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.
Leadership & Organization Development Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 9, 2008
Keywords: Transformational leadership; Altruism; Group dynamics
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