Developing environmental transformational leadership with training: Leaders and subordinates environmental behaviour outcomes

Chibuike K. Nduneseokwu, Marie K. Harder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Organisations are identified as the major anthropogenic sources of climate change, and there are increasing numbers of environmental sustainability initiatives to address the challenge. Their success relies on the active participation of employees through engaging in pro-environmental behaviours (PEBs). Leaders play a crucial role in their responsibility for managing or influencing employees, but research identifies issues of poor leadership, lack of support from leaders, and inability to motivate subordinates as significant barriers to employees' PEBs. Environmental transformational leadership (ETFL) has been identified as the most suitable leadership style for influencing employees' autonomous motivation, and improving PEBs, and there are thus calls to foster or boost leaders' ETFL competencies. This study developed, administered, and evaluated an ETFL training intervention conducted for leaders (managers and supervisors) in two multinational manufacturing companies in the chemical and automobile industries located in China. Nine (9) leaders participated in each company, and their subordinates (chemical company, n = 112; automobile company, n = 104) provided ratings of leaders' ETFL behaviours, and subordinates' autonomous motivation and PEBs, at pre- and post-training stages. Results show that subordinates' ratings of leaders' ETFL behaviours, and their self-reported autonomous motivation and PEBs, all significantly increased after the intervention, with large effects in the chemical company and above-small effects in the automobile company. This study offers theoretical insights on how leaders' ETFL can be developed or boosted, which is beneficial for influencing improvements in employees’ PEBs and promoting organisational environmental sustainability initiatives.
Original languageEnglish
Article number136790
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2023


  • Autonomous motivation
  • Behaviour outcomes
  • Environmental transformational leadership
  • Leadership training
  • Pro-environmental behaviours


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