Relational leadership for leading public services in the interests of the public

Joyce Liddle*, Gareth Addidle

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


At heart all leadership is relational, and this chapter urges researchers to move away from traditional theories of leadership to re-imagine public leadership as embedded in dialogic processes. Disintegration of traditional hierarchies and replacement by alliances, partnerships and networks in public spheres highlight relationism as an important aspect of organisational study. Relational leadership involves dynamic processes, human interactions, dialogue and negotiation rather than hierarchy and authority. Ongoing conversations across boundaries creates meaning on what leaders do, why they do it, and what might be achieved at specific times and places. The concept has a long history, is influenced by various disciplinary approaches, and in responding to pressing wicked issues, new relational forms of public leadership can be more inclusive, collaborative and engage much broader constellations of actors to collectively identify and frame societal problems, seek commonly agreed interventions, and create social/public value for the public interest and common good.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch Handbook on Public Leadership
Subtitle of host publicationRe-imagining Public Leadership in a Post-pandemic Paradigm
EditorsStephen Brookes
Place of PublicationCheltenham, UK
PublisherEdward Elgar
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781786439673
ISBN (Print)9781786439666
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2023

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