In this paper, we suggest that CEO charisma is related to firm performance via its effect on two important mediators. First, charismatic CEOs are expected to raise the transformational leadership climate within an organization. Second, both CEO charisma and transformational leadership climate are proposed to increase a firm’s organizational identity strength (OIDS), which in turn, relates positively to firm performance. We tested these propositions on a sample of 150 German companies (20,639 employees) with a three-path mediation model at the organizational level of analysis, utilizing four independent data sources. Our study helps open the black box of organizational leadership and organizational performance by demonstrating top-level leadership’s (CEO charisma) cascading effect on the TFL climate throughout the organization and by showing that OIDS mediates both leadership levels’ relationships with firm performance. Further, our study is the first to investigate the relationship between OIDS and performance at the organizational level of analysis.
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