Character for Leadership: The Role of Personal Characteristics in Effective Leadership Behaviors
Reid A. Kisling
While character is popularly considered a significant determinant of behavior, current theories of leadership typically consider behavior alone in the evaluation of effective leadership. One model of transformational leadership, visionary leadership theory (VLT; Sashkin & Rosenbach, 1996; Sashkin & Sashkin, 2002), incorporates the personal characteristics of the leader in addition to specific leader behaviors in the consideration of effective leadership. Using the model of character constructed by Cloninger, Svrakic, and Pryzbeck (1993), this study evaluated differences of character levels on effective visionary leadership behaviors for a sample of students preparing for religious leadership. This study utilized The Leadership Profile (TLP; Sashkin, Rosenbach, & Sashkin, 1997) and the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI; Cloninger, Przybeck, Svarkic, & Wetzel, 1994) instruments. Study participants were segmented by levels of prior ministry leadership experience and ministry leadership participation while in school as well as by levels of the character traits self-directedness, cooperativeness, and self-transcendence. Results demonstrated statistically significant findings for the character trait levels of self-directedness (confident leadership by self-directedness level—c2 = 20.37, p = .00; visionary leadership by self-directedness level—c2 = 17.29, p = .00) and cooperativeness (follower-centered leadership by cooperativeness level—c2 = 7.97, p = .02; visionary leadership by cooperativeness level—c2 = 18.40, p = .00) but not for levels of self-transcendence. Exploratory regression analysis showed that self-directedness and self-transcendence scale scores predict a significant amount of the variance in visionary leadership behavior scores (R2 = .306, F = 21.61, p = .00). Regression analysis also showed that prior ministry leadership experience level, when combined with self-directedness and self-transcendence scale scores, predicts a significant amount of the variance in visionary leadership behavior scores (R2 = .338, F = 16.53, p = .00). This study also provides conceptual development of distinctions between character, values, ethics, and morality as well as links between behavioral self-regulation and character.
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