Leadership styles and personality traits in relation to ethical values Leadership Styles and Personality Traits in Relation to Ethical Values The central question in this paper is ‘Which personality traits of leadership styles correspond to ethical values in order to influence individuals?’ In order to answer this question, the first paragraph will explain different leadership styles and personality traits. The second paragraph draws attention to the several approaches on ethical values. The third paragraph combines leadership styles, personality traits and ethical values so the different concepts and approaches can be linked to one another. Hence, it will become clear why the morality of the means, together with openness to experience and agreeableness, are the most important aspects to convince individuals of ethical values. Leadership styles and personality traits
The past two decades attention has been drawn on transactional leadership and transformational leadership, each having its own typical traits. Transactional leadership is often considered as contingent and based on the exchange and bargains between the leader and subordinate or follower.1 This leadership style aims at controlling and monitoring its subordinates in a rational way and economic fashion. In contrast to transactional leadership, transformational leaders rise above leader – subordinate relationships by influencing others through charisma, inspiration and stimulation. It seeks for a higher consequence, in favor of a collective mission, vision and purpose.2 Bono and Judge researched the relation between transactional leadership and the Five Factor Model (FFM) in order to examine which characteristics are most common for each leadership style.
The FFM included 5 traits, namely: extraversion, neuroticism, concept of openness, agreeableness and conscientious. 3 Event tough Bono and Judge admit the research they have done may not be the best way to discover the personality antecedents of leadership styles, extraversion has proven to be the most important trait because of the robust relations with both leadership behaviors. Besides, Lim and Ployhart tested these characteristics in relation to leadership styles as well and came to the same conclusion: extroversion is positively related to transactional leadership. In order to determine whether this trait is important in ethical values as well, the next paragraph will examine two different approaches on ethics. Ethics
The basis of ethical values consists of the values of an individual person, which are the principles and tenets that guide beliefs, attitude and behavior.4 When a company becomes more ethically oriented, it shows it has the capacity to reflect on values in the decision making process. According to Hood, there are a couple of values that characterize ethical leadership: morality-based values, social values, personal values and competency-based values. Transformational leadership appeared to be significantly related to all four types, while transactional leadership is only related to morality-based values and personal values. Hereby, Hood concluded that transformational leaders would go beyond legal prescription and apply more voluntary socially responsible and ethical practices. Contrary to Hood, Groves and LaRocca made a distinction between teleological ethics and deontological values.
The first one implies that the ends and outcomes are consistent with the influence process of transactional leadership, specifically the norm of reciprocity and the mutual altruistic motive.5 The second one focuses on the morality of the means rather than the ends.6 The results of their research indicated a strong relationship between transformational leadership and deontological values, while transformational leadership is closely related to teleological leadership. In sum, Hood, Groves and LaRocca examined different concepts in relation to ethics, while all came to the conclusion to stress the importance of continued examination of ethical values as critical antecedents to effective leadership behavior in organizations. Ethics and Personality Traits
Extraversion appears to be the most important personality trait for transformational and transactional leadership. However, does a person who is outgoing, charismatic and can easily influence followers, has the capability to exert that same influence concerning ethical values? According to Hood, social and morality based values are directly related to ethical practices. These values incorporate freedom, equality, forgiveness, helpfulness and politeness.7 Even though transformational leaders use extraversion to inspire others, this does not automatically mean that extraversion is the most important trait to convince followers with ethical values as well.
As such, equality, forgiveness and helpfulness rather belong to openness to experience and agreeableness. Besides, Groves and LaRocca focused on deontological and teleological values. They came to the conclusion that transformational leaders have the ability to demonstrate idealized attributes and behaviors, which may well rest on a strong deontological ethical foundation whereby the ‘road’ is more important than the end. Groves and LaRocca did not take personality traits into account and further examination of ethical values as critical antecedents to effective leadership is requested. Conclusion
This paper has drawn attention to leadership styles and personality traits in relation to ethical values. It has been questioned which personality traits of leadership styles correspond to ethical values in order to influence followers. First of all, extroversion is the most important trait in transformational and transactional leadership, as extrovert leaders seek social attention and express positive emotions. Second, ethical values are closely related to morality based and social values. These values do not have a close relation with extroversion; they are rather related to openness to experience and agreeableness. In order to communicate these values, leaders rather focus on the deontological foundation rather than teleological foundation. In sum, ethical values can be best expressed by using an intellectually stimulating and cooperative approach while focusing on the morality of the means.
Bono, J. and Judge, T. (2004) Personality and Transformational and Transactional Leadership: a Meta-Analysis. In Journal of Applied Psychology Vol. 89, No.5, 901-910. American Psychological Association Groves, K. and LaRocca, M (2011) An Empirical Study of Leaer Ethical Values, Transformation and Transactional Leadership, and Follower Attitudes Toward Corporate Social Responsibility. In Journal of Business Ethics 103:511-528. Springer Hood, J. (2003) The Relationship of Leadership Style and CEO Values to Ethical Practicees in Organizations. In Journal of Business Ethics 43:263-273. Kluwer Academic Publishers Lim, B and Ployhart, R. (2004) Transformational Leadership: Relations to the Five-Factor Model and Team Performance in Typical and Maximum contexts. In Journal of Applied Psychology Vol. 89, No. 4, 610-621. American Psychological Association