Relational Leadership

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Researchprojects take varied epistemological and ontological perspectivesthey are seen to be implicit rather than explicit, and manifest inthe form of approach and methodology. To a researcher, the positiontaken is critical to the research and is informed by theory andgrounded on one’s philosophical orientation, leading to the feelingthat the taken position cannot be changed. The methodology ties thepieces together in the study about relational leadership and aims toexplain that the existing relationship between leaders and theirsubordinates greatly influence the outcome of various performances. Astudy of this nature is a metanarrative that covers all levels of thevariables and applications. As a practitioner and by extension anobserver, my input into the relational theory opens vistas ofopportunities by bringing in fresh and authentic concepts. I intentto explore the theoretical component integrated into real life toshowcase how leadership unfolds in the practice of action learninggroups. With such an approach, the level of analysis will be based onrelational collective practices of groups.

Iintent to support the underlying epistemology as an observer, andthis way direct the focus of the research- designed to connect theoryto the hypothesis and research methodology, towards ways that engagethe participant in research design and outcomes.

Socialconstructionism studies sociological phenomena in their contexts.This theory digs out answers from widely held beliefs and assumptionsabout the attributes of an item, concepts or issue, and instead,fills in with new aspects about such attributes upon the congruentrationale of human imagination. Social constructionism help us to seethat our perception of the world and reality, concepts and reality,of things, are shaped again by our very choices and reinforced bylanguage, rather natural law. Human beings dwell in language and useit to construct the artifact that is the social group. To elaborate,the imitable items like brilliance and talent which the overwhelmingmajority fails to attain are imbued with unrivalled significance andthen tagged on very few individuals, leading to alteration ofperceptions and behavior of other people towards such individuals. Asa researcher, it came to me that it was fitting to observe and recorddialogues to explore how people constructed meaning and reality ofleadership in their dialogs. I recognized that my place is not tostand aloof and observe what was happening, rather, to jump into thesocial system and participant to make objective observations. As aconstructionist, my interest goes beyond how people use language tocreate different realities and expand to how far they can go withthose realities.

Leadershiptheories are tied to social constructionist epistemology throughmeans of interaction in a social system as it is applicable toleadership. Relationalisa lens through which we view leadership, as opposed to a leadershipstyle or a way of executing leadership.

Relationalleadership, it seems, goes beyond individual leadership. Anindividual leader has a personal philosophy as a distinct way ofthinking and a separate entity. Endowed with such competencies, theleader is described as being in possession of distinctive featuresincluding skills, experience, interest and knowledge. Teams andgroups are seen to be part and parcel of the leaders and theirpossessions.

Positiverelational leadership enhances satisfaction of employees, theirperformance and OCBs. Leaders maintaining high standards ofrelational leadership are trusted by their subordinates. Relationalleadership determines the relational collective practices of a groupby changing the current situation of followers to achieve a commongood (Crotty,1998). The relational theory values ethical and inclusive practicesof people to appreciate varied talents of each member in the group.

Socialconstructionist’s belief is not a reflection of reality but it’sconstituent. Thus communication is a pathway allowing negotiationsand construction of meaning. My plan to observe and record dialog andits use among people may not be as effective since follower’sactions and thoughts are influenced by the personality, behavior andstyle of their leader. In my approach of social constructionistleadership two characteristics are revealed (Bateson, 1972 Varela,1979). The first one is a leader-centric approach that primarilydetermines influences of actions and hinges on the proposition thatthoughts of followers are determined by the behavior, personality andstyle of their leader. Second, leaders are primary symbolizers whocommunicate on ways to follow to achieve employment contracts amongemployees. Social constructionists endorse attributioneye-of-the-beholder leadership because a situation and proper way ofleadership are self-explanatory and contest issues which are notdebated upon through objective criteria (Bateson, 1972 Varela,1979). Analysts opt for a constructionist path because it availscommunication tools to discuss details of communication. Socialconstructionism determines construction of knowledge and meaningamong people and realities of life. Communications is displayed insocial interactions. Thus appreciating social constructionism is away of considering ecological view of communication (Dachler&ampEnderle, 1989 Hosking, 1988). It is through communication thatwe construct the world socially through influences of time, existingknowledge, relationships among people and historical elements.

Relationalleadership includes people and diverted views. Leaders possess skillsto help them understand themselves, others, citizenship, multiple andframe realities, and organizational cultures. Leaders’ belief thatfollowers are unique and valuable, they appreciate that everybodydeserves fair treatment and equality to make a difference. Leadersrealize the need of conceptualizing organizations and groups to formweb like structures. Leaders are responsible of developing talents,building cohabitations, listening to their followers, engaging incivil discourse and framing or reframing situations. Leaders haveknowledge to understand power, empowerment, self-esteem, effect ofpower and policies.

Theknowledge attained helps to realize that they something to offer, areconcerned in growth and development of followers. They realize thatinformation and power and process of decision making requiressharing. Leaders are gate-keepers, share information, learn atindividual and team levels, encourage and affirm others, build otherpeople’s capacity, promote self-leadership and renew variousattributes of employees (Dachler &ampEnderle, 1989 Hosking, 1988).Leaders are purposeful meaning that they have individual commitmentto certain activities and goals. They collaborate and identify acommon ground with followers to maintain the vision of the group anda common purpose. It is their responsibility to develop a positiveattitude and become optimistic toward their followers and helpeverybody.

