Previous literature suggests that exposure to trauma has both positive and negative impacts on leadership and leadership development, although there is a lack of empirical research. This exploratory study compared military leaders’ use of transformational leadership styles (TLS) before and after trauma exposure from the followers’ perspective. This study used a retrospective pretest design to survey veteran and active duty military personnel. Significant differences were found between pre- and post-trauma exposure TLS ratings, with a mean decline in the TLS after trauma exposure. The analysis of the open-ended questions indicated a reduction in the use of the TLS after trauma, but identified positive changes in some cases. There was no evidence that changes in the TLS were concentrated in any of the five styles.

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© 2015 Association of Leadership Educators

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