Self-control Puts Character into Action: Examining How Leader Character Strengths and Ethical Leadership Relate to Leader Outcomes

John J. Sosik, Jae Uk Chun, Ziya Ete, Fil J. Arenas, Joel A. Scherer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Evidence from a growing number of studies suggests leader character as a means to advance leadership knowledge and practice. Based on this evidence, we propose a process model depicting how leader character manifests in ethical leadership that has positive psychological and performance outcomes for leaders, along with the moderating effect of leaders’ self-control on the character strength–ethical leadership–outcomes relationships. We tested this model using multisource data from 218 U.S. Air Force officers (who rated their honesty/humility, empathy, moral courage, self-control, and psychological flourishing) and their subordinates (who rated their officer’s ethical leadership) and superiors (who rated the officers’ in-role performance). Findings provide initial support for leader character as a mechanism triggering positive outcomes such that only when officers reported a high level of self-control did their honesty/humility, empathy, and moral courage manifest in ethical leadership, associated with higher levels of psychological flourishing and in-role performance. We discuss the implications of these results for future theory development, research, and practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)765-781
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Law

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