Open Journal of Philosophy
2013. Vol.3, No.3, 391-400
Published Online August 2013 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 391
Philosophical Expositions of Leadership and Human Values in
Catholic Social Teachings: Resolving Nigeria’s Leadership Deficit
and Underdevelopment
Ani Casimir1, Onah Nkechinyere2, Rev.Canon Collins Ugwu2, Maudline Okpara3
1Institute of African Studies, Department of Philosophy, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria
2Department of Religion and Cultural Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria
3School of General Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsuk ka, Nigeria
Received April 3rd, 2013; revised M ay 3rd, 2013; accepted M ay 10th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Ani Casimir et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons At-
tribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the
original work is properly cited.
In spite of Nigeria’s vaunted claims to leadership of the African continent and the entire black race, the
country tragically suffers from an enduring self leadership deficit that has had a negative impact on its
development. The masses of the people had been alienated by the ruling class from governance and a lot
of ethnic groups had been marginalized and excluded from participating in democratic power. This has
manifested in different typologies of conflicts and systemic failure which had served to undermine devel-
opment planning since the country’s independence. This paper explores some existing but unexplored
linkages, immediate and mediate, between Catholic Social Teachings and some particular school of lead-
ership, human values and conflict resolution frameworks, which could, in the future, generate sustainable
solutions to the problems of the Nigerian leadership and development challenge in the twenty first century.
After a brief survey of community participatory leadership and interactive leadership theories under the
framework of transformational leadership concept, we will look at the critical recurring components in
community participatory leadership, the five human values, and conflict resolution theories as contained
in the Catholic Social Teachings. Our examination of Catholic Social Teachings will be drawn primarily
from the social encyclicals beginning with Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum nova rum and continuing through the
social encyclicals of Pope John Paul II. These critical recurring components we have noted include: 1) a
transforming vision; 2) community participation in decision-making; 3) power; 4) affirmation of others’
human values such as need for truth, integrity, love, peace, non-violence, worth, or dignity; and 5) con-
flict resolution. The paper argues effectively that human value concepts are reflected in both the frame-
works of transformative leadership, a fundamental content of the catholic social teachings, seen as a veri-
table answer to the problems of leadership in Nigeria. The article will use analytical and dialectical expo-
sitions to explore these theoretical linkages and draw enduring lessons for Nigeria.
Keywords: Philosophy; Human Values; Leadership; Transformation; Interactive; Participation and
Catholic Social Teachings; Underdevelopment
Background to the Study—Nigeria’s Leadership
Failure and Its Negative Impact on Development
Professor Chinua Achebe (1993), in his epochal work enti-
tled “The Problem with Nigeria”, singled out the leadership
challenge as a basic and fundamental problems to every other
problem facing the country. In another classical and well re-
searched work of history, “Once there was a country”, that por-
trayed the root causes of the Nigerian Biafra war (1967-1970),
Professor Achebe (2012) narrowed down the leadership prob-
lem of Nigeria to a visionless, selfish and corrupt ruling elite
who had destroyed the basic underlying roots of the country’s
unity and peace by pursuing power without a development
agenda for the country. This leadership adventure since inde-
pendence has gradually pushed Nigeria to the precipice of a
failing state. Though the general analysis and scholarship have
tended to point accusing fingers at both failures of leadership
and follower ship (Oyebode, 2012: p. 68), it is the underper-
forming leadership thrust upon the country since independence
that has failed to steer the ship of the Nigerian state and be-
queath the dividends of development and democracy on the
people. Nigeria’s elites have always believed in the concept of
leadership that authority comes from force, deception and cor-
rupt electoral process that purchases power from the people by
guile. During the military regimes that destroyed the country’s
democratic culture, power is gotten by the soldiers through the
barrels of the gun. The idea that power comes from God, a ba-
sic fundamental of catholic social teaching, is indeed foreign to
such power mongers who struggle for leadership positions with
out any pro-people or progressive agenda that includes consid-
erations for people’s welfare. It is time for paradigm shift in
this thing and mindset to a leadership concept that emphasizes
humane values as embodied in the catholic social teachings and
reflected in both transformation al and community participatory
leadership. This is the leadership concept that solves conflicts
and brings about sustainable development to nations, but has
been missing in Nigeria.
Good governance has been a missing element in the devel-
opmental process of Nigeria; but this is precisely because of the
absence of good leadership as defined in the context of both
catholic social teachings and global good governance index.
Good governance has a lot to do with leadership since leader-
ship drives the levers of governance in using authority to take
decisions in a democratic manner and context a society, gov-
ernment, community or countries are managed to achieve sus-
tainable development. Central to this concept is that while the
leadership has the final say in decision making in governance
and public policies, other players such citizens, civil society
and members of the organized private sector must contribute
and participate in taking that decisions in a manner that portrays
that people have choices. Nigeria’s leadership and governance
structures do not allow for community or civil society partici-
pation in public policy. As a result governments in Nigeria
functions to serve the interests of only the ruling elite to the
exclusion of the people of Nigeria.
According to White (1994), Governance in countries such as
in Nigeria is considered to be askewed because of the poor
character of leadership they have had since independence and
this poor specie of leadership has brought about weak elements
of governance such as lack of participation of people in gov-
ernance. Participation as aspect of good governance and lead-
ership is fundamental as it enables ordinary citizens, especially
the marginalized and the poor in the country to influence deci-
sion-making. In the 1990s, discourse on participation originally
focused on community or social participation of “beneficiaries”
in development projects. In furtherance of this philosophical
idea, the World Bank Learning Group (1995) defined participa-
tion as a “process through which stakeholders influence and
share control over development initiatives and the decisions and
resources which affect them”. Since then, there has been an
increasing emphasis on engaging people as citizens in activities
that traditionally formed part of the state sphere. It is argued
that such increased political participation will improve the effi-
ciency of public services, will make local government more
accountable, and will deepen democracy—complementing re-
presentative forms with more participatory forms of democracy.
Lack of participation of people in governance brings about a
disconnect that has created a vicious cycle of conflicts and
poverty in Nigeria. Oyebode (2012: p. 67) depicts the negative
impact of this disconnect between the leadership, governance
and the Nigerian people with the following observations:
A wise leadership cannot afford to be too far ahead of the
people or alienate them in the developmental process.
