Effective Executive Magazine
Agency and Communion

Article Details
Pub. Date : Dec, 2018
Product Name : Effective Executive
Product Type : Coaching and Mentoring
Product Code : EECM51812
Author Name : Ronald J Burke
Availability : YES
Subject/Domain : Management
Download Format : PDF Format
No. of Pages : 04



This paper reviews two concepts that have only recently been applied to effective leadership: Agency and Communion. Agency refers to behaviors and attitudes that are authoritative, demanding and self-advocating; Communion refers to behaviors and attitudes that are caring, other-serving, and participative. Men get rewarded for being agentic, women get punished for being both agentic and communal. In this paper, examples of both agentic and communal behaviors and attitudes are described. Since effective leadership includes both agency and communion, ways of integrating and combining them are also offered.


I have been interested in leadership for over 50 years and have taught in MBA programs and executive development offerings during this time. In my MBA teaching, I most often taught a first year required course in Organizational Behavior. Our textbook had a chapter on leadership, and one of the three-hour meetings of the course was exclusively focused on leadership. I showed two Harvard Business School videos illustrating different leadership styles and approaches, and my students were required to write a 4-6 page paper on leadership, one of four such papers required over the 13-week semester. In the second year of the MBA program, we offered an elective course on Leadership, which unfortunately was undersubscribed.


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