Managing for the Common Good:

Article (PDF Available)inOrganizational Dynamics 33(3):282-291 · August 2004with111 Reads
DOI: 10.1016/j.orgdyn.2004.06.005
Leadership is a pervasive, public construct. Leadership, for practical and theoretical description, is systematic, purposeful influence. Leadership theories have focused on what leaders are like (personality or trait-based approaches), what leaders say(charismatic), what leaders do (style-based), and when leaders do it (contingency theories). While the implicit, accompanying message to any leadership theory is that the leader needs to produce results, less has been studied or written concerning the leader's specific, articulated and accepted aspirations and the social value or valence of these aspirations. More important, what and whose results matter most in the analysis? Should the results please the leader or his or her followers? The public or the leader's organization? While we have developed a cult of leadership, we have also developed leadership models that can be used to produce and to explain leadership's banal or evil side. We offer approaches to leadership that can lead us to hell. Leadership entails risk, change and accountability. A person engaging in systematic, purposeful influence behavior must be willing to accept accountability for his or her decisions and actions. A good leader places the concerns of followers and customers ahead of the leader's own interests. A good leader is prosocial. This article looks at prosocial leadership across organizations. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

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Managing for the Common Good:
Prosocial Leadership
Leadership is a pervasive, public construct.
Politicians, the media, corporate executives,
and academics provide diverse definitions
and examples of leadership. Leadership pun-
dits, gurus and theories abound. A search of
the term ‘‘leadership’’ on Google or Amazon
offers thousands of references, web pages,
books, and other links to leadership. The
media offer adulatory, pop psychology stu-
dies of leaders, political ‘‘leader’’ profiles,
and historical, military examples for the edu-
cation and – more often – the entertainment
of their audience and, to a lesser extent, as
examples for aspiring leaders. Leadership,
for practical and theoretical description, is
systematic,purposeful influence.
Many experts claim that the public seek
leadership from their elected officials, and
then these same experts often offer up celeb-
rities as leadership models or heroes. Orga-
nizations make similar claims: employees
need, seek and respond positively to leader-
ship. Schools, corporations and universities
offer courses, seminars, and degrees in lea-
dership. Academic research has produced
volumes on various aspects of leadership:
trait-, style-, and contingency-based; charis-
matic, autocratic, empowering, transforma-
tional, and heroic leaders. Other researchers
have offered substitutes for and alternatives
to leadership.
Leadership requires decisions and
action. While consistent leadership comes
from personal values and beliefs, the orga-
nization’s or community’s need for leader-
ship may run counter to a leader’s interests
or beliefs. In 1993, the small town of River-
side, Missouri had the opportunity to
embrace casino gambling. If casino gambling
were approved by the town’s leadership, the
town would earn significant new tax reven-
ues. The mayor, a minority of one, originally
objected to the proposal, based on her reli-
gious beliefs. But she eventually demurred,
valuing the tax benefits to the citizens over
her personal qualms. A year later, the casino
opened. The town, with annual tax revenues
of $1.6 million before the casino arrived, ten
years later earned $6 million a year in gam-
bling tax revenues for a population of 3,000
Making Sense of Leadership
Attempts to navigate or to integrate the body
of knowledge comprising ‘leadership’
quickly runs aground on the shoals of skep-
tical reviewers, academic turf, and personal
interpretation. There are almost as many
definitions of leadership as there are people
writing about leadership. Leadership the-
ories have focused on what leaders are like
(personality or trait-based approaches), what
leaders say (charismatic), what leaders do
(style-based), and when leaders do it (con-
tingency theories). While the implicit, accom-
panying message to any leadership theory is
that the leader needs to produce results, less
has been studied or written concerning the
leader’s specific, articulated and accepted
aspirations and the social value or valence
of these aspirations. More important, what
and whose results matter most in the analy-
sis? Should the results please the leader or his
Organizational Dynamics, Vol. 33, No. 3, pp. 282–291, 2004 ISSN 0090-2616/$ – see frontmatter
ß2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.orgdyn.2004.06.005
or her followers? The public or the leaders
organization? While we have developed a
cult of leadership, we have also developed
leadership models that can be used to pro-
duce and to explain leaderships banal or evil
side. We offer approaches to leadership that
can lead us to hell. Leadership entails risk,
change and accountability. A person enga-
ging in systematic, purposeful inuence
behavior must be willing to accept account-
ability for his or her decisions and actions. A
good leader places the concerns of followers
and customers ahead of the leaders own
interests. A good leader is prosocial.
