If some decades ago the personality traces, the leader skills, the behaviour or the leading style (authoritarian style vs. democratic style; orientation for the task vs. orientation for the relationship or the instrumental leader vs. expressive leader; charismatic leader; formal leader or arising leader...) were taken as determinant, nowadays the leadership is seen as a dynamic process involving leaders and followers. It was like this that, on this fertile study field and full of multiple perspectives and theories about leadership, the trend that was more and more imposed made the passage from a differential psychology of the leaders to the perspective of the motivational aspects of expectancies and to the importance of the situation and circumstances, emphasising the situational leadership use, until the interaction between leader and followers and the characteristics of the leaded group became important. Nowadays, the leadership process is mainly understood as an influence process shared by the members of the group or the organisation.
It is on this context, where the dialogue and interaction between leaders and followers make leadership that the leadership point of view makes sense, understood as a process of social influence and as a process of changing. The leader is faced as a changing character, speaking about “transforming leadership” (J. M. Burns, 1978; a concept developed later by Bass, 1985, 1999).
Leading is to change yourself and the othersThe new leadership, if it is allowed to say, is supposed to have a shared vision of the future and a vision built from participating terms, where the leader’s values include the relationship of leadership, respecting the initiative freedom. The leadership joins, this way, the notion of vision and the vision is based on values. Therefore, these values join assessments and the assessment intention (Ricoeur) participates on the area of ethics. It is recognised to everyone the right and the duty of assessing what is made by oneself and by the other, assessing each other what is said, decided and done. The leader with ethics creates vision and adhesion to values, as justice, social responsibility, trust, loyalty, availability, perseverance, having in mind innovative and citizen behaviours. This way, it influences ethically the others, ethically orienting the co-operators behaviour. It leads to changing, values adhesion, stimulates intellectually, inspires trust.
To achieve that, the leader must form a conscience on the followers about the importance of the common goals and the need to overcome the individual goals, to stress the Common Good (on terminology of S. Tomás de Aquino), overleaping the individual wills or interests. That is why the transforming leadership is defined concerning the effects on the followers: trust, worship, loyalty and respect for the leader. The ethical behaviour is join, therefore, the leadership and the leadership assessment is focused, whether on the consequences of the accomplished actions (responsibility ethics), or it implies the values ethics that orient them.
Moreover, we are able to defend that, on the leadership dynamics, the changing is reciprocal and mutual, once leading is to change yourself and the others, because the skills are exercised and have better effect on the personal relationships; as leading is to produce planned changes and being able to understand changing resistances and overcome them. How can one learn to act like this? We know, since Aristotle, that the values and the virtues are practised and it is by practising them that we become virtuous; only by the practice of virtues it is allowed to achieve the acting Excellency: “We become fair by practising fair actions, moderated acting moderately…” (Aristotle, Ethics to Nicomacus)
Isabel Babo-Lança, Ph Dr
O’Porto University, Portugal
In my Newsletter Family of Rotary and Membership Nr 3
PHOTO: Isabel Babo Lança