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Maneuvering without offending on the road to democracy: the role of leaders' power in bringing greater freedom to all

Neringa Kalpokas ( IE School of Human Sciences and Technology , IE University , Madrid, Spain)
Ivana Radivojevic (IE Business School, IE University , Madrid, Spain)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 1 June 2021

Issue publication date: 13 July 2021

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to expand understanding of how leaders can use their power to reshape macro-level structures to foster individuals' freedoms and build more democratic workplaces. The importance of freedom in work and life can hardly be argued with, yet current democracy scores are the lowest that have ever been recorded (Economist Intelligence Unit, 2019).

Design/methodology/approach

The authors analyzed two cases of successful democratization, Spain and Lithuania, where they conducted a total of 65 semi-structured interviews with different actors including the top leaders themselves. A combined inductive-deductive analysis of the in-depth qualitative data highlighted how using different dimensions of power (French and Raven, 1959) related to distributing power to others.

Findings

These findings extend understanding of how leaders can use their power to effectively distribute power to others and reach a democracy that fosters freedom. Information and referent power were crucial for aligning the different stakeholder groups, expert power emerged as key for building and empowering a network of support and legitimate power was essential for fostering peaceful and long-lasting changes toward democracy.

Originality/value

While previous research has recognized the importance of leadership and politics for instigating macro-level changes, this study specifies how leaders can utilize their different sources of power to bring greater power and freedom to individuals by unpacking the unique impacts of each type of power. This study thus provides practical insights for leaders seeking to establish more democratic workplaces.

Keywords

Citation

Kalpokas, N. and Radivojevic, I. (2021), "Maneuvering without offending on the road to democracy: the role of leaders' power in bringing greater freedom to all", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 42 No. 6, pp. 912-925. https://doi.org/10.1108/LODJ-11-2020-0514

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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