did differentiate between the subordinates and their leader character although
restriction of range remains an explanation for the non-significant correlations.
The primary purpose of our study was to leverage prior research on character to address
the two-pronged question: What are the essential dimensions and elements of leader character in
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
organizational contexts? And how do the dimensions and elements relate to one another? We
invoked an engaged scholarship approach to ensure the voice of practitioners was captured in the
study. We take as a given that research aims to be both rigorous by academic standards and
relevant to the practice of management. Emerging theory on leader character that does not take
into account managerial perspectives or practice fosters a stream of research that may be
compelling and interesting for academics but is irrelevant at best and dysfunctional at worst for
practitioners (Ghoshal, 2005). The 2008 financial and subsequent economic crisis and many
corporate scandals have put into question whether the theories leadership researchers have
conceptualized, tested and taught to students and executive audiences failed to prevent the crisis
and may have indeed contributed to it (Ashlander, Filos & Kaldis, 2011; Gandz, Crossan, Seijts
& Stephenson, 2010; Jones & Millar, 2010). This may be partially due to the notion that the solo
creation of theory by academics has resulted in many theories that remain idealistic yet
unrealistic at best (Hannah, Sumanth, Lester & Cavarretta, 2014). Thus the engaged scholarship
approach serves to shape theory in ways that are in concert with practice.
Our research revealed there is support for the dimensions of leader character and
substantial support for most of the elements of leader character as essential for effective personal
leadership. Nonetheless, there are important semantic and experiential differences that need to
be taken into account in future research. For example, the results revealed that individuals tend
to view certain character dimensions such as integrity, accountability and drive as always
required, while others such as humility, humanity and justice are seen to be required in
moderation only. In part, this may be because many organizations tend to use the language of
integrity, accountability and drive in their value statements and communication to stakeholders;
far fewer emphasize, for example, humility, humanity and justice despite strong empirical
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
support that these dimensions too relate to individually and organizationally-relevant variables
(e.g., Colquitt et al., 2001; Ou et al., 2014; Ridge & Ingram, 2014; Skarlicki & Latham, 1997).
Future research could assess whether there is a correspondence between the respondents’
assessment of the importance of character elements and the visibility of the elements in publicly
available documentation. Individuals may simply respond more positively to elements with
which they are familiar (e.g., several of the elements may be embedded in performance
management, reward and other HR systems). Furthermore, it appears there are some behavioral
expressions of leader character that are more visible, such as drive and courage, leading to the
belief that they are required all or most of the time. Do we tend to celebrate leaders of a certain
character profile? Is there a lack of awareness of how one dimension relates to another, therefore
shortchanging the potential that a dimension such as humility might have for supporting courage,
for example? These are important questions to consider in more detail, in particular as the results
from phase 3 show that most of the leader character dimensions correlated with supervisor
assessments of leader performance.
We also sought to address the structure of leader character. The ontological and
phenomenological nature of leader character is such that its dimensions and elements should be
tightly inter-related. From a research standpoint the inter-related nature of the dimensions are
somewhat problematic. They will be more highly correlated than is customary in traditional
research that seeks to tease apart the various dimensions of theoretical constructs to enhance their
discriminant validity. Because typical research methods do not work well with highly correlated
constructs, there is a danger of force fitting theory to comply with methods, as opposed to
dealing with the inherent complexity of the phenomenon and finding methods that allow
researchers to investigate it. Thus, in the search for rigor, researchers will need to be mindful of
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
not distorting theory to fit available measurement methods. The network analysis we employed
in phase 3 allowed us to explore the interconnections between character elements and the
dimensions. The results shown in Table 2 and Figures 2 – 5 empirically support an integrated
framework that reinforces the inter-related nature of character dimensions connected through
judgment, which has important implications for research on character and leadership as we
describe below. However, we recognize the limitations of the representation of leader character
portrayed in Figure 1. While it is clear that judgment is central in the network, further research
will be required to understand the complex relationship amongst the dimensions including the
testable proposition that behaviors associated with character have embedded habits of cognition
and emotion.
Some practitioners cautioned about having a leader character framework with too many
dimensions. In our view and experience, significant meaning would be lost by aggregating
dimensions such as those that correlate around more common views of leadership attributes (e.g.,
integrity, courage, drive and accountability) and less common attributes (e.g., humanity and
humility). Nonetheless, there is merit in future research identifying whether there is a set of
alternative dimensions that serve both theory and practice. For example, our results showed
there was less discriminant validity between collaboration, humanity and humility. However, we
suggest it is premature to collapse these dimensions. We consider humility to be an important
dimension of character and indeed it was among the strongest predictors of performance and the
likelihood of derailment. Peterson and Seligman (2004) consider humility an element that
supports the dimension of temperance. However, temperance and humility had discriminant
validity in our study. There is a substantial literature on humility and its importance to
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
leadership (e.g., Morris, Brotheridge & Urbanski, 2005; Owens & Hekman, 2012). Thus, we
recommend that humility warrants further research as a dimension of leader character.
Furthermore, our addition of collaboration as a dimension of character was to reflect the
importance of teamwork in organizational contexts in the public, private and not-for-profit
sectors. Teamwork was listed alongside accountability and integrity in almost every leadership
profile we reviewed. Peterson and Seligman (2004) included teamwork as an element of justice
in their classification. The results of our study revealed that collaboration and justice showed
discriminant validity. Again, given the importance of collaboration in organizations, there is
reason to include it as a dimension of leader character. Future studies should examine its
connections to humanity and humility. We recommend a similar approach to investigating the
links between drive, courage and accountability. The results of our quantitative analyses showed
good reliability but may require greater discriminant validity among the character dimensions.
Future studies therefore should examine the merits of keeping these dimensions as separate, to
collapse them, or to include them as elements in other dimensions.
We also learned that bridging theory and practice requires researchers to be mindful of
the terms they use to describe a construct. In our research, the substitution of judgment for
wisdom is a prime example. We do not view the choice of terms as inconsequential or a
compromise, but rather as a thoughtful consideration for the essence of the theory and its
manifestation in practice. For example, as with the case of judgment, the substitution provides
an important connection to practice while providing critical links to the substantial literature on
judgment and decision making (JDM) in organizations (e.g., Bazerman & Moore, 2008;
Kahneman, 2003; Kahneman, Slovic & Tversky, 1982). The JDM literature does not entertain
the possibility of strengthening the agency of the individual through the development and
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
activation of character but rather focuses on how contextual or situational variables affect JDM.
Inserting leader character as a factor that may explain JDM has the potential to add significant
value to that large body of research. The act of bridging theory and practice thus serves to
strengthen both theory and practice.
Research on leader character tends to treat character in similar ways to personality
constructs where strengths and weaknesses are identified in a team context (e.g., the Myers-
Briggs Type Indicator or the Personality Research Form). In contrast to research that focuses on
one’s strengths and complementing one’s weaknesses with other team members, the theory and
practice of leader character suggests that weaknesses in character may be the limiting factor in
leader effectiveness. The connectivity and inter-relationships among the character dimensions
(as shown in Figures 2 - 5) is a core premise that warrants further research. The arguments
supporting integration of the dimensions and elements are compelling in theory, however, future
research should examine the personal, team and organizational consequences of imbalances
among leader character dimensions. For example, is reckless behavior more likely to occur if
courage and drive are high yet temperance is low? Studies should also focus on whether and
how the leader character dimensions can be strengthened or deepened. For example, how can
leaders strengthen their transcendence, humanity or humility? What are the best developmental
approaches to activate these dimensions and associated elements? In addition, can we
distinguish behaviors that have no virtuous intent from those that do? For example, can a person
appear to be compassionate but with no underlying intent to be compassionate?
