Exploration of the dynamic and multifunctional concept of leadership


Background of the study

Leaders play an important role in maintaining the efficiency of the business operations while guiding the same towards the fulfilment of the wider objectives. Lin and Liu (2017) stated that the dynamic roles of the leaders contribute towards the continuity of the business operations while ensuring the growth and expansion of the same in the international markets. The leaders perform different areas of functions which enables a business in ensuring the efficiency of the functions while addressing to the requirements of the triple bottom line. The triple bottom line approach of the businesses emphasizes on the economic, social and environmental sustenance. Business leaders in the current era has been focusing more on developing a clear view on achieving the long term goals related to social and environmental sustenance rather than the economic sustenance of the businesses.

De Roeck and Farooq (2018) stated that most of the business leaders around the world are more focused towards improving their scope on social responsibility with increasing rate of awareness among the customers and the needs for improving their brand image of the businesses. For an instance, the leaders of Tesla, Elon Musk, has taken the move towards ensuring the environmental sustenance through the development of EVs and renewable energy technologies. Moreover, Tesla has also developed different educational campaigns in order to develop the skills and talents of the people in the different operational regions.


The leaders take on the role of empowering the social and the environmental causes with the purpose of retaining a positive brand image among the competing firms. The current research is interesting as it would explore the different leadership approaches, the dynamic functions and the social responsibility that is held by the leaders. The research would identify the role of the leaders in the setting of CSR and the manner in which it is empowered through the approaches and behaviour of the leaders while operating in the different market contexts.

Research aim

The aim of the research would be to identify the leadership traits and the social responsibility that is conducted by the leaders for achieving the long term organizational goals.

Research objectives

The research objectives would be

  • To examine the different leadership traits of the leaders in modern day organizations
  • To evaluate the motivational factors of the leaders towards empowering their social responsibility
  • To identify different concerns that is being faced by the leaders while addressing to the social responsibility aspects
  • To suggest recommended activities for overcoming the challenges that are faced by the leaders while conceiving or implementing social responsibility related aspects in their organizational models
  • Research questions

    The research questions for the study would be

  • What are the different leadership traits of the leaders in modern day organizations?
  • What are the motivational factors that drive the leaders towards empowering their social responsibility?
  • What are the different concerns that are being faced by the leaders while addressing to the social responsibility aspects?
  • How might the leaders overcome the challenges that are faced by the same while conceiving or implementing social responsibility related aspects in their organizational models?
  • Scope of the research

    The scope of the study would be based on the identification of the different leadership constructs, approaches and behaviours while evaluating the contributions made by the leaders in implementing social responsibility regimes in the businesses. The research would devise a clear understanding on the transition of leadership from the traditional to the modern days and the manner in which the social responsibility is being prioritized by the leaders in order to retain the goodwill and competitive vantage over the existing market players. Moreover, the research would also identify the challenges that might be faced by the leaders in addressing the social responsibility and suggested ways for overcoming the same. Therefore, the research would contribute extensively towards developing a clear understanding on the concepts of leadership functions and their attributes or contribution towards ensuring social responsibility and sustenance.

    Literature review

    Role of leaders in empowering social responsibility and their motivation

    Leaders play an important role in managing and governing the operations of a business while guiding the activities towards the growth and development. It has been observed that leaders are the risk takers who make decisions and guides the overall operations of an organization towards achieving the common strategic goals. According to López-Fernández and Rajagopal (2018), leaders identify the prospects of growth of businesses while exploiting different opportunities in order to guide the sustainable growth and development of ventures. In this connection, most of the businesses are empowered through the proactive part that is played by the leaders. Moreover, as per the research made by Alonso‐Almeida, Perramon and Bagur‐Femenias (2017), leaders define the strategic objectives and the organizational culture which drives the overall operations in the business towards the achievement of the strategic intents. Leaders play an important role in modern day organizations through the identification and resolution of the concerns. The balance between the economic and social responsibilities is again an important point of concern that is made by the leaders.

    The economic sustenance of an organization is reliant on the continuous profitability and growth, which contributes towards the fulfilment of interests of the shareholders. The shareholders of an organization are mostly focused towards the returns that the business is capable of providing to the same on their invested capital. The leaders devise strategic interventions with the purpose of addressing the interests and the concerns of the shareholders. Kim and Thapa (2018) stated that the strategic interventions that are devised by the organizational leaders support in sustaining a brand through continuous flow of revenue and continuity of operations towards the growth of the business. The fulfilment of the economic sustenance related needs is considered to be the short term goals of a business, as it drives the continuity of the business operations through profitability.