Such a situation much sooner than later becomes a recipe
for failure as a people not carried along by the leadership
loses interests and becomes dise ncha nte d by the oth er wise
lofty programs and policies adumbrated by the leadership.
Disconnect gives rise to lethargy and lethargy generates
docility and inaction from the intended beneficiaries of
the grandiose ideas articulated by the leadership. Accord-
ingly it is a matter of utmost necessity for the leadership
to strike a very good balance between its proposals and
yearnings of the generality of the people if it wishes to
succeed in the actualization of its vision. Accountability,
transparency and commitment to the tenets of democracy
and good governance constitute the leitmotif to responsi-
ble leadership.
There is no doubt that Nigeria suffers a from a failure of
leadership, and this consistent failure has created a disconnect
between the people and ruling elite in the country since inde-
pendence; it has led to a vicious cycle of poverty, corruption,
underdevelopment, misplaced priorities, conspicuous consump-
tion lifestyles, widening gap between the leadership and the
followership. The leadership in Nigeria has consistently failed
to reflect personal example in living a human lifestyle that
would depict them as embodiments of the values we have seen
in exemplary ethical models. It is germane to evaluate such mo-
dels of leadership and their participatory systems which reflect
the values inherent in the catholic social teachings.
Introduction to Community Participatory and
Leadership Theories
Community participatory leadership as a concept flows from
the understanding that leadership in a society derives from the
people and it is for the benefit of the people. Effective leaders
have followers who participate in leadership activities and con-
tribute dynamically in decision making for policy formulation,
implementation and monitori ng. According to Kanu (2011: p. 23)
this collegiate concept of leadership is what drives the frame-
work of workable democracies and give them a popular content.
Community participatory leadership is also akin to the concept
of interactive leadership model. According to Mary Elsebernd
(2003) “interactive leadership has its roots in participative man-
agement approaches, in transformational leadership theories,
and in situation—contingent models of leadership. Its links to
participative management approaches are quite clear in Judy
Rosener’s (1990) description of interactive leadership. Rose-
ner’s description notes the following characteristics of interac-
tive leadership: 1) encouragement of participation in all aspects
of work; 2) wide-spread sharing of information and power; 3)
efforts to enhance self-worth of employees; and 4) energizing
employees for the task.
In the same article, Rosener also links interactive leadership
to the transformational leadership theories of James McGregor
Burns (1978) and Bernard Bass (1985) and Victor Kanu’s com-
munity leadership participatory model (2011). In that frame-
work all the aforementioned authors portray and conceive a
transformational leader as one who is able to shift the needs,
self-interest, values, and beliefs of individual followers into the
interest or vision of the group. According to Kanu (Cf. Tichy &
Devanna, 1986; Nanus, 1992; Nygren & Ukeritis, 1993; Rho-
des, 1993). According to Mary Elsebernd transformational le ad-
ers exhibit personal charisma, self-confidence, dominance and a
conviction that their vision is morally right. Avolio, Waldman,
& Yammarino (1991) talk about the characteristics of the trans-
formational leader mnemonically: individualized attention, in-
tellectual stimulation, inspirational motivation and idealized in-
fluence. Some transformational leadership theories emphasize
change and transformation as the role of the leader (Nanus,
1992; Tichy & Devanana, 1986 ).
Leadership, Interaction, and the Followership
Leadership becomes transformational through participatory
frameworks such as community consultation and interaction.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
The interests and goals of the community become the fulcrum
of good leadership. According to Kanu (2011): leadership be-
comes transformational when it is becomes a moral value
framework of constant interaction, link and consultation be-
tween the leadership and the followership with the common
interests and goals of the society in view. Tranformational
leadership is the same as interactive leadership since part of its
essential definition is constant interaction between the leaders
and the followers. The Wikipedia defines transformational lead-
ership as follows:
Transformational leadership enhances the motivation, mo-
rale and performance of followers through a variety of
mechanisms. These include connecting the follower’s
sense of identity and self to the mission and the collective
identity of the organization; being a role model for fol-
lowers that inspires them; challenging followers to take
greater ownership for their work, and understanding the
strengths and weaknesses of followers, so the leader can
align followers with tasks that optimize their perform-
ance. Anne Staham (1987), in turn, links interactive lead-
ership to social structural theories of symbolic interac-
tionism (Stryker, 1980) which hold that social structure
and behavioral interaction mutually influence each other.
Staham recognizes earlier, foundational contributions of
both Fiedler (1967) and House (1971) in situation—con-
tingent leadership theories.
Given these roots, Klenke (1996) speaks of a “complex pat-
tern of interactions among leaders, followers, and situations”,
all of which are played out within a broader framework of gen-
der role expectations. For Klenke context, culture, gender, and
leadership/followership as well as the tasks, the specific organ-
izational structures and personalities are all components in the
social construction of leadership. All of these components mu-
tually interact in the practice and the resultant theories of lead-
Klenke dares to sketch some properties of the vision and
some values of this interactive lea d e r ship model:
Interactive leadership entails the formulation and commu-
nication of a shared vision of the future which is capable
of creating common ground out of diversity and which
offers creative response to change. The exact content of
the vision is unclear, although terms like “higher levels of
moral development”, “noble ideals”, and the embrace of
all humanity are mentioned in reference to the vision.
Nanus (1992) maintains that transforming visions must 1)
be appropriate for the future of the organization; 2) pro-
vide a clear purpose or direction; 3) inspire and urge
commitment; 4) be articulated and communicated; and 5)
be ambitious. The interactive leader typically holds the
values of participation in decision-making, empowerment
of followers, mutuality and reciprocity in leader-follower
relations, and consensus-building.
This listing of values finds resonance in other interactive as
well as transformational leadership theories. For example, Ro-
sener (1990) mentions participation, sharing power and infor-
mation, enhancing others’ self-worth, and energizing others for
the interest and goals of the group. Helgersen (1990) includes
principles of caring, conscious letting go of hierarchy by at-
tending to the web-like relationships, information sharing, and
collaborative negotiation. Haines (1994) calls for the ability to
use power wisely, skills in conflict resolution and participa-
tory decision-making. Nygren and Ukeritis (1993) note the fol-
lowing characteristics in outstanding leaders of religious con-
gregations: understanding and use of power as access to avail-
able resources, consensus-building, affirmation of others’ worth,
shared power and information.
