This study seeks to understand how cultural value orientation – specifically individualism/collectivism – influence the relationship between ethical leadership and employee behaviour. Social cognitive theory was used to explain how cultural value orientations change the social learning process associated with ethical leadership. Using matched multi-source sample data from managers and subordinates of a South African multinational operating in several African countries, supplemented with objective performance data, ethical leadership was found to be positively related to both in- and out-of-role performance. However, horizontal collectivism positively moderated the relationship between ethical leadership and organizational citizenship behaviour, while horizontal individualism and vertical collectivism negatively moderated it. Leadership research and theory will benefit from a greater emphasis on follower characteristics, as differences in the cultural value orientations of employees affect the effectiveness of ethical leadership. Awareness of this difference also stands to benefit organizations.