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Co-Charismatic Leadership

Critical Perspectives on Spirituality, Ethics and Leadership


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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Chapter One: Leadership




This chapter focuses on the meaning and practice of leadership. Most commonly this is seen in terms of business. However, simply to assert that business is the context of management and leadership can be misleading. First, ‘business’ involves a wide variety of institutions, from small corner shops to multi-billion pound multinational organisations. Second, business is not an isolated practice. In global contexts for instance, businesses may be connected to politics, with para-state corporations.1 Third, leadership and management are critical in public organisations as well as organisations in the market place. Public sector organisations such as health, police and education and not for profit organisations such as charities and Non-Governmental Organisations (from religious institutions to sports teams) all require management of people, physical resources and finances as well as leadership in the sense of setting and communicating vision. What are often counted as the traditional professions such as medicine or the law, often also offer a strong sense of leadership applicable to wider society as much as the profession. There is an on-going debate about how leadership relates to management (Western 2008). Some see them as quite distinct, with leaders as focused in vision and direction. Others suggest they are much the same or at least overlapping. We will examine this relationship, and the meaning of management, more closely in Chapter Six.

In this chapter we will critically examine some of the traditional views of leadership, often based in quasi scientific theory,...

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