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About this book

This edited collection addresses several forms of moral leadership within the context of kenosis, bringing together both secular and biblical perspectives on the role of morality and self-sacrifice in effective leadership theory and practice. The contributors apply various leadership theories in the analysis of sacred texts in order to uncover unique insights into the biblical truth about leadership. Their analysis moves away from egotistical leadership focused on self-aggrandizement and provides a new model for leadership - one characterized by morality, authenticity, and service. True Leadership will benefit scholars, researchers, and students interested in values-based leadership and seeking to enrich their understanding of organizational behavior and leadership development.

Table of Contents


1. True Leadership: Beyond the Shadows

A shared conundrum for scholars in the field of leadership practice and theory seems to be whether there is in fact a True ideal Form of leadership or whether different behaviors and styles simply work better for some people or circumstances than others (Northouse, 2019; Takala, Journal of Business Ethics 17:785–798, 1998; Yukl, 2013). This chapter examines several scriptural texts about darkness and light alongside the metaphor of Plato’s Cave as a basis for distinguishing between that which is True compared with mere shadows of the True as it relates to the study of leadership. The notion of True Leadership is offered as an ideal Form for leadership, personified by Jesus and illuminated in small ways through exegetical study and through the lens of transformational, authentic, and kenotic leadership theories.
John H. Wilson

2. Distinguishing Between Servant Leadership and Authentic Leadership

Some scholars have stated there is a distinct difference between authentic versus inauthentic leadership (Shamir and Eilam, The Leadership Quarterly, 16, 395–417, 2005). Still other scholars have indicated servant leadership involves aspects of authenticity or a state of being authentic (Hotep, Journal of Pan African Studies, 3, 11–26, 2010; Malphurs, Being leaders: The nature of authentic Christian leadership. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2003). At first glance, the two concepts of authentic leadership and servant leadership may seem very similar, closely related (Avolio and Gardner, Leadership Quarterly, 16, 315, 2005), or almost interrelated, or that one may be considered subordinate to the other. Upon closer examination, the two appear to be quite distinguishable from one another. The purpose of this chapter is to provide a cross-sectional conspectus of the servant leadership construct in comparison to authentic leadership. Included are operational definitions of authentic leadership, transformational leadership, and servant leadership to provide discernable working distinctions between each construct based upon content discussed in previous chapters. Further, this chapter classifies fundamental details regarding the origin and progression of servant leadership as a distinct construct from authentic leadership. Then this chapter will discuss prevailing servant leadership themes found in academia, in theological/scripture, and among a sampling of worldviews. Finally, this chapter closes with a summarized comparison between servant leadership along with implications for research and praxis.
David P. Peltz

3. The Mind of the Transformational Leader

The strong relationship between authentic and transformational leadership presents an opportunity to examine authentic leadership through the mind of the transformational leader. Understanding the mind of the transformational leader can be accomplished by examining great transformational leaders in the Bible and in church history. Transformational leaders are able to relate to their followers personally and motivate their followers to strive for a mission or purpose that is greater than them. They must be authentic, turn followers into leaders, and rally their followers to a cause that is greater than them. Christian leaders have a common cause as they point their followers to Christ.
Wilbur A. Reid

4. The Character of a Leader: Authenticity as a Moral Distinction

There is much debate about whether the morality of a leader influences their authenticity or transformational efficacy. Drawing on the writings of Aristotle, sacred texts, and contemporary leadership literature, this analysis examines the importance of a leader’s character, positing the necessity for universal acceptance, consistency, and moral distinction for a leader to be viewed as authentic or transformational. Hence, to be an authentic leader, character and conduct must be consistently apparent publicly and privately. Likewise, to be a transformational leader, ethical conduct and commitment to the leader’s espoused vision should be modeled and reinforced systemically. Therefore, the shared moral components of both authentic and transformational leadership styles represent moral forms of leadership because they both call for integrity and consistency of espoused beliefs and measurable action.
David A. Oginde

5. Transformed to Authenticity: Where a Leader’s History Meets Destiny

Authentic leadership has become a buzzword among leadership scholars, as organizations and followers seek new ways to identify what is missing in many leaders today. One’s history can be an indicator of one’s destiny. Many leaders, however, do not take the time to gather, sort, and connect the pieces of their life to understand the unique direction life is taking them. As a result, life is lived more by default rather than by design. Authentic leaders, however, understand that their life story is like a puzzle that guides their current action toward an evolving, significant, and purpose-filled end. This describes the process of gathering, sorting, and connecting the pieces of life so that leaders can live intentionally and authentically as true leaders in service to others.
Christopher L. Boyd

6. Authentic Leadership Development in the Life of Moses

Moses experienced several trigger moments (Avolio, 2005) that developed him as an authentic leader. Through an examination of key events in Moses’s life, we can observe God’s emphasis on development of authentic leadership values. The selected passages provide the scholar with detailed conversations that occurred as God called Moses to lead the Hebrews out of Egyptian slavery and as Jethro mentored Moses in leadership skills. Through these intimate exchanges, Moses is motivated to shift his perspective, a necessary step to his development to lead the Hebrew children out of Egyptian slavery and prepare them for the Promised Land.
Heidi R. Ventura

7. Leadership Development: The Role of Learning in the Authentic, Transformational, Servant, and Kenotic Leader

Leadership is a learned behavior. There is an underlying intentionality within this learning that implies a deliberateness to transcend to a higher level of cognition, that of kenosis. It is within this transformative stage of leader development a person can evolve in their self-awareness to achieve a new normative state of increased authenticity through self-emptying.
Laurel B. Emory, David P. Peltz

8. The Impact of Kenosis on the Transformational Authentic Leader

Leaders are often appraised on the results achieved rather than the degree to which such leaders make sacrifices. This inter-textual analysis of Philippians 2 hymn and several related pericopes from the gospels and epistles provide a relational connection between self-emptying acts of humility and True Leadership. A key relationship for the forms of moral leadership is kenosis or self-emptying sacrifice, particularly in correspondence with transformational and authentic leadership. The desirable outcome of a kenotic approach to leadership is reconciliation of relationships between the leader and their followers and benefactors. The value of kenosis is punctuated when a leader has an awareness of self along with an awareness of others in a way that reveals their authenticity as it simultaneously cultivates genuine reconciliation.
Andrea R. Ramirez


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