    However, the modern day leaders are considering social responsibility as the long term goal of businesses. It has been observed that businesses operate in different social constructs. Allen, Attoh and Gong (2017) opined that leaders take the initiative of prioritizing social responsibility as a measure towards maintaining the continuity of the business operations while addressing the shifting needs of the communities, customers and other stakeholder groups. In most cases, business leaders consider profitability as their only motive for maintaining the sustenance of the businesses. However, from the research made by Pasricha, Singh and Verma (2018) social responsibility is an important aspect that is being considered by the modern day organizational leaders in order to empower their sustenance and brand goodwill among the markets. Therefore, it might be stated that the leaders in the modern day organizations are more focused towards improving their degree of social responsibility with the purpose of maintaining the goodwill and the growth of the business in the international markets.

    Social responsibility is specifically based on the capability of the leader in empowering the aspects of healthcare, education, concern for the environment, employee involvement, community development and the like. In this connection, the leaders take on the role of motivating and encouraging the people in the businesses to get involved in the fair practices while developing positive culture within the businesses. Lis (2019) stated that the positive corporate culture focuses towards maintaining transparency of communication increasing involvement of the stakeholders and meeting the common objectives with the purpose of addressing the social needs. Moreover, Khattak et al. (2019) observed in a research that the leaders empower and motivate the stakeholders, which is one of the crucial attributes, in order to manage their involvement in different developmental processes. The knowledge of the leaders on the current social concerns or the tensions that are being encountered by the employees is again an important attribute that supports a business in developing their social responsibility.

    For an instance, a leader identifies the impact of their organization’s operations on burning out the non- renewable sources of energy, which has been creating scarcity of resources for the communities, and creates provision for the utilizing the renewable sources of energy. Again in another instance, a leader identifies that there is a lack of knowledge and skills in the markets and develops skill and personal development programs for improving the lifestyle and employability of the people in the community. In both the instances the leader of a business takes an efficient planning and strategic intervention towards supporting the causes of the environment and the communities respectively (Navia, Plazas and Diaz 2019). The activities of the leaders towards social responsibility support a business in gaining a competitive edge, growth and brand image in the competitive markets. Therefore, it might be stated that a leader plays n important role in defining and implementing the social responsibilities in businesses.

    The chief motivator that operates towards ensuring that the leaders take on the track of social responsibility is driven by the goodwill and growth of an organization in the international markets. Gao and He (2017) opined that the increased awareness among the communities and the people relating to the social concerns has created a stance of increasing expectations from the leaders. The people in the communities look upon the leaders of the regional businesses as the change drivers in the societies. The transformational and transactional leaders take on the role of developing coherent processes with the purpose of keeping up to the expectations of the societies (Muralidharan and Pathak 2018).

    For an instance, a leader in an organization creates job opportunities or positions in a business not only to improve their degree of operations but also to create employment for the jobless yet talented or skilled individuals in the society. Through the job opportunities leaders in businesses helps in improving the standard of living and wellbeing of the people in the communities (Manzoor et al. 2019). The increase in the skills and talents of the people in the communities supports an organization in sourcing the same for empowering their sustenance. Therefore, it might be stated that leaders take on the role of maintaining social responsibility with the purpose of improving the growth of the businesses along with the development and growth of the societies or the communities.

    Problems faced by the leaders in empowering social responsibilit

    The business leaders face significant concerns while promoting social responsibility within business organizations as they are put to the dilemma of profitability of the business and working for social causes. Ullah et al. (2019) stated that the shareholders or the principles of the businesses are mostly concerned with the returns rather than the service that is involved in encouraging social responsibilities. Moreover, Besieux et al. (2018) opined that the increased cost of operations through the imposition of social responsibilities is again an important concern that is being faced by the business leaders while focusing towards optimizing their profitability. The concern of cost is overwhelming for an organizational leader while compromising on its profitability. In different instances, it has been observed that the investors and the shareholders has resisted over the social responsibility related aspects of the businesses with the purpose of maintaining steady rates of returns on their invested capital. Therefore, the leaders encounter practical concerns while toggling the costs of the social responsibilities with that of the organization’s economic sustenance.