Prosocial Leadership
Prosocial leadership is dened here as a
positive, effective inuence, with construc-
tive goals that serve the common good. The
leaders intentions, vision and goals are posi-
tive (‘‘pro’’); they create or add value. The
leader is also capable of implementing not
just articulating the need for change. The
leader manages, follows through, delivers.
The leaders actions attend to the needs of
a broader group (‘‘social’’) rather than to
limited, personal interests.
One popular leadership book denes a
leaders vision as ‘‘an ideal and unique image
of the future for the common good.’’ But not
all leader behavior manifests itself in serving
the common good. For example, formerly
revered and currently despised political
and business leaders are now recognized
for having pursued limited, narrow and
often greedy, self-serving ambitions. The lea-
dership of Adelphia Communications
Corp.s John Rigas, Tyco Internationals Den-
nis Koslowski, Enron Corp.s Jeff Skilling
and HealthSouth Corp.s Alan Scrushy is
now seen in a skeptical, critical and even
criminal light, due to the belated understand-
ing of their base ambitions.
Prosocial leadership is constructive; the
intended outcome of the leadership act of
inuence is widely acknowledged by a broad
constituency as an outcome with primarily if
not exclusively benecial effects. While the
goals may serve the leaders personal wealth
and ambition, these can not be the primary or
exclusionary goals of his or her leadership.
Prosocial leader goals might include creating
wealth, improving health, adding value, or
sustaining a comparative advantage for the
rm. Prosocial leadership shifts the locus of
measurement of leadership from the leader
to those served, including employees and
The Prosocial Antidote
Prosocial leadership also turns a very critical
light on leaders who pursue goals that are
dysfunctional, antisocial or evil. History
abounds with examples of quite effective
leaders who created destructive or dysfunc-
tional institutions, who led their countries
and people to do evil deeds, and led people
down paths of terror, destruction and anni-
hilation. In the twentieth century, perhaps
four times as many people were killed in
times of ‘‘peace,’’ in their own countries,
under despotic leaders than during periods
of war. Hitler, Stalin, Hussein and the
leaders of pogroms in Ukraine, Cambodia
and elsewhere demonstrated many of the
traits of effective leaders, but not the goals
of a prosocial leader. Often these leaders
would make public claims to be ‘‘serving
the people’’ or ‘‘promoting the common
good.’’ Prosocial leadership is prefaced by
positive aspirations for the common good
and manifested by the leaders behaviors.
While goals may be inferred from words
or action, these inferences can be incorrect,
and the leaders true intentions may be
Social means leading for the common
good. Socialin this construct of prosocial
leadership means that the outcome provides
collective utility rather than the satisfaction
of narrow, personal or even greedy interests.
It is possible that smaller, self-serving inter-
ests can coincide with a larger social goal
the proverbial win-win situation and
this should be a common, not a rare occur-
rence. Prosocial leadership is not necessarily
personal sacrice, nor is it self-effacing.
Prosocial leadership makes the leaders per-
sonal ambitions subservient to the greater
Prosocial leadership means good manage-
ment. In addition to pursuing positive,
social goals, a prosocial leader delivers.
He or she has mastered the implementation
and execution skills of good management. A
prosocial leader knows that good manage-
ment produces what leadership envisions
and promises. Sam Walton, Bill Gates and
Warren Buffet are examples of leaders who
add value (as demonstrated by the billions of
dollars in sales of their companiesproducts
to customers who benet from their pur-
chases), benet millions of customers and
shareholders, and show a continuing capa-
city to deliver a system of management effec-
tiveness and efciency. In contrast, while
generating great wealth for customers and
shareholders, the behaviors of former Gen-
eral Electric Co. chief executive ofcer (CEO)
Jack Welch have prompted some revisionist
analysis of his leadership in retirement.
