The Aga Khan IV Authentic Transformational Leadership - A Case Study

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Biju Sebastian, et. al.


Purpose – This ethnographic case study is aimed to present an investigation of contemporary Authentic Transformational Leadership (ATL) displayed by The Aga Khan in context of his contribution towards developing a diasporic Muslim Community (his followers) as well other innumerable beneficiaries who have benefited through his various social development initiatives. The case study focuses specifically on the evidences of Authentic Transformational Leadership behaviors by analyzing various facets about The Aga Khan and the outcomes that can be experienced, observed and finally reported. In this case study, the term Authentic Transformational Leadership will be referred as ATL by the researchers.


Design/methodology/approach – This case study uses exploratory ethnographic approach that provides auto-ethnographic account based on experiences, participant observations, digital footprints, interview excerpts, speeches and document analysis. Exploratory research design helps the researchers to analyse and interpret different information gathered during investigations that includes unstructured as well as in-depth interviews, documentary evidences, observation of how people behave, and exploration of  various phenomena (Dowlatshahi, 2010; Mansourian, 2008). Ethnography is used in the case study because it helps the researcher to explain and interpret information on culture of a social group (Holloway et al., 2010).


Perceived Findings – The case study aims to identify characteristics of Authentic Transformational Leadership (ALT) in order to enrich the existing knowledge of this particular Leadership Style. This study also demonstrates how Authentic Transformational Leadership (ALT) manifests itself in the context of social and community development through the lens of an authentic form of transformative leadership model. The case study touches upon the Aga Khan’s numerous initiatives in health, education, housing and economic development as well as his commitment to improving quality of life through the strengthening of civil society institutions across the globe.


Originality/Value – In the current case, Authentic Transformational Leadership ATL model is discussed in relation to the social development sector, however these leadership characteristics are relevant across all fields and in all organizations. This case study may help the readers re-examine their  strategies for community/ organizational development and also inspect their own roles within this model. This case study may also contribute towards re-evaluating and changing the current persisting perceptions about the Muslim community.


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