Other Leadership Perspectives

Emotional Leadership

Emotional leadership is a process that leaders use to influence their followers to pursue a common goal.

Learning Objectives

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • As leadership is all about influencing people to achieve a common goal, an "emotional" approach can be a very important step of the process.
  • Leaders in a positive mood can affect their group in a positive way, and vice versa. Charismatic leaders can transmit their emotions and thereby influence followers through the mechanism of "emotional contagion".
  • Group affective tone refers to mood at the group level of analysis. Groups with leaders in a positive mood have a more positive affective tone than groups with leaders in a negative mood. Group processes like coordination, effort expenditure, and task strategy also affect followers.
  • Public expressions of mood influence how group members think and act relative to other group members. Group members respond to those signals cognitively and behaviorally in ways that are reflected in the group processes.
  • Strong emotional leadership depends on having high levels of emotional intelligence (EI).

Key Terms

  • Emotional Leadership: Emotional leadership is a process that leaders use to influence their followers in a common goal.
  • emotional intelligence: the ability, capacity, or skill to perceive, assess, and manage the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups

Leadership is a process of motivating people and mobilizing resources to accomplish common goals. Leaders direct the path to achieve the goal and lead the group to accomplish objectives along the way. The leader may or may not have formal authority. According to the trait theory of leadership, some traits play a vital role in creating leaders, such as intelligence, adjustment, extroversion, conscientiousness, openness to experience, and general self-efficacy. One key aspect of contemporary leadership theory points to emotional leadership as a possible approach to accomplishing organizational aims.

Defining Emotional Leadership

As leadership is all about influencing people to achieve a common goal, an "emotional" approach can be a very important step of the process. A leader's mood or emotions have an effect on the group in three major ways:

  1. Leaders can influence followers through the mechanism of "emotional contagion." Those in an optimistic mood can effect their group in a positive way by instilling a positive outlook. For example, a charismatic leader can inspire feelings of confidence in a group's ability to achieve challenging goals.
  2. Group affective tone refers to the collective mood of individuals. Groups with leaders in a positive mood have more positive feelings toward each other than groups with leaders who convey the opposite. The perceived efficacy of group processes such as coordination, collaborative effort, and task strategy can also effect the emotions of followers.
  3. Public expressions of mood affect how group members think and act in relation to other group members. For example, demonstrating positive emotions such as happiness or satisfaction can signal that leaders acknowledge solid progress toward goals. Those signals influence how followers think about their work, which can benefit their work together.

Emotional Intelligence

Strong emotional leadership depends on having high levels of emotional intelligence (EI). EI is the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups. The two most prominent approaches to understanding EI are the ability and trait EI models.

The EI ability model views emotions as useful sources of information that help a person make sense of and navigate the social environment. The model proposes that individuals vary in their ability to process information of an emotional nature and in their ability to connect those emotions to how they think. There are four key emotional skills—perceiving, using, understanding, and managing:

  1. Perceiving emotions – The ability to detect and decipher emotions in faces, pictures, voices, and cultural artifacts—including one's own emotions. Perceiving emotions represents a basic aspect of emotional intelligence, as it makes all other processing of emotional information possible.
  2. Using emotions – The ability to harness emotions to facilitate various cognitive activities, such as thinking and problem-solving. Emotionally intelligent people can capitalize fully upon their changing moods according to the task at hand.
  3. Understanding emotions – The ability to comprehend emotional language and to appreciate complicated relationships among emotions. For example, understanding emotions encompasses the ability to be sensitive to slight variations between emotions, as well as the ability to recognize and describe how emotions evolve over time.
  4. Managing emotions – The ability to regulate emotions in both ourselves and in others. The emotionally intelligent person can harness emotions—even negative ones—and manage them to achieve intended goals.

Because the EI ability model focuses on behaviors that can be learned, it is used as the basis of leadership development activities.

The EI trait model focuses not on skills but on personality characteristics and behavioral dispositions such as empathy, consideration, and self-awareness. Trait EI refers to individuals' self-perceptions of their emotional abilities. It is measured by looking at degrees of emotional well-being, self-control, emotionalism, and sociability. EI traits can be challenging to assess accurately because they rely on self-reporting, rather than observations of actual behaviors. Personality traits are generally believed to be resistant to significant change, so the EI trait model is used to help people better manage their emotional abilities within the constraints of existing behavioral tendencies.


President Barack Obama: Many observers identify President Obama as a good example of an emotional leader.

Interactive Leadership

Interactive leadership involves leaders' engaging followers to increase their understanding of tasks and goals.

Learning Objectives

Explain the importance of interactive leadership in generating motivation and commitment to shared objectives

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Interactive leaders engage followers in understanding goals and tasks to contribute more effectively to achieving them.
  • Reaching out to employees and helping them understand different aspects of the organization serve to engage them in the organization's goals.
  • Interactive leaders demonstrate their willingness to engage others in a variety of ways, including group decision making, building trust through openness and transparency, and being visible and accessible to followers.