These analyses point to Welchs lavish retire-
ment package, a questionable (perhaps
unethical) relationship with a journalist, his
practice of ‘‘decimating’’ employees, and
small cracks in GEs once formidable earn-
ings growth. Prosocial leaders are not
greedy, unethical or blind to management
Leadership prosocial or not is not a
panacea. As expressed by the ‘‘overmanaged
and underled’’ thesis, leadership has per-
haps inadvertently produced a general deni-
gration of management as an important
business role. For example, some assert that
leadership is more important than manage-
ment, ‘‘Leaders do the right things, managers
do things right; leaders are effective, man-
agers are efcient.’’ The disparaging charac-
terization of managers and management
continues: Managers administer; leaders
innovate. Leaders are original, managers imi-
tate. Managers emphasize systems and struc-
ture; leaders emphasize people. Managers
are controlling; leaders inspire trust. Man-
agers are trained; leaders are educated. Peo-
ple dont want to be managed; they want to
be led.
This denigration of management is
unfortunate and an improper lesson to be
learned. Good leadership requires good
management skills; good management is
and essential part of prosocial leadership.
Management helps the leaders‘‘talk’’ turn
into a successful ‘‘walk.’’ History and experi-
ence record that there have been effective,
evil leaders; there have been well-inten-
tioned but undisciplined leaders who lose
their initial effectiveness and support. Lea-
ders who choose the wrong goals and who
manage poorly will inevitably fail in the
responsibilities of leadership. A prosocial
leader knows that implementation lives on
well after the vision is articulated. Lou Gers-
teners ten-year rein with IBM Corp. rst
earned attention for his attention to delivery
more than to vision. The new book by Hon-
eywell Chairman Larry Bossidy, Execution
(with Ram Charan), documents this disci-
plined approach of delivering on vision.
George Patton conveyed his sense of im-
plementation when he said: ‘‘A good
solution applied with vigor now is better
than a perfect solution applied ten minutes
On this rst point the choice of goals
prosocial leadership can be a useful
proactive, preventive strategy. On the sec-
ond point poor management skills even
leaders with the proper goals and best of
intentions can come up short on implemen-
tation yet, in some cases, still be viewed as
leaders, full of charisma and inspiration.
Leadership must be measured in terms of
the leaders results, i.e., effectiveness. This
should be self-evident if not tautological.
But results are in the future, and leaders
are often judged in the present. A focus on
the goals of the prosocial leader can assist
in assessing the valence of the projected
results, well before the results are mea-
In one perspective, effective leadership is a
subset of effective management. Managers
manage resources; leaders manage people,
who comprise the organizations one critical,
unique resource. Factories can be copied, as
can plans, ideas, systems, and other forms of
resources. Most resources are hardware or
software; leadership requires the manage-
ment of ‘‘know-ware’’—people and their
unique cognitive skills, emotional capacities
and intellectual talents.
Former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury
Paul ONeil was admired by the safety com-
munity because of his leadership of Alcoa.
He established a policy that all lost-time
mishaps must be reported to him within
24 hours. (A ‘‘lost-time’’ mishap is an injury
so severe that the worker loses time from
work on a day other than the original day of
the mishap.) When notied, ONeil asked the
supervisor of the injured worker: (1) what
happened, and (2) what needed to be done to
prevent a similar mishap, either by the super-
visor or ONeil. ONeil disciplined supervi-
sors for failing to report mishaps, under the
philosophy that the supervisor was prevent-
ing ONeil from helping improve the work-
ing conditions. ONeils actions are an
expression of prosocial leadership. However,
earning a reputation as a prosocial leader will
require a broad array of decisions over a
period of time. Indicators of prosocial leader-
ship are not always perfect predictors of that
fully embodied style.
Good managers recognize the cost of
leadership as well. Future results must be
measured against risks. In the U.S. Civil War,
President Abraham Lincoln faced a popular,
charismatic leader, General George McClel-
lan, in the 1864 election. McClellan made his
name as leader revered by his men, yet see-
mingly unable to manage decisively. He
failed to act, to implement his transforma-
tional characteristics. McClellan was prone to
overestimate the numbers of men elded by
his opponent, General Robert E. Lee, and to
assign blame to Lincoln for a failure to pro-
vide McClellan with the troops the general
felt he needed. Lee, in contrast, assumed the
risks and responsibilities of leadership and
earned the respect of his men for being deci-
sive, willing to take risks, and to accept the
limited resources elded by his army.
