Are Transformational leaders creative and Creative leaders transformational? An attempted synthesis through the Big Five Factor Model of Personality Lens

30 A Peer Reviewed Research JournalaWEshkar Vol. XVIII Issue 2 September 2014 WeSchool

Are Transformational leaders creative and Creative leaders transformational? An attempted synthesis through the Big Five Factor Model of Personality Lens


Using the Big Five Factor Model of personality, I propose to explore the association between transformational leadership and their creativity disposition. I go beyond the unilateral understanding of this association and try to explore if creative leaders may be transformational. These two associations shall be underscored in separate sections. Research questions veering around these associations are being offered underscoring the need for significant contextual factors for an appropriate understanding of the relationships.

KEY WORDS: Big Five Factor Model of Personality, Transformational Leader, Creative Leader.

Stuti Saxena*

*Stuti Saxena, Research Assistant, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, India. Email:



Leadership, as a research area, holds promises for the real-world organizations where the impetus is laid down on creativity. Similarly, organizational creativity is abuzz among the research discussants. Organizations’ survival is contingent upon their creative solutions in an ever-turbulent and fast- obsolescent technological mileu. Among the diverse variants of leadership, transformational and transactional leadership have been of immense interest among the research scholars. Leaders are the very lifeline in any creative organization. In fact, organizations prosper or fall from grace when led by good or bad leaders-it’s a bet worth going for. Creativity is the generation of novel ideas and leads to the production of products and services. I seek to understand the personality of a leader who is transformational and creative at the same time, using the Big Five Factor Model of personality.

Hitherto, it has been established that a transformational leader ought to be creative. However, would a leader with a creative personality be transformational- this remains uncovered in the extant research. This would help understand the role of a creative-transformational leader, especially when it influences role-modeling. Research questions centered on these two associations shall be put forth for future research. The sequence of the study follows the description of the Big Five Factor Model of Personality; linkage between the Big Five Factor Model of personality with creativity; linkage between the Big Five Factor of personality with transformational leadership summated by a conclusion.


Personality is the uniqueness of traits exhibited by

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Are Transformational leaders creative and Creative leaders transformational? An attempted synthesis through the Big Five Factor Model of Personality Lens

an individual which define him owing to his/her dynamic interaction with the environment. Personality theory has been supportive of the five- factor view of personality (Digman, 1990; Goldberg, 1990). The Big Five was based on decades of research starting with Fiske in 1949 and defined using appropriate terminology by Goldberg in 1981 (John & Srivastava, 1999). The advantage of broad categories in the Big Five is their bandwidth (Barrick & Mount, 1991; John & Srivastava, 1999). As per the theory, there are five components of personality: extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness to experience. These five factors of personality encompass many correlated but distinct lower level dimensions or traits. Personality traits are the psychological qualities that contribute to an individual’s enduring and distinctive patterns of feeling, thinking and behaving (Cervone & Pervin, 2008). In fact, the communality of the specific traits defines each of the five broad factors. Further, these five factors have been found consistently through diverse research methods across time, contexts and cultures (e.g., McCrae, Costa, del Pilar, Rolland, & Parker, 1998). Big Five Factor model of personality has been researched in relation to career success (Judge, Higgins, Thorensen, & Barrick, 1999), job satisfaction (Judge, Heller, & Mount, 2002), job performance (Barrick & Mount, 1991), leadership (Judge, Bono, Ilies, & Gerhardt, 2002), performance motivation (Judge & Ilies, 2002) apart from other personality-related and organizational outcomes. A brief about the five factors falls in place.

NEUROTICISM: It reflects the tendency to be anxious, defensive, insecure, and emotional

(McCrae & Costa, 1987). Neurotics lack self- confidence (McCrae & Costa, 1991). Neurotics possess facets such as angry hostility, depression, self-consciousness, impulsiveness and vulnerability. Individuals rating high on neuroticism typically have a pessimistic outlook in life and focus on the negatives in themselves and in others. Thus, neurotics are more likely to experience depression and vulnerability to stress than those who are low in this trait (McCrae & Costa, 1985). Neurotics have a tendency to ruminate and focus on negative affect (Roelofs, Huibers, Peeters, Arntz, & van Os, 2008). Neuroticists are extremely concerned about personal competence. They are emotionally reactive. The opposite pair of neuroticism is emotional stability. Emotional stability implies exercising restraint over one’s emotions. Emotional stability lends to even temperament, self-confidence, resilience, high tolerance of stress and well-adjustment. Such individuals are unemotional, self-content and highly satisfied with themselves.

