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Virtue theory emphasizes moral education since virtuous character traits are developed in one's youth. Adults, therefore, are responsible for instilling virtues in the young. Aristotle argued that virtues are good habits that we acquire, which regulate our emotions. For example, in response to my natural feelings of fear, I should develop the virtue of courage which allows me to be firm when facing danger.

Analyzing 11 specific virtues, Aristotle argued that most virtues fall at a mean between more extreme character traits. With courage, for example, if I do not have enough courage, I develop the disposition of cowardice, which is a vice. If I have too much courage I develop the disposition of rashness which is also a vice. According to Aristotle, it is not an easy task to find the perfect mean between extreme character traits. In fact, we need assistance from our reason to do this. After Aristotle, medieval theologians supplemented Greek lists of virtues with three Christian ones, or theological virtues : faith, hope, and charity.

Interest in virtue theory continued through the middle ages and declined in the 19 th century with the rise of alternative moral theories below. In the mid 20 th century virtue theory received special attention from philosophers who believed that more recent ethical theories were misguided for focusing too heavily on rules and actions, rather than on virtuous character traits. Alasdaire MacIntyre defended the central role of virtues in moral theory and argued that virtues are grounded in and emerge from within social traditions.

Many of us feel that there are clear obligations we have as human beings, such as to care for our children, and to not commit murder. Duty theories base morality on specific, foundational principles of obligation. These theories are sometimes called deontological , from the Greek word deon , or duty, in view of the foundational nature of our duty or obligation. They are also sometimes called nonconsequentialist since these principles are obligatory, irrespective of the consequences that might follow from our actions.

For example, it is wrong to not care for our children even if it results in some great benefit, such as financial savings. There are four central duty theories. The first is that championed by 17th century German philosopher Samuel Pufendorf, who classified dozens of duties under three headings: duties to God, duties to oneself, and duties to others. Concerning our duties towards God, he argued that there are two kinds:. Concerning our duties towards others, Pufendorf divides these between absolute duties, which are universally binding on people, and conditional duties, which are the result of contracts between people.

Absolute duties are of three sorts:. Conditional duties involve various types of agreements, the principal one of which is the duty is to keep one's promises. A second duty-based approach to ethics is rights theory. Most generally, a "right" is a justified claim against another person's behavior - such as my right to not be harmed by you see also human rights.

Rights and duties are related in such a way that the rights of one person implies the duties of another person. This is called the correlativity of rights and duties. The most influential early account of rights theory is that of 17 th century British philosopher John Locke , who argued that the laws of nature mandate that we should not harm anyone's life, health, liberty or possessions. For Locke, these are our natural rights, given to us by God.

Following Locke, the United States Declaration of Independence authored by Thomas Jefferson recognizes three foundational rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Jefferson and others rights theorists maintained that we deduce other more specific rights from these, including the rights of property, movement, speech, and religious expression. There are four features traditionally associated with moral rights.

First, rights are natural insofar as they are not invented or created by governments. Second, they are universal insofar as they do not change from country to country. Third, they are equal in the sense that rights are the same for all people, irrespective of gender, race, or handicap. Fourth, they are inalienable which means that I cannot hand over my rights to another person, such as by selling myself into slavery.

A third duty-based theory is that by Kant, which emphasizes a single principle of duty.

Ethics - Wikipedia

Influenced by Pufendorf, Kant agreed that we have moral duties to oneself and others, such as developing one's talents, and keeping our promises to others. However, Kant argued that there is a more foundational principle of duty that encompasses our particular duties. It is a single, self-evident principle of reason that he calls the "categorical imperative. That is, we should always treat people with dignity, and never use them as mere instruments.

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For Kant, we treat people as an end whenever our actions toward someone reflect the inherent value of that person. Donating to charity, for example, is morally correct since this acknowledges the inherent value of the recipient. By contrast, we treat someone as a means to an end whenever we treat that person as a tool to achieve something else.

It is wrong, for example, to steal my neighbor's car since I would be treating her as a means to my own happiness. The categorical imperative also regulates the morality of actions that affect us individually. Suicide, for example, would be wrong since I would be treating my life as a means to the alleviation of my misery. Kant believes that the morality of all actions can be determined by appealing to this single principle of duty. A fourth and more recent duty-based theory is that by British philosopher W.

