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Co-Charismatic Leadership

Critical Perspectives on Spirituality, Ethics and Leadership

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Simon Robinson and Jonathan Smith

Current theories of leadership, spirituality and ethics are inadequate for the global, rapidly changing and complex environment in which leaders work today. Emerging from this book’s critical analysis comes a new theory of leadership: co-charismatic leadership. This does not mean leadership focused in ‘charisma’, or the special qualities or charm of an individual. Charisma originates from the Greek word for gift or grace. Rather it emphasises the relational nature of charisma, as both shared throughout the community and dependent upon mutual relationships within the community. The charismata are in effect virtues, to be practised in the community by all members, hence the ‘co’ in the title.
The authors argue for a leadership that enables virtues, informed by the ongoing narrative of and dialogue in the community, to be practised in the community and beyond. These virtues enable the practice of responsibility, and taking that responsibility for ideas, values and practice is itself central to leadership. Through the practice of responsibility everybody in the organisation becomes a leader in some way. The task of the authorised leader is to enable all this.
This book will appeal to both practitioner and academic audiences alike as it provides an engaging mix of theory and practical application which tests and applies the concepts explored in a range of practical case studies.
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Introduction

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This book presents a critical analysis of leadership, spirituality and values, and from this argues that current theories are inadequate for the global, rapidly changing and complex environment in which leaders work today. Emerging from this critical analysis comes our proposal for a new theory of leadership which we have termed co-charismatic leadership. By that we do not mean leadership focused in the ‘charisma’ of the individual leader. In other words it is not simply about the special qualities or charm of an individual, be they powerful or mystical, which enable her to take followers where she wants them to be. Charisma originates from the Greek word for gift or grace. This emphasises the relational nature of charisma, as both shared throughout the community, and dependent upon mutual relationships within the community. The charismata are in effect virtues, to be practised in the community by all members, hence the ‘co’ in the title. We are arguing therefore for a view of leadership that moves us away from the focus on a special or elite individual, and the traits that mark them out, to leadership that enables virtues, informed by the ongoing narrative of and dialogue in the community, to be practised in the community and beyond. We argue that these virtues enable the practice of responsibility, and that taking responsibility for ideas, values and practice is itself central to leadership. Through the practice of responsibility everybody in the organisation becomes a leader in some way. The task of...

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