Aristotle indicated that practical wisdom (judgment) was required to exercise character in
context. The results from phase 3 showed that judgment was indeed the most central dimension
in the network of leader character dimensions. Future research should further examine the
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
construct of judgment as it may help resolve some issues about when and how individuals draw
on particular dimensions of character. For example, there is a substantial role for future research
that seeks to unpack the relationship between context and character through judgment, thereby
contributing to contingency and situational leadership theories. The character dimensions can be
thought of as a repository of resources that leaders can use to adjust their behavior across
situations, so that their leadership behaviors remain virtuous. Hence, pursuing sustained
organizational excellence requires character dimensions such as transcendence, courage and
drive, but also dimensions such as justice, humility and humanity. More importantly, character
elevates judgment into a central role in leadership to ensure the harmonic behavioral display of
these resources in ever-shifting contexts.
It also appeared that participants in our study did not always recognize that some vices
may masquerade as virtues. For example, the data revealed, and it was not uncommon to hear in
conversations with executives, that “you can never have too much integrity.” Yet, the
underlying theory suggests that integrity coupled with a weakness in humility can lead to
someone who is overly dogmatic and self-righteous, leading to potentially negative personal
outcomes. Moreover, leaders could stand on integrity to justify what are often very callous and
self-interested actions. Similarly, collaboration without courage and accountability may lead to
individuals who refrain from disagreeing with a colleague even when they should, resulting in
poor decision making due to groupthink (Janis, 1982). These reflections are important given the
recent discussions of the phenomenon of “too much of a good thing” in both social psychological
(Grant & Schwartz, 2011) and management (Pierce & Aguinis, 2013) research. For example,
many managerial behaviors that are traditionally seen as having a positive and linear relationship
with performance and follower outcomes are being revisited with a more critical lens.
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Specifically, behaviors such as assertiveness (Ames & Flynn, 2007), conscientiousness (Hogan
& Hogan, 2001) and positive affect (Baron, Hmieleski, & Henry, 2012) that are not exemplary of
the virtuous mean as proposed by Aristotle (Grant & Schwartz, 2011) have led to poor decision
making and worsening performance. This reinforces the important inter-relationship between the
dimensions of character which is currently an underdeveloped are in leadership research.
Practical Implications
Leaders have told us that what they need is a contemporary, practice-focused vocabulary
with which to address character in the workplace. This vocabulary needs to be expressed in the
language used in today’s organizations in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.
Providing behavioral descriptors is of critical importance to ensure that the character dimensions
and elements are understood, accepted and enacted in practice. A framework of leader character
that can be employed in organizations has important practical implications. First, it not only
brings clarity to something that has been somewhat of a mystery to practitioners, but also
provides the foundation for subsequent leadership development. We see this as essential for
successful implementation of character alongside competencies in leadership profiles that are
used in HR systems. Second, individuals in the workplace need to be able to observe individuals
who model the character dimensions and supporting elements. This means that senior leaders
should lead by example and affirm, through what they say and what they reward, those who
exhibit the requisite behaviors and explain how these contributed to personal and organizational
success. Our framework of leader character provides those leaders who have capacity for self-
reflection with a “check-list” for doing this. Third, character needs to be embedded in
organizational systems and processes such as recruitment and selection, performance
management, leadership development, promotion, and so on to ensure that it receives as high a
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
profile as competencies in organizations. The results from phase 3 showed that leaders’
character dimensions as rated by peers correlated with performance assessments of their
supervisors. Thus, there is opportunity for future research to empirically examine the role of
character in recruitment, selection, performance management and leadership development and
the effects on performance across multiple levels.
We see the opportunity that wherever competencies reside in organizations, character can
and should be considered alongside. Additionally, there is opportunity to take a character based
approach to organizational practices and initiatives that extend beyond HR. For example, future
research should explore the impact that a character based approach might have on organizational
regulators. Regulators could incorporate character when engaging in risk management and
compliance, bringing attention to the strength of character for sound judgment within
organizations. Future research could also explore the impact that character can have on both
strategic and organizational change. Strength of character helps to ensure that leaders have the
courage to speak up or to take action, the temperance to know when to exercise patience and
calm, the humanity to deeply understand the needs and concerns of organization members, yet
the sense of accountability and justice that helps leaders sort out what are often competing issues
to name just a few examples. It is perhaps the foundation for much of what has been missing in
leadership and other aspects of organizational practices.
Limitations and Generalizability
While our research has been robust employing a three phase multi-method approach
engaging almost 2000 leaders in five organizations, the findings are limited to these five
organizations from North and Latin America. An opportunity exists to assess the generalizability
of our findings across organizations and cultures. Given the subsequent qualitative work we
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
have done across sectors (e.g., different industries in the private sector) and cultures (e.g., in
North America, Asia and Europe), early indications suggest the framework appears to be
promising in terms of its generalizability. However, there is significant opportunity to
empirically examine the generalizability of our findings and whether there are underlying
differences across organizations and country cultures. We anticipate this will be particularly
important in understanding the structure and development of leader character.
Our framework focuses on leader character, and we have not presented a model that
anticipates how different contextual pressures affect leader character, nor how leader character
may affect context. This remains an opportunity for future research and the more that we and
others can do this, the more this framework will become useful to practitioners.
Our initial attempt to forge theory and practice around leader character has revealed that
there is sound foundation on which to move forward in both theory and practice. We caution
against the danger of sacrificing rigor for relevance, or conversely, relevance for rigor. This
study reveals that through an engaged scholarship approach, we can enhance both rigor and
relevance. In conducting this research we sought to provide a leader character framework that
would help to bring leader character into mainstream management theory and practice. We have
identified many opportunities for future research and would like to conclude with what we see as
the most important agenda – to elevate character alongside competencies in leadership research
and practice. The business world continues to be mired in scandal – from Takata airbags to
Volkswagen’s diesel emissions, from Allied Irish Banks, to Enron, to Barclays Libor fixing, to
Bank of America’s London Whale and Wells Fargo’s unauthorized account openings. We
believe that corporate malfeasance, including unethical, socially irresponsible and sometimes
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
illegal and criminal decisions and behaviors cannot be deterred through laws, rules, policies and
procedures alone. Nor do we accept that systemic factors or influences necessarily result in such
behaviors. Much anecdotal evidence and some business examples have shown that these
situations involve character deficiencies that induce, influence or propel decisions and judgments
or the acceptance and tolerance of such when done by others. On a more positive note, we also
hold that the achievement of sustainable corporate excellence requires leaders who demonstrate
well-developed character in good times and bad, faced with opportunities, external pressures,
temptations and challenges, and that the elevation of leader character considerations will provide
a way to do this.
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Ames, D. R. and Flynn, F. J. (2007). ‘What breaks a leader: the curvilinear relation between
assertiveness and leadership’. Journal of personality and social psychology, 92, 307-24.
Anscombe, G. E. M. (1958). ‘Modern moral philosophy’. Philosophy, 33, 1-19.
Aristotle, T. Irwin. (1999). Nicomachean ethics. Indianapolis, IN: Hacket Publishing.
Ashlander, M., Filos, J. and Kaldis, B. (2011). ‘Foreword: Pathos for ethics, business excellence,
leadership and quest for sustainability’. Journal of Business Ethics, 100, 1-2.