Theyidentify goals, envision them to their followers, derive theirmeaning, think creatively and involve others in building on theirvision. Leaders are ethical since they follow set values andstandards of leadership. As a result they have great influence indevelopment of values, influence justice systems and care, they modelvalues and self-worth of other people. Leaders are ethically entitledto behave in a congruent manner, trust other people as they becomereliable and responsible. They are required to act courageously andidentify issues requiring ethical decision (Komives,Lucas &amp McMahon, 2016). They are required to confrontinappropriate behavior in other people. Relational leadership isprocess-oriented since it explains processing a group and ways ofaccomplishing its purpose. Leaders aims to process communities,leaders, system perspective. Leaders realize that process isimportant as its outcome and must encourage high quality processing.During processing features such as reflecting, challenging, makingmeaning, collaboration, and learning giving and receiving feedback.

Leaderscommunicate to derive sense from various situations. The derivedmeaning is considered as knowledge and used while achievingeffectiveness of an organization. The minds develops thoughts asprototypes, conceptual frames, blends and prototypes. A systematicconstructionist approach conceptualizes leadership as an attribution,contextual process that articulates ideas into a talk and an action.Thus for leadership to prosper, it requires concentrating on makingsense, positioning and play.


Accordingto Gergen (2009) relations are concerned with personal views. Inthis research I will replace leadership concept with relational beingbecause leadership explains individual characteristics whilerelational leading deals with efficacy and engagement in arelationship. Leadership is achieved form the community and owned bygroups of people. It is present in collaborative platforms andactions. Collective knowledge and action adds to mutual relationshipsthat enhance their well-being. I will use constructionist approach toview leadership as a trait that emerges from rich relationships andinteractions in the community (Ospina &amp Sorenson, 2006 Foldy etal, 2008).

Aconstructionist approach explains that leadership is built is doneaccording to perception of people. However people do not similarlyinterpret the truth and do not give it equal weight. A dualisticontology explains that object and subject entities are independentand separate from each other. With concerns to leadership, perceivesa person as a leader and involves the one perceiving the individual.The difference of the two entities allows researchers exploreattributes of the two parties. Dualistic ontology views students aspeople who observe leadership. Leadership gives rights to analyze,view and criticize other people’s form of leadership. A dualisticapproach towards ontology urges instructors to avail independentcontexts to participation in leadership discussion(Hosking&amp Morley, 1988). Language is the medium of communication whichsteers debate and discussion to establish leadership contests.Leadership is strengthened by communication skills, materials,negotiation skills and political networking.


Usingepistemology approach, I will view knowledge being distributed overthe relationship web and community interactions. Knowledge isincreased through relationships and deriving meaning. Knowledgethrough dialogue helps to shift knowledge, interaction and meaning. Iwill focus on relational leadership but not process makers sinceleaders communicate with the community to gain their perspectives,views and culture as well as derive mosaic of various meanings(Hosking, 2007 Drath, 2001 Ospina &amp Sorenson, 2006 Uhl-Bien,2006).

Thecommunity knows various situations and conditions through narratives,dialogs and telling stories. I will discuss processes that define andconstitute community relationships. I will use a group format toidentify processes, actions coordinated and actions used byparticipants to create meanings. I will also standardize practicesthat will encourage a forward move to achieve set goals. Towards theprocess of deriving meaning mutual relationships are used. Theconstructionist perspective views leadership as constructed by socialgroups to achieve a collective action. A constructionist perspectivedescribes that leadership comes from relational and groupinteractions. Leadership is an action done together and not actionsdone individually. It is a dynamic process that aims at derivingmeaning of current situation and urges a coordinated action together.Communities that practice dialogue assist each other to handle theirdiversities of values, culture and world views (Hersted &amp Gergen,2013). Quinn (2004) postulates that transparency is the best way ofcommunication that effects leadership traits. Transparency helps tocreate a new reality and see more opportunities. Transparent leaderscommit to collaborate with community members and enhance it throughself-control that creates bridges to walk on. I will discussleadership as a relational, collective interactions. Social theoristsargue that leadership practices analyze social world.

Practiceapproach assists researchers in studying leadership and its emergencein collective work of deriving meaning, interaction and dialoguesactions (Tsoukas and Chia,2002). Practice theory defines leadershipas a process of practices and processes occupied with actions offormal leaders and their thoughts (Hosking, 2007 Drath, 2001 Ospina&amp Sorenson, 2006 Uhl-Bien, 2006). Objectivistic epistemologyidentifies that after human consciousness the objective is real.Social constructionist theory explains that language is a mirror ofreality in an objective fashion.


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Crotty,M. (1998). Foundationsof social research.U. S. A. Sage publications.

Eisenhardt,K. (1989).Building theories from case study research. Theacademy of management review, 14(4), 532-550.

Fairhurst,G., &amp Grant, D. (2010).The social construction of leadership: Asailing guide. Managementcommunication quarterly,24 (2), 171-210.

Hersted,L., &amp Gergen, K. J. (2013).Relational leading: Practices for dialogically based collaboration.Chagrin Falls, OH: Taos Institute Publications.

Hosking,D. M., Dachler, H. P., Gergen, K. J. (1995). The primary of relationsin socially constructing organizational realities. Managementand organization: Relational perspectives, 1-23.

Komives,S, Lucas, N., &amp McMahon, T. (2016).Exploringleadership for college students what want to make a difference.San Francisco: Jossey-Bass (68-72).

Ospina,S., Carranza, A. (2010).Paradox and collaboration in networkmanagement. Administrationand society,1-38.

Quinn,R. E. (2004). Buildingthe Bridge as You Walk on It: A Guide for Leading Change.San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.