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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 Ten: In practice



In practice

In this final chapter we draw together our explorations of the different aspects of leadership. We first summarise our argument, aiming to show how our view of leadership stands in relation to other leadership theories and links to spirituality, values, virtues and ethics. We then draw together the different aspects of theory and practice to work through what we argue such leadership would actually look like in the practice of developing an organisation. We will introduce that with the case of the Mid Staff Hospital Trust.

In the first chapter we explored a range of current theories of leadership and offered critiques of them all. We suggested there are weaknesses and limitations with them and also elements from which a contemporary approach to leadership, appropriate for the current and future demands of the global multi-stakeholder environment, might be drawn. The move away from simply looking at the leader’s style and approach, and of greater consideration of followers and their relationship with the leader are wholly appropriate but still do not go far enough in fully engaging with the complexities of the issues involved, particularly in respect of the tensions involved between the autonomy of the follower and the leader’s focus on organisational or wider shared values.

Through this critique we also noted moves into leadership focusing on holistic meaning making in the organisation. This values and holds together individual autonomy and organisational structure, and develops the capacity of...

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