Leadership theories

There are many studies which show that role modelling a contribution to a collective effort is a means by which effective leaders encourage followers to do the same. In 2001 Chemers in Leadership Effectiveness: An integrative review argued that effective role modelling is based on perceptions of competence and trustworthiness, and deeply held assumptions about what constitutes a credible leader. And a study in 2011 by Yaff and Kark,  Leading by Example: the case of Leader OCB, showed that people are likely to engage in ‘organisational citizenship behaviour’ to the extent that they believe it is a worthy behaviour, and their beliefs about the value of such behaviour are enhanced by a leader’s own behaviour, especially if they consider that the leader is a worthy role model.

Leading by example, or role-modelling, is therefore acknowledged to be one of the most powerful means for transmitting values, attitudes, and behaviours.  But not necessarily for the good, as Trevino and Brown in The Role of Leaders in Influencing Unethical Behavior in the Workplace, pointed out in 2005: leaders can also influence others by modelling unethical behaviours.