Common leadership styles employed when managing corporate citizenship (CC) often clash, compromising the successful translation of corporate citizenship policy into practice. Transformational leadership is required to really create CC impact.

In a recent study published in the ‘Journal of Business Ethics’, common leadership styles when managing CC were analyzed. The authors of the study found conflicting leadership styles at play, depending on whether CC was conceived as ‘explicit’ or ‘implicit’.

Implicit CC practices are considered as a result of personal values and strong norms, “which all parties recognize and in which all participate”. As a result, leadership styles employed to advance this type of CC are encouraging discussion, independent thinking and personal inspiration.

Explicit CC practices are implemented as a result of deliberate and often strategic decision made by a corporation. As a result, leadership styles are more autocratic, and objectives, reports, targets and public indices are promoted.

In most corporations, both implicit and explicit CC practices are at play. The fact that these two practices are co-existing is often not clear to those managing CC. Thus, the conflicting and mostly unconcious use of different leadership styles considerably compromises the impact of CC policy, because CC remains an unintegrated theme in the organizational context.

Transformational leadership styles help translate CC policy into CC practice, because they account for the complex interrelationships that this translation entails.

Tamsin Angus-Leppan, Louise Metcalf, & Sue Benn (2010): Leadership Styles and CSR Practice: An examination of sensemaking, institutional drivers and CSR Leadership, Journal of Business Ethics, 93 (2), 189-213.