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Transformative Leadership: Achieving Unparalleled Excellence


  • Cam Caldwell


  • Rolf Dixon
  • Larry Floyd


  • Joe Chaudoin
  • Jonathan Post
  • Gaynor Cheokas



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. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Suggested Citation

  • Cam Caldwell & Rolf Dixon & Larry Floyd & Joe Chaudoin & Jonathan Post & Gaynor Cheokas, 2012. "Transformative Leadership: Achieving Unparalleled Excellence," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 109(2), pages 175-187, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jbuset:v:109:y:2012:i:2:p:175-187
    DOI: 10.1007/s10551-011-1116-2

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Cam Caldwell & Linda Hayes & Do Long, 2010. "Leadership, Trustworthiness, and Ethical Stewardship," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 96(4), pages 497-512, November.
    2. Bernard Taylor, 2003. "Corporate Governance: the crisis, investors' losses and the decline in public trust," Corporate Governance: An International Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(3), pages 155-163, July.
    3. Arnold, Denis G. & Audi, Robert & Zwolinski, Matt, 2010. "Recent Work in Ethical Theory and Its Implications for Business Ethics," Business Ethics Quarterly, Cambridge University Press, vol. 20(04), pages 559-581, October.
    4. Isabelle Huault & V. Perret & S. Charreire-Petit, 2007. "Management," Post-Print halshs-00337676, HAL.
    5. Kevin Groves & Michael LaRocca, 2011. "An Empirical Study of Leader Ethical Values, Transformational and Transactional Leadership, and Follower Attitudes Toward Corporate Social Responsibility," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 103(4), pages 511-528, November.
    6. Patricia Werhane, 2007. "Women Leaders in a Globalized World," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 74(4), pages 425-435, September.
    7. Cam Caldwell & Do Truong & Pham Linh & Anh Tuan, 2011. "Strategic Human Resource Management as Ethical Stewardship," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 98(1), pages 171-182, January.
    8. Sefa Hayibor & Bradley Agle & Greg Sears & Jeffrey Sonnenfeld & Andrew Ward, 2011. "Value Congruence and Charismatic Leadership in CEO–Top Manager Relationships: An Empirical Investigation," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 102(2), pages 237-254, August.
    9. Jeffrey Pfeffer, 2007. "Human Resources from an Organizational Behavior Perspective: Some Paradoxes Explained," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(4), pages 115-134, Fall.
    10. W. Edwards Deming, 2000. "Out of the Crisis," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262541157, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gordon Wang & Rick D. Hackett, 2016. "Conceptualization and Measurement of Virtuous Leadership: Doing Well by Doing Good," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 137(2), pages 321-345, August.


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