Avolio, B. J. and Gardner, W. L. (2005). ‘Authentic leadership development: Getting to the root
of positive forms of leadership’. Leadership Quarterly, 16, 315–38.
Avolio, B. J. (2007). ‘Promoting more integrative strategies for leadership theory-building’.
American Psychologist, 62, 25–33.
Avolio, B. J., Walumbwa, F. O. and Weber, T. J. (2009). ‘Leadership: current theories, research,
and future directions’. Annual Review of Psychology, 60, 421–49.
Balkundi, P. and Harrison, D. A. (2006). ‘Ties, Leaders, And Time In Teams: Strong Inference
About Network Structure’s Effects On Team Viability And Performance’. Academy of
Management Journal, 49, 49–68.
Balkundi, P., Kilduff, M. and Harrison, D. A. (2011). ‘Centrality and charisma: Comparing how
leader networks and attributions affect team performance’. Journal of Applied
Psychology, 96, 1209–22.
Baltes, P. B. and Staudinger, U. M. (2000). ‘Wisdom: A metaheuristic (pragmatic) to orchestrate
mind and virtue toward excellence’. American Psychologist, 55, 122-36.
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Baron, R. A., Hmieleski, K. M. and Henry, R. A. (2012). ‘Entrepreneurs’ dispositional affect:
The potential benefits – and potential costs – of being “up”’. Journal of Business
Venturing, 27, 310-24.
Bass, B. M. (1985). Leadership and performance beyond expectations. New York: Free press.
Bass, B. M. (1995). ‘Theory of transformational leadership redux’. Leadership Quarterly, 6,
Bass, B. M. and Steidlmeier, P. (1999). ‘Ethics, character, and authentic transformational
leadership behavior’. The Leadership Quarterly, 10, 181-217.
Bauman, D. C. (2013). ‘Leadership and the three faces of integrity’. Leadership Quarterly, 24,
Bazerman, M. H. and Moore, D. A. (2008). Judgment in managerial decision making. Hoboken,
NJ: Wiley.
Beadle, R., Sison A. J. G. and Fontrodona, J. (2015). ‘Introduction-virtue and virtuousness: when
will the twain ever meet?’. Business Ethics: A European Review, 24, 67-77.
Bird, F. B. and Waters, J. A. (1989). The moral muteness of managers. California Management
Review, 32, 73-88.
Bono, J. E. and Judge, T. A. (2004). ‘Personality and transformational and transactional
leadership: a meta-analysis’. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89, 901–10.
Borgatti, S. P. and Halgin, D. S. (2011). ‘On Network Theory’. Organization Science, 22, 1168-
Bright, D. S., Cameron, K. S. and Caza, A. (2006). ‘The amplifying and buffering effects of
virtuousness in downsized organizations’. Journal of Business Ethics, 64, 249-69.
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Brown, M. E. and Treviño, L. K. (2006). Ethical leadership: A review and future directions.
Leadership Quarterly, 17, 595–616.
Butts, C. T. (2008). ‘Social network analysis: A methodological introduction’. Asian Journal of
Social Psychology, 11, 13–41.
Cameron, K. (2011). ‘Responsible leadership as virtuous leadership’. Journal of Business
Ethics, 98, 25-35.
Cameron, K., Bright, D. and Caza, A. (2004). ‘Exploring the Relationships Between
Organizational Virtuousness and Performance’. American Behavioral Scientist, 47, 1-24.
Campbell, D. T. and Fiske, D. W. (1959). ‘Convergent and discriminant validation by the
multitrait-multimethod matrix’. Psychological Bulletin, 56, 81-105.
Cohen, T. R., Panter, A. T., Turan, N., Morse, L. and Kim, Y. (2014). ‘Moral character in the
workplace’. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 107, 943-63.
Colquitt, J. A., Conlon, D. E., Wesson, M. J., Porter, C. O. L. H. and Ng, K. Y. (2001). ‘Justice
at the millennium: A meta-analytic review of 25 years of organizational justice research’.
Journal of Applied Psychology, 86, 425-45.
Conger, J. and Hollenbeck, G. P. (2010). ‘What is the character of research on leadership
character?’ Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 62, 311-16.
Crossan, M., Seijts, G. and Gandz, J. (2015). Developing leadership character. Routledge.
Crossan, M., Mazutis, D. and Seijts, G. (2013). ‘In search of virtue: The role of virtues, values
and character strengths in ethical decision making’. Journal of Business Ethics, 113, 567-
Crossan, M., Vera, D. and Nanjad, L. (2008). ‘Transcendent Leadership: Strategic Leadership in
Dynamic Environments’. Leadership Quarterly, 19, 569-81.
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Dineen, B. R., Lewicki, R. J. and Tomlinson, E. C. (2006). ‘Supervisory guidance and behavioral
integrity: Relationships with employee citizenship and deviant behavior’. Journal of
Applied Psychology, 91, 622-35.
Dinh, J. E., Lord, R. G., Gardner, W. L., Meuser, J. D., Liden, R. C. and Hu, J. (2013).
‘Leadership theory and research in the new millennium: Current theoretical trends and
changing perspectives’. Leadership Quarterly, 25, 36–62.
Dyck, B. and Wong, K. (2010). ‘Corporate spiritual disciplines and the quest for organizational
virtue’. Journal of Management, Spirituality and Religion, 7, 7-29.
Gandz, J., Crossan, M., Seijts, G. and Stephenson, C. (2010). Leadership on Trial: A manifesto
for leadership development. London, ON: Richard Ivey School of Business.
Gentry, W. A., Cullen, K. L., Sosik, J., Chun, J. U., Leupold, C. R. and Tonidandel, S. (2013).
‘Integrity's place among the character strengths of middle-level managers and top-level
executives’. Leadership Quarterly, 24, 395-404.
Ghoshal, S. (2005). ‘Bad management theories are destroying good management practices’.
Academy of Management Learning and Education, 4, 75-91.
Grant, A. M. and Schwartz, B. (2011). ‘Too much of a good thing: The challenge and
opportunity of the Inverted U’. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 1, 61-76.
Hackett, R. and Wang, G. (2012). ‘Virtues and leadership: An integrating conceptual framework
founded in Aristotelian and Confucian perspectives on virtues. Management Decision,
50, 868-99.
Hannah, S. T. and Avolio, B. J. (2011a). ‘The locus of leader character’. Leadership Quarterly,
22, 979-83.
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Hannah, S. T. and Avolio, B. J. (2011b). ‘Leader character, ethos, and virtue: Individual and
collective considerations’. Leadership Quarterly, 22, 989-94.
Hannah, S. T., Avolio, B. J. and May, D. R. (2011). ‘Moral maturation and moral conation: A
capacity approach to explaining moral thought and action’. Academy of Management
Review, 36, 663-85.
Hannah, S. T., Sumanth, J. J., Lester, P. and Cavarretta, F. (2014). ‘Debunking the false
dichotomy of leadership idealism and pragmatism: Critical evaluation and support of
newer genre leadership theories’. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 35, 598-621.
Hernandez, M., Eberly, M. B., Avolio, B. J. and Johnson, M. D. (2011). ‘The loci and
mechanisms of leadership: Exploring a more comprehensive view of leadership theory’.
Leadership Quarterly, 22, 1165–85.
Hogan, R. and Hogan, J. (2001). ‘Assessing leadership: A view from the dark side’.
International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 9, 40-51.
