Purpose– The purpose of this paper is to enhance the knowledge of how leadership concepts are embraced by leadership actors and perceived to influence relationships between leaders and co-workers. Specifically, the authors aim to investigate how leaders and co-workers discursively construct the concept of “communicative leadership” and its practices and perceive that communicative leadership influences relationships, work processes, and agency. Design/methodology/approach– The authors analyzed interviews with leaders and co-workers in two Swedish business organizations about their understandings and experiences of leadership. Findings– Communicative processes that enhance co-worker agency, defined as a capacity to act; include: facilitating autonomy, sharing responsibility, and mutual participation. Relational and discursive leadership processes such as responsiveness and dialogue were seen to enhance mutual participation in both organizations. Broader Swedish cultural macro discourses shaped the leader/co-worker relationship, making agency a relational accomplishment rather than an individual phenomenon. Research limitations/implications– This study relies on data from individual and focus group interviews, rather than direct observation of leadership processes. Practical implications– Findings suggest that organizations would benefit from making explicit their goals and expectations for communicative leadership in their respective social and cultural contexts. Originality/value– The authors provide new theoretical and empirical knowledge of leaders’ and co-workers’ discursive construction of a leadership concept; leadership communication research in the Swedish context; empirical research on communicative leadership as an empowering form of leadership communication; and how leadership communication discourse on a micro level is connected to organizational and macro-social cultural levels.
Corporate Communications: An International Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Apr 4, 2016
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