Background a nd De v elopment o f Conc ept
James MacGregor Burns (1978) first introduced the concept
of transforming leadership in his descriptive research on politi-
cal leaders, but this term is now used globally as a good con-
ceptual framework for good leadership. According to Burns,
transforming leadership is a process in which “leaders and fol-
lowers help each other to advance to a higher level of morale
and motivation”. The concept of transformational leadership
which was initially introduced by leadership expert and presi-
dential biographer opines that “through the strength of their
vision and personality, transformational leaders are able to
inspire followers to change expectations, perceptions and mo-
tivations to work towards common goals”. He established two
concepts: “transforming leadership” and “transactional leader-
ship”. According to Burns, the transforming approach creates
significant change in the life of people and organizations. It
redesigns perceptions and values, and changes expectations and
aspirations of employees. Unlike in the transactional approach,
it is not based on a “give and take” relationship, but on the
leader’s personality, traits and ability to make a change through
example, articulation of an energizing vision and challenging
goals. Transforming leaders are idealized in the sense that they
are a moral exemplar of working towards the benefit of the
team, organization and/or community. One could say that tran-
formational leaders work with human values to change back-
sliding and retrogressive community habits through participa-
tory change management. The problems identified in African
governance have been variously traced to a leadership style and
structure that is exclusive of community participation.
Later, researcher Bernard M. Bass (1985) expanded upon
Burns original ideas to develop what is today referred to as
Bass’ Transformational Leadership Theory. According to Bass,
transformational leadership can be defined based on the impact
that it has on followers. Transformational leaders, Bass sug-
gested, garner trust, respect and admiration from their followers.
Bernard M. Bass (1985), extended the work of Burns by using
the term “transformational” instead of “transforming leader-
ship”; explained how transformati onal leadership could be m ea s-
ured, as well as how it impacts follower motivation and perfor-
mance. As noted by Bass, B. M. (1985) the success of a leader
could be adequately measured by the attitude of his followers
towards his leadership style:
The extent to which a leader is transformational, is meas-
ured first, in terms of his influence on the followers. The
followers of such a leader feel trust, admiration, loyalty
and respect for the leader and because of the qualities of
the transformational l eader are willing to work harder th an
originally expected. These outcomes occur because the
transformational leader offers followers something more
than just working for self gain; they provide followers
with an inspiring mission and vision and give them an
identity. The leader transforms and motivates followers
through his or her idealized influence (earlier referred to
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 393
as charisma), intellectual stimulation and individual con-
sideration. In addition, this leader encourages followers to
come up with new and unique ways to challenge the status
quo and to alter the environment to support being suc-
Bass (2008) suggested that leadership can simultaneously
display both transformational and transactional leadership.and
came out with his much awaited work—The Bass Handbook of
Leadership: Theory, Research, and Managerial Applications,
which recognises four elements of transformational leadership
which define the full range of good leadership should drive
good governance:
Individualized Consideration: Transformational leader-
ship also involves offering support and encouragement to
individual followers. In order to foster supportive rela-
tionships, transformational leaders keep lines of commu-
nication open so that followers feel free to share ideas and
so that leaders can offer direct recognition of each fol-
lowers unique contributions. In other words, the degree to
which the leader attends to each follower's needs, acts as a
mentor or coach to the follower and listens to the fol-
lower’s concerns and needs. The leader gives empathy
and support, keeps communication open and places chal-
lenges before the followers. This also encompasses the
need for respect and celebrates the individual contribution
that each follower can make to the team. The followers
have a will and aspirations for self development and have
intrinsic motivation for their tasks.
Intellectual Stimulation: Transformational leaders not
only challenge the status quo; they also encourage crea-
tivity among followers. The leader encourages followers
to explore new ways of doing things and new opportuni-
ties to learn. This is to say that the degree to which the
leader challenges assumptions, takes risks and solicits
followers’ ideas. Leaders with this style stimulate and en-
courage creativity in their followers. They nurture and
develop people who think independently. For such a
leader, learning is a value and unexpected situations are
seen as opportunities to learn. The followers ask questions,
think deeply about things and figure out better ways to
execute their tasks.
Inspirational Motivation—Idealized Influence
Transformational leaders have a clear vision that they are
able to articulate to followers. These leaders are also able
to help followers experience the same passion and moti-
vation to fulfill these goals. In other words, the degree to
which the leader articulates a vision that is appealing and
inspiring to followers. Leaders with inspirational motive-
tion challenge followers with high standards, communi-
cate optimism about future goals, and provide meaning
for the task at hand. Followers need to have a strong sense
of purpose if they are to be motivated to act. Purpose and
meaning provide the energy that drives a group forward.
The visionary aspects of leadership are supported by com-
munication skills that make the vision understandable,
precise, powerful and engaging. The followers are willing
to invest more effort in their tasks, they are encouraged
and optimistic about the future and believe in their abili-
Idealized Influence
The transformational leaders serve as a role model for
followers. Because followers trust and respect the leader,
they emulate the leader and internalize his or her ideals.
Provides a role model for high ethical behavior, instills
pride, gains respect and trust. Bass also suggested that
there were four different components of transformational
It is obvious that transformational leadership is all about
changing minds and persuasions through the dynamics of
community participation and constant interaction with between
the leadership and the follower ship. As a development tool,
transformational leadership has spread already in all sectors of
western societies, but it is unfortunately crawling into the halls
of community state and national governance frameworks in
Africa. Even Faith-based, community and Civil Society Or-
ganizations in Africa are taking the lead in introducing the
concept and strategy of transformational leadership as an ex-
ample and model in their management systems.
Global Assumptions about Transformational
Leadership and Human Values
Fundamentally, the transformational leader seeks to put into
place an inclusive governance system that allows people,
communities and other segments of organizations to participate
and contribute to governance. However, his basic work as a
leader is to transform: transform himself and the people through
inspiring leadership programs. The implications of this basic
postulate is that People will follow a person who inspires them;
a person with vision and passion can achieve great things and
that, finally, the way to get things done is by injecting vision,
enthusiasm and energy into a leader’s programs and strategies.
