EFFECTS OF LEADER ATTRIBUTES ON PERCEIVED LEADER INTEGRITY
In the leadership literature and in the eyes of the popular media, integrity is seen as a
fundamental requisite to lead. The leader’s integrity has been shown to have positive effects
(Parry & Proctor-Thomson, 2002; Posner & Schmidt, 1992), and many scholars argue that the
leader’s integrity is the source of the organization’s tone and ethical atmosphere (Trevino,
Brown, & Laura, 2003; White & Lean, 2007).
Integrity is a complex construct and is usually accorded components of moral and
behavioral integrity. McFall (1987:11) considers moral integrity to be “a social virtue with
strings attached”, and Simons (2002:19) defines behavioral integrity, “as the perceived pattern
of alignment between an actor’s words and deeds”. Common to both is the importance of
how integrity is perceived by the leader’s followers and several scholars have researched the
influence of the follower attributes on perception of leader integrity (Davis & Rothstein, 2006;
Fields, 2007; Simons, 2002).
There is, however, little discussion on leader’s side of the interaction, on how the
attributes of a leader might influence his integrity and the perception of his integrity. In this
paper we argue that the leader’s personal attributes can mediate his integrity, and the
perception of his integrity in significant ways.
Firstly, a leader’s attitudes and behavior can be subject to social influence. The degree
of influence will be moderated by factors such as self monitoring, self awareness, and
personal preference for consistency. This influence has implications for his moral choices
and for the consistency of his behavior, and hence for his moral and behavioral integrity.
Secondly, the image projected by a leader will be moderated by his political skill, self
monitoring behavior and self presentation skills
This paper will first introduce the importance of the perception of a leader’s integrity and
then discuss how leader attributes are pertinent to the communication of and the perception of
that integrity. We will then draw upon Palanski and Yammarino’s study of integrity which
provided a clustering of many works in integrity into five groups: consistency of word and
deed, consistency in the face of adversity, wholeness, morality/ethical and authenticity (2007).
By considering these aspects in turn we can elucidate areas in which the leader’s attributes
influences his integrity and the subsequent perception of integrity.
This will provide a base for discussion on the role of a leader’s integrity both as an
aspect of leadership theories and further research, and also within management practice.
Within the paper we will present arguments to support the following model:
Leader Personality Leader Personality
Leader Leader Perceived leader
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