Hursthouse, R. (2001). On virtue ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Janis, I. (1982). Victims of Groupthink: A Psychological Study of Foreign Policy Decisions and
Fiascos. Boston, MA: Houghton - Miffli.
Jennings, P. L., Mitchell, M. S. and Hannah, S. T. (2015). ‘The moral self: A review and
integration of the literature’. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 36, S104-S168.
Jones, M. T. and Millar, C. C. J. M. (2010). ‘About global leadership and global ethics, and a
possible moral compass: An introduction to the special issue’. Journal of Business Ethics,
93, 1-8.
Kahneman, D. (2003). ‘A perspective on judgment and choice: mapping bounded
rationality’. American psychologist, 58, 697-720.
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Kahneman, D., Slovic, P. and Tversky, A. (1982). Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and
biases. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kupperman, J. (1995). Character. New York: Oxford University Press.
Latham, G. P. and Wexley, K. N. (1994). Increasing Productivity through Performance
Appraisal (2nd ed). Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Latora, V. and Marchiori, M. (2001). ‘Efficient behavior of small-world networks’. Physical
Review Letters, 87, 198701.
Lehnert, K., Park, Y. and Singh, N. (2015). ‘Research Note and Review of the Empirical Ethical
Decision-Making Literature: Boundary Conditions and Extensions’. Journal of Business
Ethics, 129, 195–219
MacIntyre, A. (1966). A short history of ethics. New York: Collier Books.
MacIntyre, A. (2007) After virtue. (3rd ed.). Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.
Martin, G., Gözübüyük, R. and Becerra, M. (2015). ‘Interlocks and firm performance: The role
of uncertainty in the directorate interlock-performance relationship’. Strategic
Management Journal, 36, 235–53.
Mcdonald, M. L., Khanna, P. and Westphal, J. D. (2008). ‘Getting Them to Think Outside the
Circle: Corporate Governance, Ceos’ External Advice Networks, and Firm Performance’.
Academy of Management Journal, 51, 453–75.
McKeown, B. and Thomas, D. (1988). ‘Q methodology’. Sage University Paper Series on
Quantitative Applications, 07-066, Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.
McPherson, M., Smith-Lovin, L. and Cook, J. M. (2001). ‘Birds of a Feather: Homophily in
Social Networks’. Annual Review of Sociology, 27, 415–44.
Mele, D. (2010). ‘Practical wisdom in managerial decision making’. Journal of Management
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Development, 29, 637-45.
Meuser, J. D., Gardner, W. L., Dinh, J. E., Hu, J., Liden, R. C. and Lord, R. G. (2016). 'A
network analysis of leadership theory: The infancy of integration'. Journal of
Management, 42, 1374-403.
Moore, G. (2005). ‘Corporate character: modern virtue ethics and the virtuous corporation’.
Business Ethics Quarterly, 15, 659-85.
Moorman, R. H., Darnold, T. C. and Priesemuth, M. (2013). ‘Perceived leader integrity:
Supporting the construct validity and utility of a multi-dimensional measure in two
samples’. Leadership Quarterly, 24, 427-44.
Morris, J. A., Brotheridge, C. M. and Urbanski, J. C. (2005). ‘Bringing humility to leadership:
Antecedents and consequences of leader humility’. Human Relations, 58, 1323-50.
Mors, M. L. (2010). ‘Innovation in a global consulting firm: when the problem is too much
diversity’. Strategic Management Journal, 31, 841–72.
Moshagen, M. and Musch, J. (2014). ‘Sample Size Requirements of the Robust Weighted Least
Squares Estimator’. Methodology: European Journal of Research Methods for the
Behavioral and Social Sciences, 10, 60–70.
Müller, J. (2015). ‘Aristotle on Vice’. British Journal for the History of Philosophy, 23, 459-77.
Newman, M. E. J. (2002). ‘Assortative mixing in networks’. Physical Review Letters, 89,
Ou, A. Y., Tsui, A. S., Kinicki, A. J., Waldman, D. A., Xiao, Z. and Song, L. J. (2014). ‘Humble
chief executive officers’ connections to top management team integration and middle
managers’ responses’. Administrative Science Quarterly, 59, 34-72.
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Owens, B. P. and Hekman, D. R. (2012). ‘Enacting humble leadership: An inductive
examination of humble leader behaviors, outcomes, and contingencies’. Academy of
Management Journal, 55, 787-818.
Owens, B. P., Johnson, M. D. and Mitchell, T. R. (2013). ‘Expressed humility in organizations:
Implications for performance, teams, and leadership’. Organization Science, 24, 1517-38.
Palanski, M. E. and Yammarino, F. J. (2007). ‘Integrity and leadership: Clearing the conceptual
confusion’. European Management Journal, 25, 171-84.
Palanski, M. E. and Yammarino, F. J. (2011). ‘Impact of behavioral integrity on follower job
performance: A three-study examination’. Leadership Quarterly, 22, 765-86.
Pastor, J.-C., Meindl, J. R. and Mayo, M. C. (2002). ‘A Network Effects Model of Charisma
Attributions’. Academy of Management Journal, 45, 410–20.
Peterson, C. and Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues. New York: Oxford
University Press.
Pierce, J. R. and Aguinis, H. (2013). ‘The too-much-of-a-good thing effect in management’.
Journal of Management, 39, 313-38.
Price, T. L. (2000). Explaining ethical failures of leadership. Leadership & Organization
Development Journal, 21, 177–84.
Quick, J. C. and Wright, T. A. (2011). ‘Character-based leadership, context and consequences’.
Leadership Quarterly, 22, 984-88.
Rest, J. R. (1986). Moral development: Advances in research and theory. New York: Praeger
Rest, J. R. (Ed.). (1994). Moral development in the professions: Psychology and applied ethics.
Psychology Press.
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Roberson, Q. M. and Williamson, I. O. (2012). ‘Justice in Self-Managing Teams: The Role of
Social Networks in the Emergence of Procedural Justice Climates’. Academy of
Management Journal, 55, 685–701.
Roca, E. (2008). Introducing practical wisdom in business schools. Journal of Business Ethics,
82, 607-20.
Ridge, J. W. and Ingram, A. (2014). ‘Modesty in the top management team: Investor reaction
and performance implications’. Journal of Management, 1-24.
Riggio, R. E., Zhu, W., Reina, C. and Maroosis, J. A. (2010). ‘Virtue-based measurement of
ethical leadership: The Leadership Virtues Questionnaire’. Consulting Psychology
Journal: Practice and Research, 62, 235-50.
Russell, J. A. (2003). ‘Core affect and the psychological construction of emotion’. Psychological
Review, 110, 145-72.
Seijts, G., Gandz, J., Crossan, M. and Reno, M. (2015). ‘Character matters: Character
dimensions' impact on leader performance and outcomes’. Organizational Dynamics, 44,
Shotter, J. and Tsoukas, H. (2014). ‘In search of phronesis: Leadership and the art of judgment’.
Academy of Management Learning & Education, 13, 224-43.
Skarlicki, D. P. and Latham, G. P. (1997). ‘Leadership training in organizational justice to
increase citizenship behavior within a labor union: A replication’. Personnel Psychology,
50, 617-33.
Solomon, R. C. (1992). ‘Corporate roles, personal virtues: An Aristotelean approach to business
ethics’. Business Ethics Quarterly, 2, 317–39.
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Sison, A. J. G. and Ferrero, I. (2015). ‘How different is neo-Aristotelian virtue from positive
organizational virtuousness?’. Business Ethics: A European Review, 24, 78-98.
