U.S. Department of Defense


Date of this Version



The Leadership Quarterly 22 (2011) 989–994; doi:10.1016/j.leaqua.2011.07.018


We advance the discussion that each leader has a moral component that can be defined as character that is distinct from values, personality, and other similar constructs. We seek to clarify what underpins forms of character-based leadership and exemplary leader behaviors. We build out our previous discussion (Hannah & Avolio, this issue) that the locus of character is within the leader and is an integral part of the leader's self-system. Further, we extend the domain of character research toward its upper bounds and introduce the notion of ethos as a distinct class of character and relate ethos to extra-ethical virtuous behaviors. Finally, we place character in relationship to collectives and discuss bidirectional influences operating between leader character and the context.