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Understanding Responsible Leadership: Role Identity and Motivational Drivers

The Case of Dame Anita Roddick, Founder of The Body Shop

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Abstract

This article contributes to the emerging discussion on responsible leadership by providing an analysis of the inner theatre of a responsible leader. I use a narrative approach for analyzing the biography of Anita Roddick as a widely acknowledged prototype of a responsible leader. With clinical and normative lenses I explore the relationship between responsible leadership behavior and the underlying motivational systems. I begin the article with an introduction outlining the current state of responsible leadership research and explaining the kind of magnifying glasses used to examine the case. I continue with a brief summary of Anita Roddick’s development from childhood to adulthood, which provides the biographical background for exploring her motivational systems as a leader. Against this backdrop, I analyze the relationship between motivational drivers and a responsible leadership identity as revealed by Roddick in different behavioral leadership roles. I conclude the article by providing a number of lessons learned for responsible leadership and the development of future global leaders.

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Correspondence to Nicola M. Pless.

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Dr. Nicola M. Pless is a former Vice President of leadership development at a large financial services institution. Currently she is Reader in Responsible Leadership at the University of St. Gallen and Research Director of the HSG-INSEAD Initiative on Responsible Leadership. She holds a Ph.D. in organizational theory and social issues from the University of St. Gallen and a diploma in clinical organizational psychology from INSEAD where she is a Visiting Senior Research Fellow. She is editor of “Responsible Leadership”, published by Routledge in 2006.

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Pless, N.M. Understanding Responsible Leadership: Role Identity and Motivational Drivers. J Bus Ethics 74, 437–456 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-007-9518-x

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