Key Terms

  • Interactive Leadership: Style of leading that engages employees in understanding tasks and goals so they can be effective contributors to achieving them.

Effective leadership requires communicating and engaging with followers. The interactive style of leadership makes it a priority to inform followers about important matters related to their goals and tasks and to clarify understanding. Interactive leaders are proactive in seeking information and opinions from followers. Reaching out to employees in this way helps build their commitment to achieving team and organizational goals.

Interactive leaders take the opportunity to meet with followers to explain their vision and persuade them of its value. This encounter facilitates behavior change; the better people understand what is expected of them, the more they can modify how they act. While interactive leaders may make use of technology to share information, they also seek the richer exchanges that face-to-face communication allows.

Examples of Interactive Leadership

Interactive leaders engage followers in a variety of ways. When making group decisions they may solicit information, perceptions, and even recommendations from team members. To underscore a commitment to openness and to build trust, an interactive leader freely shares information rather than keeping it as a basis of power over others.

Interactive leaders value individual contributions and maintain relationships that foster mutual respect. They also make themselves visible and accessible to followers; some maintain an "open-door" policy to signal that they are open to dialogue and hearing from others. In this way, interactive leaders are role models who exhibit the quality of reciprocal interactions they seek with others.


Interactive leadership in action: An interactive leader shares information and answers questions to clarify goals and tasks.

Moral Leadership

Ethical or moral leadership demonstrates responsibility for doing what is right.

Learning Objectives

Apply ethical standards to leadership perspectives, explaining the relevance of integrity and responsibility to leadership

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Ethical or moral leadership involves leading in a manner that respects the rights and dignity of others.
  • The duties of leaders also include the responsibility to ensure standards of moral and ethical conduct.
  • An effective leader influences a subordinate's attitude and values. Therefore, a moral leader will stimulate a moral influence.
  • The best leaders make known their values and ethics and reflect them in their leadership styles and actions.

Key Terms

  • moral: Of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior, especially for teaching right behavior.

Moral or ethical leadership involves the commitment to doing what is right according to societal and cultural beliefs and values about acceptable behavior. Ethical leaders distinguish themselves by making decisions in the service of long-term benefits that may be inconvenient, unpopular, and even unprofitable in the short-term. Moral leaders have a clear understanding of their own values and hold themselves accountable for them. Leaders who are ethical demonstrate a level of integrity that emphasizes their trustworthiness, and this trust enables followers to accept the leader's vision.

Moral leadership means making decisions that respect the rights and dignity of others. Moral leaders consider the viewpoints and needs of all who have an interest in a decision's outcomes, rather than simply the most powerful. In this way, moral leaders use their own power to convince others of the rightness of their choices.


Nelson Mandela, a respected moral leader: Nelson Mandela, the President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, is an example of moral leadership. Mandela fought to end apartheid and establish equality in his country.

Moral leadership is important for protecting an organization 's reputation. The ethics leaders exhibit reflects on their organizations, as well on themselves. Acting ethically preserves an organization's legitimacy as it uses societal resources to achieve its aims.

Moral leadership goes beyond doing what is legal. Laws establish clear boundaries of what is acceptable, but ethics often involves more ambiguous questions. These dilemmas are where the judgment of a leader comes into play. The personal character of leaders influences their ability and willingness to act on moral principles. Moral leaders gain the respect of followers, who are then more likely to identify with their leaders and the goals they set.

Moral leaders also play an important role in communicating an organization's values. They do this as role models of ethical behavior and in how they speak about the moral dimension of their decisions and actions. In this way, moral leaders take responsibility for the moral climate in their organizations and help others understand, share, and act in accordance with those values.

Servant Leadership

Servant leadership involves feeling responsible for the world and actively contributing to the well-being of people and communities.

Learning Objectives

Define servant leadership using the behaviors and characteristics described by Larry C. Spears

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Servant leadership is apparent in leaders who feel a responsibility for the well-being of others and their communities.
  • A servant leader looks at what people need, helps them solve problems, and promotes the personal development of others.
  • Larry C. Spears identified ten characteristics central to servant leaders: listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the personal growth of people, and building communities.

Key Terms

  • Servant Leadership: An approach to leading in which leaders take responsibility for contributing to the well-being of people and community.
  • Larry C. Spears: Served as president and CEO of the Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership.

Servant leadership involves taking responsibility for actively contributing to the well-being of people and communities. It begins with a feeling of wanting to work for the benefit of others. A servant leader regards people's needs and identifies ways to help them to solve problems and promote personal development. Servant leaders focus on the well-being of others and on helping them improve their circumstances.

