Unit 2: Perspectives on Leadership
In the last unit, we considered the ethics and virtues of leadership from a classical perspective. However, the ancient Greeks were not the only ones to consider what it means to be a great leader, in terms of virtue and competence. Let's examine elements of leadership theory from the perspective of other cultures and times, and what their representatives believed about virtuous leadership.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 1 hour.
2.1: Definitions of Leadership
We define a leader as the person who oversees a company, organization, or political entity. Our discussion in this unit covers what it means to be a virtuous leader.
2.2: Confucius on Good Leadership
Confucius, the Chinese philosopher, provides another perspective on leadership with additional thoughts on what constitutes good or virtuous leadership. Many of his thoughts complement the virtues Plato and Aristotle described.
These articles describe transformational leadership in terms of Confucius' description of an ideal leader. Transformational leadership refers to a leader's ability to motivate or transform their followers to perform at a higher level, strengthen their own skills and abilities, and work for the good of the organization (rather than for their own personal gain or benefit).
The authors discuss Confucius's model of leadership:
For this leader, carrying on his task is the very essence of the development of the perfection of his responsibility. Through her actions, the leader improves the world and brings harmony to all. He or she is a leader who delivers results that go beyond short-term profit, a leader with a vision of a better society, a better life, and a better place to work. The decisions made by a leader following the teachings of Confucius will be based upon virtue and in a manner that displays the humility of the leader. As Confucius stated, 'Humility is the solid foundation of all the virtues'.
2.3: Leadership and Cultural Values
Even across cultures, good leaders have a lot in common. They are good motivators, for example. They are trustworthy. Their authority is legitimate and earned. However, cultural values and beliefs have a significant impact on our perceptions of leadership. How do our cultural values impact our beliefs about what makes a good leader? How do leadership styles affect values and character?
2.4: Values-Based Leadership
Based on the idea that our values are our most powerful motivators, values-based leadership is perhaps best defined as a leadership philosophy driven by a leader's values and those of their followers. Values-based leaders tend to be self-reflective and embrace the ideals of virtue and character formation as part of their leadership role. Pay attention to how these authors approach values-based leadership.