Global Perspectives on Ethics of Corporate Governance

Ross, which emphasizes prima facie duties. Like his 17th and 18th century counterparts, Ross argues that our duties are "part of the fundamental nature of the universe. Ross recognizes that situations will arise when we must choose between two conflicting duties. In a classic example, suppose I borrow my neighbor's gun and promise to return it when he asks for it. One day, in a fit of rage, my neighbor pounds on my door and asks for the gun so that he can take vengeance on someone.

On the one hand, the duty of fidelity obligates me to return the gun; on the other hand, the duty of nonmaleficence obligates me to avoid injuring others and thus not return the gun. According to Ross, I will intuitively know which of these duties is my actual duty, and which is my apparent or prima facie duty. In this case, my duty of nonmaleficence emerges as my actual duty and I should not return the gun.


It is common for us to determine our moral responsibility by weighing the consequences of our actions. According to consequentialism , correct moral conduct is determined solely by a cost-benefit analysis of an action's consequences:. Consequentialism: An action is morally right if the consequences of that action are more favorable than unfavorable.

Consequentialist normative principles require that we first tally both the good and bad consequences of an action. Second, we then determine whether the total good consequences outweigh the total bad consequences. If the good consequences are greater, then the action is morally proper. If the bad consequences are greater, then the action is morally improper. Consequentialist theories are sometimes called teleological theories, from the Greek word telos , or end, since the end result of the action is the sole determining factor of its morality.

Consequentialist theories became popular in the 18 th century by philosophers who wanted a quick way to morally assess an action by appealing to experience, rather than by appealing to gut intuitions or long lists of questionable duties. In fact, the most attractive feature of consequentialism is that it appeals to publicly observable consequences of actions. Most versions of consequentialism are more precisely formulated than the general principle above. In particular, competing consequentialist theories specify which consequences for affected groups of people are relevant.

Three subdivisions of consequentialism emerge:. All three of these theories focus on the consequences of actions for different groups of people. But, like all normative theories, the above three theories are rivals of each other. They also yield different conclusions. Consider the following example. A woman was traveling through a developing country when she witnessed a car in front of her run off the road and roll over several times. She asked the hired driver to pull over to assist, but, to her surprise, the driver accelerated nervously past the scene.

A few miles down the road the driver explained that in his country if someone assists an accident victim, then the police often hold the assisting person responsible for the accident itself. If the victim dies, then the assisting person could be held responsible for the death. The driver continued explaining that road accident victims are therefore usually left unattended and often die from exposure to the country's harsh desert conditions.

On the principle of ethical egoism , the woman in this illustration would only be concerned with the consequences of her attempted assistance as she would be affected. Clearly, the decision to drive on would be the morally proper choice. On the principle of ethical altruism, she would be concerned only with the consequences of her action as others are affected, particularly the accident victim. Tallying only those consequences reveals that assisting the victim would be the morally correct choice, irrespective of the negative consequences that result for her.

On the principle of utilitarianism, she must consider the consequences for both herself and the victim. The outcome here is less clear, and the woman would need to precisely calculate the overall benefit versus disbenefit of her action. Jeremy Bentham presented one of the earliest fully developed systems of utilitarianism. Two features of his theory are noteworty. First, Bentham proposed that we tally the consequences of each action we perform and thereby determine on a case by case basis whether an action is morally right or wrong.

This aspect of Bentham's theory is known as act-utilitiarianism. Second, Bentham also proposed that we tally the pleasure and pain which results from our actions. For Bentham, pleasure and pain are the only consequences that matter in determining whether our conduct is moral. This aspect of Bentham's theory is known as hedonistic utilitarianism. Critics point out limitations in both of these aspects. First, according to act-utilitarianism, it would be morally wrong to waste time on leisure activities such as watching television, since our time could be spent in ways that produced a greater social benefit, such as charity work.

But prohibiting leisure activities doesn't seem reasonable. More significantly, according to act-utilitarianism, specific acts of torture or slavery would be morally permissible if the social benefit of these actions outweighed the disbenefit. A revised version of utilitarianism called rule-utilitarianism addresses these problems. According to rule-utilitarianism, a behavioral code or rule is morally right if the consequences of adopting that rule are more favorable than unfavorable to everyone.

