Preliminary study on leadership proximity

Open access


In general, it is agreed that effective leadership requires a certain degree of proximity, either physical or mental, which enables leaders to maintain control over their followers and communicate their vision. Although we agree with the leadership proximity principles which states that leaders are able to efficiently serve only those people with whom they interact frequently, in this article we focus instead on the disadvantages of being too close and the way in which close proximity can actually hurt the effectiveness of leadership. The main effects that we discuss regard the way in which proximity and familiarity allow followers to see the weaknesses and faults of the leader much more easily and thus diminish the leader’s heroic aura, and the emotional bias that results from a leader being too familiar with his followers which will impede the process of rational decision making. As a result, we argue that there exists a functional proximity which allows the leader the necessary space in which to perform effective identity work and to hide the backstage aspects of leadership, while also allowing him an emotional buffer zone which will enable him to maintain the ability to see clearly and make rational decisions.

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