Date of Conferral
Newly commissioned officers in the U.S. Army are taught to lead their soldiers from the front and to voluntarily make personal sacrifices in the service of the nation. Although this facet of military culture is seen as critical to the integrity of the force, there are few research studies describing the impact of leader self-sacrifice in the U.S. Army. Research evolving from the transformational leadership literature indicates that civilian leaders who engage in self-sacrificial behavior are viewed as more charismatic than their counterparts and that this perception is particularly pronounced in crisis situations. The current study extended this research to a military population utilizing a quantitative experimental research design. Respondents were randomly assigned to written vignettes that manipulated leader self-sacrifice and the combat environment and then provided assessments of the company grade officer's attributed charisma. Currently serving enlisted and commissioned officers in the California Army National Guard (n = 218) took part in the research, and ANOVA test results indicated that both self-sacrifice and the experience of combat significantly increase perceptions of a company grade officer's attributed charisma. No significant interaction was found between leader self-sacrifice and combat. This study indicated that the self-sacrificial leadership model may have broad applicability across organizations and provides strong support for the Army's emphasis on selfless service. This research can spur positive social change by fostering a more aspirational form of leadership within the Army that builds the psychological resilience of soldiers and results in stronger teams.