EXTRAVERSION: Individuals with an extraversion personality are social, assertive, active, bold, energetic and adventurous. Extraverts are dominant in their behavior and expressive when interacting with others (McCrae & Costa, 1987). Extraversion is also known as surgency. Extraversion comprises of facets like warmth, gregariousness, assertiveness, activity, excitement seeking and positive emotions. Extraverts also tend to be higher in positive affectivity and activity than introverts (McCrae & Costa, 1985). Extraverts have a keen interest in other people and relevant external events. They are more talkative and adventurous with good skills in using humor. In contrast, introverts are

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reserved and independent and do not prefer large groups and gatherings (Costa & McCrae, 1992). Introverts prefer being solitary and have low energy and enthusiasm. Intraversion implies traits of passivity, reservedness, and being quiet.

OPENNESS TO EXPERIENCE: Individuals whose personality is marked by an openness to experience possess traits like imagination, unconventionality, autonomy, creativity and divergent thinking (McCrae & Costa, 1987). Openness to experience encompasses aspects like fantasy, feelings, actions, ideas and values. They think in an esoteric manner and fantasize a lot while deliberating in social values (McCrae, 1996) They show independent judgement as well as possess autonomous thinking (Woodman, Sawyer, & Griffin, 1993). De Young, Peterson and Higgins (2005) have termed openness as “motivated cognitive flexibility” owing to its encompassing intelligence, creativity and motivation. Being high in openness to experience is linked with being tolerant to ambiguity and having a preference for complexity (McCrae & Costa, 1997). Open individuals are unconventional and broad-minded. Openness to experience has long been established as being related to creativity (Feist, 1998) and has correlations with creative thinking styles, goals, hobbies and accomplishments (Silvia, Kaufman, Reiter-Palmon, & Wigert, 2008). Individuals scoring high on openness to experience are nonconformists and pride themselves on anti- authoritarian and anti-establishment attitudes (McCrae, 1996). Further, openness is related with divergent thinking (McCrae, 1987), creative achievements in science and art (Carson, Peterson, & Higgins, 2005) as well as perception of one’s own creativity in various domains and

originality assessment. Open individuals have intellectual curiosity and prefer variety (Costa & McCrae, 1992). In contrast, individuals who score low on openness are conventional in behavior and opt for the familiar rather than the novel (Costa & McCrae, 1992).

AGREEABLENESS: Agreeable individuals are altruistic, warm, generous, trusting and cooperative (McCrae & Costa, 1987; Costa & McCrae, 1992). Agreeableness includes dimensions like trust, straightforwardness, altruism, compliance, modesty and tender-mindedness. Agreeable individuals are pro-social and empathetic towards others. They are concerned with others’ interests. Being agreeable implies traits such as kindness and friendly behavior. Such individuals have a tendency of getting along with other people. They are willing to compromise their personal interests with others because of their cooperative personality. Agreeablenes helps increase the quality of interaction of the leaders with their followers. However, they may also be overly submissive and conforming (Graziano & Eisenberg, 1997). This might emerge as a counterproductive characteristic, at times. This is so because they might give in to circumstances which require taking a tough stance. Indeed, this would be counterproductive to organizational interests. In contrast to agreeableness, a disagreeable person or an antagonistic individual is egocentric, skeptical of others’ intentions, and competitive rather than cooperative (Costa & McCrae, 1992). These individuals tend to be distrusting in their behavior and have an attitude of opposition towards others. They are unkind.

CONSCIENTIOUSNESS: Conscientiousness

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encompasses dependability, responsibility, dutifulness, deliberation, achievement orientation and a concern for following established rules (McCrae & Costa, 1987). They are cautious, thoughtful and have a tendency to strictly adhere to standards of conduct (Costa, McCrae, & Dye, 1991). Conscientiousness is measured in terms of competence, order, dutifulness, achievement striving, self-discipline and deliberation. Conscientious individuals are precise and orderly and involve themselves in detailed and attentive planning (Costa & McCrae, 1992; McCrae & Costa, 1987). Conscientiousness is also known as dependability and implies reliability with thoroughness. They are rarely impulsive because they spend a lot of their time in the thought process. Chamorro-Premuzic and Furnham (2003) have linked the dimensions of achievement orientation, efficiency, goal-focus and perseverance with conscientiousness. Such individuals are able to efficiently self regulate and channelize their impulses towards achievement.On the other end of the spectrum, low conscientiousness implies that individuals are negligent, unreliable and severely careless.


Creativity is conceptualized in terms of ideation which is defined as how individuals use or appropriate ideas (Runco, Plucker, & Lim, 2000- 2001). Creativity is akin to an individual’s ingenuity to conceive of novel ideas to provide useful solutions in the form of products or services. Creativity is an individual-level construct and may be defined as the generation of unique and appropriate ideas, processes, or solutions

(Amabile, 1996; Ford, 1996; Shalley, 1991). Further, creative ideas should be implementable and result-oriented. In fact, innovation is the appropriate outcome of creativity (Baer, 2012). In an organizational context, these innovations should indeed be useful and novel.