Lets return to Riverside, Missouri, and
their gambling casino experience: While
tax revenues increased ve-fold with the
casino, the mayors widowed sister lost her
home, supposedly due to excessive gam-
bling. Estimates are that 90 percent of the
casino revenues come from 10 percent of its
patrons. Local people suffer as well as ben-
et from the casino. Gambling is a voluntary
tax, albeit a painfully addictive choice for
In Maryland in 2004, the state legislature
faced competing alternatives for increased
state tax revenues: licensing ‘‘slots’’ and
casino-based gambling versus imposing a
one-cent increase in the sales tax. Both of
these taxes are regressive, consumption-
based taxes, disproportionately impacting
low-income families in an adverse fashion.
Yet while addictive, gambling is a choice, a
leisure activity funded by discretionary
income; most purchases subjected to a sales
tax are necessities.
Good leaders are not necessarily good
managers. Being under-led may sometimes
be considered a virtue, not a vice. The
absence of effective management can leave
those managed even by the most virtuous,
well-intentioned leader in peril. Leadership
and management are a contrast in substance,
not just style. More important, prosocial lea-
dership contrasts choices, choices made by
leaders as well as followers. Approaches to
leadership leadership theory have shifted
over the past 100 years, from an emphasis on
dominating personal characteristics and
attributes of the leader to attention to the
impact of the leaders actions on the follower
or, more recently, the customer. A prosocial
leader is dened and judged by his or her
impact on the recipient of his or her leader-
ship, not simply by the leaders intentions,
words or actions. That is, while actions do
speak loudly, results matter most. And the
results that matter most are the resultant
effects on the leaders customer, not the lea-
ders organization.
Can people be over-led? Of course. Ill-
chosen places to go an illusory or ill-
advised vision can lead people rapidly to
their demise. The ill-fated ‘‘charge of the
Light Brigade’’ is a resilient historical exam-
ple of unfortunately great leadership. And, in
many cases, people want and need be left
alone. Consider the following contrast of
leadership and management (see Fig. 1).
Dening management as stewardship,as
a fundamental responsibility and account-
ability for planning, organizing, directing,
and controlling lifes resources, subsumes
leadership, as leadership refers to a special
type of resource people subject to
the functions of management. And these
functions can be self-managed, but not likely
with skill or success unless the self-managed
person learns from an external agenta
Prosocial Leadership for
Antisocial Behavior
The intellectual origins of prosocial leader-
ship lie in several areas of research, namely in
attempts to rene or to enhance previous
attempts to train or to offer models for lea-
ders. Close links can be traced to servant
leadership and other more recent evolutions
of the more dated historic models of leader-
ship, e.g., trait, autocratic, or ‘‘strong man’’
Greenleaf has offered ‘‘servant’’ leader-
ship as a benevolent mode of leadership,
with some clear, intuitive links to prosocial
leadership. Servant leadership causes the
leader to consider himself/herself as a ser-
vant of those to be led; the servant leader
serves the needs of his/her followers
through positive, altruistic behavior.
In Richard AttenboroughsGandhi, late
in the nineteenth century the young leader
speaks to a packed hall of South African
Muslims and Hindus upset with the new,
punitive pass laws. The crowd is unruly,
willing to ght, even to die for their freedom
and self-respect. They are even willing to
kill for their cause. Gandhi leads with
simple, direct, contrasting words: ‘‘For this
too, I am willing to die. However, there is
no cause for which I am willing to kill.’’
A servant leader, Gandhi is willing to die
for his cause and, more importantly, to
afrm by example that he will not lead
others to kill.