Sison, A. J. G., Hartman, E. M. and Fontrodona, J. (2012) ‘Reviving tradition: Virtue and the
common good in business and management’. Business Ethics Quarterly, 22, 207-10.
Smith, J. and Dubbink, W. (2011). ‘Understanding the role of moral principles in business ethics:
A Kantian perspective’. Business Ethics Quarterly, 21, 205-331.
Sosik, J. J. (2006). Leading with Character. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.
Sosik, J. J., Gentry, W. A. and Chun, J. U. (2012). ‘The value of virtue in the upper echelons: A
multisource examination of executive character strengths and performance’. Leadership
Quarterly, 23, 367-82.
Sosik, J. J. and Cameron, J. C. (2010). ‘Character and authentic transformational leadership
behavior: Expanding the ascetic self toward others’. Consulting Psychology Journal:
Practice and Research, 62, 251-69.
Sparrowe, R. T., Liden, R. C., Wayne, S. J. and Kraimer, M. L. (2001). ‘Social networks and the
performance of individuals and groups’. Academy of Management Journal, 44, 316–25.
Sternberg, J. (1998). ‘A balance theory of wisdom’. Review of General Psychology, 2, 347-65.
Sternberg, J. (2008). ‘The WICS approach to leadership: Stories of leadership and the structures
and processes that support them’. Leadership Quarterly, 19, 360-71.
Surendra, A. (2010). ‘Aristotelian-Thomistic virtue ethics, emotional intelligence and decision-
making’. Advances in Management, 3.
Tangney, J. P. (2000). ‘Humility: Theoretical Perspectives, Empirical Findings and Directions
for Future Research’. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 19, 70-82.
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Thompson, A. D., Grahek, M., Phillips, R. E. and Fay, C. L. (2008). ‘The search for worthy
leadership’. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 60, 366-82.
Tichy, N. M. and Bennis, W. (2007). ‘Making judgment calls’. Harvard Business Review, 85,
Tsui, A. S. (2013). ‘Making research engaged: Implications for HRD scholarship’. Human
Resource Development Quarterly, 24, 137-43.
Van de Ven, A. (2007). Engaged Scholarship: A guide for organizational and social research.
Oxford: Oxford University Press.
van Dierendonck, D. (2010). Servant Leadership: A Review and Synthesis. Journal of
Management, 37, 1228–61.
van Exel, J. (2005). Q methodology: A sneak preview. Rotterdam, NL: Erasmus MC, Institute for
Medical Technology Assessment.
Wright, T. A. and Huang, C.-C. (2008). ‘Character in organizational research: Past directions and
future prospects’. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 29, 981-87.
Wright, T. A. and Quick, J. C. (2011). ‘The role of character in ethical leadership research’.
Leadership Quarterly, 22, 975-78.
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
FIGURE 1- Initial Framework
Revised Framework
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
FIGURE 2 – Modularity Analysis
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
FIGURE 3 – Centrality Analysis
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
FIGURE 4 – Modularity Analysis (Replication Study)
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
FIGURE 5 – Centrality Analysis (Replication Study)
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
TABLE I – Definitions for Dimensions of Leader Character
Judgment Makes sound decisions in a timely manner based on relevant information and critical analysis
of facts. Appreciates the broader context when reaching decisions. Shows flexibility when
confronted with new information or situations. Has an implicit sense of the best way to
proceed. Sees into the heart of challenging issues. Reasons effectively in uncertain or
ambiguous situations.
Courage Does the right thing even though it may be unpopular, actively discouraged, and/or result in a
negative outcome for him/her. Shows an unrelenting determination, confidence, and
perseverance in confronting difficult situations. Rebounds quickly from setbacks.
Drive Strives for excellence. Has a strong desire to succeed. Tackles problems with a sense of
urgency. Approaches challenges with energy and passion.
Collaboration Values and actively supports development and maintenance of positive relationships among
people. Encourages open dialogue and does not react defensively when challenged. Is able to
connect with others at a fundamental level, in a way that fosters the productive sharing of
ideas. Recognizes that what happens to someone, somewhere, can affect all.
Integrity Holds oneself to a high moral standard and behaves consistently with ethical standards, even in
difficult situations. Is seen by others as behaving in a way that is consistent with their personal
values and beliefs. Behaves consistently with organizational policies and practices.
Temperance Conducts oneself in a calm, composed manner. Maintains the ability to think clearly and
responds reasonably in tense situations. Completes work and solves problems in a thoughtful,
careful manner. Resists excesses and stays grounded.
Accountability Willingly accepts responsibility for decisions and actions. Is willing to step up and take
ownership of challenging issues. Reliably delivers on expectations. Can be counted on in tough
Justice Strives to ensure that individuals are treated fairly and that consequences (positive or negative)
are commensurate with contributions. Remains objective and keeps personal biases to a
minimum when making decisions. Provides others with the opportunity to voice their opinions
on processes and procedures. Provides timely, specific, and candid explanations for decisions.
Seeks to redress wrongdoings inside and outside the organization.
Humility Lets accomplishments speak for themselves. Acknowledges limitations. Understands the
importance of thoughtful examination of one's own opinions and ideas. Embraces
opportunities for personal growth and development. Does not consider oneself to be more
important or special than others. Is respectful of others. Understands and appreciates others’
strengths and contributions.
Humanity Demonstrates genuine concern and care for others. Appreciates and identifies with others’
values, feelings, and beliefs. Has a capacity to forgive and not hold grudges. Understands that
people are fallible and offers opportunities for individuals to learn from their mistakes.
Transcendence Draws inspiration from excellence or appreciation of beauty in such areas as sports, music,
arts, and design. Sees possibility where others do not. Has an expansive view of things both in
terms of taking into account the long term and broad factors. Demonstrates a sense of purpose
in life.
