Rethinking Leadership

Rethinking Leadership

A New Look at Old Leadership Questions

New Horizons in Leadership Studies series

Donna Ladkin

A must-read for serious leadership studies scholars, Rethinking Leadership offers a radical reconceptualisation of leadership as a contextually embedded, physically embodied phenomenon. The book arrives at original and surprising answers to perennial questions such as ‘What is leadership?’ and ‘How do leaders lead change?’, by addressing them from a philosophical, rather than psychological or sociological standpoint.

Preface

Donna Ladkin

Subjects: business and management, business leadership, politics and public policy, leadership

Extract

I came to the field of leadership studies as something of a sceptic. Certainly, the fascination with ‘leadership’ within management studies – as well as the more general public – was a fad. Sooner or later it would go the same route as ‘Total Quality Management’ or ‘Organizational Learning’. The allure of leadership, (or more importantly, of leaders) seems to retain its pull however, as evidenced by our collective willingness to put hope into new political, community or business leaders while demonizing others. The varieties change; from transformational to servant, from charismatic to quiet, but the concept itself still seems to command our attention. Why is that? On delving more deeply into that question, I have found myself becoming increasingly intrigued by the phenomenon. ‘Leadership’ is at once the providence of the rare individual even as it is democratized in the pronouncement ‘Everyone can be a leader!’ The salve for every organizational difficulty, on close examination leadership seems to be both ‘everything’ and ‘nothing’. Although I have been critical of the notion that ‘good’ leaders can make a significant difference to organizational outcomes, I have also watched as ‘bad’ leaders have propagated destructive practices and politics resulting in strife within groups, communities and even countries. Perhaps something with such far-reaching effects was worthy of reexamination. I wanted to take a different tack in that examination however. One of the aspects of leadership which began to attract my attention was its largely invisible nature. Leadership seems impossible to catch. I began to...