Character and authentic transformational leadership behavior: Expanding the ascetic self toward others

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41 Scopus citations


Character, or inherent moral beliefs, intentions, and predispositions, is often considered to be a foundational element of outstanding leadership according to numerous theories of leadership and positive psychology. Yet, a framework for understanding the complex nature of character and the role it plays in determining who is able to display outstanding leadership does not fully exist. We present a framework and propositions for examining how the self-concept plays an integral role in the display of authentic transformational leadership behavior given individual and situational characteristics. We propose that leaders first create an ascetic self-construal that derives from character strengths and virtues and then project this self-image through idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration behavior. We identify and discuss 23 specific character strengths reflecting 6 universal virtues in the model (i.e., wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance, and transcendence), as well as suggest ways for assessing and developing behavior consistent with virtue and transformational leadership.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-269
Number of pages19
JournalConsulting Psychology Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)


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