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Leadership and followership
Leadership and followership

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4.1 Responsible leadership

Responsive and responsible leadership took centre stage as the driving theme for the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in 2017. The agenda overview explains:

Responsive and Responsible Leadership requires recognizing that frustration and discontent are increasing in the segments of society that are not experiencing economic development and social progress. Their situation will only become more uncertain with the onset of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and its impact on future employment. Responsive and Responsible Leadership therefore entails a deeper commitment to inclusive development and equitable growth, both nationally and globally. It also involves working rapidly to close generational divides by exercising shared stewardship of those systems that are critical to our prosperity. In the end, leaders from all walks of life at the Annual Meeting 2017 must be ready to react credibly and responsibly to societal and global concerns that have been neglected for too long.

Voegtlin (2011) defines responsible leadership as ‘the awareness and consideration of the consequences of one’s actions for all stakeholders, as well as the exertion of influence by enabling the involvement of the affected stakeholders and by engaging in an active stakeholder dialogue. Therein responsible leaders strive to weigh and balance the interests of the forwarded claims.’

He hypothesises that the theory has links to transformational and ethical leadership; that the hierarchical position of the leader has an effect; and that responsible leadership will have a negative effect on followers’ unethical behaviour and a positive effect on their job satisfaction.