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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 Five: Authority, power and spirituality



Authority, power and spirituality

The issues of authority and power have been present in much of what we have written so far, from Chapter One where we noted how power and authority is incorporated in the different leadership theories, to the power of technology (Jonas 1984), and the power of the professions (Illich 2005, Townley 1993) which we explore further in Chapter Six. The key questions that emerge from all this centre around what power and authority really are, how the power is used and what determines the authority of leaders and followers.

In this chapter we will begin with defining these key terms. We then explore their application in a case study of Shakespeare’s Henry V, and suggest from the analysis that authority in leadership is based in several factors: structure (clarity of governance), myth (the underlying value and meaning), rationality (logos), relationship (pathos, integrity, wisdom); competence and integrity (ethos). Far from imposing authority this reveals how power is shared through engaging different narratives, such that authority is confirmed. This examines how rhetoric relates to responsibility, virtues and spirituality. We argue that Henry embodies a complex view of leadership, based in critical dialogue with plural narratives, noting how Henry develops this cognitively and affectively in key relationships in Henry IV parts 1 and 2. This provides the basis for a rhetoric that is based in the practice of responsibility (as critical agency, accountability and shared responsibility) and the virtues (primarily justice,...

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