Rethinking Leadership
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Rethinking Leadership

A New Look at Old Questions, Second Edition

Donna Ladkin

This thoroughly revised and extended second edition of Rethinking Leadership offers an entirely new approach to understanding leadership as a lived experience rather than a checklist of traits or behaviors. Alongside selected expert contributors, Donna Ladkin makes complex ideas accessible by illustrating them with practical examples drawn from a broad experience of both academic leadership and management across a range of commercial, political and not-for-profit organizations.
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Chapter 3: Why is it so difficult to study leadership?

Donna Ladkin


The chapter begins by noting that the difficulties associated with studying leadership have already been identified by scholars studying distributed leadership as well as critical management theorists. Phenomenology offers a different reason for the challenging nature of this quest: that when leadership is working well, it recedes into the background and becomes ‘ready to hand’. It is only noticeable by its absence, when things are not going so well. The case of Hurricane Katrina is analyzed as an instance when leadership was apparent by its absence. Other invisible dynamics which operate within human Lifeworlds, such as expectations, culture, and the stories people tell, are highlighted as factors which confound the study of leadership as a ‘stand-alone’ phenomenon.

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