We understand responsibleleadershipas a social-relational and ethical phenomenon, which occurs in social processes of interaction. While the prevailing leadership literature has for the most part focused on the relationship between leaders and followers in the organization and defined followers as subordinates, we show in this article that leadership takes place in interaction with a multitude of followers as stakeholders inside and outside the corporation.
Using an ethical lens, we discuss leadership responsibilities in a stakeholder society, thereby following Bass and Steidelmeier’s suggestion to discuss ‘‘ leadership in the context of contemporary stakeholder theory’’ (1999: 200). Moreover, from a relational and stakeholder perspective we approach the questions: What is responsible leadership? What makes a responsible leader? What qualities are needed?
Finally, we propose a so-called ‘‘ roles model’’ of responsible leadership, which gives a gestalt to a responsible leader and describes the different roles he or she takes in leading stakeholders and business in society. •Leading in a global and interconnected world: clients and customers, employees, business partners, social and naturalenvironment, shareholders •Leadership and stakeholder theory •Towards a theory of responsible leadership- What is the purpose of leadership in a stakeholder society: Engage with others What is the function of the leader in the leader–follower relationship? The results and success of leadershipdepend on the constructions and co-ordinated actions of both leaders and stakeholders the results and success of leadership depend on the constructions and co-ordinated actions of both leaders and stakeholders •What makes a responsible leader? Responsible leadership is the art of building and sustaining good relationships to all relevant stakeholders •What qualities do responsible leaders need?
Ethical intelligence consists of three key components: moral awareness, moral reflection and moral imagination. Modelling a (responsible) leader’s roles The leader as steward The leader as citizen The leader as visionary The leader as servant The leader as coach The leader as architect The leader as storyteller and meaning enabler The leader as change agent Conclusion: We argued that leadership is a social-relational and ethical phenomenon that occurs in interaction between a leader and a broader group of followers, inside and outside the organization.
These followers are in fact a leader’s stakeholders – they are either affected by a leader’s action or have a stake in the leadership project. Often, they have an equal status. In this article, we therefore contended that in a global and networked stakeholder environment the concept of the leader as the great man at the top of the pyramid, as the main creator of economic and social reality with followers as subordinates who are dedicated to ‘‘ do the leader’s wishes’’, is no longer valid. Instead, leaders are understood as equal human beings who earn a license to lead from their followers.