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Miguel Pina e Cunha, Marianne Lewis, Arménio Rego and Wendy K. Smith

The chapter discusses the role of biographical methods in leadership research. Biographical methods refer to a variety of approaches that include self-narratives, autobiographies, and historical biographies. The authors explore an individual’s life story to elucidate its dynamics over time. Biographical methods engage with the lived experience of leadership and aim to explore the richness of the experience of leading. They aim to generate deep-level and holistic insights into the behaviors, relationships, thoughts, and emotions of leaders, and help to make sense of how such behaviors, relationships, thoughts, and emotions dynamically unfold over time and in context. Biographical methods provide a rich combination of breadth (the dimensions across a leader’s life) and depth (the intimate details about the leader’s life and circumstances over time). Such combination of breadth and depth favors the creation of insight into factors often excluded from leadership research, namely the paradoxical tensions and inconsistencies inherent in leadership processes.