This week’s research tidbits are LEADERSHIP QUARTERLY’S most downloaded papers during 2014. Note that many of these papers have to do with ethical leadership and some were written quite a few years ago.

Leadership theory and research in the new millennium: Current theoretical trends and changing perspectives.
Jessica E. Dinh, Robert G. Lord, William L. Gardner, Jeremy D. Meuser, Robert C. Liden & Jinyu Hu.

Abstract: Scholarly research on the topic of leadership has witnessed a dramatic increase over the last decade, resulting in the development of diverse leadership theories. To take stock of established and developing theories since the beginning of the new millennium, we conducted an extensive qualitative review of leadership theory across 10 top-tier academic publishing outlets that included The Leadership Quarterly, Administrative Science Quarterly, American Psychologist, Journal of Management, Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Journal of Applied Psychology, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Organizational Science, and Personnel Psychology. We then combined two existing frameworks (Gardner, Lowe, Moss, Mahoney, & Cogliser, 2010; Lord & Dinh, 2012) to provide a process-oriented framework that emphasizes both forms of emergence and levels of analysis as a means to integrate diverse leadership theories. We then describe the implications of the findings for future leadership research and theory.

The Leadership Quarterly, 2014, 25(1), 36–62.


Ethics, character, and authentic transformational leadership behavior.
Bernard M Bass & Paul Steidlmeier

Abstract: The morality of transformational leadership has been sharply questioned, particularly by libertarians, “grass roots” theorists, and organizational development consultants. This paper argues that to be truly transformational, leadership must be grounded in moral foundations. The four components of authentic transformational leadership (idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration) are contrasted with their counterfeits in dissembling pseudo-transformational leadership on the basis of (1) the moral character of the leaders and their concerns for self and others; (2) the ethical values embedded in the leaders’ vision, articulation, and program, which followers can embrace or reject; and (3) the morality of the processes of social ethical choices and action in which the leaders and followers engage and collectively pursue. The literature on transformational leadership is linked to the long-standing literature on virtue and moral character, as exemplified by Socratic and Confucian typologies. It is related as well to the major themes of the modern Western ethical agenda: liberty, utility, and distributive justice Deception, sophistry, and pretense are examined alongside issues of transcendence, agency, trust, striving for congruence in values, cooperative action, power, persuasion, and corporate governance to establish the strategic and moral foundations of authentic transformational leadership.

The Leadership Quarterly, 1999, 10(2), 181–217.


Authentic Leadership Development — Getting to the Root of Positive Forms of Leadership.
Bruce J. Avolio & William L. Gardner

Abstract: This Special Issue is the result of the inaugural summit hosted by the Gallup Leadership Institute at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2004 on Authentic Leadership Development (ALD). We describe in this introduction to the special issue current thinking in this emerging field of research as well as questions and concerns. We begin by considering some of the environmental and organizational forces that may have triggered interest in describing and studying authentic leadership and its development. We then provide an overview of its contents, including the diverse theoretical and methodological perspectives presented, followed by a discussion of alternative conceptual foundations and definitions for the constructs of authenticity, authentic leaders, authentic leadership, and authentic leadership development. A detailed description of the components of authentic leadership theory is provided next. The similarities and defining features of authentic leadership theory in comparison to transformational, charismatic, servant and spiritual leadership perspectives are subsequently examined. We conclude by discussing the status of authentic leadership theory with respect to its purpose, construct definitions, historical foundations, consideration of context, relational/processual focus, attention to levels of analysis and temporality, along with a discussion of promising directions for future research.

The Leadership Quarterly, 2005, 16(3), 315–338.


Ethical leadership: A review and future directions.
Michael E. Brown & Linda K. Treviño

Our literature review focuses on the emerging construct of ethical leadership and compares this construct with related concepts that share a common concern for a moral dimension of leadership (e.g., spiritual, authentic, and transformational leadership). Drawing broadly from the intersection of the ethics and leadership literatures, we offer propositions about the antecedents and outcomes of ethical leadership. We also identify issues and questions to be addressed in the future and discuss their implications for research and practice. Our review indicates that ethical leadership remains largely unexplored, offering researchers opportunities for new discoveries and leaders opportunities to improve their effectiveness.

The Leadership Quarterly, 2006, 17(6), 595–616.


An evaluation of conceptual weaknesses in transformational and charismatic leadership theories.
Gary Yukl

Theories of transformational and charismatic leadership provide important insights about the nature of effective leadership. However, most of the theories have conceptual weaknesses that reduce their capacity to explain effective leadership. The conceptual weaknesses are identified here and refinements are suggested. The issue of compatibility between transformational and charismatic leadership is also discussed. Finally, some methodological problems involving construct validation and theory testing are identified, and suggestions for future research are provided.

The Leadership Quarterly, 1999, 10(2), 285–305.