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
TABLE II: Frequency of importance ratings of leader character elements ranked by
average importance (N=874)
Not At All
(5) Extremely
(4) & (5)
Responsible 0.11% 0.80% 7.21% 31.81% 60.07% 91.88% 4.51
Respectful 0.23% 1.37% 9.04% 33.75% 55.61% 89.36% 4.43
Takes Ownership 0.11% 2.06% 9.15% 35.01% 53.66% 88.67% 4.40
Principled 0.46% 2.75% 9.61% 30.78% 56.41% 87.19% 4.40
Strives for Excellence 0.23% 1.95% 8.81% 41.76% 47.25% 89.02% 4.34
Consistent 0.00% 3.32% 10.30% 39.02% 47.37% 86.38% 4.30
Accepts Consequences 0.11% 3.09% 10.64% 39.70% 46.45% 86.16% 4.29
Decisive 0.11% 2.86% 10.53% 43.36% 43.14% 86.50% 4.27
Future-Oriented 0.57% 3.32% 14.30% 34.21% 47.60% 81.81% 4.25
Results-Oriented 0.23% 3.78% 11.67% 40.05% 44.28% 84.32% 4.24
Authentic 0.92% 4.00% 13.62% 33.41% 48.05% 81.46% 4.24
Situationally Aware 0.11% 3.32% 14.65% 37.07% 44.85% 81.92% 4.23
Adaptable 0.11% 2.40% 14.42% 45.88% 37.19% 83.07% 4.18
Determined 0.11% 3.09% 15.33% 44.74% 36.73% 81.46% 4.15
Resilient 0.34% 4.46% 14.76% 41.76% 38.67% 80.43% 4.14
Open-Minded 0.23% 3.43% 15.56% 47.71% 33.07% 80.78% 4.10
Demonstrates Initiative 0.11% 2.40% 17.05% 48.40% 32.04% 80. 43% 4.10
Critical Thinker 0.46% 4.12% 16.25% 44.05% 35.13% 79.18% 4.09
Cooperative 0.11% 3.66% 17.85% 45.42% 32.95% 78.38% 4.07
Confident 0.34% 3.66% 17.39% 46.00% 32.61% 78.60% 4.07
Flexible 0.34% 3.66% 19.57% 44.05% 32.38% 76.43% 4.04
Composed 0.11% 6.06% 17.85% 44.39% 31. 58% 75.97% 4.01
Fair 0.00% 5.61% 18.99% 44.74% 30.66% 75.40% 4.00
Self-Controlled 0.23% 4.81% 19.22% 47.25% 28.49% 75.74% 3.99
Transparent 1.26% 6.86% 17.39% 41.19% 33.30% 74.49% 3.98
Conscientious 0.11% 5.38% 21.62% 47.83% 25.06% 72.88% 3.92
Tenacious 0.46% 7.78% 19.11% 44.28% 28.38% 72.65% 3.92
Candid 1.03% 7.55% 19.45% 42.56% 29.41% 71.97% 3.92
Optimistic 0.92% 7.44% 23.34% 41.76% 26.54% 68.31% 3.86
Insightful 0.34% 6.98% 23.91% 45.08% 23.68% 68.76% 3.85
Passionate 1.03% 7.78% 23.91% 43.48% 23.80% 67.28% 3.81
Cognitively Complex 0.69% 9.15% 24.83% 41.08% 24.26% 65.33% 3.79
Continuous Learner 0.80% 9.27% 24.37% 42.11% 23.46% 65.56% 3.78
Even-Handed 0.92% 9.84% 24.26% 40.27% 24.71% 64.99% 3.78
Equitable 0.34% 10.41% 24.49% 43.94% 20.82% 64.76% 3.74
Pragmatic 0.80% 7.78% 25.63% 48.51% 17.28% 65.79% 3.74
Considerate 0.46% 10.07% 27.23% 43.25% 18.99% 62.24% 3.70
Self-Aware 1.26% 10.87% 26.20% 40.73% 20.94% 61.67% 3.69
Analytical 0.80% 11.44% 29.98% 40.62% 17.16% 57.78% 3.62
Vigorous 1.03% 14.07% 25.74% 40.50% 18.65% 59.15% 3.62
Calm 1.26% 11.56% 30.09% 38.67% 18.42% 57.09% 3.61
Brave 3.66% 14.19% 24.14% 33.41% 24.60% 58.01% 3.61
Prudent 1.49% 12.13% 28.60% 44.51% 13.27% 57.78% 3.56
Grateful 2.63% 13.39% 27.69% 38.22% 18.08% 56.29% 3.56
Compassionate 1.14% 12.81% 31.24% 38.90% 15.90% 54.81% 3.56
Patient 0.92% 14.30% 29.86% 38.22% 16.70% 54.92% 3.55
Forgiving 1.14% 13.27% 30.89% 39.13% 15.56% 54.69% 3.55
Empathetic 1.49% 13.96% 31.69% 36.73% 16. 13% 52.86% 3.52
Creative 1.03% 16.13% 35.70% 34.21% 12.93% 47.14% 3.42
Inspired 2.63% 16.59% 34.21% 32.04% 14.53% 46.57% 3.39
Proportionate 2.06% 16.13% 37.64% 35.93% 8.24% 44.16% 3.32
Socially Responsible 3.32% 21.05% 29.63% 32.61% 13.39% 46.00% 3.32
Intuitive 3.78% 17.16% 34.44% 33.30% 11.33% 44.62% 3.31
Collegial 2.63% 18.42% 35.47% 33.75% 9.73% 43.48% 3.30
Appreciative 5.26% 20.37% 29.86% 31.35% 13.16% 44.51% 3.27
Interconnected 4.23% 22.54% 33.87% 29.52% 9.84% 39.36% 3.18
Purposive 8.12% 24.83% 31.58% 23.23% 12.24% 35.47% 3.07
Reflective 5.61% 24.26% 36.38% 25.86% 7.89% 33.75% 3.06
Modest 6.06% 24.83% 37.19% 24.60% 7.32% 31.92% 3.02
Magnanimous 9.27% 31.46% 32.49% 21.17% 5.61% 26.77% 2.82
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
TABLE 3 - Peer Character Assessment and Supervisor’s Performance Assessment (N=111)
Accountability .263
Collaboration .238
Courage .147
Drive .334
Humanity .233
Humility .303
Integrity .240
Judgment .258
Justice .233
Temperance .201
Transcendence .129
**. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2 tailed).
*. Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).
Aggregate of Performance/Potential items as follows:
1. How effectively would this person handle being promoted into a familiar line of
2. How effectively would this person handle being promoted in the same function or
division (moving a level up)?
3. How effectively would this person handle being promoted two or more levels?
4. How effective would this person be as a member of a structured cross-functional team?
5. How effective would this person be as a leader of a structured cross-functional team?
6. How would you rate this person’s performance in his/her present job?
7. How effective is this leader relative to other leaders inside and outside of your
8. What is the likelihood that this person will derail (i.e., plateau, be demoted, be fired) in
the next five years as a result of his/her actions or behaviors as a manager?
9. How effectively does this person liaise with other sites/locations of your business?
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
... Unsurprisingly, then, research has focused extensively on the nature or ontology of character as a leadership construct (e.g., Crossan et al., 2017;Hannah & Avolio, 2011;Quick & Wright, 2011). Many scholars anchor their discussion of leader character in the domain of virtuous character. ...
... Many scholars anchor their discussion of leader character in the domain of virtuous character. They conceptualize character as an expression of virtues, personality traits, and values that manifest in observable behaviors that facilitate human excellence and produce social betterment (e.g., Bright et al., 2006;Crossan et al., 2017;Hannah & Avolio, 2011;Nguyen & Crossan, 2021;Peterson & Seligman, 2004;Sarros et al., 2006;Wang & Hackett, 2016;Wilson & Newstead, 2022). Research has also focused on the antecedents and consequences of character (e.g., Cameron et al., 2004;Seijts et al., 2022;Sosik et al., 2012), how to develop character in individuals (e.g., Byrne et al., 2018;Crossan et al., 2021a;Hartman, 2006), and how to embed practices and processes in organizational policies to facilitate the development of character (e.g., Crossan et al., 2021b;Sosik & Jung, 2018). ...
... We use a definition of character anchored in the virtue ethics perspective and described by Crossan et al. (2017) as a set of interconnected virtues or character dimensions that are manifested "in habits of cognition, emotion and behavior that embody human excellence and produce social betterment" (p. 2). ...
Full-text available
Virtues and character strengths are often assumed to be universal, considered equally important to individuals across cultures, religions, racial-ethnic groups, and genders. The results of our surveys and laboratory studies, however, bring to light subtle yet consistent gender differences in the importance attributed to character in leadership: women considered character to be more important to successful leadership in business than did men, and women had higher expectations that individuals should demonstrate character in a new leadership role. Further, the gender of the research participant affected character ratings such that male respondents viewed a female leader who exhibited agentic behaviors in a professionally challenging situation less positively than a male leader who displayed the same agentic behaviors. The data also showed that male participants rated almost every dimension of character displayed by the female leader lower than did female participants. Our findings suggest that the question as to what extent gender differences may bias the assessment of virtues and character strengths is an important one, and one for which the practical implications for individuals in organizations need to be studied in more detail.
