Growing transformational leaders: exploring the role of personality hardiness

Jarle Eid (Department of Psychosocial Science, The University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway)
Bjørn Helge Johnsen (Department of Psychosocial Science, The University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway)
Paul T. Bartone (The National Defense University, Washington, DC, USA)
Odd Arne Nissestad (The Royal Norwegian Navy, Bergen, Norway)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Publication date: 8 February 2008



The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the role of personality hardiness in facilitating change or growth in transformational leadership of Norwegian Navy cadets following a stressful military training exercise.


Leadership styles were measured in cadets before and after an intensive leadership training exercise, and again six months later. Hardiness was measured near the end of the first academic year. Leader performance was measured with first year leader development grades.


Repeated measures ANOVAS showed a sustained increase in transformational and transactional leadership following the exercise, and a decrease in the passive‐avoidant style (management by exception – passive and laissez‐faire).

Research limitations/implications

This research was conducted with a relatively small group and findings may not generalize readily to other populations.

Practical implications

These results suggest high hardy individuals have a greater readiness to make use of stressful training experiences as opportunities for developmental growth as leaders.


This study is the first of its kind to explore the role of a key personality variable – hardiness – to facilitate positive benefit from a real‐world training experience designed to develop better leadership capabilities. Further, it is one of few studies to identify factors contributing to the growth transformational leadership style. A strength of the study is that it was conducted in the context of a real‐world leadership training activity.



Eid, J., Helge Johnsen, B., Bartone, P. and Arne Nissestad, O. (2008), "Growing transformational leaders: exploring the role of personality hardiness", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 29 No. 1, pp. 4-23.

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Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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