Balancing the self and the relationship : Coping strategies of leaders when core values on which their authenticity is based are challenged
Abstract: This thesis aimed to explore the coping strategies of leaders in situations in which their authenticity is put out of balance. Specifically, this means that this thesis describes the different actions shown by the leaders in order to deal with these particular situations. The literature suggests that leaders either stay with their own values and try to persuade them to the followers (Eagly 2005) or adapt to the group values and avoid showing damaging emotions (Gardner et al. 2005). As expected, this thesis shows that the leaders’ behavior does not simply fit into one group or the other. Instead, this research found that there are more nuances in how leaders respond to situations in which their values are challenged. The first action taken by leaders consists of learning, during which leaders discover and try to make sense of the new environment. Subsequently, roughly five categories of actions could be distinguished from the data. Leaders tend to adapt to small differences, adapt to large differences, avoid relationships, try to change followers or break relationships. Although these are five clearly defined categories, this does not imply that one leader only adopts one kind of strategy. This research found that the kind of strategy chosen by the leader highly depends on the conditions surrounding the leader. The coping strategy chosen has an effect on the relationship between the leader and the followers, and the leader’s emotions. Furthermore, it should be noted that in this research it is stated that leaders choose or decide upon certain actions leading from conditions; this does mean that the decision for actions can be taken both intentionally or unconsciously.
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