“What exactly is benevolent leadership?”

Ensure that you always have a positive impact. (Photo: Redd for Unsplash)

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Q. – “I hear a lot about ‘benevolent leadership’. What is that, exactly? A new managerial mode? Or a truly valid approach to the manager’s role? I’m curious: it might interest me, but if it’s to make me step on my toes, no!Louis Charles

A. — Dear Louis-Charles, benevolent leadership is not really new. It has been talked about since the early 2000s in academic circles, and one of the most striking studies on it comes from Quebec!

In 2010, Fahri Karakas was a doctoral student at the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University in Montreal. The man who is now a professor of leadership and business management at the University of East Anglia in Norwich (Great Britain) had then thought about the most precise possible definition that could be given to this innovative concept, and the result of his reflections enabled him to win the prestigious Emerald/EFMD international prize for the best thesis report on leadership that same year.

His definition of benevolent leadership is now authoritative. She sees it as “a virtuous circle that encourages, initiates and implements positive change within an organization,” using four levers.

Ethics. Decisions are ethical and actions are just.

Inspirational. Team spirit is developed and the work has meaning.

Positive. Hope is cultivated and everyone is invited to make a positive contribution to the collective.

Sustainable. The goal is to have a lasting positive impact on the entire community (team members, business partners, customers, and others).

In other words, the benevolent leader is not the one who says “yes” to everything and anything, in particular to the whims of certain members of his team. It’s not, as you feared, the manager being pushed around. No, the benevolent leader is rather the one who demonstrates ethics in each of his decisions, who finds exciting missions for each person as well as for the whole team, who inspires everyone to give their 110% and who ensures to act for the common good. All of this at the same time.

Good. In theory, this is all well and good. But on the ground, what does it look like?

Dorota Grego-Planer is a professor of business management at the Faculty of Economics and Management at Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun (Poland). In a recent study, she looked at a very specific point, whether benevolent leadership had any impact on employee engagement, or not.

The Polish researcher analyzed data on this subject concerning 415 employees whose leader acts in a benevolent way. This allowed him to bring to light the fact that the more a manager applies and masters benevolent leadership, the more the employees under his responsibility are engaged in their daily work. Yes, the more motivated, efficient and productive they are. Nothing less.

“The more a leader cares about bringing positive and constructive changes, the more he promotes the emergence of the best in everyone in his work, for the greater benefit of the collective,” summarizes Dorota Grego-Planer in her study.

So it seems clear to me, my dear Louis-Charles, it obviously pays to adopt benevolent leadership. Especially since this has an indirect impact that could not be more interesting, in these times of labor shortage. “Employees whose leader shows benevolence identify more than others with the values ​​of the organization, and this reinforced bond encourages them to stay longer than others within the same organization,” notes the Polish researcher. Like what, it also reinforces loyalty.

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