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The Ethics of Affective Leadership: Organizing Good Encounters Without Leaders

  • Iain Munro (a1) and Torkild Thanem (a2)

This article addresses the fundamental question of what is ethical leadership by rearticulating relations between leaders and followers in terms of “affective leadership.” The article develops a Spinozian conception of ethics which is underpinned by a deep suspicion of ethical systems that hold obedience as a primary virtue. We argue that the existing research into ethical leadership tends to underplay the ethical capacities of followers by presuming that they are in need of direction or care by morally superior leaders. In contrast, affective leadership advocates a profoundly political version of ethics, which involves people in the pursuit of joyful encounters that augment our capacity to affect and be affected by others. Instead of being led by people in leadership positions, we are led by active affections that enhance our capacity for moral action.

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Business Ethics Quarterly
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