    However, it has been witnessed through different case study organizations like BHP, Apple Inc, and Shell that the business leaders took on the responsibility of empowering the social aspects invariably while negating the cost related aspects with the purpose of making contributions to the society. Sayed and Ansari (2020) opined that the development of the CSR activities in the businesses has been one of the major aspects that are prioritized by the businesses with the purpose of ensuring the continuous growth and development of the same in the global competitive markets. On the other hand, Rehmani and Khokhar (2018) opined that the increased cost of operations through the implementation of the social responsibilities has been affecting the profitability and sustenance of the businesses.

    Businesses or the leaders prioritize economic sustenance with the purpose of maintaining their relevance and growth in the competitive environments. However, it has been reported that more than 63% of the global businesses have made a shift towards prioritizing the social aspects rather than their own profitability (Afsar et al. 2020). The emergence of ethical consumerism and increased awareness among the customers or the community stakeholders on the ill- effects of huge manufacturing units on the environment and themselves has significantly led the businesses to work towards addressing the social cause. However, lack of affordability towards ensuring the resolution of the social concerns or the insufficiency of will for working towards a social cause are important restrictive factors that have been affecting the capability of the businesses and the leaders in encouraging the development of social responsibility regimes.

    Therefore, from the above literature analysis it might be stated that most of the businesses and the leaders have taken the initiative of encouraging social responsibilities towards the mutual growth and expansion of the business and the communities. However, the cost of implementing the social responsibilities has been overwhelming for most of the businesses, exhausting their economic sustenance. In this connection, the business leaders must take the initiative of devising specific strategic interventions with the purpose of balancing the dilemma and empowering their social; and economic responsibilities as a part of their CSR initiatives.


    Research philosophy

    The research would be conducted through the application of the positivism philosophy as it would support in developing cognition on the existing facts and the rationale for the social responsibilities and the manner in which the same might be managed by the business leaders. The utilization of the positivism philosophy would contribute towards the understanding on the need for social responsibilities and the strategic interventions that are scientifically tested with the purpose of improving the skills and capability of the leaders while operating in the markets. Esser and Vliegenthart (2017) stated that the application of the positivism philosophy in a research support in developing efficient insights on the challenges while developing possible interventions rationally. Therefore, the implementation of the positivism philosophy in the research study would be supportive towards developing a coherent understanding on the concerns related to social responsibility implementation and its possible interventions.

    Research approach

    The research would be conducted through the application of a deductive approach. The application of the deductive approach in the research study would allow in deriving different forms of available and relevant data sources while utilizing the same to back the research. Queirós, Faria and Almeida (2017) stated that deductive approach of research is applicable in situations when the current study is not introducing any new framework or topic which is different from that of the previous studies. In this relation, the current research would not be creating or introducing new concepts or frameworks, and thereby the application of the deductive approach would assist in improving the quality of the study while evaluating the different relevant and current research works.

    Research design

    The design for the study would be descriptive in nature as it would support in widening and deepening the search while identifying the need for social responsibility, develop insights on the challenges and frame strategic interventions for overcoming the different obstacles. Patten and Newhart (2017) stated that descriptive research design provides a researcher with the scope of conducting a well defined research on a phenomenon while identifying the different areas of change through which might support in overcoming challenges. Therefore, the application of the descriptive research design is integral for the current study while identifying the deep- rooted concerns with the social responsibility regime in businesses and thereby devise leadership competencies or strategic interventions for overcoming the obstacles.

    Data collection method and analysis method

    The research would be conducted through the utilization of primary qualitative data collection technique where interviews would be conducted of some of the well known leaders. A set of 4- 5 open ended questions would be constructed and the interview sessions would be conducted over Skype. The responses of the respondents would be collected and analyzed with the purpose of guiding the study towards its findings. The respondents would be chosen through the application of the convenience sampling method which would allow in selecting the available respondents, specifically the leaders, and improve the scope of the interview. A total of 5 leaders would be interviewed from 5 reputed business organizations in UK and the responses would be recorded with the purpose of reference while conducting the analysis.

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    The data that would be collected through the interviews would be analyzed through open coding method where the responses would be codified and the likelihood of the occurrence of each key term in every response would be calculated. The findings would be presented in the form of a discussion backed by verified past literatures. The application of the systematic data analysis technique would be supportive towards guiding the study towards an unbiased outcome.



    Resources required for conducting the research

    The resources that would be required for conducting the study would be online library access, Skype calling access and recorder for recording the responses of the respondents for future reference.