In fact, creativity appears to be a complex construct and is a function of diverse factors which may be linked with tangible aspects like product or novel idea generation (Amabile, 1982; Oldham & Cummings, 1996), the creative person (Torrance, 1974), interaction of creative thought process (Millar, 1997; Weisberg, 1993), and the creative environment or situation that facilitates creativity (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). For Runco (2007), creativity emerges as a personality trait as well as a cognitive ability. Creativity is determined by personality apart from other factors (Munoz- Doyague, Gonzalez-Alvarez, & Nieto, 2008).

Creative individuals have a different kind of personality apart from possessing domain-relevant skills (Amabile, Conti, Coon, Lazenby, & Herron, 1996). Sternberg and Lubart (1991) stressed on personality attributes as significant in as much as these reflect traits of tolerance for ambiguity and the willingness to be a risk-taker. Individuals with a creative personality are mavericks in themselves. They have the tendency to think of uncommon and novel ideas. Personality psychologists have always been interested to study creativity (Feist, 1998). Creative individuals are self-confident and cheerful (Guilford, 1968). Creative personalities are associated with tolerance of uncertainty, self- confidence, unconventionality, originality, intrinsic motivation, above average intelligence, and determination to succeed (King & Anderson,

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2002). Further, creative individuals have traits like independence of judgment, motivation by complexities, aesthetic orientation, and high risk- taking (Barron & Harrington, 1981; Sternberg & Lubart, 1996). Anderson (1959) reports that a creative individual differs in terms of his thinking, feeling and beliefs. Establishing differentiation from others in terms of perception is the key. Further, a creative personality varies across age and professional fields (Prabhu, Sutton, & Sauser, 2008). Creative individuals have esthetic qualities and broad interests. They are attracted by complexity and prefer greater autonomy (Woodman, Sawyer, & Griffin, 1993). “Creative people are more autonomous, introverted, open to new experiences, norm doubting, self confident, self accepting, driven, ambitious, dominant, hostile and impulsive” (Feist, 1998: 299). Creativity is also positively correlated with psychosis- proneness (Zanes, Ross, Hatfield, Houtler, & Whitman, 1998), self-determination and autonomy (Sheldon, 1995), openness to experience factor of the Five-Factor model of personality and negatively associated with neuroticism (Gelade, 2002). In his meta-analysis, Feist (1998) found a positive relationship between extraversion and creativity (Feist, 1998). Barron and Harrington (1981) stressed upon high valuation of aesthetic qualities in experience along with broad interests, attraction to complexity, high energy, independence of judgment, autonomy, intuition, self-con?dence, ability to resolve antinomies, and having a sense of self as some of the personality traits to characterize an individual as creative. Thereafter, Mumford and Gustafson (1988) added other facets to defining a creative personality such as high empathy and capacity for status, low

socialibility, communality, and a desire to make impression on others. A further look into the association of a creative personality and the dimensions of the Big Five Factor Model of personality shall facilitate a better insight to appreciate the dynamics involved.

Openness to experience is associated with divergent thinking (McCrae, 1987) and creativity (Feist, 1998). Batey and Furnham (2006) have profiled artistic, scientific and everyday creativity wherein openness explained the maximum association as far as the personality trait was concerned. Being so closely linked, research has used the terms creativity and openness synonymously (Digman, 1990). Being open encourages learning and adaptability. Further, individuals high in openness would be more open to receiving feedback as well. In fact, it is likely that they would generate a higher number and a better quality of ideas. The probability of receiving creative experiences are enhanced owing to the enthusiasm of individuals to seek new experiences (Batey, Chamorro-Premuzic, & Furnham, 2010). In a study conducted in many large and small corporate organizations, openness to experience is positively linked with creativity (Raja, 2004).

Agreeableness is weakly related to creative achievements (King, Walker, & Broyles,1996). At the same time, studies have shown that highly agreeable individuals are creative, especially in the domains of everyday creativity (Silvia et al., 2008). These inconsistencies may be explained within the HEXACO model (Ashton & Lee, 2009), where the trait of agreeableness is divided into Honesty-Humility and Agreeableness. The former is described in terms of sincerity, honesty

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and modesty; and the latter is defined in terms of forgiveness, kindness and patience (Ashton & Lee, 2009). It has been shown that while agreeableness is unrelated, honesty-humility are negatively associated with creativity (Silvia, Kaufman, Reiter-Palmon, & Wigert, 2011).

