Toward a political theory of leadership

Anthony P. Ammeter, Ceasar Douglas, William L. Gardner, Wayne A. Hochwarter, Gerald R. Ferris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

160 Scopus citations


Leadership has been an active area of scientific investigation for over half a century, with scholars developing different perspectives on antecedents, processes, and outcomes. Conspicuous in its absence has been a conceptualization of leadership from a political perspective, despite appeals for such a theory and the widely acknowledged view of political processes in organizations. In this article, we develop a model of a political theory of leadership in an effort to address this need, and to demonstrate the versatility of such a conceptualization for understanding both leadership and social influence processes in organizations. Because we define politics in organizational leadership as the constructive management of shared meaning, we demonstrate how a political perspective does not necessarily cast leaders in a personally ambitious, manipulative role. We proceed to show how this political perspective can contribute to effectiveness through both enhanced leader outcomes and the constituencies' consequences to which leaders are directing their efforts. The implications for a political theory of leadership are discussed, as are directions for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)751-796
Number of pages46
JournalLeadership Quarterly
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2002


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