... For without it one cannot be virtuous" (MacIntyre, 1973(MacIntyre, [1966, p. 74). Consequently, practical wisdom is pivotal in the virtue ethics tradition as a central dimension of character (Crossan et al., 2017). ...
... Specifically, the character element of leadership has been taught to business students through an MBA elective course which features learning modalities such as mentorship, journaling, and workshops designed by participants [17]. The character component of leadership has been further subdivided into eleven dimensions, namely: transcendence, drive, collaboration, humanity, humility, integrity, temperance, justice, accountability, courage, and judgement [18]. In addition, in this study, a distinction was made between two forms of leadership, i.e., positional, and dispositional leadership [19]. ...
Full-text available
Background Leadership has been recognized as an important competency in medicine. Nevertheless, leadership curricula for Canadian medical students lacks standardization and may not be informed by medical students’ perspectives of physician leadership. The purpose of this study was to elicit these perspectives on physician leadership. Methods The present study utilized semi-structured interviews to ascertain the views of medical student participants, including students in their first, second and third years of medical school, on physician leadership. Interview questions were based on ‘the 3-C model’ of physician leadership, which includes three aspects of leadership, namely character, competence and commitment. The interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed and then coded using thematic analysis. Results The medical students of this study provided rich examples of resident and staff physicians demonstrating effective and ineffective leadership. The participants identified the importance of character to effective physician leadership, but some participants also described a feeling of disconnect with the relevance of character at their stage of training. When discussing physician competence, medical students described the importance of both medical expertise and transferable skills. Lastly, the leadership aspect of commitment was identified as being relevant, but medical students cautioned against the potential for physician burnout. The medical student participants’ suggestions for improved leadership development included increased experiences with examples of physician leadership, opportunities to engage in leadership and participation in reflection exercises. Conclusions Overall, the study participants demonstrated an appreciation for three aspects of leadership; character, competence and commitment. Furthermore, they also provided recommendations for the future design of medical leadership curricula.
... A study of individuals persevering more than usually in exercising showed they subsequently experienced higher resilience at work (Nagel & Sonnentag, 2013). "Crucibles of leadership", difficult moments in leaders' lives (also outside of work) are a source of leader resilience (Crossan, Byrne, Seijts, Reno, & Gandz, 2017). ...
An increasing number of individuals in leadership roles have a serious leisure interest. We develop a theoretical model of how pursuing serious leisure impacts leaders’ performance at work. We propose that a serious leisure interest, through its defining characteristics (effort in mastering a skill, perseverance through adversity, a special ethos, a strong identity, a leisure career), can both promote and harm leaders’ performance at work and we examine the conditions under which this can happen. Our theory contributes to research on non-work antecedents of leader performance, to the leader identity construction literature, to theories on the work-nonwork interface and to the serious leisure literature.
... He is extensively read outside philosophy (Beadle, 2017;Beadle and Moore, 2020), for example in business ethics (e.g., Beadle, 2002;Beadle and Moore, 2006;Bernacchio, 2018;Sinnicks, 2019Sinnicks, , 2020Chu and Moore, 2020) and organizational thought (e.g., Anthony, 1986;Alvesson and Willmott, 1992;Mangham, Morality is defined both in the broad sense of distinctions between right and wrong, good and bad, and in the narrower Aristotelian / MacIntyrean sense of that which enables human flourishing (MacIntyre, ). Gay, 1998Gay, , 2000Tsoukas, 2018) including strategy-aspractice (Tsoukas, 2017) and leadership theory (Crossan et al., 2017). For present purposes, our focus is on the concepts presented in After Virtue (MacIntyre, 2007), mainly his three level framework of the virtues but especially internal and external goods generated by practices housed within institutions. ...
Full-text available
This paper explores “what more and what else” MacIntyre's concepts can contribute, specifically as applied to neoinstitutional theory and especially institutional logics. Drawing on the common influence of Max Weber's work as further developed by Friedland, MacIntyre's concept of eudaimonia being furthered by the pursuit of internal goods supported by external goods is used to develop a typology of goods. This typology is then deployed to show how the differing institutional logics of, for example, the market and the family have differing rationalities with differing emphases on internal and external goods, and consequently differing moral content. A simple picture of the market economy is then developed to show how such MacIntyrean concepts can be used to address the critique of a lack of morality in neoinstitutional theory. Conversely, the analytical framework provided by the institutional logics perspective is used to show how MacIntyrean concepts can be applied practically in a way that provides an interesting perspective on the current world.
... Similarly, to how the gender equality movement started challenging the meaning of gender role stereotypes, the positive leadership movement challenged the attributes and behaviors that would describe an effective organizational leader (leader role stereotype; Monzani and Van Dick, 2020). More precisely, due to the destructive role that business leaders played after the 2008 wall street crash (Gandz et al., 2010;Crossan et al., 2017), the traditional managerial view on leadership, focusing on contingent rewards and punishments ("carrots and sticks"), lost ground to positive leader attributes and behaviors that advance the organizational goals by promoting their followers' self-actualization and well-being. Authentic leadership style itself is described by two self-based psychological mechanisms; self-awareness and self-regulation , and is operationalized through four dimensions: Firstly, self-awareness refers to the awareness of goals, emotions, and needs of both oneself and others. ...
Full-text available
In the present study, we complement role congruity theory with insights from the Social Identity Model of Leadership. We propose that especially female leaders benefit from team prototypicality, i.e., being representative of the group they are leading. We assume that team prototypicality shifts the comparative frame away from higher-order categories like gender and leader roles to more concrete team-related properties and thereby reduces disadvantages for female leader that stem from the incongruity between the leader role and the female gender role stereotypes. Further, this effect should affect both (female) leaders themselves and their perception by their followers. Building on previous research, we predict, first, lower authentic leadership behavior for female than male leaders. Second, that team prototypicality positively relates to authentic leadership and trust in leader. Third, that team prototypicality has stronger relations to authentic leadership and trust in leader for female compared to male leaders. We tested assumptions in a randomized online experiment (Study 1, N = 315) and a cross-sectional survey study (Study 2, N = 300). We did not find consistent support for the assumed gender differences in authentic leadership. But our results (both in manifest and in latent analyses) show that team prototypicality-both self-perceived (Study 1) and as perceived by employees (Study 2)-is related to more authentic leadership and more trust in leader (Study 2) and that these relations are stronger for female than for male leaders. Furthermore, we tested in Study 2 an extended model including follower's job satisfaction as the final follower outcome affected via team prototypicality, leader gender, authentic leadership, and trust in leader. Thereby, we found that team prototypicality has direct and indirect effects on job satisfaction as carried through authentic leadership and trust in leader, respectively. Together, the results of both studies support our assumptions and show that female leaders can reduce role incongruity barriers through high team prototypicality. Implications for future research and practical implications of these results for gender equality are discussed.
... Sopiah [2][3] [4] presented that work satisfaction is as an emotional expression with the positive and pleasure as the result of evaluation to a work or the work experience, and there is a conformity between someone hope that is appeared and the reward that is prepared by the work. Leadership style in an organization is as a factor that determines the success or unsuccessful of an organization [5]. Success leadership indicates that the management of an organization is effective and efficient to be carried out successfully. ...