Neurotics have mood fluctuations, tension and are usually negatively related to creativity (Feist, 1998). Neurotics have a weaker perception of the world as being meaningful (Gibson & Cook, 1996), as well as avoidance behaviors rather than those oriented to achieving life goals (Elliot, Sheldon, & Church, 1997). They lack trust and belief in their creative abilities and their capabilities to accomplish creative tasks (Xu & Brucks, 2011). They are unwilling to explore reality and possess the attitude oriented toward preserving the given conditions (DeYoung, 2010). Surprisingly, in another study, George and Zhou (2002) found evidence of a positive relationship between bad mood, a correlate of neuroticism, and creativity. The reverse dimension of neuroticism is emotional stability which is marked by traits like being calm, secure and non-anxious. Creativity necessitates the ability to integrate information efficiently and discover novel ways of thinking that can be promoted by having a calm demeanor and self-confidence (Sung & Choi, 2009).

It is likely that being high on conscientiousness is less likely to be linked with creativity (Tett, Jackson, Rothstein, & Reddon, 1994). As creativity entails novelty and greater uncertainty, individuals with high conscientiousness would prefer control over the situation, planning and risk avoidance and reduce uncertainty instead of

coming up with new solutions. In his meta-analysis, Feist (1998) found that being high on conscientiousness would be negatively linked with creativity. Similarly, Barrick and Mount (1991) concluded that agreeableness was unrelated creativity. Conscientiousness includes two components: achievement and dependability (De Young, Quilty, & Peterson, 2007), which may have different relationships with creativity. Achievement dimension reflects the degree of organization, persistence, and motivation of an individual in aim-oriented tasks, which may also involve creative activity. Achievement was positively and dependability was negatively linked to creative performance (Reiter-Palmon, Illies, & Kobe-Cross, 2009).

Overall, there appears to be variability in the association between creative personality traits vis- à-vis the Big Five Factors of personality. A Polish study was conducted by Karwowski, Lebuda, Wisniewska, & Gralewski (2013) to examine the relation of the Big Five personality factors to two creativity self-concept variables: creative self- ef?cacy (CSE) and creative personal identity (CPI). Creative Self-Efficacy (CSE), a characteristic of eminent creators, is defined as one’s confidence that one is capable of handling problems requiring creative thinking and creative functioning. Creative Personal Identity (CPI) stems from perceiving oneself as a creative individual and describes oneself (Farmer, Tierney, & Kung- McIntyre, 2003). The strongest relations vis-à-vis CSE were observed in the cases of openness to Experience (positive) and neuroticism (negative); weaker relations were noted in the cases of extraversion, conscientiousness (both positive), and agreeableness (negative). Similarly, CPI was

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positively related to openness to experience, extraversion, and conscientiousness, and negatively related to neuroticism and agreeableness.

In their longitudinal study drawing sample of a total of 307 (inclusive of 187 females) undergraduate psychology students from two UK universities, creative thinking of students was found to have positive linkage with extraversion, agreeableness and openness (Chamorro-Premuzic, 2006). Similarly, in a longitudinal data collected from 304 undergraduate students who were enrolled in an introductory organizational behavior course at a North American business school, extraversion and openness to experience were positively linked with creative performance (Sung & Choi, 2009) where the potential trait-trait interaction between the Big Five Factor model of personality was examined vis-à-vis the motivational orientations of individuals leading to creative performance. In yet another sample comprising of students (158 undergraduates) from a large British university, Batey, Chamorro-Premuzic, & Furnham (2010) found that openness and extraversion were positively and conscientiousness was negatively linked with ideational behavior (IB), where ideational behavior is defined as the behavior that demonstrates how an individual makes use of, appreciates and develops skills with the help of ideas (Runco et al, 2000-2001). In another sample consisting of 175 Spanish undergraduates and recent graduates drawn from three university subject domains, viz., technical & natural sciences, social sciences, and arts, divergent thinking and creative personality were examined (Sanchez-Ruiz et al., 2011). Divergent thinking is usually linked with creativity and it strives to generate new ideas,

incentives and stimuli to solve problems radically (Im, Montoya, & Workman, Jr., 2013). It was concluded that openness, extraversion and conscientiousness were positively correlated to both divergent thinking and creative personality. Further, neuroticism was positively correlated with divergent thinking but not with creative personality. Additionally, extraversion was although positively correlated to creative personality in the general sample and in the technical and natural sciences and social sciences group but not in the arts group. What is apparent from the aforementioned results is that since the sample comprised of students, therefore, more needs to be explored by varying the sample to include the organizational contexts. Apart from this, it would be interesting to explore if cultural dimensions influence creativity.

