Give them what they want or give them what they need? Ideology in the study of leadership

Michael D. Mumford, Yitzhak Fried

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


In recent years, a number of new, values-based, or ideological models focusing on leader behavior have been proposed. These models include authentic, servant, character-based, ethical, spiritual, and aesthetic leadership. In the present effort, we argue that these models, despite some differences in key dimensions, are tied together by a focus on moral behavior. The available evidence indicates that these models have only modest predictive power with respect to organizational performance criteria. More centrally, we argue that tests of these models are characterized by significant methodological problems with respect to both measurement and control. Moreover, these models suffer from some serious substantive concerns, including the explicit confounding of leadership and morality, discounting of system impacts, inappropriate assumptions about follower needs, and inappropriate scientific inferences. These models also fail to provide viable new approaches for leader development. We conclude that caution must be exercised when these models are employed as a basis for understanding leadership.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)622-634
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Organizational Behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • Leader development
  • Leader selection
  • Leadership
  • Leadership theory
  • Methods


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