Unlike act utilitarianism, which weighs the consequences of each particular action, rule-utilitarianism offers a litmus test only for the morality of moral rules, such as "stealing is wrong. The same is true for moral rules against lying or murdering. Rule-utilitarianism, then, offers a three-tiered method for judging conduct. A particular action, such as stealing my neighbor's car, is judged wrong since it violates a moral rule against theft.

In turn, the rule against theft is morally binding because adopting this rule produces favorable consequences for everyone. John Stuart Mill's version of utilitarianism is rule-oriented. Second, according to hedonistic utilitarianism, pleasurable consequences are the only factors that matter, morally speaking. This, though, seems too restrictive since it ignores other morally significant consequences that are not necessarily pleasing or painful. For example, acts which foster loyalty and friendship are valued, yet they are not always pleasing. In response to this problem, G.

Moore proposed ideal utilitarianism , which involves tallying any consequence that we intuitively recognize as good or bad and not simply as pleasurable or painful. Also, R. Hare proposed preference utilitarianism , which involves tallying any consequence that fulfills our preferences. We have seen in Section 1. Upon that foundation, Hobbes developed a normative theory known as social contract theory , which is a type of rule-ethical-egoism.

According to Hobbes, for purely selfish reasons, the agent is better off living in a world with moral rules than one without moral rules. For without moral rules, we are subject to the whims of other people's selfish interests. Our property, our families, and even our lives are at continual risk. Selfishness alone will therefore motivate each agent to adopt a basic set of rules which will allow for a civilized community. Not surprisingly, these rules would include prohibitions against lying, stealing and killing. However, these rules will ensure safety for each agent only if the rules are enforced.

As selfish creatures, each of us would plunder our neighbors' property once their guards were down. Each agent would then be at risk from his neighbor. Therefore, for selfish reasons alone, we devise a means of enforcing these rules: we create a policing agency which punishes us if we violate these rules.

Applied ethics is the branch of ethics which consists of the analysis of specific, controversial moral issues such as abortion, animal rights, or euthanasia. In recent years applied ethical issues have been subdivided into convenient groups such as medical ethics, business ethics, environmental ethics , and sexual ethics. Generally speaking, two features are necessary for an issue to be considered an "applied ethical issue. The issue of drive-by shooting, for example, is not an applied ethical issue, since everyone agrees that this practice is grossly immoral.

By contrast, the issue of gun control would be an applied ethical issue since there are significant groups of people both for and against gun control. The second requirement for an issue to be an applied ethical issue is that it must be a distinctly moral issue. On any given day, the media presents us with an array of sensitive issues such as affirmative action policies, gays in the military, involuntary commitment of the mentally impaired, capitalistic versus socialistic business practices, public versus private health care systems, or energy conservation.

Although all of these issues are controversial and have an important impact on society, they are not all moral issues. Some are only issues of social policy. The aim of social policy is to help make a given society run efficiently by devising conventions, such as traffic laws, tax laws, and zoning codes. Moral issues, by contrast, concern more universally obligatory practices, such as our duty to avoid lying, and are not confined to individual societies.

Frequently, issues of social policy and morality overlap, as with murder which is both socially prohibited and immoral. However, the two groups of issues are often distinct. For example, many people would argue that sexual promiscuity is immoral, but may not feel that there should be social policies regulating sexual conduct, or laws punishing us for promiscuity. Similarly, some social policies forbid residents in certain neighborhoods from having yard sales. But, so long as the neighbors are not offended, there is nothing immoral in itself about a resident having a yard sale in one of these neighborhoods.

Thus, to qualify as an applied ethical issue, the issue must be more than one of mere social policy: it must be morally relevant as well. In theory, resolving particular applied ethical issues should be easy. With the issue of abortion, for example, we would simply determine its morality by consulting our normative principle of choice, such as act-utilitarianism. If a given abortion produces greater benefit than disbenefit, then, according to act-utilitarianism, it would be morally acceptable to have the abortion.