    Ethical considerations

    The major ethical considerations that would be made during the research study would be to maintain the anonymity of the respondents with the purpose of adhering to the safety and security of the vulnerable population. Maintaining anonymity of the respondents is an important consideration that must be made in order to conduct the study on ethical grounds (Ledgerwood 2019). On the other hand, the research would be conducted on the basis of authentic and relevant information from past literatures and no personal idiosyncrasies would be entertained in the research study with the purpose of limiting the scope of a biased or insignificant research outcome.


    Afsar, B., Maqsoom, A., Shahjehan, A., Afridi, S.A., Nawaz, A. and Fazliani, H., 2020. Responsible leadership and employee's proenvironmental behavior: The role of organizational commitment, green shared vision, and internal environmental locus of control. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 27(1), pp.297-312.

    Allen, G.W., Attoh, P.A. and Gong, T., 2017. Transformational leadership and affective organizational commitment: mediating roles of perceived social responsibility and organizational identification. Social Responsibility Journal.

    Alonso‐Almeida, M.D.M., Perramon, J. and Bagur‐Femenias, L., 2017. Leadership styles and corporate social responsibility management: Analysis from a gender perspective. Business Ethics: A European Review, 26(2), pp.147-161.

    Besieux, T., Baillien, E., Verbeke, A.L. and Euwema, M.C., 2018. What goes around comes around: The mediation of corporate social responsibility in the relationship between transformational leadership and employee engagement. Economic and Industrial Democracy, 39(2), pp.249-271.

    De Roeck, K. and Farooq, O., 2018. Corporate social responsibility and ethical leadership: Investigating their interactive effect on employees’ socially responsible behaviors. Journal of Business Ethics, 151(4), pp.923-939.

    Esser, F. and Vliegenthart, R., 2017. Comparative research methods. The international encyclopedia of communication research methods, pp.1-22.

    Gao, Y. and He, W., 2017. Corporate social responsibility and employee organizational citizenship behavior. Management Decision.

    Khattak, S.I., Jiang, Q., Li, H. and Zhang, X., 2019. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) and leadership: Validation of a multi-factor framework in the United Kingdom (UK). Journal of Business Economics and Management, 20(4), pp.754-776.

    Kim, M.S. and Thapa, B., 2018. Relationship of ethical leadership, corporate social responsibility and organizational performance. Sustainability, 10(2), p.447.

    Ledgerwood, A., 2019. New developments in research methods. Advanced social psychology.

    Lin, C.P. and Liu, M.L., 2017. Examining the effects of corporate social responsibility and ethical leadership on turnover intention. Personnel Review.

    Lis, A., 2019. Leadership and Corporate Social Responsibility: Mapping the Conceptual Structure of Research. Journal of Corporate Responsibility and Leadership, 6(1), pp.7-21.

    López-Fernández, A.M. and Rajagopal, 2018. Leadership and CSR driving frugal and reverse innovations: A conceptual framework for SME-MNE partnerships. International Journal of Business Innovation and Research, 17(3), pp.417-436.

    Manzoor, F., Wei, L., Nurunnabi, M., Subhan, Q.A., Shah, S.I.A. and Fallatah, S., 2019. The impact of transformational leadership on job performance and CSR as mediator in SMEs. Sustainability, 11(2), p.436.

    Muralidharan, E. and Pathak, S., 2018. Sustainability, transformational leadership, and social entrepreneurship. Sustainability, 10(2), p.567.

    Navia, J.M.A., Plazas, E.R. and Diaz, Y.C., 2019. Leadership and social responsibility from the perspective of gender. Problems and Perspectives in Management, 17(2), p.303.

    Pasricha, P., Singh, B. and Verma, P., 2018. Ethical leadership, organic organizational cultures and corporate social responsibility: An empirical study in social enterprises. Journal of Business Ethics, 151(4), pp.941-958.

    Patten, M.L. and Newhart, M., 2017. Understanding research methods: An overview of the essentials.

    Queirós, A., Faria, D. and Almeida, F., 2017. Strengths and limitations of qualitative and quantitative research methods. European Journal of Education Studies.

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    Sayed, S. and Ansari, A.H., 2020. Mediation of corporate social responsibility on transformational leadership and organisational commitment: an empirical evidence. International Journal of Technology and Globalisation, 8(3-4), pp.280-298.

    Ullah, I., Hameed, R.M., Kayani, N.Z. and Fazal, Y., 2019. CEO ethical leadership and corporate social responsibility: Examining the mediating role of organizational ethical culture and intellectual capital. Journal of Management & Organization, pp.1-21.

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