Chapter 6 Relational leadership for leading public services in the interests of the public
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At heart all leadership is relational, and this chapter urges researchers to move away from traditional theories of leadership to re-imagine public leadership as embedded in dialogic processes. Disintegration of traditional hierarchies and replacement by alliances, partnerships and networks in public spheres highlight relationism as an important aspect of organisational study. Relational leadership involves dynamic processes, human interactions, dialogue and negotiation rather than hierarchy and authority. Ongoing conversations across boundaries creates meaning on what leaders do, why they do it, and what might be achieved at specific times and places. The concept has a long history, is influenced by various disciplinary approaches, and in responding to pressing wicked issues, new relational forms of public leadership can be more inclusive, collaborative and engage much broader constellations of actors to collectively identify and frame societal problems, seek commonly agreed interventions, and create social/public value for the public interest and common good.

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Handbook