24 and 25 September 2013, Montreux, Switzerland. The retreat "Personal Development and Leadership", held in the framework of the three-year partnership between the Institute of Diplomacy and International Relations (IDRI) of the Democratic and People’s Republic of Algeria and UNITAR in Montreux has been described as a fascinating experience by all participants. Facilitated by Professor John Antonakis, the retreat gathered thirteen members of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss the specificities of different leadership styles and the particularities of transformational leadership.
Why are some leaders better than others? Why is leadership important? Can leadership be learnt or taught? These inaugural interrogations allowed for the formulation of a reply to the following question: Why do followers identify with leaders and why do they go the extra mile for inspirational and visionary leaders?
If leadership has proven its importance in organizational efficiency (Jacquart & Antonakis, 2010), most leaders are often to prompt to resort to the use of carrots (incentives) and sticks (disincentives) to reach their ends. These “transactional” methods of leadership work but can at best engender compliance, not commitment. Other leaders envisage the process of influence that characterizes leadership through the angle of a shared vision. The symbolic influence exerted by a leader on followers through his charisma allows for a collective commitment with a common mission to emerge. By including the image followers have of themselves in the vision, charismatic leadership roots self-esteem, motivation and intellectual stimulation in the identification of the followers with their leader.
Transformational leadership, and more precisely charismatic leadership, was at the heart of the retreat held in Montreux. After grasping the concepts of vision, charisma and leaders’ typical behaviors, the thirteen members of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Democratic and People’s Republic of Algeria became familiar with the verbal and nonverbal influencing tactics used by effective inspirational and charismatic leaders.
Participants were thereby given the opportunity to actively learn from each other and to provide their peers with feedback on their personality profile and leadership skills. This retreat helped reinforcing the links between IDRI and UNITAR while making a further step toward the achievement of the overall objectives of this very fruitful partnership.