Creative cognitive style and spontaneity were positively linked with openness to experience and extraversion in a study to test the validity of their Scale of Creative Attributes and Behavior (SCAB), and, the study was conducted on 61 female university students enrolled in undergraduate psychology courses (Kelly, 2006). Creative cognitive style was defined as the cognitive aspect of creativity which has bearing on intelligence (divergent thinking and problem solving). Spontaneity is featured by impulsivity and excitement seeking. This implies that individuals high in extraversion and openness to experience would possess divergent thinking style and excitement for learning and doing new things.

Creativity, in the negative sense, that is, malevolent creativity, which is the application of original ideas to purposely harm others in order to gain an unfair advantage through manipulation, threat or harm

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(Cropley, 2010), was found to be positively linked with neuroticism and negatively linked with conscientiousness (Lee & Dow, 2011). In this study, two hundred and sixty-five college students from a small liberal arts university participated as a component of a partial course credit where they performed two divergent thinking tasks ideating on uses for a brick and a pencil. Therefore, leaders with a neurotic personality are likely to be a hindrance to being creative themselves and in stimulating creativity among the followers too.

In a sample consisting of 223 incumbent managers (147 women, 76 men) from 12 medium to large Canadian organizations, with 173 managers from public-sector organizations (health care, education, utilities) and 50 from private-sector organizations (telecommunications, recreation, beverages, forest products, office supplies), Scratchley & Hakstian (2000-2001) concluded that the correlation between divergent thinking and openness is high for an interdomain (cognitive ability and personality) relation. This is understandable considering the fact that being open to varied and novel experiences which are- often- serendipitous, would enhance divergent thinking and catenate thoughts related with novel dimensions.

Concluding for this section, it appears that extraversion and openness to experience are positively linked with creativity. However, mixed results are found for the remaining traits. These mixed results may be attributed to the contextual dimensions and choice of sample and other related factors. It is anticipated that a creative leader should be emotionally stable and open to novel experiences. However, some of the studies as

above have not reported linkages for extraversion. This may be attributed to the introverted trait of creative individuals in many instances. Apparently, a creative leader would be low on neuroticism and conscientiousness.


Transformational leadership is the ability of a leader to be an instrument for inspiring his followers to be proactive, risk-taking, initiative- oriented, and change-oriented through sheer awe. It has been defined in terms of the effect a leader has on his/her followers. Transformational leaders display individualized consideration and intellectual stimulation. They are charismatic and lend meaning to work such that followers’ energies are mobilized to respond quickly and effectively to work demands as well as perform beyond expectations (Bass, 1985; Burns, 1978). Thus, the followers are raised from their “everyday selves” to their “better selves” (Goodstein & Lanyon, 1999). In fact, they infuse in their followers the commitment to the overall collective goal and achieving excellence in these overarching goals. It is understandable that leadership responsibilities involve interpersonal relationships. This calls for an understanding of their personality in a better way.

In a sample drawn from 178 students at a large Midwestern university, Colbert, Judge, Choi and Wang (2012), extraversion and openness to experience are positively linked to leadership perception. Although research has sought to differentiate between the core elements of charismatic and transformational leadership, I

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propose to use the two terms interchangeably. Transformational leaders are vision-articulators for an organization and engage in ways that reinforce the values inherent in that organization vision. They adopt such empowering behaviors like delegation of responsibilities to followers, enhancing their participation in decision-making and encouraging them to come up with new and creative ideas (Yukl, 1998). A transformational leader creates a vision which helps followers to exceed their self- interests. In sum, there are four main dimensions attached to transformational leadership, viz., charisma (leadership through providing emotional arousal, that is, a sense of mission, excitement, and pride); inspiration (setting high expectations, expressing important purposes in understandable ways, and communicating a vision); individualized consideration (developing a personal relationship with all followers based upon their needs); and, intellectual stimulation (providing new ideas, creating new ways of tackling problems, and inducing people to rethink old problems).

Identification of personality traits of transformational leaders (Bono & Judge, 2004; De Hoogh et al, 2005; Judge & Bono, 2000; Ployhart et al., 2001) has been proposed in empirical and theoretical studies. It has been proposed that diverse personality traits may serve as potential antecedents of transformational leadership. In their meta-analysis of 73 samples examined the relationship between personality and leadership, personality is said to cause 25% of variance in leadership wherein the Big Five Factor model variables have a multiple correlation of 0.39 with leadership effectiveness (Judge et al., 2002). In their sample of 131 supervisors and 467 subordinates drawn from a US division of an

international human capital management company, Smith and Canger (2004) have concluded that supervisor agreeableness, extraversion and emotional stability are positively related with subordinates’ satisfaction vis-à-vis their leader. In a study conducted with 500 managers working in a Cyprus hotel industry, transformational leadership is positively linked with extraversion, openness and conscientiousness (Zopiatis & Constanti, 2012). Therefore, an extravert personality is apt for leadership.

