Professors Thomas Maak and Nicola Pless pick up on the importance of relationships and lay out a relational approach towards responsible leadership in business. They do so first by looking at some of today’s key challenges for leaders and discuss a diversity challenge, an ethics challenge, as well as a trust, values and stakeholder challenge.
Faced with these challenges, leadership is a demanding and complex task as leaders have to balance multiple and thus often conflicting values in a creative and ethically sound way. The authors define responsible leadership as the art of building and sustaining morally sound relationships with all relevant stakeholders of an organization. They then discuss the concept of the leader as a moral person, underscoring that character and virtues are an important element but that a leader also needs ethical intelligence by which they mean moral awareness, reflection skills, critical thinking and moral imagination.
In the last part of the chapter the authors discuss the roles and responsibilities of a responsible leader and propose that he or she is at times servant to others, steward and therefore custodian of values and resources, architect of sound processes and shared systems of meaning, responsible change agent, coach to nurture and support others and, finally, storyteller who uses the means of storytelling to lead responsibly.