Unfortunately, there are perhaps hundreds of rival normative principles from which to choose, many of which yield opposite conclusions. Thus, the stalemate in normative ethics between conflicting theories prevents us from using a single decisive procedure for determining the morality of a specific issue. The usual solution today to this stalemate is to consult several representative normative principles on a given issue and see where the weight of the evidence lies.

Arriving at a short list of representative normative principles is itself a challenging task. The principles selected must not be too narrowly focused, such as a version of act-egoism that might focus only on an action's short-term benefit. The principles must also be seen as having merit by people on both sides of an applied ethical issue. For this reason, principles that appeal to duty to God are not usually cited since this would have no impact on a nonbeliever engaged in the debate.

The following principles are the ones most commonly appealed to in applied ethical discussions:. The above principles represent a spectrum of traditional normative principles and are derived from both consequentialist and duty-based approaches. The first two principles, personal benefit and social benefit, are consequentialist since they appeal to the consequences of an action as it affects the individual or society.

The remaining principles are duty-based. The principles of benevolence, paternalism, harm, honesty, and lawfulness are based on duties we have toward others. The principles of autonomy, justice, and the various rights are based on moral rights. An example will help illustrate the function of these principles in an applied ethical discussion. In , a couple from Bloomington, Indiana gave birth to a baby with severe mental and physical disabilities. Among other complications, the infant, known as Baby Doe, had its stomach disconnected from its throat and was thus unable to receive nourishment.

Although this stomach deformity was correctable through surgery, the couple did not want to raise a severely disabled child and therefore chose to deny surgery, food, and water for the infant. Local courts supported the parents' decision, and six days later Baby Doe died. Should corrective surgery have been performed for Baby Doe?

Arguments in favor of corrective surgery derive from the infant's right to life and the principle of paternalism which stipulates that we should pursue the best interests of others when they are incapable of doing so themselves. Arguments against corrective surgery derive from the personal and social disbenefit which would result from such surgery. If Baby Doe survived, its quality of life would have been poor and in any case it probably would have died at an early age. Also, from the parent's perspective, Baby Doe's survival would have been a significant emotional and financial burden.

When examining both sides of the issue, the parents and the courts concluded that the arguments against surgery were stronger than the arguments for surgery. First, foregoing surgery appeared to be in the best interests of the infant, given the poor quality of life it would endure. Second, the status of Baby Doe's right to life was not clear given the severity of the infant's mental impairment. Value-based leadership is morally legitimate only when the values from which leaders act are altruistic in context, content and process and community Price This counters the tendency to serve 'selfish-altruistic' values by leaders who behave immorally blinded by their own self-interests.

An ethical analysis methodology could help to recognise egoistic-altruistic values and counter immoral actions of leaders. Ethical analysis should not stop short by merely identifying the immoral and unethical values in leaders. Virtuous character and altruistic values will sometimes conflict with what followers understand to be the morality of practices.

In the next paragraph a new discourse praxis is proposed to deal with the incongruence between leaders themselves and their followers or the 'other'. Leadership in a new discourse praxis. A new practical theoretical framework for discourse is required:. Theoretical discourse Parker Discourse analysis is helpful in this regard.

According to Hepburn and Wiggins , 'Critical Discourse Analysis is a much broader collection of approaches than either conversation analysis or discursive psychology'. It should also focus on social critique to address the ideologies and discourses that underpin different discourse forms in society.

This leads us to the question how leadership discourse should address hegemonic or immoral practices in everyday life. Leadership discourse praxis with a critical hermeneutical lens. The distinction between discourse and communicative action necessitates a functional analysis to expose hegemonic leadership discourse praxes. Communicative action is the interaction that takes place in everyday life, wherein validity claims are more or less naively accepted.

Discourse constitutes an unusual form of communication in which the participants subject themselves to the dominance of an argument. The objective is to come to a consensus or an agreement about the in validity of problematic claims. Beliefs, norms and values in everyday interaction are thematised and subjected to critique. Discourses may be institutionalised for certain domains, for example practical questions and political or leadership decisions. Discourse analysis should therefore assist in the analysis of institutionalised language and move beyond mere sentence construction Mouton Discourse analysis studies the semantics of language and employs exploratory and descriptive questions in the analysis of everyday conversations and discourses.

