Self‐sacrifice and transformational leadership: mediating role of altruism

Niti Singh (The Gallup Organization, Chennai, India)
Venkat R. Krishnan (Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai, India)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Publication date: 9 May 2008

Abstract

Purpose

To explore the mediating role of altruism in the relationship between self‐sacrifice and transformational leadership, and to look at the effect of all three on followers' collective identity and perceptions of unit performance.

Design/methodology/approach

For Study 1, survey responses were collected from 127 managers in India. They answered questions on their leader's self‐sacrifice, altruism, and transformational leadership, and on their own collective identity and perceptions of unit performance. Study 2 used a scenario experiment and 161 students to manipulate self‐sacrifice and altruism and measure their effects on transformational leadership, collective identity and perceived unit performance.

Findings

It is possible to distinguish between self‐sacrifice and altruism empirically. Altruism mediates the relationship between self‐sacrifice and transformational leadership. Transformational leadership is positively related to followers' collective identity and perceived unit performance.

Research limitations/implications

Common source bias may have affected the findings. Use of student sample in Study 2 limits the generalizability of findings.

Practical implications

Other‐orientedness (altruism) of a manager enhances transformational leadership, which in turn leads to higher collective identity and perceived unit performance. Self‐sacrifice could be a good starting point in this chain of events.

Originality/value

Studies have shown that self‐sacrifice enhances transformational leadership. This paper highlights the mediating process through altruism. This is the first empirical study to look at the relationship between altruism and transformational leadership. This is also the first study to look at self‐sacrifice and altruism simultaneously.

Keywords

Citation

Singh, N. and Krishnan, V. (2008), "Self‐sacrifice and transformational leadership: mediating role of altruism", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 29 No. 3, pp. 261-274. https://doi.org/10.1108/01437730810861317

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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