According to the Mahavyaka (Gibbels, 2004) a good leader is
only one who can transform others through his leadership; he
must first transform himself before he can transform others.
The concept of human values has been enshrined into the halls
of creative leadership through the Sathya Sai Education in Hu-
man Values (SSEHV) and the concept of sacrificing, selfless
and transformational character it injects into human beings who
observe and practice the five human values which define hu-
man divinity and dignity. According to Sathya Sai education in
human values, “the purpose of education is not just for gather-
ing information but for the transformation of the human being
from the animal to the divine so that he can manifest civilized,
refined and noble human qualities”. Human values define
man’s dignity, integrity and worth that enable and motivate him
to manifest truth, peace, right conduct, non-vi ol e nc e a nd l o ve a s
contents of his relationship to others. In other words, human
values transform and transmute man from the beastly to the
divine making it possible for man to live in tolerance and coop-
erative interaction with his fellows. According to Kanu (2011),
when human values are practiced, human rights are respected
and the leadership tenor becomes transformational and devel-
opment oriented. There are key assumptions which the human
values inject into the concept and practice of transformational
leadership. They are style, developing and selling the vision of
change, seeking the way forward, upfront charge for change,
and dialoguing. These value inputs need to be elaborated be-
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
A leader gets style simply because working for a Transfor-
mational Leader can be a wonderful and uplifting experience
both for the leader and the led. They put passion and energy
into everythin g . T h ey care about you and want you to succeed.
Developin g t he Vision
Transformational Leadership starts with the development of
a vision, a view of the future that will excite and convert poten-
tial followers. This vision may be developed by the leader, by
the senior team or may emerge from a broad series of discus-
sions. The important factor is the leader buys into it, hook, line
and sinker.
Selling the Vision
The next step, which in fact never stops, is to constantly sell
the vision. This takes energy and commitment, as few people
will immediately buy into a radical vision, and some will join
the show much more slowly than others. The Transformational
Leader thus takes every opportunity and will use whatever
works to convince others to climb
Finding the Way Forwards
In parallel with the selling activity is seeking the way for-
ward. Some Transformational Leaders know the way, and sim-
ply want others to follow them. Others do not have a ready
strategy, but will happily lead the exploration of possible routes
to the promised land. The route forwards may not be obvious
and may not be plotted in details, but with a clear vision, the
direction will always be known. Thus finding the way forward
can be an ongoing process of course correction, and the Trans-
formational Leader will accept that there will be failures and
blind canyons along the way. As long as they feel progress is
being made, they will be happy.
Upfront Ch arge for Change
The final stage is to remain up-front and central during the
action. Transformational Leaders are always visible and will
stand up to be counted rather than hide behind their troops.
They show by their attitudes and actions how everyone else
should behave. They also make continued efforts to motivate
and rally their followers, constantly doing the rounds, listening,
soothing and enthusing. It is their unswerving commitment as
much as anything else that keeps people going, particularly
through the darker times when some may question whether the
vision can ever be achieved. If the people do not believe that
they can succeed, then their efforts will flag. The Transforma-
tional Leader seeks to infect and reinfect their followers with a
high level of commitment to the vision.
Discussion and Dialogue with the People
As the Transformational Leader seeks to transform the or-
ganization and the community, there is also a tacit promise to
followers that they also will be transformed in some way, per-
haps to be more like this amazing leader and experience a better
way of life and standards. This he achieves through constant
dialogue and discussions with the people on a regular basis. In
some respects, then, the followers are the product of the trans-
formation. One of the methods the Transformational Leader
uses to sustain motivation is in the use of ceremonial talks,
discussions, renewal of cultural ties during festivals and trough
development work in the communities. Through this and other
dialoguing approaches, transformational leaders prove that they
are people-oriented and believe that success comes first and last
through deep and sustained commitment to the people by open-
ing their doors of power to openness and transparency.
Leadership, Vision, Power, Participation,
Dignity and Conflict Resolution in Catholic
Social Teachings
From this brief survey of transformative and interactive lead-
ership models and theories, the examination of the philosophi-
cal foundations of the human values of truth, peace, right con-
duct, non-violence and love as inherent divine values that make
up man’s personality, we can now identify that leadership in
catholic theology and the social teachings is a concept that
draws upon the transformational model; that leadership must be
practiced to deliver services and solve the basic challenges
facing the society that emanate from the values of vision, power,
participation, dignity and conflict resolution. This window of
understanding gives us the five recurring components to ex-
plore in Catholic Social Teachings. According to Mary Els-
bernd (2004: p. 24) the dialectical linkage between these values
and catholic social teachings are well placed and could be fur-
ther elaborated upon as follows:
First with regard to vision, we expect to conclude that
Catholic Social Teachings do identify some specific con-
tent to the vision, although the function of vision remains
directional and inspirational. Second, we expect to deter-
mine that participation, especially in decisions which im-
pact employees’ lives, has long been supported in Catho-
lic Social Teachings as an implication of human dignity.
Third, we expect to discover that power has not been ad-
dressed at length in Catholic Social Teachings and hence
an understanding of power as sharing resources and in-
formation is not a significant theme. Fourth, with regard
to the affirmation of human dignity and worth, we expect
to confirm its firm foundation in Catholic Social Teach-
ings, especially Gaudium et Spes (1965). And finally we
expect to find that since conflict is typically decried in
Catholic Social Teachings, conflict resolution plays a
minimal role in Catholic Social Teachings. Thus it seems
that Catholic Social Teachings’ statements on human dig-
nity, vision, and participation may well provide a Chris-
tian and social ethical foundations to enhance the practice
and theories of interactive leadership. In contrast, interac-
tive leadership could well contribute the fruits of their
practice and theory with regard to power and conflict
resolution toward the continuing development of Catholic
Social Teachings.
