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Transformative Leadership: Achieving Unparalleled Excellence

Abstract

The ongoing cynicism about leaders and organizations calls for a new standard of ethical leadership that we have labeled “transformative leadership.” This new leadership model integrates ethically-based features of six other well-regarded leadership perspectives and combines key normative and instrumental elements of each of those six perspectives. Transformative leadership honors the governance obligations of leaders by demonstrating a commitment to the welfare of all stakeholders and by seeking to optimize long-term wealth creation. Citing the scholarly literature about leadership theory, we identify key elements of the six leadership perspectives that make up transformative leadership, suggest leaders who exemplify each perspective, describe the ethical foundations and message of each perspective, and offer ten propositions that scholars and practitioners can use to test the dimensions of this new transformative leadership model.

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Correspondence to Cam Caldwell.

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Rolf D. Dixon, a co-author and key contributor to this paper, past away in 2011 while this paper was under review.

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Caldwell, C., Dixon, R.D., Floyd, L.A. et al. Transformative Leadership: Achieving Unparalleled Excellence. J Bus Ethics 109, 175–187 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-011-1116-2

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Keywords

  • Ethical leadership
  • Transformative leadership
  • Covenantal leadership
  • Ethical stewardship
  • Level 5 leadership
  • Servant leadership
  • Principle-centered leadership
  • Transformational leadership
  • Charismatic leadership