Relational leadership – roles, rights and responsibilities
A common view of leadership today is that it is about ‘getting things done, through people’. This deceptively simple statement does not specify any particular leadership characteristics or abilities. This represents a shift from more traditional views which held that leadership was a matter of personality traits associated with being able to communicate a vision and setting a direction for others to follow. We often refer to the contemporary approach as ‘Relational Leadership’, implying that the essence of leadership is not held exclusively in the personal characteristics and attributes of the individual with the title of leader, but that it resides in the dynamics of the relationship between the leaders and the followers.
So far so good – this approach acknowledges the importance of everybody in the immediate Leader – Follower Relationship (LFR), but very often research and practice stops there, with all further consideration continuing to place an overemphasis on the individual leadership role. There are no ‘follower development’ programmes in management education! There are, of course, ‘team development’ courses, which are, in a roundabout way, aimed at followership, but the specific relationship between leaders and followers is rarely examined.