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Open Access Publications from the University of California

From Solidarity to Division: An Analysis of Lech Walesa's Transition to Constituted Leadership


This essay analyzes the capacity and constraints of authority in the contexts of constituted vs. non-constituted leadership. Building on Ronald Heifetz’s distinction between informal and formal authority as the basis for exercising leadership and broadcasting power, this paper evaluates the role of Lech Walesa as the leader of the Solidarity social movement and as president of Poland. It argues that the constraints of constituted authority are significantly higher than those imposed on non-constituted leaders. As a result, while constituted leaders may have greater resources available to broadcast power, the allocation of these resources entails higher expectation for their custodians. This analysis concludes that Walesa did not cope effectively with the constraints and expectations of formal authority and was more effective as a non-constituted leader.

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