Scholarship on strategic leadership has undergone considerable advancement in the 40 years since the introduction of upper echelon theory (UET). In this special issue we engage with the state-of-the-art in the field and categorize the manuscripts along a new typology of what constitutes the dominant coalition in the firm. From traditional models focusing on ‘CEO-only’ or ‘TMT as a group’ we discuss the current range of conceptualizations that exist of the dominant coalition and discuss benefits and drawbacks of each approach. In particular we observe a tendency of scholars to be more inclusive of specific actors, e.g. functional specialists of the TMT, and a natural broadening of the actors thought to be part of, or strongly supporting, the dominant coalition of the firm. This special issue offers guidelines on how to frame scholarship in the strategic leadership tradition going forward and presents an effort to strengthen coherence and clarity in the field.