HKS Authors

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Extensive research exists linking leadership to organizational outcomes. In particular transformational leadership has received a great deal of support for its effectiveness in producing desirable organizational outcomes across a variety of organizational settings. More recently due to well-publicized business scandals, leadership research has focused on the moral dimensions of leadership. It has been suggested that charismatic leadership and transformational leadership could have a dark-side with some leaders using their influence to exploit followers and use their position for self-serving goals. The purpose of this research is to investigate if a leader’s character traits add in predicting organizational outcomes beyond that predicted by a leader’s transformational leadership style and to see if some transformational leaders do display a dark side. The sample for this research consisted of 279,100 active-duty military and civilian United States Air Force personnel. Data were collected using a survey that included measures of transformational leadership, character, and five organizational outcomes. Results indicated leadership and character were significantly related to the five outcome measures, and character significantly contributed to prediction of the outcomes after accounting for the effects of transformational leadership. Additionally, high levels of character and transformational leadership yielded the greatest effects on the outcomes. A small percentage of participants displayed the dark side of leadership (i.e., scoring high on transformational leadership and low on character). This research adds support for measuring leaders’ character in combination with transformational leadership assessment.


Hendrix, William H., Dana H. Born, and Scott Hopkins. "Relationship of Transformational Leadership and Character with Five Organizational Outcomes." Journal of Character and Leadership Integration 3.1 (May 2015): 54-71.