The Role of Vision in Catholic Social Teachings and
Transformational Leadership
Vision plays a constitutive role in distinguishing transforma-
tional leadership from management (Brown, 1986; Tichy &
Devanna, 1986). Vision as it is used of a leader includes abili-
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 395
ties such as: 1) imaging concrete results that could be defined
and achieved by the enterprise in a future state; 2) sensitivity to
the essence of the system or a systematic viewpoint; 3) creation
of a collective viewpoint which satisfies individual wants and
key values; and 4) communication so as to challenge and en-
gender commitment to the project. This concept of vision has
been critiqued as a one-way street, a detached clear seeing by
the leader who then imparts the vision to the others (Belenky et
al., 198X). Some interactive leadership theorists prefer the im-
age of voice, understood as emphasizing both listening, com-
munication, and di al o gi ca l interaction (Helgersen, 1990). In this
metaphor, the vision is not created by the charismatic leader,
but is rather listened into existence by the whole enterprise. In
addition, there is a growing sense that “voice” must be con-
nected to something larger than the immediate corporate future,
i.e., that it is about justice (Rhodes, 1993) or a better world
(Nygren & Ukeritis, 1993) or at least a contribution to society.
These latter two dimensions may have some connection to the
use of vision in Catholic Social Teachings.
In contrast, Catholic Social Teachings use images from the
Jewish and Christian scriptures to describe an eschatological
vision, that is, a vision of the end of time, or the fulfillment of
what was inaugurated in Jesus or in God’s covenants with the
human community. The metaphoric visions “reign of God”,
“the heavenly city Jerusalem,” and “a new heavens and a new
earth” are not understood as the utopias created by human
longing but rather as a God-given Eschaton already begun and
not yet fulfilled. Consequently the whole human community
contributes to the articulation of the vision by listening for
God’s word in the unfolding events and crises of human history.
As eschatological, the vision both describes “the way things
ought to be”, and invites human persons to embody that vision
already now in their attitudes, behaviors and choices.
The “heavenly city Jerusalem” (Gaudium et Spes, #40.2 &
43; Octagesimo Adveniens, #37.1) is marked by peace, justice,
community, freedom as well as healing, meaning, human rights
and dignity, and “living exchange” between the divine and
human. The “new heavens and the new earth” (Justice in the
World, #75; Laborem Exercens, #27.4; Centesimus Annus,
#62.1) are recreated in justice, peace, love, dignity, community
and freedom.
The contributions of Catholic Social Teachings undergird
some of the shifts which interactive leadership is beginning in
its reformulation of transformational leadership. These contri-
butions include: 1) the vision is already given to the community
or the enterprise and needs to be listened into articulation, but
not created single-handedly by a charismatic leader; 2) the vi-
sion must be linked to flourishing of the whole human commu-
nity, and not merely the enterprise; 3) the vision provides re-
curring values , name ly , ju stic e, pea ce, l ove , community, dignity
and freedom, rather than strategies to ensure corporate survival
into the future.
Power in Catholic Social Teachings and
Transformational Leadership
Leo XIII gave his full thoughts and reflective energy to the
discourse on political and public power and taught that the
source of all power proceeded from God, who alone could give
one person power over another (Immortale Dei, #3; #30; #35).
Power entailed the ability to enforce law, be it civil, natural,
divine, or ecclesial law through which the people came to know
and experience God. Leo rejected the concept of the people be-
ing the source of public power as a notion which lacked proof
according to reason and therefore the power to insure public
order (Immortale Dei, #31). The source of political power in
God did not prevent the people’s participation in choosing the
holders of political authority (Diuturnum, #6; Pacem in Terris,
#52) who along with the laws represented God’s power and
consequently necessitated obedience (Pacem in Terris, #50),
unless they required what was contrary to eternal law (Sapien-
tiae Christianae, # 10).
A similar source of power was articulated by John XXIII as
late as 1963 (Pacem in Terris, #46) who grounded this under-
standing in Romans 13.1-6 and St. John Chrysostom’s com-
mentary on that passage. While John Paul II would probably
agree that God is the source of all power, the encyclical Re-
demptor Hominis provided a more nuanced understanding,
namely that society and people composing it are “master and
sovereign of their own destiny”; John Paul II continues that
such sovereignity remains unrealized if imposition of power by
one group over other groups replaces the “exercise of power
with the moral participation of the society or people” (#17.5).
The purpose of power is the promotion of the common good
with particular attention to those who are unable to defend their
legitimate interests (Pacem in Terris, #56) and the protection of
human rights (Ibid., #60). In somewhat circuitous fashion and
with the questionable attribution of rights to power, Redemptor
Hominis, #17.6 also links together the purpose of power, re-
spect for human rights, and solicitude for the common good:
…The fundamental duty of power is solicitude for the
common good of society; this is what gives power its fun-
damental rights. Precisely in the name of these premises
of the objective ethical order, the rights of power can only
be understood on the basis of respect for the objective and
inviolable rights of man (sic). The common good that au-
thority in the state serves is brought to full realization
only when all of the citizens are sure of their rights.
Perhaps a similar purpose is reflected in the description of
power as “getting things done so as to make a difference
or to make others’ lives better” (Canter & Bernay, 1992).
Attention to the abuses of (economic) power probably is
connected to the responsive or reactive nature of Catholic So-
cial Teachings, that is, the encyclicals were written in response
to major socio-economic events, the Industrial Revolution, the
1929 Depression, the globalization of the economy, the eco-
nomic gap between so called developed and underdeveloped
nations, etc. In the face of such events, the abuse of power is a
likely theme. An understanding of power as domination or the
ability to c ont rol and comma nd remains a consistent description
of power, although this definition is called into question by
both feminist social ethicists and interactive leadership theories.
Catholic Social Teachings could well benefit from the con-
tributions of both groups in its presentations of power. How
much richer Catholic Social Teachings would be, if the founda-
tional understanding of power was not domination of a limited
resource, but sharing of information and resources which mul-
tiplies efficacy and agency. This is the emerging understanding
of power in interactive leadership theories (Klenke, 1996; Ro-
sener, 1990; Helgersen, 1990; Rost, 1991) as well as in feminist
social ethics and other liberationist ethics.
The concept of power as agency is not completely absent in
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Catholic Social Teachings, although it is only used in the dis-
cussion of moral choices, i.e, moral power. In its discussion of
socio-economic life, Gaudium et Spes laments the extremes of
economic conditions which allows a few to enjoy “very great
power of choice, (while) the majority are deprived of almost all
possibility of acting on their own initiative and responsibility,
and often subsist in living and working conditions unworthy of
a human person” (#63.2; Cf. Dives in Misericordia, #11.1).
