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Leadership as enabling function for flourishing by design

Rob Elkington (Faculty of Business and IT, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Oshawa, Canada)
Antony Upward (Strategic Innovation Lab, OCAD University, Toronto, Canada)

Journal of Global Responsibility

ISSN: 2041-2568

Article publication date: 9 May 2016

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to alert the reader to the urgent need to address the most pressing challenge and opportunity of the twenty-first century, namely, leadership that enables flourishing for all forever.

Design/methodology/approach

This conceptual paper suggests a heuristic for the reader and supplies a working model of leadership as enabling function for flourishing that arises from a survey of the literature around leadership development, as well as a brief review of the literature on flourishing.

Findings

The paper highlights the reality that there are, as yet, only a small number of organizations and leadership that have conceptualized and implemented the notion of flourishing by design and that a great deal more research and implementation needs to occur to prove the validity of the model.

Research limitations/implications

There is a need to undertake quasi-experimental research in which leadership development praxis incorporates the element of flourishing by design and then action research through which the outcomes can be measured, modified and ongoing improvements iterated into the organizational design.

Practical implications

This paper suggests a different mindset and skillset for leadership and, by implication, leadership development. The ongoing research into “Seeking Best Methods for Leadership Development”, through the authors’ Round 1 Delphi survey has uncovered the elements of Human Capital, Social Capital, Structural Capital and Self Leadership, as core elements desired by global CEOs as necessary for an effective leadership development program. What the authors did not probe for, and need to probe for, is the element of “Flourishing Capital” or the degree to which the leadership might be developed to serve as an enabling function for flourishing for all forever.

Social implications

If organizations design flourishing into the raison d‘être of the organization, then organizations will seek and develop leadership that has flourishing as a core motif and focus. If organizational leadership supports and enhances flourishing as a central motif, then a shift will occur from profit only to profit that supports flourishing for all forever.

Originality/value

The paper highlights the reality that there are, as yet, only a small number of organizations and leadership that have conceptualized and implemented the notion of flourishing by design and that a great deal more research and implementation needs to occur to prove the validity of the model.

Keywords

Citation

Elkington, R. and Upward, A. (2016), "Leadership as enabling function for flourishing by design", Journal of Global Responsibility, Vol. 7 No. 1, pp. 126-144. https://doi.org/10.1108/JGR-01-2016-0002

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited