Using a values‐based leadership perspective, the paper aims to explore the Aeneid, Virgil's foundation epic of the Latin canon. Specifically, it aims to analyse the Aeneid in order to juxtapose the resonant leadership elements of vision, culture and values – and their corresponding equivalent Roman themes of fatum, pietas, and virtus.
Using a thematic analysis approach, the Aeneid was coded for key leadership themes; and a mixed‐method research framework was employed to juxtapose the leadership lessons identified to the demands of modern leadership.
The paper finds resonating elements of a compelling vision and strong culture – and coded the following eight values: integrity, good judgment, leadership by example, decision making, trust, justice/fairness, humility, and sense of urgency – in the Aeneid. Whether viewed qualitatively or quantitatively – or across sectors (i.e. for profit, non profit, government) – the findings of this study affirm the explicit relevance of the Aeneid to the demands of modern leadership. Moreover, integrity was found to be a superordinate value – without which the remaining values have far less significance.
This research highlights a leadership paradox – while managerial traits are an important consideration for the prevailing operational context in the short term, a values‐based approach to hiring, promoting and retaining leaders may be superior in achieving organizational sustainability and performance over the long term. This study illustrates the practical contemporary relevance of the Aeneid specifically, and illustrates a humanities laden and values‐based approach to reflecting on leadership effectiveness generally.
Ahn, M., Ettner, L. and Loupin, A. (2012), "Values v. traits‐based approaches to leadership: insights from an analysis of the
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