It focuses on the rules of discourse in the sense making of contemporary discourse praxes Parker Discourse analysis is predominantly an inductive study interpreting and making sense of different pieces of discourse; however, most discursive practices have limitations such as being context-dependent or context-bound. The methodology of Van Dijk , in this regard, is an example of critical discourse analysis Mouton Van Dijk's social and cognitive framework offers a transformational hermeneutical lens for critical discourse analysis.

Critical discourse analysis 1 examines the process that powerful speakers or groups use to project power in their discourse; and 2 reflects on the discursive structures and strategies that are involved in the process.

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  8. According to Van Dijk , 'Discursive re production of power results from social cognitions of the powerful' whilst the situated discourse structures are grounded in social cognitions. We will address the challenge of power reproduction in discourse in terms of contextual social discourse praxes in the next paragraph. Segregated discourse structures. Discourse may become a segregated structure if voices are censored, opinions not heard and perspectives ignored.

    Moreover, according to Van Dijk , 'Blacks or women may thus not only exercise their rights as speakers and opinion givers, but they may also be banished as hearers and contestants of power'. The less powerful are less quoted and less spoken about. Members of less powerful groups, even when present as participants, may more or less be dominated in discourse. A general example is that men may subtly or bluntly exclude women from taking the floor or from choosing specific topics Van Dijk Hegemonic groups may also use denial as another strategy for reproducing their dominance over the powerless 'other'.

    The notion that all people in a specific society are equal and have equal access to social resources is a typical example of how hegemonic groups may use denial to justify their privileged positions Van Dijk Hegemonic groups justify inequality through positive self-representation and negative representation of the 'other'.

    These complementary strategies are also present in white discourse structures about ethnic minorities in everyday conversations, leadership or political discourse, sports broadcasting, textbooks or news reports Van Dijk This brings us to the question how the abovementioned challenges should be addressed. Liberating the voicelessness of the 'other'. Contemporary ethicists and reflective practitioners are reclaiming ethics for the multiple existential challenges of our time within diverse contexts Crotty ; Dames b; Van Dijk The role and meaning of ethics are challenged in a postmodern society by multiple paradigm shifts from positivism over arbitrary moral preferences to modes of post-empiricism - different dimensions of reasoning and argumentation.

    These paradigm shifts from theoretical to practical philosophy, from the analysis of things to that of actions, introduce a new critical hermeneutical lens. The shift from subjectivity or consciousness to language or a linguistic turn is even more apparent cf. Habermas viii, ix-x; Crotty These shifts have resulted in the reformulation of ethics as a meta-theoretical enterprise Dallmayr 9.

    Ethics is, thus, crucial in leadership communicative and discourse enactments. Communicative or discourse ethics focus more on social or inter-subjective communicative praxes. Participative communicative and discourse praxes are not individual thought experiments, but social or inter-subjective engagements. As the cognitive ethics of language it is cognitive-rational only in terms of the normative structure of language; namely, the ideal speech or communication community Crotty ; Dallmayr An ideal leadership community of communication is therefore the quintessence of communicative ethics.

    Conceptual Analysis and Moral Theory

    Communicative ethics is principally not concerned with the formulation of concrete norms or values, rather its central focus is on the grounding of normativity itself. Grounded normativity works with the rational validation or justification of meta-ethical principles and the specification of appropriate validation procedures, such as critical discourse analysis, to ensure congruence and authenticity in leadership discourse Dallmayr This brings us to the question: How to realise consensus or congruence between the values of leaders and that of their followers?

    Towards value-based leadership discourse. Communicative ethics provides a comprehensive normative and rationally grounded tool for the development of ethics and normative principles to analyse value-based leadership communication or discourse praxes Dallmayr Communicative principles inform real-life transactions which envision and presuppose the actions and conditions of an ideal leadership communication community. Ideal forms of communication and social interaction are the ultimate objectives of leadership praxis Dallmayr However, real-life transactions are not always geared to an ideal communication scenario!

