Leadership Dimensions as Places of Moral Reflection

Friederike Fröhlich, Lisa Schmalzried and Marcel Vondermaßen publish their minimal definition of leadership in "Leadership, Education, Personality: An Interdisciplinary Journal"

Given the omnipresence of leadership, its potential, and, unfortunately, its frequent misuse, the question arises as to what characterizes good leadership and how good leadership can be implemented. In response to this, leadership ethics theories have been increasingly formulated since the 1980s. However, these approaches are characterized by a great heterogeneity. This is a challenge for the scientific-theoretical debate as well as for their practical orientation claim.

Against this background, PD. Dr. Lisa Schmalzried and Friederike Fröhlich, together with Dr Marcel Vondermaßen from the IZEW, have developed a minimal definition of leadership as part of the joint research project "leadership ethics as an ethics in the science". Their core idea is the following: leadership is an interpersonal, asymmetrical, context-sensitive and goal-oriented process of exerting influence. This definition shows that leadership has five intertwined but analytically separable dimensions: (1) leader, (2) led (3) interaction process (4) goals, and (5) context. This provides a common frame of reference for the debate that identifies the essential dimensions of leadership and their moral locations across theories.

Through this scientific grounding of leadership and leadership ethics, it is possible to see why morality matters for leadership and where exactly the places of morality are in the realm of leadership. At the same time, different (ethical) leadership theories can be brought into conversation with each other, compared, and evaluated. This provides a foundation for the potential further development and moral theoretical grounding of leadership ethical theories.

The article appeared in Leadership, Education, Personality: An Interdisciplinary Journal and can be accessed online here. We also presented the ideas of the article, with a particular focus on the places of morality and leadership ethics issues at "Business & Economic Society International." The online presentation is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4AGXhE8HtU

For more info around leadership, leadership ethics, and teaching leadership ethics to STEM students, visit the blog for the "Leadership as Ethics in the Sciences Project."