Reconstituting superman: Identifying ideal leadership styles in a financial services context

John Raines Collison, University of Pennsylvania


The great majority of leadership research is undertaken in academic contexts, and focuses on micro-level analysis in an attempt to deconstruct effective leadership into its component parts. An issue that has rarely been addressed is the preference of individuals in professional contexts for more integrated, holistic leadership styles. To investigate this question, I worked with leaders across hierarchical levels at a large financial services firm. Senior leaders were interviewed to understand their perception of ideal leadership styles, while mid-level and junior level leaders were asked to rank and rate descriptions of a charismatic leader, a relationship-oriented (relational) leader, and a task-oriented (transactional) leader in the context of a leadership development project. Senior leaders reported an ideal leadership style that focused on vision, communication, inspiration, and role modeling, the components of charismatic leadership seen throughout the literature. Mid-level and junior level leaders overwhelmingly preferred charismatic leaders to relational and transactional leaders, and similarly preferred relational leaders to transactional leaders. Variance with prior research using student samples is discussed, as are the practical and ethical implications of developing charismatic leaders.

Subject Area

Occupational psychology|Management|Social psychology

Recommended Citation

Collison, John Raines, "Reconstituting superman: Identifying ideal leadership styles in a financial services context" (2005). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3197661.