    The objective of value-based leadership discourse or communicative ethics should rather focus on the realisation of the other's values as consensual participants in practical discourse. Consensus is not an abstract construct, but a pragmatic principle with a social or public outcome cf. It aims at impartiality and inclusiveness regarding the interests and perspectives of the 'other'. Leadership discourse ethics is normative only insofar as it claims validity when the 'other' consents to this validity as the participant in a practical discourse Crotty ; Dallmayr Altruistic and other regarding values demanded by followers should be in congruence - supported by value-based leadership discourse.

    This highlights the need for a methodology for value-based leadership discourse. Value-based leadership discourse methodology. A critical communicative action theory to construct a methodological discourse framework for leaders is sought Crotty ; ; Freire ; Habermas The objective is to develop a socio-political critique for justice, freedom and equity through appropriate leadership dialogue conditions Crotty Servant leadership and social interaction are key constructs in this regard.

    A distinction between servant leadership as an instrumental action and social interaction as a communicative action is drawn; and combined with the dynamics of power and domination Crotty The notion of systematically distorted communication through a theory of communicative competence is transformed by setting the conditions for the ideal speech situation in pursuit of emancipation Crotty ; cf.

    Dallmayr Crotty employs a broader understanding of communicative action that focuses on moral-practical reasoning Crotty This focus has a practical and democratic purpose in terms of which political decisions are subjected to the discussion of a reasoning public Crotty Crotty , in this regard, refers to Freire's pedagogy of the oppressed in challenging power and dominance conditions; 11 in particular by the ruling leadership elites of our world who possess more responsibilities of knowledge and hold a greater dependence on knowledge responsibilities Crotty The technical possession, use and control of the expertise knowledge of leadership elites can be both a strength and a vulnerability:.

    When we look around at the influence and strength of money, of armies, of legal officials, or indeed at the ease with which writers are silenced through censorship, violence and imprisonment, it seems that the word is a fragile blossom. Language - not money or force - provides legitimacy. Saul in Crotty A culture of silence. Power and dominance over language are measured by leaders' control over or access to discourse. It is a form of social action control and implies the conditions of control over the minds of people. More control over text or context is associated with more influence and results in hegemony.

    Sampson refers to 'a struggle of the mind' regarding conditions of control over text and context:. It's the way in which we apply our minds to the information that we have. It's how we engage with the actual realities of our democracy, rather than simply to hear the voices of a vocal minority. It's also to hear the voices of the silent majority. Where do we hear those voices? Do our politicians hear those voices? Do they even begin to hear those voices?

    This leads to the question: How the manipulation of power by leaders impacts on their followers? Crotty 12 argues that, as a result of a culture of silence, the oppressed are not sufficiently conscious of their situation to change it:. The masses are mute in an oppressed condition; they have no voice. They are excluded from any active role in the transformation of their society and are therefore 'prohibited from being'.

    Crotty ; Freire Crotty ; Freire ; Lange , 6. Sampson accentuates Freire's argument and defines this disposition as a battle of the mind:. We all know that in any society you have a vocal minority and a silent majority. And if you think in the ways it becomes very difficult for the words, for the thoughts, for the ideas of the silent majority to begin to permeate right up to the top. We don't hear it often even, but it remains a challenge. What we are dealing with at the end of the day really is a battle of the mind.

    This brings us to the question: How does a vocal minority of leaders control information and influence the perceptions of the silent majority? Controlling the public mind. Leaders' control of discourse access represents one of the critical social dimensions of dominance. The exercise of power usually presupposes the control of the mind, involving the influence of knowledge, beliefs, understanding, plans, attitudes, ideologies, norms and values. The control of different modes of knowledge access leads ultimately towards access to the public mind or social cognition Van Dijk Social cognition refers to cultural and social organisation and representations of society as a whole Van Dijk Leadership discourse or communication and other forms of action and interaction are viewed by social cognition through social events, social institutions and power relations.

    Institutionalised discourse, for instance, has reference Crotty The debate is so much about the rights of the media that we are not looking at the importance of the role of the media. By its very nature the media is not the most accurate commentary of the health of our democracy. Sampson Incongruence between altruistic values and access to information lead to the abuse of power. The control of knowledge shapes leaders' interpretation of the world, their discourse and actions. The relevance of critical analysis is, therefore, critical with regard to leadership discourse or communication Van Dijk Critical discourse analysis is a detailed description, explanation and critique of the ways dominant discourses indirectly influence socially shared knowledge, attitudes and ideologies through their role in the development of concrete models Van Dijk An assessment of how specific discourse structures determine specific mental processes, or facilitate the formation of specific social representations, has been put into practice by Barack Obama, the United States of America's first Democratic black presidential candidate.

