This is a theory building presentation intended to advance the paradigm of leader as potentiator. A potentiating leader is a guide, catalyst, or initiator for the maximization of human potential in another. Potentiating leadership theory is a logical extension of transformational (Bass, 1985; Burns, 1978) and servant leadership (Greenleaf, 1970) theory. Burns (2003) asks the driving question of potentiating leadership, “could the idea of mutual self-actualization—the transforming impact people have on one another—serve as the crucial dynamic in a leadership process that would advance great social, public values, above all the collective pursuit of happiness?” (p. 144). Among other qualities, potentiating leaders avoid the limiting forces on potential—manipulation, intimidation, deception, and coercion—and rely on perspicuity, equanimity, critical reflection, and maturity to foster a trusting and synergistic leader-follower relationship dynamic. The foundational elements of potentiating leadership theory and a call for research are discussed.


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pp. 116-141
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Archived 2014
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