Impact Factor:1.167 | Ranking:Management 108 out of 192

Source:2016 Release of Journal Citation Reports, Source: 2015 Web of Science Data

  1. Niels Karsten
  2. Frank Hendriks

  1. Tilburg University, the Netherlands
  1. Niels Karsten, Tilburg University, PO Box 90153, Room M-737, Tilburg 3000LE, the Netherlands. Email: n.karsten{at}uvt.nl


In some democratic contexts, there is a strong aversion to the directive, individualistic and masculine expressions of leadership
that have come to dominate the study of political leadership. Such leadership is antithetical to consensus democracies in
parts of continental Europe, where the antipathy to leadership has linguistic, institutional as well as cultural dimensions.
Political-administrative and socio-cultural contexts in these countries provide little room for heroic expressions of leadership.
Consequently, alternative forms of leadership and associated vocabularies have developed that carry profound practical relevance
but that have remained underexplored. Based on an in-depth mixed-methods study, this article presents the Dutch mayoralty
as an insightful and exemplary case of what can be called ‘bridging-and-bonding leadership’; it provides a clear illustration
of how understandings of democratic leadership can deviate from the dominant paradigm and of how leading in a consensus context
brings about unique practical challenges for office holders. The analysis shows that the important leadership task of democratic
guardianship that is performed by Dutch mayors is in danger of being overlooked by scholars of political leadership, as are
consensus-oriented leadership roles in other parts of the world. For that reason, a recalibration of the leadership concept
is needed, developing an increased theoretical sensitivity towards the non-decisive and process-oriented aspects of the leadership
phenomenon. This article specifies how the future study of leadership, as a part of the change that is advocated, can benefit
from adopting additional languages of leadership.

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  1. Published online before print

    June 6, 2016,



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Dont call me a leader, but I am one: The Dutch mayor and the tradition of bridging-and-bonding leadership in consensus democracies