U.S. Department of Defense


Date of this Version



The Leadership Quarterly 22 (2011) 979–983; doi:10.1016/j.leaqua.2011.07.016


Character is an indispensable component of leadership and its development, and thus warrants future research focus. Before a purposeful research stream on character can proceed, however, it is critical that we fully define and conceptualize the character construct (the ontological basis) and then consider how we might best measure this construct and test it across a diverse array of contexts (the epistemological basis). We pursue these ends by first unpacking the definition of leader character and then by posing a series of questions. Following our initial thoughts related to the locus of character and how leader character is transmitted to and received by followers, we proceed by discussing how character relates to or serves as an antecedent to exemplary leadership styles, how character is contextualized, and how character is developed.