Volume 38, Issue 1, Spring 2019
Kirk Mensch, James Barge
Understanding Challenges to Leadership-as-Practice by Way of MacIntyre’s Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry
This essay offers an interrogation of Leadership-as-Practice (LAP) in the context of MacIntyre’s Three Rival Versions of Moral Inquiry. LAP is a constructionist leadership approach that rationalizes leadership as the co-creation of embodied leadership practices in organizations, and we argue that its theoretical and philosophical foundations are best aligned with a genealogist version of moral enquiry. We contend that LAP’s theoretical assumptions and implications place it in opposition to traditionalist and encyclopaedist moral philosophies and that application of LAP without an appreciation for our argument poses challenges for practitioners as it diminishes their ability to learn from opposing perspectives. We argue for an appreciation of diverse moral viewpoints and discouragement of coercive moral practices from any competing perspective. While the philosophy undergirding LAP may encourage moral relativism and possible conflicts in principled beliefs, we offer LAP may strengthen organizational members cognitively and emotionally, bringing greater long-term benefit for the organization.