Do Ethical, Authentic, And Servant Leadership Explain Variance Above And Beyond Transformational Leadership? A Meta-Analysis

This study compares three emerging forms of positive leadership that emphasize ethical and moral behavior (i.e., authentic leadership, ethical leadership, and servant leadership) with transformational leadership in their associations with a wide range of organizationally relevant measures. While scholars have noted conceptual overlap between transformational leadership and these newer leadership forms, there has been inadequate investigation of the empirical relationships with transformational leadership and the ability (or lack thereof) of these leadership forms to explain incremental variance beyond transformational leadership. In response, we conducted a series of meta-analyses to provide a comprehensive assessment of these emerging leadership forms' relationships with variables evaluated in the extant literature. Second, we tested the relative performance of each of these leadership forms in explaining incremental variance, beyond transformational leadership, in nine outcomes. We also provide relative weights analyses to further evaluate the relative contributions of the emerging leadership forms versus transformational leadership. The high correlations between both authentic leadership and ethical leadership with transformational leadership coupled with their low amounts of incremental variance suggest that their utility is low unless they are being used to explore very specific outcomes. Servant leadership, however, showed more promise as a stand-alone leadership approach that is capable of helping leadership researchers and practitioners better explain a wide range of outcomes. Guidance regarding future research and the utility of these three ethical/moral values-based leadership forms is provided.