Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Leadership and Human Resource Development

Document Type



The primary purpose of this study was to determine the traits and behaviors of an ethical leader as perceived by tenured and tenure-track faculty at a research university (RU/VH) in the southeastern portion of the United States. The researcher utilized a researcher-designed survey instrument which consisted of 44 possible traits and behaviors of an ethical leader and selected demographic characteristics.

Examination of the study results revealed that the majority of respondents were male (66.20%) and tenured (75.00%). Additionally, the largest group were Professors (49.60%), and had been at the study institution for less than l0 years (38.20%). Most of the highest rated characteristics of an ethical leader were classified as traits, which included Integrity, Honesty, Responsibility, Knows Right from Wrong, and Fairness. The characteristics that were most related to the overall traits and behaviors of an ethical leader were age and gender of the respondent. Older respondents and those that were identified as female had higher perceptions of the traits and behaviors of an ethical leader in higher education.

While it is true that the characteristics of an ethical leader that are rated highest by faculty are traits, it is very difficult to actually observe traits. However, behaviors can be directly observed, and therefore, the researcher recommends that further research be conducted to determine the level of relationship between the ratings of traits and behaviors. If a strong relationship is found between these characteristics (traits and behaviors) the development of a measuring instrument to make direct observations of an individual's behaviors can possibly be developed as surrogate measures of a person's traits.

Additionally, since female faculty seemed to have more clearly focused perceptions regarding the traits and behaviors of an ethical leader, the researcher recommends that the University increase the emphasis on diversity (especially gender diversity) in all aspects of the organization. The increased diversity would include increasing the number of females hired in the tenure-track position, more females in various committee services (especially in hiring university leaders), and promoting more females to serve in leadership positions, especially, senior executive positions.



Committee Chair

Burnett, Michael