Leadership is predicted by an individual’s personality because behavior is a function of personality. Therefore, what people do is a function of what they are (Ployhart, Lim, & Chan, 2001). Establishing a relationship between personality and leadership has undergone several revisions. When the personality and leadership research had just commenced, there was no taxonomic structure of personality to aid theory development and testing. Thus, numerous personality traits were investigated which led to difficulty in the integration of results. However, it is being unequivocally acknowledged in research that the Five Factor Model yields a comprehensive framework for comparing and accumulating empirical findings. Judge and his colleagues (2002) used the Five Factor model as an organizing framework in their meta-analysis on personality and leadership. They concluded that since the model explained 16 percent of variance in leader effectiveness, therefore, the leader effectiveness can be predicted from personality traits.

In fact, the Big Five Factor model has produced diverging results for transformational leadership

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(eg., Crant & Bateman, 2000; Judge & Bono, 2000; Ployhart et al., 2001). For instance, Judge & Bono (2000) concluded that agreeableness, extraversion and openness to experience were better linked with transformational leadership. In another sample comprising of managers of a financial service organization, Crant and Bateman (2000) concluded that only extraversion was linked with transformational leadership. Bono and Judge (2004) attempted to meta-analyse the Five Factor model of personality vis-à-vis transformational leadership (and transactional leadership). Since there was considerable variability in relationships (strength and direction) across the studies included in their meta-analysis, weak mean validities were found vis-à-vis the Big Five Factors. This might be attributed to the diversity in behavioral contexts. Overall, extraversion was found to be the strongest and most consistent personality correlate of transformational leadership.

Extraversion was proposed to play a significant role in influencing, persuasion and mobilizing others as far as transformational leadership is concerned (Bass, 1985). As leaders, their propensity for social interaction is enhanced owing to their assertiveness. They take charge of the situations and are talkative instead of exhibiting withdrawal behaviors. Leadership is associated with being strong, bold and forceful (Offermann, Kennedy, & Wirtz, 1994). It is likely that individuals with a dominating personality would be perceived as more leader-like. Since leadership involves optimism and positive emotions (Connelly & Ruark, 2010), it is possible that such extraverts’ positivity and energy results in their being perceived as leaders. Hoogh, Hartog and

Koopman (2005) reported negative linkage between extraversion and transformational leadership in contrast to a positive relationship as reported by Ployhart and colleagues (2001). This may be have its bearings on the contextual dimension. In fact, Bono and Judge (2004) have acknowledged extraversion as “the strongest and most consistent correlate of transformational leadership”. Judge and Bono (2000) found that extraversion and agreeableness were positively linked with transformational leadership. Shao and Webber (2006) have shown in an Chinese sample that in contrast with the Western context as reported in the study of Judge and Bono (2000), extraversion was found to have a negative association with transformational leadership. This is surprising given the collectivist characteristic in Chinese culture.

Similarly, openness to experiences was considered to be effective in playing a significant role in the articulation of an attractive vision, and, hence characteristic of charismatic leaders. In fact, openness to experience has close resemblance to intellect and is notably correlated with general cognitive ability, which has been found to be associated with leadership emergence (Judge & Bono, 2000; McCrae & Costa, 1987). Leaders who are high in openness would possibly be more approachable by their subordinates. Besides, they are likely to be more aware of the situations and hence be more realistic. Being open to complexity and tackling situations head-on, leaders are able to guide followers toward the achievement of their goals. It is also possible that leaders with high scores on openness to experience were less charismatic in certain contexts. This may be possible because leaders

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who tend to question the status quo and continually seek improvements in ways to perform the job may be considered as wavering. Hoogh, Hartog, & Koopman (2005) and Ployhart et al (2001) found openness to experience to be pertinent to charismatic leadership in a dynamic rather than in a stable environment. Similarly, Judge, Bono and others (2002) found a positive relationship between openness to experience and leadership.

Further, the pro-social dimension of agreeableness was considered to be an asset to charismatic leaders as they would be friendly and sympathetic as well as arouse liking in other people (Costa & McCrae, 1992). Being agreeable implies to be trusting, cooperative, caring and tolerant (McCrae & Costa, 1985). While agreeable leaders are prone to fostering an environment of cooperation and being concerned about the development of employees, those who rate low in this trait are open to competition and challenges (Giberson et al., 2009). Being overly cooperative may be detrimental as far as leadership behavior is concerned. However, being warm and sensitive to others are characteristics which are related to leadership (Bass, 1985). Judge and Bono (2004) concluded that agreeableness may be positively associated with charismatic leadership in their sample covering a variety of jobs across the industries as a part of a community service leadership program. Contrastingly, Lim and Ployhart (2004), in their sample comprising military personnel, concluded that agreeableness is negatively linked with charismatic leadership. This was probably owing to the fact that during turbulent times, overly agreeable individuals may be overly accommodating and hence ill-suited to

deal with the critical situations. Thus, being over- conforming and submissive may be detrimental to being a transformational leader. It may be important to be able to understand subordinates’ perspective and infuse their work with meaning, which is one of the characteristics of charismatic leadership (Bass, 1985). Further, expressing concern for others may also help charismatic leaders to attend to individual needs of their followers. Agreeableness is also linked with a preference for participative style of management (Stevens & Ash, 2001). For ensuring participation and sharing sensitive information as well as delegate, one needs to be trusting and straight forward.