The Role of Community Participation in Catholic
Social Teachings and Transformational Leadership
Rerum Novarum states: “all and each have a right to partici-
pate in the common good in a proportionate degree” (#49). Ac-
cording to Leo XIII, all citizens without exception were re-
quired to make some contribution to the common good ac-
cording to varying skills and gifts (#35). He goes on to make
particular mention of the contribution of unpropertied workers
through their labor in the production of material goods; their
contribution to the common good is so significant that the state
ought to make sure that these workers participate in the benefits
of the common good, at least through housing, clothing, a better
life, and less hardship (#36). This perspective is grounded in
natural law, the natural propensity to associate with others, the
Thomistic notions of contributive and distributive justice as
well as the scriptural traditions (Ecclesiastes, 4: 9-10).
Rerum Novarum also speaks at length about self-governance
in associations, although it is not clear whether the associations
were groups of workers alone or mixed groups of employers
and employees, or religious groupings. Such associations ought
to choose freely how to manage their affairs and how to attain
their goals (#55). Mutuality in relationships ought to mark the
distribution of tasks and offices so that discord is minimized
(#57). Some of the tasks noted included: spiritual goods of all
workers (#56); regulation of hours; health and safety safeguards
(#46); provision of jobs; relief in cases of accident, sickness,
old age or distress (#57); care for the poor; provision for the
future (#58); and a general opportunity for a better life (#58.1).
It is granted that these statements do not reflect participation in
decision-making typically conveys in interactive leadership
models of the 1990’s; however it is worth noting that employ-
ees, either alone or with employers, were seen as capable of
participating in decisions with what today would be termed
benefits issues in the workplace.
These foundations of human dignity, responsibility to con-
tribute and personal initiative are threaded through the follow-
ing quotation from that document (#91-93) on employee par-
We, no less than our predecessors, are convinced that em-
ployees are justified in wishing to participate in the activ-
ity of the industrial concern for which they work. It is not,
of course, possible to lay down hard and fast rules re-
garding the manner of such participation, for this must
depend upon prevailing conditions, which vary from firm
to firm and are frequently subject to rapid and substantial
alteration. But we have no doubt as to the need for giving
workers an active part in the business of the company for
which they work—be it a private or a public one. Every
effort must be made to ensure that the enterprise is indeed
a true human community, concerned about the needs, the
activities and the standing of each of its members. This
demands that the relations between management and em-
ployees reflect understanding, appreciation and good will
on both sides. It demands, too, that all parties co-operate
actively and loyally in the common enterprise, not so
much for what they can get out of it for themselves, but as
discharging a duty and rendering a service to their fellow
men (sic). All this implies that the workers have their say
in, and make their own contribution to, the efficient run-
ning and development of the enterprise.
The United States Bishops’ Pastoral Letter, Economic Justice
for All (1986) also address participation in the socio-economic
arena. Their statements reflect some of the previous encyclical
statements but weave them together in a new and integral way.
Because human persons are socially constituted, life in society
is a necessity and requirement for human existence, growth and
fulfillment. This social anthropological foundation demands
that persons actively and productively contribute to our social
or common life; that is contributive justice requires persons to
participate in the building up of the human community. Such a
social anthropological understanding further demands that so-
cieties, according to distributive justice, provide what is neces-
sary so that persons can participate in the building up of the
human community (#71). This includes the organization of
economic institutions in such a way that persons can contribute
to society in freedom and dignity (#72).
#77-78: Basic justice demands the establishment of mini-
mum levels of participation in the life of the human community
for all persons. The ultimate injustice is for a person or a group
to be treated actively or abandoned passively as if they were
nonmembers of the human race. To treat people this way is
effectively to say that they simply do not count as human be-
ings. This can take many forms, all of which can be described
as varieties of marginalization, or exclusion from social
life. …Stated positively, justice demands that social institu-
tions be ordered in a way that guarantees all persons the ability
to participate actively in the economic, political, and cultural
life of society. The level of participation may legitimately be
greater for some persons than for others, but there is a basic
level of access that must be made available for all. Such par-
ticipation is an essential expression of the social nature of hu-
man beings and of their c ommunitarian vocati o n.
Participation in the life of the community calls for the right
to employment, for healthful working conditions, for wages and
benefits sufficient to provide individuals and their families with
a standard of living in keeping with human dignity, and for the
possibility of property ownership (#80). Economic participation
can be enhanced through employment, widespread ownership
of property, and increased participation by those entails real
freedom a person currently excluded or marginated (#91). The
United States’ Bishops insist that partnership and power to
influence decisions about working conditions or even plant
closings (#302-303).
The brief survey of participation in Catholic Social Teach-
ings can provide some solid foundations for what interactive
leadership might practice under the vocabulary of “participa-
tory decision-making”, “consensus-building”, “engendering com-
mitment to the common task”, “sharing responsibility”, “sup-
portive interactions”, or “collaboration”. These foundations in-
clude: first, the dignity of all persons which is the source of
aspirations, rights, personal initiatives and abilities; second, an
anthropological understanding of the human person as socially
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 397
constituted; third, an understanding of justice as contributive,
that is, requiring the contribution to the life of the whole human
community; and fourth, an understanding of justice as distribu-
tive, that is, access to the benefits of the social enterprise which
have accrued in part through the contribution of human work.
In turn, the practice of participatory decision-making in the
society could provide ecclesial leaders both with models and
theory-laden practices from interactive leadership.
The Role of Conflict Resolution in Catholic Social
Teachings and Transformational Leadership
When Catholic Social Teachings address conflict in the eco-
nomic sphere, the context is typically a struggle between groups,
be they unions, classes, or nations. On the contrary, the context
of conflict resolution in interactive leadership models more
typically appears as face to face, daily struggles within the
work setting. This difference of context may actually provide a
place for mutual influence between Catholic Social Teachings
and interactive leadership. Yet conflict resolution in the eco-
nomic arena is not a major theme in Catholic Social Teachings.
