Thinking Differently about Leadership
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Thinking Differently about Leadership

A Critical History of Leadership Studies

Suze Wilson

This book is a critical historical analysis of leadership thought in the Western tradition, examining Classical Greek, medieval and modern social scientific theories of leadership, focussing on the assumptions and effects which arise from these ways of understanding leadership and offering a new basis for leadership theory-building.
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Chapter 8: Conclusion and future trajectories

Suze Wilson


So, what do we now know about the truth about leadership, how this truth is formulated and what it does for and to us? And how can we now think differently about leadership? In this chapter, I offer concluding comments on what this research has revealed, consider the implications of the findings and offer a new approach to theory building, along with examples of how it could be deployed. I begin by recapping the rationale for the study, my review of the literature, the questions I have addressed and the approach taken to addressing those questions. Next, I provide a series of tables summarizing the key findings in regards to the secondary questions, before turning to offer my key conclusions in respect of the primary question guiding this study: why has our understanding of leadership come to take the form it now does? I then turn to the future, demonstrating how the insights gained from this study could be put to use so as to enable us to think differently about leadership. While Avolio et al. report with enthusiasm that ‘never before has so much attention been paid to leadership’, this study has taken a critical step back to ask why this is even happening.

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