    He is an example of how social attitudes can be changed and white leadership elite models decontextualised Hutchinson The Obama example illuminates the relationship between symbolic discourse structures and the structures of social cognition which informs the analytical focus of value-based leaders. Leadership analysis of discursive and cognitive structures are grounded in what Van Dijk refers to as a broader social, political or cultural theory of the situations, contexts, institutions, groups and power relations that enable symbolic structures.

    Within a practical theology leadership praxis. Contemporary practical theology functions within a comprehensive symbolic perspective, especially through cross-disciplinary dialogue. Osmer's cross-disciplinary dialogue encompasses leadership insights or values as a resource for the church's reflection on its life and mission.

    Such dialogue is characterised by theological and ethical perspectives and contributes to practical wisdom of the whole community - towards an ideal discourse community. Cross-disciplinary dialogue within comprehensive symbolic perspectives: theology, psychology, linguistics, communication, ethics, business science, etc. Osmer refers to the complexities of dialogue as the interconnectedness or the 'web of life' of leadership praxes. Practical theology interpretation is deeply contextual in terms of leaders' interconnections, relationships and systems. Theology is in essence dialogical, embodied in a Christian hermeneutical community, 'the living [leadership] document', informed through 'a dialogical theory of inspiration' Mt ; Gerkin ; Osmer ; Pieterse Humans or leaders are in essence hermeneutical beings Heidegger in Osmer Theology engenders meaning searching and understanding of the relationship between God, his creation and human beings Pieterse Practical theology is therefore a study of communicative leadership acts in the service of the gospel within the context of the pre-modern, modern and postmodern society Firet ; Heitink It is an intentional science of communicative action with the intention to transform praxis.

    The dialectical role of leaders aims at addressing the bipolar tension between theory and praxis through the hermeneutical approach. Communicative action in the light of theological theory seeks to change existential realities in church contexts or society Pieterse The intentional praxis of leaders is to construct new theological theories for a new discourse praxis Pieterse Practical theology studies the praxis of the church, leadership, members and communication in church and society.

    To engender transformation, practical theology applies, like Crotty and Van Dijk , Habermas's communication model based on his ideological critical communication theory to redress power relations.

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    Critical theory applied to leadership praxis fosters justice and righteousness, human dignity and freedom in terms of the communicative actions and values of the kingdom Pieterse ; Van der Ven Osmer's leadership communication model is broad and comprehensive. Leadership as human symbolic communication reconfigures the attitudes and behaviour of others in concurrence with shared group goals and needs. Transforming leadership aims at profoundly changing leadership praxes, organisations, systems' identity, mission and cultures Osmer We concur with Osmer that practical theology addresses and changes leadership communicative actions in church and society through value-grounded leadership:.

    God's sovereign, royal rule takes the form of self-giving love in Christ. The Lord is a servant, and the Servant is the Lord. Power and authority are redefined. A reversal takes place. Power as domination, or power over, becomes power as mutual care and self-giving. Power as seeking one's own advantage becomes power as seeking the good of others and the common good of the community. It is clear that we have an existential tension between the voice of the powerful leadership elite and the powerless 'other's' numbness or lack of access to being heard.

    The effects of dominant leadership discourse dictate public opinion and reproduce, in effect, dominance and inequality. The role of leaders should receive renewed attention, especially in a transforming democracy that represents a society that is growing poorer, with decreasing discourse access.

    We need a value-based, albeit authentic, spiritual, ethical and transformational leadership, with a renewed critical consciousness for moral and ethical discourse and communication action and reflection. Leadership that is spiritual, authentic, ethical and transformational, and which manifests itself though ethical discourse, fosters authentic relationships and transforms hegemonic leadership practices. The author declares that he has no financial or personal relationship s that may have inappropriately influenced him in writing this article.

    Abrams, D. Parker ed. Avolio, B. Research and future directions', Annual Review of Psychology 60, Bass, B. Dallmayr, F.