Implicit Leadership Theories: A Qualitative Study in an Iranian Organization

Document Type : Research Paper


Faculty of Economic and Administrative Sciences, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran


This research aims at discovering the traits and abilities which characterize ideal leaders in the minds of employees in an Iranian context. After employing the strategy of phenomenology to reach the components of ideal leadership, 15 tenured middle managers and employees possessing decent management knowledge in the context were interviewed and after theme analysis, global, basic, and organizing themes were extracted. The results showed that the whole themes could be categorized into two groups of prototypes and anti-prototype. Five of the themes are the prototypes labeled as charismatic, humane oriented, employee’s servant, emotionally mature, and decisive and three of them are the anti-prototype labeled as selfish, deceptive, and narrow-minded. Although some of the components of Implicit Leadership Theories (ILTs) are generalizable, the context can produce some distinct features of ILTs. This research tried to discover implicit leadership theories in an Iranian context. According to the available themes in the literature of ILTs, employee’s servant, emotionally mature and decisive are the three novel prototypes and deceptive and narrow-minded are the new anti-prototypeanti-prototype. Moreover, this is the first study using interview to discover ILTs with the inclusion of data retrieved from participants’ semantic memory.


Main Subjects

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