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Steve Kempster, Arthur F. Turner and Gareth Edwards

In this opening chapter we seek to address three purposes. First we outline the focus of the field guide book – experiential learning. Experiential learning in leadership development has been dominated by outdoor (and indoor) activities such as the spiders’ web. However, the ability of such activities to capture the complexity of leadership practice is rather restricted. We explore this point and suggest there is much need for alternative experiential processes that are more suited to the development of leadership practice. Second we outline the chapters of the book that provide a spectrum of approaches that have been developed and tested in the ‘field’ of leadership development. All of the approaches are fundamentally aligned to advancing leadership practice through reflection. Third the chapter seeks to illustrate a style of writing that is commensurate with a field guide. We seek to be direct and engaging; rooted in theoretical arguments yet accessible and connected to everyday practice; provocative and reflexive. The chapter concludes by arguing for reflection and practice to become an essential part of organizational leadership. To that end we offer up the notion of the ‘leadership practice field’ and pose the question ‘how can we enable those who lead to practise leading’.

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Donna Ladkin

Leaders face particular difficulties in exercising their role ethically: balancing the needs of conflicting stakeholders is often impossible, decisions must be taken without complete knowledge of their consequences and actions taken are often indeterminate in terms of their ethical justification. Grounded in the notion that leaders’ ability to respond well to ethically questionable situations can be enhanced despite these factors, this chapter sets out a practice-based approach to developing ethically astute leaders. Five design elements are offered as key to such interventions: building bridges, expanding perception, developing negative capability, encouraging inquiry and reflexivity, and immersive assessment activities. Through offering practices which can be honed in off-line situations, it is proposed that leaders can develop the ethical ‘muscle’ necessary for them to engage well in the ethically ambiguous territory in which they often find themselves.

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Scott J. Allen, Arthur J. Schwartz and Daniel M. Jenkins

No amount of talking about leadership will help someone get better at the activity of leading others. We agree with this text’s premise of the “lived experience of leadership.” (See Chapter one). Leadership is like debate, football, cooking or any other learned activity. If your goal is to develop the requisite knowledge and skills of leaders, cognitive understanding is only one ingredient for success. In this chapter, we explore a new and innovative approach to developing leadership via the Collegiate Leadership Competition (CLC). The purpose of CLC is to create a dynamic leadership practice field where students (and their coaches) can apply what they are learning in a context that challenges and stretches them to the boundaries of their knowledge, skills, and abilities. This chapter highlights CLC’s approach to developing leadership capacity in students via the tenets of deliberate practice and concludes with key reflections and insights.

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Stewart Barnes, Sue Smith and Steve Kempster

This chapter uses the dynamic of being a non-executive director (NED) as a process for leadership development. Context here is significant. The participants are owner-managers of growing businesses. Their context is demanding but also isolating from the lifeblood of leadership development – a variety of contexts, a variety of ‘leaders’ to observe and a variety of demanding inter-personal challenges. The process we explore in this chapter is that leadership learning can be enabled by participating in a peer learning community as a NED. We theorize the development of a NED through the lens of communities of practice. In particular, we look at how a community of owner-managers collectively shape their practice, their capacity and confidence through engagement in a year long journey as non-executive directors.

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James Campbell Quick, Keri DeCay, Navadha Modha and John L. Goolsby

It is argued that leadership is a form of skilled performance learned from masters, personal experience, and self-reflection. The Goolsby Leadership Academy has three pillars: executives, students, and faculty. Executives share their autobiographies and experience. Students learn to lead and to follow. Faculty facilitates student development and engage in leadership research. Goolsby Scholars learn to lead through (1) structured self-assessments that enhance their self-awareness and self-mastery; (2) interviews through which they create their own biographical cases; and (3) an annual hosted event featuring a distinguished leader or professor who shares her or his leadership point of view. This chapter focuses primarily on the art of the interview and its enduring value.

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Andrew Armitage

Morgan (2010) in What Poetry Brings to Business explores the deep but unexpected connections between business and poetry, and the emotional power, and communicative complexity that poetry brings to organisations. In order address innovation and problem solving, allowing leaders to deal with organisational complexity in a more creative manner, and also providing them with the ability to empathise with and understand the thoughts and feelings of others. Poetry can thus facilitating the develop of imaginative solutions, and dealing with chaotic environments. Poetry empowers individuals to carefully attend to context and settings, and offer a route to explore and challenge established truths, and the hidden worlds of leadership that often go unsaid in the milieu of normal conversation. As such, this chapter seeks to develop the use of poetry in leadership development programmes as a stimulus for reflexive dialogue in order to examine leadership practice with particular attention to care ethics.

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Doris Schedlitzki, Carol Jarvis and Janice MacInnes

This chapter will discuss the usefulness of working with Greek Mythology to enhance self-reflection within a classroom based executive education setting. Seeing myth as one of the most fundamental forms of narrative knowledge, connecting past, present and future of humanity, the chapter will highlight previous contributions on the use of mythology – and particularly the role of archetypes – in leadership development. Of specific interest here is how the use of the metaphorical language of archetypes enables participants in leadership development to see the complexity and often paradoxical nature of human characteristics and behaviour, enabling a safe space for deep self-reflection. This theoretical exploration is then enriched through an example of how the characteristics of Greek Gods and Goddesses have been used in a classroom based executive education setting to encourage critical self-reflection and engender deep conversations on notions such as leadership, followership, power and gender. Lessons from the use of these archetypes will be shared and particular attention paid to the ways in which they help to highlight the dualistic nature of personal strengths and weaknesses within working relationships and to challenge the binary nature of taken-for-granted assumptions about what makes good/bad or effective/weak leadership in changing organisational contexts. The chapter concludes with reflections on the efficacy of the technique and on how to deal with the possible range of emotional reactions of participants triggered by this process of critical self-reflection.

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Steve Kempster

This chapter outlines how the ‘tents’ exercise was shaped by research on how we learn to lead. Designed to enable the leadership experiences stemming from the course of their life, it seeks to surface unexplored, often unrecognised influences and tacit knowledge of leadership. Emerging out of the ‘Tents’ process is an organized narrative. The chapter explores how this understanding is utilized as part of a workshop focused on developing leadership practice.

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Emma Watton and Philippa Chapman

This chapter highlights the use of a leadership artefacts activity as an ice-breaker exercise for newly formed groups. We have used this approach to great effect with learners engaged on programmes designed to create sustainable and responsible leadership within organisations. The nature and role of artefacts in leadership lived experience is examined. The revelations for participants of how personal artefacts can catalyse reflective insight into leadership practice is explored. We hope the chapter will serve as good practice and that it will be of interest to practitioners in customising and applying it to other leadership development programmes.

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Jon Billsberry and Carolyn P. Egri

Videography is an ideal tool for leadership development as it involves interpersonal leadership of and participation with fellow filmmakers and acting talent as well as keen observation and management of human behaviour to create strong depictions of leadership for the audience. Moreover, videographic methods deny the definitive learning outcome of ‘making someone a leader’ as inherent in the approach is the notion of ‘multiple readings of films’ and a sense of engagement with a process of discovery. Instead, videography gives participants an opportunity to explore and express their leadership as part of their own leadership journey. Videography is particularly powerful because of the intense and creative journey and the how the emergent artefacts fosters retention of ideas, experiences, and lessons.