Sadly, not all acts by servant leaders are
benevolent. Some patently evil or cruel lea-
ders will claim to be leaders in service to their
followers while pursuing genocide, unethical
behavior, war, and other socially abhorrent
goals. Political and military leaders and non-
discredited leaders of businesses, people
who have been shown to be corrupt while
acting in the name of their followers, are
dysfunctional servant leaders. Prior to
Enrons very public collapse on the heels
of revelations as to shady, unethical and
illegal actions, its chairman Ken Lay was a
prominent spokesperson for ethical, effective
leadership. Independent of his possible legal
or moral guilt, Lay provided the leadership
servant or lack there of that brought Enron
to its public humiliation.
Some leadersclaims to serve are disin-
genuous. ‘‘Public servant’’ is a cliche
´d term,
used more often by the servant than by those
served, and often used to assert the supposed
altruism of the servant or to demand a sense
of gratitude from those served. In fact, use of
the term may well be an immediate cause for
alarm or at least concern. Those determined
to paint themselves as servants can use this
self-portrayal as a rationale for a personal
pursuit of greed and as a smokescreen. The
regular invocation of a recent American pre-
sident of the phrase, ‘‘Im working just as
hard as I can to ...’’ can have a similar
disquieting effect. The prefacing phrase,
‘‘Ill be honest with you,’’ should produce
a similar sense of discomfort in the listener, if
not overt distrust. A person who needs to
assert his or her honesty, especially when the
speaker probably means to say ‘‘candid’’
rather than ‘‘honest’’ may be best held sus-
pect, if only for the misuse of an important
Well-Paid Servants
Politically correct leadership from public ser-
vants also leads to some contradictions, if not
gross confusion. In 2003, a candidate for a
school superintendent position in Seattle said
in response to a question about Edison, the
private education company: ‘‘Im worried
about private companies like Edison coming
in and trying to run schools for a prot.
Nobody should be making a prot from
our children.’’ Such a claim implies a sense
of servitude from the candidate. The public
servants implication is that the public good
precludes personal prot. In fact, all partici-
pants in the educational process should
prot from the experience. Some might argue
that the person to prot most from the public
school business is that school superintendent
with the six-gure salary.
Business leaders have good claim to be
‘‘servant leaders’’ as well as members of the
‘‘helping professions,’’ by the nature of their
managerial responsibilities, as long as the
manager assumes a prosocial leadership
stance. This latter assertion, of business as
a helping profession, runs counter to the
conventional thinking of businesss critics,
but remains valid in the nature of a proso-
cially led business. Prosocial leaders help
others; prosocial leaders can also help them-
While servant leadership provides an
introduction to the concept of leading by
serving others, ‘‘positive organizational
behavior’’ focuses on those functional, crea-
tive and facilitative aspects of human beha-
vior that determine behavior in
organizations, on positive deviance from
expected patterns of behavior, rather then
focusing on abnormal, deviant, or otherwise
dysfunctional personality or behavioral char-
acteristics. Positive organizational behavior
and scholarship underscore the value of posi-
tive personality traits and behaviors such as
efcacy, hope and resiliency in the pursuit of
organizational goals. A prosocial leadership
model or approach focuses on the positive
outcomes of leadership behavior instead of
the positive personality characteristics of lea-
ders and followers. The overlap in the two
approaches lies in attention to positive char-
acteristics of organizational behavior.
Beyond the positive characteristics of the
leader and the attention to positive deviance
remains a positive future orientation. In the
lm Saving Private Ryan, upon being
informed of the death of three Ryan brothers,
General George Marshall is moved to read
from an old letter. He begins, ‘‘I have been
shown in the les of the War Department a
statement of the Adjutant General of Massa-
chusetts that you are the mother of ve sons
who have died gloriously on the eld of
battle.’’ Marshall pauses for effect at the
word ‘‘five,’’ looks a dissenting ofcer
straight in the eye, and reads the end of
the letter from memory, noting that it was
written by Abraham Lincoln. And then Mar-
shall immediately gives the order to save
Private Ryan: ‘‘Hes alive. Were going to
send someone in there and get him the hell
out of there.’’ This prosocial act displays a
sense of vision and commitment, a humani-
tarian effort in the midst of devastation. Ste-
ven Spielbergs George Marshall treads the
ne line between the value of the life of
Private Ryan and that of the lives of the
several men who are likely to be sacriced
in the pursuit of this mission. Prosocial lea-
dership recognizes that positive actions or
the pursuit of ‘‘good’’ goals may incur costs.
