What is relational leadership and why is it important?

Relational leadership is a way of understanding the sources of leadership that support more purposeful, collective action. It is not a “type” of leadership. Rather relational leadership is a set of underlying assumptions which offer new possibilities for innovation.

Lately there has been confusion in differentiating among a number of important ideas, namely the following: Collective leadership. Relational leadership. Interdependent leadership. Leadership in networks. Holocratic and other “teal” ways of organizing. Shared leadership. Distributed leadership. The term “leadership” itself is used in diverse ways and often seems like excess baggage. There is quite a bit of overlap in the underlying ideas and yet proponents of each term are trying to capture important features. Effective research depends on further clarifying what we know in a way that opens to new possibilities. A number of us at CCL have developed our own ways of understanding these ideas and we wish to “put them in the middle” of dialogue with our colleagues.

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