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Socially responsible leadership

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This article examines the role of business leadership in the coming decade with respect to social responsibility. It is argued, herein, that the successful leadership agenda in the coming decade will, to a greater degree than today, be shaped by the leader's ability to take an active and constructive part in the society in which the business operates. The premises for putting forward this hypothesis are that the excesses of the 1990s are over, and the geopolitical, the economic, and the ecological environments offer challenges not seen for a long time in business. Socially responsible leadership in the coming decade will not only be about doing business, but also about questioning how this business is done and how value is created. In an increasingly complex environment, the integrity of the single business leader will matter, as will his or her ability to see the overall role of his or her company in the society in which it operates. Leaders are, to some degree, reflections of what their societies want from them. This paper points to a number of trends where public expectations today call for more social responsibility from commercial players. There are companies showing the way and taking the lead in meeting those expectations, and thereby setting new requirements for business leadership in the coming decade. Even though it is a debated issue, this article concludes that socially responsible leadership will be the answer in meeting those growing expectations. It is also concluded herein that most business leaders will be able to rise to the challenges in the coming decade, as they have before.
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Keywords: Leadership; Social responsibility; Society

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 April 2003

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