Conscientious individuals are considered to be thorough, organized, laborious and persevering (McCrae & Costa, 1985). Being inclined to exhibit procedural behaviors, individuals high in conscientiousness are likely to be goal-oriented, coordinate ideas, expedite work and maintain the agenda. It is probable that individuals with high conscientiousness may be positively linked with transformational leadership. Bono and Judge (2004) found a positive relationship between conscientiousness and charismatic leadership in their meta-analysis. They might inspire their followers to perform beyond expectation by setting high standards and acting dutifully themselves. However, such an emphasis on order was negatively related to leadership effectiveness in novel situations (Diener, Larsen, & Emmons, 1984).

Transformational leaders possess self-confidence (Bass, 1985), and, hence, it is likely that neuroticism may not characterize charismatic

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leaders. Quite understandably, individuals high on neuroticism trait are likely to express anger and hostility which would make it difficult for them to establish relationships with others (Weisband & Atwater, 1999). They are also likely to be erratic in their behaviors and emotional responses owing to their tendencies toward insecurity and depression. Further, it is difficult to predict the behaviors and reactions of such individuals thereby leaving a negative perception of their leader. Neurotics are likely to fail the tests of competency and trustworthiness. Their ruminating tendencies may lead to leaving unwanted behaviors that are unexpected of a leader. Lim and Ployhart (2004) found a negative relationship between neuroticism and charismatic leadership. However, Judge and Bono (2000) and Crant and Bateman (2000) could not vindicate an unequivocal relationship between neuroticism and transformational leadership. Again, this difference may be attributed to the selection of the sample in both the studies wherein in the case of military personnel, the tendency to remain calm, secure and non-anxious is important. In a sample of 398 university students studying introductory psychology classes, transformational leadership was positively linked with neuroticism apart from extraversion, agreeableness and openness to experience (Yang, 2009). This positive linkage may be attributed to the choice of the sample. In a sample which comprised participants from the Singapore Armed Forces (N=376), extraversion was positively and neuroticism was negatively linked with transformational leadership.

In sum, no conclusive statements may be gleaned from the aforesaid section. There are mixed results for the relationship of transformational leadership

and the Big Five Factor model of personality. As observed in the case of creativity vis-à-vis the five dimensions, this may be attributable to the context and the sample selection along with the relevant parameters. Broadly, neuroticism should be negatively and extraversion may be positively linked with the traits characterized by a transformational leader.


In several reviews, creativity has been identified as an important skill of an effective leader (e.g., Bass, 1990). In fact, leadership and creativity are regarded as critical components for effective functioning of organizations. For successful implementation of creative ideas and innovation, appropriate leadership is pertinent. It has been underscored that leaders can serve as the facilitators for letting the followers to express their creative ideas and efforts in addition to serving as mentors, coaches and provided the required resources at the same time (Jaskyte, 2008). However, it needs to be ascertained whether the transformational leader-the focus of this study- is creative; whether a creative individual is apt to be a transformational leader. Apart from appreciating the two associations, it is also the endeavor to underscore the intervening variables which might effect these two associations. Interactionist perspective is being appreciated in creativity and transformational leadership contexts both. Creativity is as much a function of environmental factors as is transformational leadership. Extending the two associations, I now propose the commonalities between the two interaction systems and the additional factors which might

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influence the two associations separately. That is, the study shall now develop research questions veering around the environmental factors which might enable a creative leader to function as a transformational leader, and, the factors which would enable a transformational leader to function as a creative leader.

In a study by Rank et al (2004), moderate extraversion and moderate transformational leadership are linked with creativity. In sum, following research questions emerge from the study so far:

1a. Will a creative leader be transformational when s/he ranks high on extraversion?

1b. Will a transformational leader be creative when s/he ranks high on extraversion?

2a. Will a creative leader be transformational when s/he ranks low on neuroticism?

2b. Will a transformational leader be creative when s/he ranks low on neuroticism?

3a. Will a creative leader be transformational when s/he ranks high on conscientiousness?

3b. Will a transformational leader be creative when s/he ranks low on conscientiousness?

4a. Will a creative leader be transformational when s/he ranks high on openness to experiences?

