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versión On-line ISSN 2304-8557
versión impresa ISSN 0023-270X

Koers (Online) vol.75 no.3 Pretoria  2010


Leadership and power


Leierskap en mag



V. Kessler

Research Fellow: Dept.of Philosophy & Systematic Theology, University of South Africa, PRETORIA and Dean of Akademie für christliche Führungskräfte Gummersbach, GERMANY. E-mail:




Leadership does not exist without power. Thus we have to reflect on power in order to lay a theoretical foundation for responsible leadership. This interdisciplinary article collects insights from the disciplines of theology, sociology, and cross-cultural management. It provides a concise summary of what a Christian leader should know about power in order to use his/her power in an adequate way. The theological reflection reminds us of the fact that, according to the Judeo-Christian tradition, God gave power to humankind (Guardini, 1998). Two opposite dangers are described in this article, namely the abuse of power on the one hand and the misconception of powerlessness as a Christian virtue on the other hand. The sociological section describes different forms of power. Following French and Raven (1960), it introduces seven power bases, which are illustrated by examples from society and the church. The next section describes the different cultural perceptions on power. It shows how the cultural parameter of power distance may influence the appropriate leadership style (Hofstede & Hofstede, 2005). It is argued that our understanding of a right or wrong use of power is strongly influenced by the culture in which we grew up. The article concludes with a list of ethical guidelines on the use of power for responsible Christian leaders.

Key concepts: intercultural leadership, leadership ethics power, abuse of power bases


Leierskap sonder mag bestaan nie. Daarom moet ons op mag reflekteer om sodoende 'n teoretiese grondslag vir verantwoordelike leierskap te lê. Hierdie interdissiplinêre artikel weerspieël insigte vanuit die vakgebiede van teologie, sosiologie en multi-kulturele bestuur. Dit verskaf 'n bondige opsomming van dít wat 'n Christenleier behoort te weet oor mag om daardeur sy/haar mag toepaslik te kan gebruik. Die teologiese refleksie herinner aan die feit dat, volgens die Judeo-Christelike tradisie, God mag aan die mensdom gegee het (Guardini, 1998). Twee teenstrydige gevare word in hierdie artikel bespreek, naamlik die misbruik van mag aan die een kant, en aan die ander kant die wanpersepsie van magteloosheid as 'n Christelike deug. Die sosiologiese gedeelte beskryf verskillende vorms van mag. Deur Franch en Raven (1960) na te volg, word sewe magsbasisse voorgestel wat met voorbeelde uit die gemeenskap en die kerk toegelig word. Die daaropvolgende gedeelte beskryf die verskillende kulturele persepsies van mag. Dit toon hoe die kulturele parameter van magsafstand die toepaslike leierskapstyl kan beïnvloed (Hofstede & Hofstede, 2005). Dit word gekonstateer dat 'n mens se begrip van die korrekte of verkeerde gebruik van mag sterk beïnvloed word deur die kultuur waarin ons grootgeword het. Die artikel eindig met 'n lys etiese riglyne oor die gebruik van mag deur verantwoordelike Christenleiers.

Kernbegrippe: interkulturele leiding, leierskapetiek, magsbasisse, magsmisbruik



Full text available only in PDF format.



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