Relational Leadership

Title: Relational Leadership
Authors: Ann L Cunliffe and Matthew Eriksen

Abstract: This article aims to extend contemporary work on relational leadership theory by conceptualizing leadership as embedded in the everyday relationally-responsive dialogical practices of leaders. Relational leadership requires a way of engaging with the world in which the leader holds herself/himself as always in relation with, and therefore morally accountable to others; recognizes the inherently polyphonic and heteroglossic nature of life; and engages in relational dialogue. This way of theorizing leadership also has practical implications in helping sensitize leaders to the importance of their relationships and to features of conversations and everyday mundane occurrences that can reveal new possibilities for morally-responsible leadership. We develop and illustrate the notion of relational leadership by drawing on the work of Bakhtin and Ricoeur, and on an empirical study of Federal Security Directors.

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