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Responsible Leadership and Reasonable Action

Laszlo Zsolnai’s paper “Responsible Leadership and Reasonable Action” was published in the book “Ethical Leadership: Indian and European Spiritual Approaches” (edited by Madhumita Chatterji and Laszlo Zsolnai, Palgrave–Macmillan, 2016, pp. 35–51.)

Zsolnai states that mainstream leadership practices often create negative impacts on nature, future generations and society as a whole. The principle of responsibility requires that leaders achieve their objectives in ecological, futurerespecting and pro-social ways. He emphasizes that responsible leadership is consistent with the conception of reason advocated by Indian-American economist Amartya Sen. Reason
is the discipline of subjecting one’s (choice of ) action to reasoned scrutiny.

Zsolnai identifies three classes of reason which may be applied to scrutinizing leadership choices. He argues that leadership choices should satisfy the criteria of “ecological reason,” “reason for future generations,” and “social reason.” The paper presents illustrative cases of responsible leadership from India and Europe and discusses how spirituality can assist organizations in their transformation into ecologically sustainable, future-respecting and pro-social entities.

The paper  concludes that spirituality plays a major role in developing responsible leadership. The spiritually enlightened leader goes beyond self-interested calculations and exercises genuine empathy with others while benefiting from an all-encompassing perspective.