The leadership style on the Management Institution of Government Finance and Asset in Makassar City is tend to the delegate leadership style such as the authority of leader delegate is rather complete to the staff. Therefore, the staff can carry out the work duty freely. This research aims to know and to analyze the influence of leadership style, work commitment, and work motivation to the staff work satisfaction on the Management Institution of Government Finance and Asset in Makassar City, South Sulawesi Province of Indonesia. To implement the aim, this study uses the data collecting through the observation, documentation, and distribution of questionnaire. The analysis uses the quantitative descriptive analysis, hypothesis test, classical assumption test, and multiple linear regression analysis. Result shows that the leadership style, work commitment and work motivation have the positive and significant influence to the staff work satisfaction on the Management Institution of Government Finance and Asset in the Makassar City. Based on the regression analysis result, it indicates that the dominant variable which influences the staff work satisfaction on the Management Institution of Government Finance and Asset in the Makassar City is the leadership style. In addition, the leadership style, work commitment, and work motivation have positive and significant influence to the staff work satisfaction.
Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to describe the 4C's of Infuence framework and it's application to medicine and medical education. Leadership development is increasingly recognised as an integral physician skill. Competence, character, connection and culture are critical for effective influence and leadership. The theoretical framework, "The 4C's of Influence", integrates these four key dimensions of leadership and prioritises their longitudinal development, across the medical education learning continuum. Design/methodology/approach: Using a clinical case-based illustrative model approach, the authors provide a practical, theoretical framework to prepare physicians and medical learners to be engaging influencers and leaders in the health-care system. Findings: As leadership requires foundational skills and knowledge, a leader must be competent to best exert positive influence. Character-based leadership stresses development of, and commitment to, values and principles, in the face of everyday situational pressures. If competence confers the ability to do the right thing, character is the will to do it consistently. Leaders must value and build relationships, fostering connection. Building coalitions with diverse networks ensures different perspectives are integrated and valued. Connected leadership describes leaders who are inspirational, authentic, devolve decision-making, are explorers and foster high levels of engagement. To create a thriving, learning environment, culture must bring everything together, or will become the greatest barrier. Originality/value: The framework is novel in applying concepts developed outside of medicine to the medical education context. The approach can be applied across the medical education continuum, building on existing frameworks which focus primarily on what competencies need to be taught. The 4C's is a comprehensive framework for practically teaching the leadership for health care today.
Taiwan has been praised for its relatively successful response to the Covid pandemic. Potential reasons for this have been suggested to be related to geography, historical experience of the SARS outbreak in 2003 and the relatively communal nature of society. In this chapter, I look at more deep-seated factors and contend that the Confucian concept of harmony is a critical factor. Based on a recent empirical study, I relate Confucian harmony to concepts from the moral philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre, who proposes that a balanced pursuit of internal and external goods is necessary for eudaimonia or human flourishing. By bringing these concepts to bear on the differing responses to Covid in different countries, I demonstrate the relevance of religious and moral concepts to contemporary challenges.KeywordsConfucianismHarmonyMacIntyreCovid Eudaimonia Internal and external goods
Aristotle proposed that to achieve happiness and success, people should cultivate virtues at mean or intermediate levels between deficiencies and excesses. In stark contrast to this assertion that virtues have costs at high levels, a wealth of psychological research has focused on demonstrating the well-being and performance benefits of positive traits, states, and experiences. This focus has obscured the prevalence and importance of nonmonotonic inverted-U-shaped effects, whereby positive phenomena reach inflection points at which their effects turn negative. We trace the evidence for nonmonotonic effects in psychology and provide recommendations for conceptual and empirical progress. We conclude that for psychology in general and positive psychology in particular, Aristotle’s idea of the mean may serve as a useful guide for developing both a descriptive and a prescriptive account of happiness and success.
On Virtue Ethics is an exposition and defence of neo‐Aristotelian virtue ethics. The first part discusses the ways in which it can provide action guidance and action assessment, which are usually given by the v‐rules—rules generated from the names of the virtues and vices such as ‘Do what is honest’, ‘Do not do what is dishonest’. That such rules may (apparently) conflict, leads to an exploration of the virtue ethics approach to resolvable, irresolvable, and tragic dilemmas. The second part is about the role of the emotions in virtue and vice, since it examines the inculcation of racism through the miseducation of the emotions. Kant and Aristotle are compared on the question of moral motivation, and a virtue ethics’ account of acting ‘from a sense of duty’ provided. The third part is on ‘the rationality of morality’ in relation to virtue ethics, the question of whether there is any ‘objective’ criterion for a certain character trait being a virtue. The standard neo‐Aristotelian premise that ‘A virtue is a character trait a human being needs for eudaimonia, to flourish or live well’ should be regarded as encapsulating two interrelated claims, namely, that the virtues benefit their possessor, and that the virtues make their possessor good qua human being (human beings need the virtues in order to live a characteristically good human life.) The second claim is defended in terms of a form of ethical naturalism—the enterprise of basing ethics in some way on considerations of human nature—but a form that explicitly disavows any pretensions to being purely scientific.
At the heart of emotion, mood, and any other emotionally charged event are states experienced as simply feeling good or bad, energized or enervated. These states - called core affect - influence reflexes, perception, cognition, and behavior and are influenced by many causes internal and external, but people have no direct access to these causal connections. Core affect can therefore be experienced as free-floating (mood) or can be attributed to some cause (and thereby begin an emotional episode). These basic processes spawn a broad framework that includes perception of the core-affect-altering properties of stimuli, motives, empathy, emotional meta-experience, and affect versus emotion regulation; it accounts for prototypical emotional episodes, such as fear and anger, as core affect attributed to something plus various nonemotional processes.
The field of organizational justice continues to be marked by several important research questions, including the size of relationships among justice dimensions, the relative importance of different justice criteria, and the unique effects of justice dimensions on key outcomes. To address such questions, the authors conducted a meta-analytic review of 183 justice studies. The results suggest that although different justice dimensions are moderately to highly related, they contribute incremental variance explained in fairness perceptions. The results also illustrate the overall and unique relationships among distributive, procedural, interpersonal, and informational justice and several organizational outcomes (e.g., job satisfaction, organizational commitment, evaluation of authority, organizational citizenship behavior, withdrawal, performance). These findings are reviewed in terms of their implications for future research on organizational justice.
We investigated the status of leadership theory integration by reviewing 14 years of published research (2000 through 2013) in 10 top journals (864 articles). The authors of these articles examined 49 leadership approaches/theories, and in 293 articles, 3 or more of these leadership approaches were included in their investigations. Focusing on these articles that reflected relatively extensive integration, we applied an inductive approach and used graphic network analysis as a guide for drawing conclusions about the status of leadership theory integration. All 293 articles included in the analysis identified 1 focal theory that was integrated with 2 or more supporting leadership theories. The 6 leadership approaches most often appearing as the focal theory were transformational leadership, charismatic leadership, strategic leadership, leadership and diversity, participative/shared leadership, and the trait approach to leadership. On the basis of inductive reflections on our analysis, we make two key observations. First, the 49 focal leadership theories qualify as middle-range theories that are ripe for integration. Second, drawing from social network theory, we introduce the term “theoretical neighborhood” to describe the focal theoretical networks. Our graphical inductive analyses reveal potential connections among neighboring middle-range leadership theories that merit investigation and, hence, identify promising future directions for achieving greater theoretical integration. We provide an online supplement with 10 additional leadership theory graphs and analyses: leadership in teams and decision groups, ethical leadership, leader and follower cognitions, leadership emergence, leadership development, emotions and leadership, implicit leadership, leader-member exchange, authentic leadership, and identity and identification process theories of leadership.