Welcome to the Competency Assessment for Responsible Leadership (CARL).

1 – The Competency Assessment of Responsible Leadership (CARL) provides a pragmatic and rapid way to determine the state of existing RL competencies of individuals and groups; (more…)

2 – The Competency Assessment of Responsible Leadership (CARL) assesses the short and long-term effectiveness of dedicated leadership development for a team, division or entire company; and also for a single class, course, or entire program; (more…)

3 – The Responsible Leadership Grid (RL Grid) with its 15 areas provides a pragmatic way of evaluating existing training offerings in terms of RL impact. (more…)

The call for responsible leaders in and beyond business is growing around the world. Managers and trainers are looking at management scholars to provide them with a better understanding of the concept and support in translating responsible leadership into practice. With this paper, we summarize the discussion in the literature and highlight the core elements of a definition of responsible leadership. Based on this definition we suggest a two-dimensional framework that helps operationalizing this framework and makes it accessible to testing. In particular, we demonstrate the development and prototyping of an online-tool for competency assessment for responsible leadership that can be used for systematically analyzing and developing responsible leadership competencies for individuals and groups, both in business and educational practices. The online tool will also serve to gather data to further advance the RL definition based on input from practice.

Summarizing a decade-long debate among academic and professional thought leaders in the area of responsible leadership has resulted in the following formal definition of Responsible Leadership:

A responsible leader demonstrates a deep understanding of the interdependencies of the system and the own person, is distinguished by an ethical and values‐based attitude, and able to build long‐term relations with different stakeholders embracing their needs, while initiating change towards sustainable development.

This definition comprises the five competency dimensions briefly outlined at the beginning of this section: creating, managing and securing good relations with multiple stakeholders, ethically correct and values-based behavior, highly developed self-awareness, good understanding of the interdependencies with a larger system, and the ability to lead change and innovation towards sustainable development.

While the definition of RL provides an answer to the question “What does RL mean?” or “What are the key competencies of RL?” there is a second core question we want to address: “What are the relevant domains of action?” In order to define the domains of action, we rely on the three action domains as used by Datar et al (2010): knowing, doing, and being. Euler and Hahn (2007) refer to them as knowledge, skills, and attitudes.

By putting together these two dimensions, we obtain a two-dimensional framework, the “Responsible Leadership Grid”. It includes the five competency dimensions and the three domains of action what results in 15 aspects overall:


Domains of Action (Columns)Knowing
Competency Dimensions (Rows)
Stakeholder relations1611
Ethics and values2712
Systems thinking4914
Change and innovation 51015


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The Test

Future data that will be compiled with the current and future use of the online tool CARL will allow the further refinement and development of how we best define Responsible Leadership. The tool will generate insight into which of the dimensions are most challenging to develop and which may actually decrease once a participant gains awareness of a given dimension. Data collected will support further research that will allow a refinement and improvement of the tools and its applications. The current simplistic recommendations that the online tool automatically generates to every user and group can and must be further developed once sufficient data is available.

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