Both Rerum Novarum (#40) and Quadragesimo Anno (#94)
looked to public authorities to intervene in conflictual situations
in an effort to preserve social peace and common good. The
social encyclical tradition demonstrates a clear preference for
non-violent conflict resolution and an equally clear suspicion of
revolutionary uprisings. Slow, deliberate, gradual growth from
within is set forth as the law of nature with regard to the devel-
opment process (Pacem in Terris, #162). While admitting the
ultimate necessity of strike, dialogue, negotiation, and discus-
sion are held up as an ideal peaceful settlement of socio-eco-
nomic disputes (Gaudium et Spes, #68.2).
In contrast to these preferred ways, revolutionary tactics are
seen as violent changes merely in the perpetrators of injustice
(Quod Nunquam, #7; Octagesimo Adveniens, #45; Evangelii
Nuntiandi, #37), except in the case of “manifest, long-standing
tyranny” which damaged personal rights and the common good
(Populorum Progressio, #30-31). In the encyclicals of John
Paul II, this position is mitigated somewhat and struggle is re-
cognized as normal and inevitable (Laborem Exercens, #20.2;
Centesimus Annus, #14).
Scattered throughout the documents, however, are some prin-
ciples guiding the resolution of conflicts. A first principle is the
primacy of the person (Laborem Exercens, #13.4), respect for
their dignity (Centesimus Annus, # 14.1 and 23.1), and their
well-being (Gaudium et Spes, #78.1). Secondly, the goal of the
conflict must be justice (Gaudium et Spes, #78.1; Laborem
Exercens, #20.2; Centesimus Annus, #14) or the common good
(Mater et Magistra, #238; Centesimus Annus, #23.1) or build-
ing up the community (Gaudium et Spes, #85); the goal may
not be the struggle itself or the elimination of the opponent
(Laborem Exercens, #20.2). Third, suggested strategies include
negotiation, dialogue, witness to the truth (Centesimus Annus,
#23.1; Gaudium et Spes, #68.2), “mutual assessment of argu-
ments and feelings on both sides, a mature and objective inves-
tigation of the situation, and an equitable reconciliation of op-
posing views” (Pacem in Terris, #93). Fourth, attitudes of re-
spect and esteem must prevail (Mater et Magistra, #238) And
finally the documents call for ending injustices (Pacem in Ter-
ris, #96; Populorum Progressio, #30; Gaudium et Spes, #83).
The United States’ Bishops in The Challenge of Peace (1983)
specifically called for widespread training in conflict resolution
by churches, education institutions and government agencies
(#223 & 229).
The brief survey of conflict resolution in Catholic Social
Teachings provides some principles for the practice of what
interactive leadership describes as “the ability to negotiate”,
“honoring differences”, “compromise” or “a conciliatory style
under stress”. Although conflict resolution is the subject matter
of workshops, courses, and endless conversations in the work-
place, current interactive leadership articles did not describe
how conflict resolution skills are developed. Rather compro-
mise and negotiation of differences were treated as inherent
leadership assets. I would conclude that interactive leadership
theory could benefit from an inclusion of these competencies
and that Catholic Social Teachings would benefit from the re-
flective practice of conflict resolution by interactive leaders for
whom negotiation, compromise, and conciliatory styles are
daily honed skills .
The Role of Human Dignity in Catholic Social
Teachings and Transformational Leadership
If we look at the beginnings of modern Catholic Social
Teachings, we learn that human dignity is not a foundational
concept. Rather Leo XIII saw a certain Christian dignity re-
sulted from creation in the image of God, redemption in Christ
Jesus, and final destiny with God (Rerum Novarum, #24),
which urged employers to reverence their workers as persons
and not instruments for profit and production (#17).
The influence of philosophical and theological personalism
during the subsequent forty years established human dignity as
a central concept in the encyclical writings of Puis XI. In Divini
Redemptoris (1937), Pius sets forth a human anthropology built
on the truths of nature and grace, namely that the human person
was endowed from creation with an immortal soul as well as
physical and mental gifts (#27). The resultant dignity of the
human person thus had its roots both in the natural order of
creation and in the supernatural order of grace, final destiny and
participation in the reign of God (Quadragesimo Anno, #28).
As a consequence of this human dignity, human persons had
human rights (Ibid.; Laborem Exercens, #4.1; Centesimus An-
nus, #22; Gaudium et Spes, #24).
John XXIII (1963) calls human dignity from nature and
grace the fundamental principle for life together and the basis
of human rights (Pacem in Terris, #9-10):
…each individual man (sic) is truly a person. His is a na-
ture, that is, endowed with intelligence and free will. As
such, he has rights and duties, which together flow as a
direct consequence from his nature. These rights and du-
ties are universal and inviolable, and therefore altogether
inalienable. When, furthermore, we consider man’s (sic)
personal dignity from the standpoint of divine revelation,
inevitably our estimate of it is incomparably increased.
Men (sic) have been ransomed by the blood of Jesus
Christ. Grace has made them sons and friends of God, and
heirs to eternal glory.
The above paragraphs serve as an introduction to John
XXIII’s listing of human rights; other passages from his encyc-
licals spelled out additional implications of human dignity:
freedom and personal initiative (Pacem in Terris, #34), equality
(Ibid., #44), participation in the business enterprise (Mater et
Magistra, #92), and the very structuring of economic systems
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
(Ibid., #83).
Vatican Council II devoted a complete chapter to “The Dig-
nity of the Human Person” in its landmark document, Gaudium
et Spes (The Constitution of the Church in the Modern World).
Human dignity remains founded in creation and grace (#12 and
19) and linked to human freedom (#17). Gaudium et Spes’
original contribution, however, rests in its statements of the
“practical and particularly urgent consequences” (#27) of hu-
man dignity, name ly:
availability of everything necessary for a truly human life,
including employment (#26.1);
obligation to help the least among us (#27.1);
work to end those things which oppose life, including “dis-
graceful working conditions, where men (sic) are treated as
mere tools for profit” (#27.2);
tolerance (#28);
forgive injuries and love enemie s (#28 .2);
overcome discriminatory practices (#29.1; Cf. Octagesimo
Adveniens, #13.2-16);
establish human institutions to protect and promote human
dignity (#29.3) .