4b. Will a transformational leader be creative when s/he ranks high on openness to experiences?

5a. Will a creative leader be transformational when s/he ranks high on agreeableness?

5b. Will a transformational leader be creative when s/he ranks low on agreeableness?

I propose that the aforementioned research questions may be further refined by exploring the situational contexts which might influence transformational leadership and creativity. Creativity is supposed to be the resultant of environmental factors wherein the interaction of the individual and situational factors takes place (e.g., Amabile, 1996; Csikszentmihalyi, 1988; George & Zhou, 2001; Mumford & Gustafson, 1988). Similarly, Rhodes (1961) suggested that creativity is a function of the environment in which creativity occurs, apart from the involvement of cognitive processes, the individual who creates and the product that results from creative capacity. Some of the contextual factors which might bear relationship between being creative and transformational are work environment (Hoogh, Hartog, & Koopman, 2005; Walter, 2012). Such work environments may encompass tangible (nature and scope of work, resource availability) and intangible (working conditions, organizational policies, cooperation and support at work, autonomy) aspects. Overall, it is proposed that in the presence of congenial work environment, the aforementioned research questions shall be supported contingent upon the choice of sample and other relevant factors.


The present study holds relevance in more than one ways. For one, transformational leaders are usually looked upon as role-models of the followers. Does it not behoove that such a leader should be creative as well for being a role-model for his creative followers? Or, is it possible that a

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non-creative leader may be able to lead his followers better when it comes to workplace creativity? Further, will a creative leader be able to “transform” his/her followers? In other words, will a creative leader also be a transformational leader? Alternatively, what other types of leaders (transactional; servant; authentic, for instance) are required for sustaining and building upon workplace creativity? Taking an example of role- modeling to better understand the need for congruency between the transformational and creative personality traits in a leader, where

leaders are considered as role-models by their followers, I propose that a creative- transformational leader would be most appropriate for propelling creativity (Exhibit 1). Role-modeling propels creativity through creative emulation (Jaussi, & Dionne, 2003). As depicted in Exhibit 1, the greater the congruency between the creative and transformational dimensions of a leader’s personality, the greater the perception of a leader as their ideal role-model.

Exhibit 1: Congruency between the Creative and Transformational dimensions of a leader

using the Big Five Factor Model of personality

achievement of goals. Expertise role-modeling would result when the leader is perceived as creative and brimming with new-fangled ideas, and, the followers would prefer to approach him and invite his/her participation in the ideation process including its overall assessment. However, such a leader who lacks in transformational leadership would not be able to take charge if things go awry. Therefore, the followers may need to depend upon their own ingenuity and intrinsic motivation to propel

When a follower perceives that his leader is transformational and creative, s/he holds such a leader in awe and gives unconditional regard to such a leader for his domain-expertise as well as visionary style (Revered role-modeling). Followers would appreciate the fact that their leader is inspiring and a visionary, however, the lack of creativity attributes in a leader would result in a detached role-modeling. Such a leader would not be approached when the followers are in doubt vis-à-vis their ideas; they would defer to his propensity to instill the inspiration in

Are Transformational leaders creative and Creative leaders transformational? An attempted synthesis through the Big Five Factor Model of Personality Lens

(Big Five Factor Model of

Personality lens for


organizational creativity)

Creativity traits in a leader Absence of creativity traits in a


Leader with transformational

leadership traits Revered Role-Modeling Detached Role-Modeling

Leader without transformational

leadership traits Expertise Role-Modeling

Extraneous/Absent Role-


44 A Peer Reviewed Research JournalaWEshkar Vol. XVIII Issue 2 September 2014 WeSchool

themselves if their ideas fall flat. Finally, leaders who do not have transformational leadership style and are lacking in creativity in themselves are liable to be accepted as role-models for extraneous reasons (personal reasons; hierarchical position; transactional leadership style; organizational culture; etc.).

Finally, are there situational factors which would impinge upon the aforementioned associations? Future research should be better able to explain workplace creativity vis-à-vis leadership. Future research should also be able to delve in cross- cultural dimensions for understanding the relationships referred in this study. Further, role- modeling dimension of transformational leader aiming at improving the creativity of the organization is called for explaining the differences in the public and the private sectors. I began this paper trying to explore the fundamental relationship between transformational leader and creativity to ascertain if a transformational leader has creativity traits and vice-versa, using the Big Five Factor Model of personality perspective. Mixed observations were noted and I understand that this variability has a large bearing on the methodology adopted in the extant research. I also underscored the need for a congruency between a transformational and a creative leader’s traits giving an example of how followers would perceive their leaders differently if the congruency is visibly absent or distanced. I conclude saying that for organizational creativity, a creative-cum- transformational leader is apt under contingent work-related contexts.


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