Ethical Leadership at Work and with Friends and Family: Within-Person and Between-Raters Variability Matters


  • Michael Palanski Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Michelle Hammond Oakland University
  • Jayoung Kim Binghamton University
  • Gretchen Vogelgesang Lester San Jose State University
  • Rachel Clapp Smith Purdue University Northwest



Ethical Leadership, Multi-Domain Leadership, Levels of Analysis, Trust, Affective Trust, Cognitive Trust, Abusive Supervision


Despite its theoretical grounding in the personal moral characteristics of leaders, most research on Brown et al.’s (2005) ethical leadership construct has tended to ignore the personal life (friends/family) aspects of leaders. In this study, we consider ethical leadership behavior in both work and non-work (i.e., with friends and family) domains at both the intra-individual (domain) and individual (leader as a whole person) levels of analysis. We examine our research questions with a sample of 104 leaders and their 1,458 raters in executive MBA programs in the United States and Ireland. Our findings demonstrate that ethical leadership operates at the individual level of analysis in both work and non-work contexts, with the implication that researchers should consider both the mean and variation of ethical leadership. Our findings also indicate strong within-domain and limited cross-domain effects of ethical leadership and ethical leadership variation on cognitive trust, affective trust, and abusive supervision.


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How to Cite

Palanski, M., Hammond, M., Kim, J., Vogelgesang Lester, G., & Clapp Smith, R. (2023). Ethical Leadership at Work and with Friends and Family: Within-Person and Between-Raters Variability Matters. Journal of Character and Leadership Development, 10(3), 1–21.