The lengthy statement provides a high point in Catholic So-
cial Teachings on human dignity. Subsequent documents reiter-
ated the above points or addressed similar issues with other
vocabulary. Paul VI prefers the terms “true humanism” or
“full-bodied humanism” (Populorum Progressio, #42-43) in
part caused by his idealistic world view which believed that
what was authentically human could be transformed into Chris-
tian virtue through intentional embrace by persons of good will.
John Paul II, in turn, emphasizes the dignity of the person in
Christ (Redemptor Hominis, #10-12.1), without denying dig-
nity from creation in the image of God (Centesimus Annus,
#22). Many of the consequences and implications which previ-
ous Pontiffs associated with human dignity, John Paul II names
demands of justice. For example, Centesimus Annus, #34 notes
that dignity demands that persons have the possibility to sur-
vive and to make an active contribution to the common good.
Immediately preceding this sentence the same paragraph refers
to the provision of basic human needs and skills training as a
“strict duty of justice”. Perhaps one could say that for John Paul
II the human dignity of persons requires just treatment.
Catholic Social Teachings treatment of human dignity pro-
vides some foundations for what transformational leadership
might name “individual consideration”, “enhance members’
self-worth”, or “concerned care in dealing with people”. These
foundations include: personal giftedness from creation, re-
demption by Jesus, and indwelling presence of the Spirit.
Catholic Social Teachings spell out some principles which
ought to govern dealings with persons so gifted in human dig-
nity. Of particular importance to management might be: equita-
ble treatment, opportunities for participation, tolerance, ending
discriminatory practices, promotion of human rights, the crea-
tion of structures which enhance dignity, and justice.
Lessons for African Governance from the
Catholic Social TeachingsChallenges of
Transformational Leadership in Nigeria
The Nigerian problem is one of injustice, corruption and lack
of leadership. This is a transformational leadership challenge
not a military or security problem. Nigerians and Nigeria need a
revolutionary transformational leadership to drive the much
needed transformation. Transactional leadership and recycling
old political/power elite will not solve the problems and save
Nigeria. To do this transformation requires that a new team
with new mindset and integrity, new ideas and new ways of
doing things be in place. The new team will true transformers
passionate about service above self and sacrificing their self-
interests and comfort for Nigerians. They will role models.
They will reject all official perks and privileges. They will
travel by public transportation and live like the average Nige-
rian to experience what the average Nigerians does daily. They
will be passionate about reducing the pain and suffering of
Nigerians. They will improve the quality of life of the average
Nigerian, inspire and uplift Nigerians especially the youth.
They will tackle injustice, corruption and sycophancy frontally
starting in the presidency and the former president. If the po-
litical/power elite and their sycophants see themselves as the
real problem then there would be a paradigm shift and a new
mindset leading to realistic solutions to Nigerian problems.
Using 24 peace indicators, the new Global Peace Index Report
listed Nigeria as one of the least peaceful countries (bottom five
or 117 out of 121) in the world. It proved what some of us hav-
ing saying that there are deadly different wars raging in Nigeria
whether the power elite and some Nigerians realize it or not.
Peace is not the absence of open conflict but the presence of
truth, justice/fairness, freedom, equality, political stability, eco-
nomic opportunity, health for all and other factors for the peo-
ple’s survival, safety, well-being and quality of life. The situa-
tion is that serious. Can the new government end these wars and
make Nigeria peaceful?
Nigerians must make use of the concepts of transformational
and interactive leadership to enthrone good governance in the
country to bring about people participation and other attributes
of good governance in the country. This new leadership model
will help Nigeria and Nigerians to transform and develop the
country. It only transformed leaders who can make a difference
by helping the longsuffering Nigerians and solve the endless
Nigerian problems. To do this they must appreciate that power
comes from both God (Catholic social teachings) and the peo-
ple (democratic ethos) and must be used in such a manner that
people not only participate in decision making but the envi-
ronment of exercise of power is such that their dignity, worth
and intergrity and human rights are fully respected, promoted
and provided for in all governance matters. Emeka Njoku (2012:
p. 12) carries out the correct diagnosis of this transformative
leadership challenge and how they can bring about change in
the country:
At the paradigm level, the root cause is the leadership
failures. Right transformational leadership team Trans-
formation starts with the right transformation leadership
team dealing with the root cause problems not the symp-
toms as well as positioning the country for greatness or
world-class. Nigeria desperately needs the right transfor-
mational leadership team to drive the much needed trans-
formation to save Nigerians, and Nigeria from continued
unnecessary costly wars. Fairness/justice is also central to
transformational leadership, transformation, peace and
unity. These crucial pillars are missing in Nigeria. Get the
right transformation team with new blood, new mindset
and integrity and new ways of doing things instead of re-
cycling old political/power cronies.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 399
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
In this paper we examined five key dimensions of the
emerging interactive leadership theories for foundations or at
least links with Catholic Social Teachings, namely vision, par-
ticipation, human dignity, conflict resolution and power. With
regard to vision, we found that Catholic Social Teachings iden-
tified specific content for vision and gave support to interactive
leadership theories positions in which leaders listen to emerging
visions (not create them) and visions that are linked to the
whole human community (not only the corporate future). We
found that the affirmation of others’ dignity and worth has a
firm foundation in creation and in the traditional doctrines of
the Catholic Church and Sai concept of education inhuman val-
ues. From the article, it could be discerned that participation,
especially in decisions which impact peoples’ lives, has long
been supported in Catholic Social Teachings as a fundamental
human value that honors human dignity, worth and rights. It is
less clear, however, that participation as used in transformative
leadership theories in democratic setting conveys some of the
other meanings uncovered in Catholic social teaching. In par-
ticular, we refer to participation’s underpinnings in achieving
all the dividends of development and democracy from the ful-
crum of power which emanates, not from God, but from the
people who are the electorates that voted and gave their man-
date to those in authority. The contention of this article is not
who gives power but how the use of power should be ethically
moderated by the humane values as gleaned from the catholic
social teachings. Actually, Nigeria’s leadership crisis will need
a paradigm shift drawn from the elements of transformative
participation and other human values of respect for dignity,
divinity and worth of the human person as being in creation
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