As leadership, it is not always entirely non-
negative in its manifestations or by-products.
One might label this ‘‘collateral damage’’ or
tacitly accept the inevitability of death from
‘‘friendly re,’’ just as the designer of a major
engineering project will anticipate and accept
the likelihood of worker deaths in the con-
struction of the project. Prosocial leaders are
not naı
¨ve, nor are they risk-averse. In Private
Ryans case, Marshall had to weigh the com-
passion, humanity, and symbolism of his
leadership against the real cost of additional
human lives in the rescue effort. In fact, when
Private Ryan is ‘‘saved,’’ he spurns the offer
to be rescued from near certain death in the
name of ghting with his comrades, his
In addition to servant leadership and
positive organizational behavior approaches,
prosocial leadership can also be linked to
approaches to leader behavior that punishes
undesired (asocial or antisocial) behaviors. If
the decision criterion is based on the com-
mon good, the application of the behavioral
management action of ‘‘punishment’’ pro-
duces a social good or reduces the anti-social
effects. In this case, prosocial leadership
assumes a punitive style to achieve positive
ends. For example, prosocial political and
public policy leaders would be amenable to
the use of punishment through the levying of
so-called sin taxes to discourage and to tax
antisocial behavior. Prosocial leadership
punishes antisocial behavior.
In Oliver StonesWall Street, the unscru-
pulous investor Gordon Gekko says: ‘‘[G]
reed for lack of a better word is good.
Greed is right. Greed works.’’ And adds:
‘‘Greed, in all of its forms greed for life,
for money, for love, knowledge has marked
the upward surge of mankind.’’ The error in
leadership here is not in the pursuit of excel-
lence or even in personal gain. The error is in
the failure to understand the denition of
greed, which is ‘‘reprehensible acquisitive-
ness.’’ Greed is not prosocial and its pursuit
is not leadership. Greed is antisocial.
Prosocial leadership also has historic
links to organizational social learning and
cognition (OSLC) and its related approaches
to leadership and management, with its
inclusion of leader vision, (positive, social)
goals, modeling, self-efcacy, teams, reinfor-
cement and punishment, along with social
schemas and scripts to dene leader beha-
vior. OSLCs embrace of self-leadership is
also a useful element in prosocial leadership,
where the locus of inuence shifts from
external to internal, from leader to the fol-
lower. OSLC descends from more narrow,
focused models of individual learning,
placing learning in a social context. It is
this social milieu that provides OSLCs
direct contribution to prosocial leadership.
Cognition in learning also attends to the
impact of goals and aspirations behind
Unlike many approaches to leadership
including traditional trait, style and leader
behavior theories prosocial leadership is
dened by the leaders aspirations, goals
and/or accomplishments and not by the
means, style or behaviors used to achieve
them. Prosocial leadership also embraces
the effective, appropriate uses of punitive
behavior by the leader to achieve these goals.
Prosocial leadership is an evolutionary
approach to achieving important social ends,
drawing upon servant leadership, positive
organizational, behavioral management,
and organizational social learning and cog-
What makes or identies a leader as proso-
cial? Evidence includes, rst, the adoption,
articulation and aggressive pursuit of a posi-
tive agenda, specic goals that describe an
enhanced, improved future for those being
led. Second, the prosocial leaders goals are
of value to a broader, social collective and not
just to narrow interest groups or to the lea-
ders self-interest. Followers need to be wary
of self-proclaimed servants; followers need
to see for themselves the positive common
good delivered by the prosocial leader and
not simply accept rhetoric. A critical exam-
ination of the goals and their valence is
necessary. And third, a prosocial leader is
also a good manager. The prosocial leader
decides and implements effectively.
How do we recognize and measure pro-
social leadership? Certain elements consti-
tute an operational denition; some of
them are problematic.
Primary recognition of the prosocial lea-
der lies in the eyes of those led, based in their
collective judgment as to the depth (positive
impact) and breadth (collective good served)
of the leaders aspirations. This requires a
collective judgment and measure or an esti-
mate of that merged assessment. A simple,
objective, unilateral measure of prosocial lea-
dership is impossible.
