Romance of Leadership is a disposition to over-attribute organizational and societal outcomes to the actions of senior level leaders. The greater the magnitude of the outcome, the stronger the belief that leadership is the most significant driving force behind that outcome. Strong believers are found to be more susceptible to the emergence of transformational and despotic leadership. The tendency to romanticize leadership cannot be eliminated but needs to be understood, accounted for, and hopefully managed, by aspiring leaders. This study found that romance of leadership is a pervasive and durable phenomenon that is rooted in human personality, and shaped by culture and leadership experience in organization. Of the 388 employees of a multinational company participated in the study, 83% of them agreed that organization outcomes, whether they are good or bad, are attributable to the actions of senior level leaders, although the degree of agreement varied across different national cultures. The study also found significant correlations between anteceding factors such as personality, national culture, maturity/experience and romance of leadership. At the company level, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness to experience were positively and significantly correlated to romance of leadership. Neuroticism was negatively and significantly correlated. Extraversion was the most consistent personality trait predictor of romance of leadership. Openness and conscientiousness were the second most consistent predictors. Agreeableness and neuroticism were only significant correlated among male participants or those from the United States. The correlation between personality trait factors and romance of leadership was more prominent in individualistic cultures such as the United States than in collectivistic cultures such as India. Years of managing and seniority level outperforms age, years of college education, and years of working experience as predictors of romance of leadership. The percentage of those who romanticized leadership is greater among the more senior level members. Compared to personality and national culture, life experience has significantly less influence on romance of leadership. Overall, a combination of personality, maturity, and cultural background can explain for approximately 30% of the variability in romance of leadership. The effect size of this relationship is large.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Educational leadership

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Penderghast, Thomas;