Researchers from the São Paulo School of Business Administration (EAESP) of the Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV) analyzed the process of building leaders in three favelas in the city of São Paulo. The study, published last Wednesday (29) in the United States, was based on interviews and field research for two years in the favelas of Campo Limpo, Capão Redondo, and Jardim Ângela, all in the area. South of São Paulo.
The research, entitled What Favelas Can Teach About Leadership: the Importance of Shared-purpose and Place-based Leadership (What Favelas Can Teach About Leadership: The Importance of Leadership with a Shared and Local Purpose, in free translation) was published as one of the chapters in the book. Reimagining Leadership on the Commons: Shifting the Paradigm for a More Ethical, Equitable, and Just World (Shared leadership: Changing the Paradigm for a More Ethical, Equitable and Fair World, in the free tradition), from Emerald publishing house.
The main author of the study, EAESP-FGV researcher Renato Souza, highlighted three common characteristics found in the process of emergence of leaders in the surveyed favelas. The first one concerns what the researcher calls “collective or relational” leadership.
“The first thing is that, against a very common view of leadership, leadership in the figure of one person, in a formal position of authority, as we often see, I could understand that, in the favela, in a place where you there is no boss, there is no formal authority relationship, the way in which leadership is built is based on the capacity they have, residents and community leaders, to establish relationships between them”, explains Souza.
Capão Redondo, south of the capital. – Rovena Rosa / Brazil Agency
According to him, differently from what happens in private or public organizations, where there are formal structures and processes of authority, and where, normally, leadership is attributed to the figure of a leader, a person who holds authority, in favelas the process depends less on the specific traits of the people who will become leaders.
“Usually, when we have a leader, we start looking for in that person some traits, personality, or characteristics or style to explain leadership. [Nas favelas], are multiple, diverse, complex relationships, and do not necessarily have to do with any personality trait or personal characteristic [que determinam quem será o líder]”, emphasizes the researcher.
Another aspect observed by the researcher is the intense mobility, in the favelas, between the positions of leader and followers. “There is a time that I am leading; and there is a time when you are led. Leading and being led becomes a much more dynamic process than we are usually used to in companies, in formal situations, where there is the figure of a person who says what needs to be done and others follow”.
The researcher also highlights that the emergence of leaders in the favelas is a response to local needs and is generally associated with a shared purpose by everyone in that community, usually to solve local problems.
“[O estudo detectou] the importance of the shared purpose, the common purpose, that these residents develop in the face of the reality they live, of economic and social vulnerability. A common purpose that is important, which comes even before the emergence of leadership”, he explained.
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