A prosocial leader will work to identify and to
articulate key common goals. Leadership
involves and engages people, not inanimate
resources. Empowering people requires and
understanding of their goals as well as their
talents. Knowing what people might do, can
do and want to do help forge an effective,
collective vision. From the vision, specic
goals must be stated and managed, not sim-
ply expected.
Prosocial leaders communicate the positive
elements of these goals and make the case for
pursuing them. And articulate the costs. This
is vision in action. A prosocial leader needs to
take care to recognize and to explain the
value and cost of pursuing goals, including
attention to those who will suffer in the
process of goal accomplishment. For exam-
ple, a social goal of reduced tobacco use will
produce losses for tobacco growers. Soldiers
die in ghting and winning a war. Jobs can be
destroyed when products and markets
Prosocial leaders show a commitment to the
performance needed to achieve the goals. Good
leadership must be followed with good man-
agement. Vision and strategy become goals
and tactics. Ideas becomeaction. Plans become
dership, modeling, exhortation, coaching, and
charisma help in the pursuit of the goals.
Prosocial leaders seek and accept account-
ability for their actions. Stewardship includes
a commitment to staying the course with
followers and an accounting for the conse-
quences of leaders actions and results. Lea-
ders delegate yet do not surrender
management responsibility. Followers are
not left to fend for themselves, during the
pursuit of the goal or at the time of reconci-
liation of the goal and the results. Prosocial
leaders share the fruits of results with a broad
array of employees. Prot-sharing and stock
options are not only for top management.
Prosocial leaders are good managers. Proso-
cial leaders articulate and then, in their man-
agerial role, implement. Visionary or
charismatic leadership without competent,
committed follow-through, is short-lived or
counterproductive. Good leaders become
good managers by being disciplined and
conscientious. Bad leaders point out the tar-
get and then move to the rear.
Prosocial leadership expands upon mod-
els of leader traits, styles and behaviors and
gives meaning and substance to vision and
aspirations. More important, prosocial lea-
dership shifts the focus of measurement of
leadership effectiveness from physical, psy-
chological and behavioral elements of the
leader to the results experienced by fol-
lowers. Leaders inuence people; prosocial
leaders also satisfy people. Prosocial leaders
inuence people to achieve positive social
goals that serve the common good.
At a time when leadership for construc-
tive social change is needed, prosocial leader-
ship offers a valuable, values-based model
for positive change. Leaders have always
been a force for change; effective leaders
have always been driven by values. Prosocial
leaders focus on positive change for the com-
mon good by using good management to
implement and deliver.
Clear studies of servant leadership, organi-
zational social learning and cognition and
positive organizational behavior can be
found in the following: Robert K. Greenleaf,
Servant Leadership (Paulist Press, 2002);
Henry P. Sims Jr. and Peter Lorenz, The
New Leadership Paradigm: Social Learning and
Cognition in Organizations (Sage, 1992); Fred
Luthans, ‘‘The Need for and Meaning of
Positive Organizational Behavior,’’ Journal
of Organizational Behavior, 2002, 26, 695706;
Fred Luthans, Kyle Luthans, and Brett
Luthans, ‘‘Positive Psychological Capital:
Going beyond Human and Social Capital,’’
Business Horizons, JanuaryFebruary 2004;
and Kim S. Cameron, Jane E. Dutton and
Robert E. Quinn, eds., Positive Organizational
Scholarship (Berrett-Koehler Publishing,
2003). For a good current application of lea-
dership, see James M. Kouzes and Barry Z.
Posner, The Leadership Challenge (Jossey-Bass,
2002). For the Riverside, Missouri, gambling
story, see Christina Binkley, ‘‘Missouri
Mayors Bet on Gambling Takes an Unex-
pected Toll,’’ Wall Street Journal, 24 February
Peter Lorenzi is a professor of management in the Sellinger School of
Business and Management of Loyola College in Maryland. His teaching
and research focus on leadership and management in business and
higher education. He earned his B.S. and M.B.A. from Binghamton
University and his Ph.D. from the Pennsylvania State University. E-mail:
  • Full-text · Article · Jun 2005 · Journal of Management
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