Leadership and character

James C. Sarros (Leadership Research Unit, Faculty of Business and Economics, Monash University, Caulfield East, Australia)
Brian K. Cooper (Department of Management, Faculty of Business and Economics, Monash University, Caulfield East, Australia)
Anne M. Hartican (CLiC Consulting, South Yarra, Australia)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Publication date: 1 December 2006



The purpose of this paper is to examine self‐assessed character among Australian managers in relation to selected demographic variables of these managers, and to establish the initial psychometric properties of the Virtuous Leadership Scale used to measure dimensions of character.


Data were collected through a national online survey of managers utilizing the membership base of the Australian Institute of Management.


The findings reveal that self‐assessed character is multifaceted and varies across specific demographics (gender, age, level of seniority, years as an executive), and is subject to some degree of social desirability bias. Further research is warranted to explore these outcomes and relationships.

Research limitations/implications

The study is limited by national culture and management self‐report data that need verification across different national cultures, work settings, and work groups. The findings indicate that integrity is a key character attribute reported by managers, but the present results require further validation across industry sectors and other organizational contexts.

Practical implications

The findings suggest the need for further examination of character as an important component of leadership success, strategy, and impact.


The study identifies attributes of character linked to selected demographic (personal and professional) variables of practising managers, and points the way for further examination of the part character has to play in the leadership of organizations.



James C. Sarros, Brian K. Cooper and Anne M. Hartican (2006) "Leadership and character", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 27 No. 8, pp. 682-699

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: https://doi.org/10.1108/01437730610709291



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Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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