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In the English language field, interest in leadership has been very high in recent decades, evidenced by the growing body of academic and non-academic literature (Bodolica & Spraggon, 2020 ; Fries et al., 2020). However, the challenge of defining what leadership ‘is’ persists (Waldman et al., 2020; Stogdill, 1974). One of the few common areas of understanding that has emerged consists of viewing leadership as an interaction revolving around three principal pillars: leader, follower, and context (Avolio et al., 2020; Gilani et al., 2020). Within this, it is important to recognize the dialectics between leaders and followers that mobilize around issues of power in organizations (Collinson, 2005, 2017). This consensus is relatively recent insofar as, during much of the last century, management science research focused on notions of efficiency of leadership (Avolio, 2007). In tandem with these developments, research has also considered the fusion of HRM in relation to leadership dynamics and HRM organizational development practices (Collings et al., 2018; Leroy et al., 2018; DeRue & Wellman, 2009; Liu et al., 2003).
Overall, the interest in leadership results largely from its ability to transform an organization (Odom et al., 2017; Kotter, 1995), and also from the recognition that the new-millennial world requires continual reinvention by organizations, whatever domain or sector they are involved in. This ‘leadership calling’ has generated themes of leadership development and cultivatio…


This paper investigates the notion of leadership through the theorization of three distinct leadership states: potency, power, and function, and their implications for HR-management (HRM). This theorization is grounded on the key philosophical difference between the notions of potency and power made by Deleuze. Much of the extant leadership literature views power and function as being interconnected in a purposeful manner in organizations, however, this potentially overlooks their underlying effects. An alternative cross-fertilization of leadership studies and HRM may better facilitate people development approaches. Of particular importance is a heightened examination of the consequences and complexities of power and leadership dynamics and the ambiguous effects they can produce on ‘followers’. Responding to these gaps, the paper develops a novel conceptualization of potency leadership for followers, leaders, and the organization, through HRM. Empirically, the paper employs an inductive methodology using semi-structured, rare access interviews with senior (elite) leaders across military, credit agency, and banking contexts. The findings identify the emergence of three interconnected novel states of leadership: potency, power and function, dependent on the nature of the transformations experienced by followers. The results have implications for HRM in leadership assessment and development.

  • potency leadership
  • power leadership
  • leader
  • follower
  • empowerment

Pour une théorie du leadership de puissance, de pouvoir et de fonction

Cet article étudie la notion de leadership à travers la théorisation de trois types de leadership distincts : leadership de puissance, leadership de pouvoir et leadership de fonction ainsi que leurs implications pour la gestion des ressources humaines (GRH). Cette théorisation s’appuie sur la différence philosophique clé que fait Deleuze entre puissance et pouvoir. Une grande partie de la littérature existante sur le leadership considère que pouvoir et fonction sont liés de manière intentionnelle dans les organisations, mais cela peut en négliger l’étude des effets sous-jacents. Une fertilisation croisée et alternative des études sur le leadership et sur la GRH pourrait enrichir la compréhension du développement des individus. Examiner de plus près les conséquences et les complexités de la dynamique du pouvoir et du leadership, ainsi que les effets ambigus qu’ils peuvent produire sur les followers apparaît crucial. En réponse à ces manques, l’article développe une nouvelle conceptualisation du leadership de puissance destinée aux followers, aux leaders et à l’organisation, par le biais de la GRH. Empiriquement, l’article mobilise une méthodologie inductive ayant recours à des entretiens semi-structurants conduits auprès de dirigeants de haut niveau issus de contexte militaire, bancaire et d’une agence de notation financière. Les résultats identifient l’émergence de trois nouveaux types de leadership interconnectés : puissance, pouvoir et fonction, qui produisent trois types d’effets sur les followers. Les résultats comportent des implications pour la GRH dans l’évaluation et le développement du leadership.

  • leadership de puissance
  • leadership de pouvoir
  • leader
  • follower
  • empowerment
Gabriel Morin
Dr Gabriel MORIN (Université Paris 2 Panthéon-Assas, France) is associate professor of leadership development at a number of high-ranking institutions (HEC, Ecole Polytechnique, Dauphine University, etc.) and co-leads the Master 2 International Human Resources Management program at Ciffop/Paris 2. He specializes in military leadership as Senior Research Fellow for the Centre for Army Leadership Research Institute, Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, and as associate professor for the French armed forces (Gendarmerie Officers School, MBA Security Management for officers). He regularly publishes in international journals and applies his research through executive education. He previously worked for 18 years at KPMG Paris in finance and HR, including 7 years as partner.
Peter Stokes
Professor Peter STOKES (Leicester Castle Business School, De Montfort University, UK) publishes and reviews extensively in world class journals and applies his work through teaching, consultancy and executive education across a range of sectors encompassing utilities, construction, publishing, aerospace, diplomatic, emergency services and local government. He has held visiting professor/advisor roles in businesses and university management schools in: France, Holland, Spain, Ireland, Germany, Senegal (West Africa), Vietnam, Morocco, Uzbekistan, Hong Kong, China, India and Dubai. He is VP—EuroMed Research Business Institute, UK Ambassador to Francophone Academic HR Association (AGRH) and a CMI Fellow.
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