In this paper we argue that organizations and their leaders face profound challenges in a global and connected world. To navigate successfully in the 21st century, leaders have to deal with an ethics challenge, a diversity challenge, a business in society challenge and a stakeholder challenge. These challenges also shape their leadership roles and responsibilities, which have a relational dimension. The need to interact with different stakeholders from various cultural backgrounds both inside and outside the organization, with different interests and values, requires leaders to connect and to act interpersonally and ethically competent. We therefore suggest that leaders need relational intelligence to cope emotionally and ethically mature with the leadership challenges at hand. We define relational intelligence as a combination of emotional and ethical intelligence, that involves the ability to be aware of and understand own and others' emotions, values, interests and demands, to discriminate among them, to critically reflect on them and to use this information to guide one's action and behaviour with respect to people. Based on this definition we suggest and introduce a preliminary model of relational intelligence. Drawing on case examples we show how relational intelligence (informed by emotional and ethical abilities) can guide leadership behaviour in interactions helping leaders deal with complex ethical and cultural dilemmas and make balanced and responsible decisions. We postulate that relational intelligence can support global leaders to meet the leadership challenges by guiding them to interact adequately across borders and to build sustainable and trustful relationships to various stakeholders.

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Pless, Nicola; Maak, Thomas

Relational intelligence for leading responsibly in a connected world

In this paper we argue that organizations and their leaders face profound challenges in a global and connected world. To navigate successfully in the 21st century, leaders have to deal with an ethics challenge, a diversity challenge, a business in society challenge and a stakeholder challenge. These challenges also shape their leadership roles and responsibilities, which have a relational dimension. The need to interact with different stakeholders from various cultural backgrounds both inside and outside the organization, with different interests and values, requires leaders to connect and to act interpersonally and ethically competent. We therefore suggest that leaders need relational intelligence to cope emotionally and ethically mature with the leadership challenges at hand. We define relational intelligence as a combination of emotional and ethical intelligence, that involves the ability to be aware of and understand own and others' emotions, values, interests and demands, to discriminate among them, to critically reflect on them and to use this information to guide one's action and behaviour with respect to people. Based on this definition we suggest and introduce a preliminary model of relational intelligence. Drawing on case examples we show how relational intelligence (informed by emotional and ethical abilities) can guide leadership behaviour in interactions helping leaders deal with complex ethical and cultural dilemmas and make balanced and responsible decisions. We postulate that relational intelligence can support global leaders to meet the leadership challenges by guiding them to interact adequately across borders and to build sustainable and trustful relationships to various stakeholders.
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Relational intelligence for leading responsibly in a connected world
Pless, Nicola; Maak, Thomas
2005 Academy of Management Annual Meeting
Academy of Management (AOM)
Briarcliff Manor (United States of America), 05/08/2005 - 10/08/2005

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