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How to be a Responsible Leader

Leadership Models in Comparison

Written by Z. Dragic

Paper category

Bachelor Thesis


Business Administration>Leadership




Bachelor Thesis: Responsibility The Oxford English Dictionary provides three interpretations of the word responsibility ("responsibility", 2015): 1. "Responsible to deal with something or control someone's state or fact" 2. "The state or fact of existence" Something is responsible or attributable to'[in sing.]' to or in relation to '3.' the opportunity or ability to act independently and make unauthorised decisions'moral obligation to do the right thing'. The term originated from the Latin responsabilis, meaning 'Responsible for your own actions'. Since the 17th century, the responsibility used for the above meaning has been known (Harper, n.d. a). According to the American philosopher Richard McKeon (1990), responsibility consists of three related dimensions (p. 64). First, the external dimension describes the legal and political analysis of the state's punishment of individual actions. In addition, officials and governments are responsible for their actions. The second is the internal dimension. It includes the moral and ethical analysis of the individual responsible for his or her choices and their consequences. Third, the comprehensive or reciprocal dimension involves social and cultural analysis, in which values ​​are rated according to personal personality and civilized structure. 2.2 Responsible leadership In simple terms, responsible leadership aims to define what "responsible" means to leadership. Therefore, it clearly focuses on the concept of responsibility. In turn, this requires “accountability, appropriate ethical decision-making and trust” (Pless & Maak, 2011, p. 4). By definition, responsible leaders deal with the question of who and what leaders are responsible for (Pless & Maak, 2011, p. 4). However, it does not only focus on the relationship between leaders and subordinates within the company as before. It involves the interaction between leaders and various followers (such as stakeholders) inside and outside the organization (Maak & Pless, 2006, p. Page 99). In short, research on responsible leadership analyzes the dynamics of leadership in the social context of stakeholders (Pless, 2007, p. 438). Based on this statement, it can be placed at the center of the three dimensions of responsibility mentioned earlier by McKeon. Therefore, responsible leadership involves internal, external, and integrated dimensions (see Figure 1). According to Pless, Maak, and Waldman (2012), responsible leadership forms the link between corporate social responsibility (CSR) and performance (page 51). 3 Responsible leadership orientation As mentioned in section 2.2, responsible leadership is rooted in the question of who and what the leader is responsible for. This means that it pays attention to the concerns of others, which is part of corporate social responsibility. Who these other people are and how the leader shows them responsibility is defined in the following subsections. 3.1 Economic Perspective The proponents of economic orientation believe that corporate social responsibility is only a means to an end. They believe that it should be used in an instrumental way (Pless et al., 2012, p. 53). Therefore, only when there is clear evidence that this will bring higher profits to the company, should it contribute to corporate social responsibility (Waldman & Galvin, 2008, p. 329). Obviously, creating a return on investment for shareholders is the main goal of economists (Pless et al., 2012, p. 53). This is why they believe that the shareholders or owners of the company are “the only true stakeholders of responsible leaders” (Waldman & Galvin, 2008, p. 328). For them, responsibility begins and ends with this specific stakeholder group. Economists claim that in addition to satisfying shareholders, efficiency and profitability also have a positive impact on society. Therefore, “the key to social success is the economic success of a single company” (Waldman & Galvin, 2008, p. 328). They believe that the community can derive more profits from companies that successfully maximize long-term shareholder value. From people who have made selfless attempts at corporate social responsibility (Waldman & Galvin, 2008, p. 329). Therefore, responsible leaders should be highly strategic and deliberate about how to achieve income for shareholders or owners. However, in order to avoid the principal-agent problem, leaders should be rewarded for serving the interests of shareholders, and if they fail to do so, they should be punished (Waldman & Galvin, 2008, pp. 329-330). 73.2 Stakeholders’ views Contrary to the views of economists, the stakeholder’s views are based on the belief that leaders are accountable to a wider range of stakeholders, not just to shareholders. Therefore, maximizing shareholder value is not a priority, because it requires more than generating profits (Waldman & Galvin, 2008, p. 330). The stakeholder’s perspective is more focused on creating social and commercial value (Pless et al., 2012), p. 54). However, most importantly, responsible leaders should consider the needs and interests of their stakeholders. However, it must be mentioned that the term “stakeholder” does include shareholders as well as employees, consumers and the larger community (Waldman & Galvin, 2008, p. 331). Read Less