Transformational leadership: an examination of cross‐national differences and similarities

Karen Boehnke (Lexmark International, Frenchs Forest, Australia)
Nick Bontis (McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada)
Joseph J. DiStefano (IMD, Lausanne, Switzerland)
Andrea C. DiStefano (Andrea DiStefano and Associates, Bangkok, Thailand)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Publication date: 1 February 2003


Success in the global marketplace depends on a manager’s ability to provide leadership. Exceptional success depends on sustaining extraordinary performance. Are there universal behaviours which are consistent around the world? Are there subtle differences of emphasis which vary across different nationalities or corporate environments? Senior executives were polled in two major divisions of a global petroleum company and from its major subsidiaries around the world. They were asked to describe examples of exceptional organizational performance and to identify the key leadership behaviours which they saw as explaining or accounting for the extraordinary outcomes. Content analysis led to a few key leadership behaviours being identified. The major finding was that the main dimensions of leadership for extraordinary performance are universal. Only a few variations in emphasis existed among six different regions of the world. Also there were some clear leadership differences, long established in the folklore of the company, associated with different corporate cultures in the two major divisions.



Boehnke, K., Bontis, N., DiStefano, J.J. and DiStefano, A.C. (2003), "Transformational leadership: an examination of cross‐national differences and similarities", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp. 5-15.

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Copyright © 2003, MCB UP Limited

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