Characteristics of Servant Leadership

Larry C. Spears identified ten characteristics that are central to servant leadership:

  1. Listening: A servant leader solicits information and engages in dialogue with followers to better understand their needs.
  2. Empathy: Servant leaders identify with and show concern for the needs of followers. In this way they model respect.
  3. Healing: A servant leader is sensitive to and supports the emotional health of others.
  4. Awareness: Servant leaders exhibits self-knowledge of their own values, emotions, strengths, and weaknesses.
  5. Persuasion: Servant leaders do not take advantage of their power and status by coercing compliance; they try to influence others through reason.
  6. Conceptualization: A servant leader thinks beyond day-to-day realities to identify future possibilities.
  7. Foresight: A servant leader understands intellectually as well as through intuition how the past, present, and future are connected and uses that knowledge to identify likely outcomes.
  8. Stewardship: Servant leaders are mindful that they hold an organization 's resource in trust for the greater good.
  9. Commitment to the growth of people: A servant leader is responsible for nurturing others and for their learning and development.
  10. Building community: A servant leader builds a sense of unity and cohesion among individuals so they can work together for common goals.

Shared Leadership

Shared leadership means that leadership responsibilities are distributed within a team and that members influence each other.

Learning Objectives

Describe shared leadership and the conditions needed for its success

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Shared leadership occurs when two or more individuals in a group share responsibility for directing it toward its goals.
  • Shared leadership requires team members be willing to extend their feedback to the team in a way that aims to influence and motivate the direction of the group.
  • The team must overall be disposed to accept and rely on feedback from other team members.

Key Terms

  • Shared Leadership: Style of leading in which responsibilities are distributed within a team or organization, and people within that team or organization lead each other.

Unlike traditional notions of leadership that focus on the actions of an individual, shared leadership refers to responsibilities shared by members of a group. Rather than having a single designated leader, two or more members of a team with shared leadership influence the others and help drive the team's performance toward its goals.

While by definition a team's members share responsibility for group outcomes, shared leadership means they also hold each other accountable for setting the team's goals and maintaining its direction. Shared leadership can involve all team members simultaneously or distribute leadership responsibilities sequentially over the group's duration. Leadership roles may be assigned based on expertise and experience.

Requirements of Shared Leadership

Research reveals that for shared leadership to merge and succeed, two conditions must be met:

  1. Team members must be willing to extend their feedback to the team in a way that aims to influence and motivate the direction of the group.
  2. Team members as a group must be disposed to accept and rely on the feedback of each other.

Three aspects of how a group interacts can facilitate shared leadership: shared purpose, social support, and voice. Shared purpose means team members have a similar understanding of the team's objective and collective goals. Social support means that team members contribute to each other's emotional and psychological well-being by offering encouragement and assistance. Voice refers to the degree to which team members believe they have input into how the team carries out its activities. Taken together, these group dynamics can foster a sense of trust and willingness to collaborate in support of team leadership.

Shared leadership also benefits from coaching from a respected person outside of the group. An external coach can provide guidance and advice to the team and also help individuals develop their leadership skills. Through active encouragement and positive reinforcement of team members who demonstrate leadership, coaching can foster independence and a sense of individual self-efficacy. Coaching can also nurture collective commitment to the team and its objectives, increasing the possibility that team members will demonstrate personal initiative.


Team members sharing responsibility: Team members consult each other in a group that employs shared leadership.


Leaders of virtual teams face challenges communicating and building relationships.

Learning Objectives

Discuss the growing importance and technological potential of integrating leadership across chronological and geographical boundaries

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • E- leadership works across time, space, and organizational boundaries, usually strengthened by communication technology.
  • Communication is more difficult on virtual teams, and virtual leaders must emphasize the importance of effective communication to achieving the team's goals.
  • A virtual team leader must be particularly attentive to the development of group norms and the emergence of trust, both of which are made difficult by the geographic separation of team members.

Key Terms

  • E-leadership: Form of leading across time, space, and organizational boundaries, usually supported by networks of communication as well as technology.

Virtual teams are those whose members work across distances of time, space and organizational boundaries. Their interactions are made possible by information and communication technology. Such teams are formed to benefit from different sources of knowledge, to lower costs, or to create flexibility and responsiveness in staffing. By their nature, virtual teams have particular leadership needs.

Leaders of virtual teams face communication challenges. They do not have the benefit of many opportunities for rich, face-to-face interactions. The absence of in-person interaction has at least two consequences. It can take more effort to gather and disseminate information needed to support a group's performance. It also makes it more difficult for a leader to develop relationships. The lack of social interaction can inhibit trust and group cohesion. The geographic distribution of virtual team members may also involve linguistic or cultural differences that can create barriers to effective communication. To address these communication challenges, e-leaders must communicate more frequently, provide more complete information, and use multiple means of communication technology effectively.

The virtual team leader must also encourage awareness of how group norms are developing. Without regular personal interactions, members may not be aware of how their behavior is perceived by others and how that behavior can affect the team's performance. The virtual leader must make and share observations about how team members work together and encourage them to be attentive to the process by which they collaborate, rather than focus solely on tasks. Drawing explicit attention to group norms and reinforcing them by being a role model, the virtual leader can help build trust between team members and make them a more effective team.

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