Considering Leadership Anew: A Handbook on Alternative Leadership Theory [1 ed.] 1527537803, 9781527537804

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Table of contents :
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
List of Tables
Introduction: Leadership and Considering Leadership Anew • Gerardo Abreu Pederzini
List of Abbreviations
1 Leadership and Neurobiological Development • Ellen A. Ahlness and Akmal Abdulmuminov
2 Leadership and Technology • Richard H.G. Field
Leadership and the Lens of a Profession • Edward W. Miles, A.J. Corner, and Jeff Schatten
3 Leadership and the Lens of a Profession • Edward W. Miles, A.J. Corner, and Jeff Schatten
4 Leadership and Women in Higher Educationb • Deborah Delaney and Heather Stewart
5 Leadership and the Art of the Invisible • Leah Tomkins
6 Leadership and Virtues • Mario de Marchis Pareschi
7 Leadership and the Collective • Renato Souza
8 (Educational) Leadership and Pharmakon • Richard Niesche
9 Leadership and Big History • Gerardo Abreu Pederzini
10 Leadership and Schizoanalysis • Sideeq Mohammed
List of Contributors
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Considering Leadership Anew

Considering Leadership Anew: A Handbook on Alternative Leadership Theory Edited by

Gerardo Abreu Pederzini

Considering Leadership Anew: A Handbook on Alternative Leadership Theory Edited by Gerardo Abreu Pederzini This book first published 2019 Cambridge Scholars Publishing Lady Stephenson Library, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE6 2PA, UK British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Copyright © 2019 by Gerardo Abreu Pederzini and contributors All rights for this book reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner. ISBN (10): 1-5275-3780-3 ISBN (13): 978-1-5275-3780-4

Here's to the ones who see leadership differently! Go on, critical dreamers: “Not yet, not yet the time to fold your wings”1.


From Rabindranath Tagore’s Hard Times poem.


List of Illustrations .................................................................................... ix List of Tables .............................................................................................. x Acknowledgements ................................................................................... xi Introduction .............................................................................................. xii Leadership and Considering Leadership Anew by Gerardo Abreu Pederzini List of Abbreviations ............................................................................... xxi Chapter One ................................................................................................ 1 Leadership and Neurobiological Development by Ellen A. Ahlness and Akmal Abdulmuminov Chapter Two ............................................................................................. 14 Leadership and Technology by Richard H.G. Field Chapter Three ........................................................................................... 30 Leadership and the Lens of a Profession by Edward W. Miles, A.J. Corner, and Jeff Schatten Chapter Four ............................................................................................. 42 Leadership and Women in Higher Education by Deborah Delaney and Heather Stewart Chapter Five ............................................................................................. 59 Leadership and the Art of the Invisible by Leah Tomkins Chapter Six ............................................................................................... 73 Leadership and Virtues by Mario de Marchis Pareschi


Table of Contents

Chapter Seven......................................................................................... 101 Leadership and the Collective by Renato Souza Chapter Eight .......................................................................................... 115 (Educational) Leadership and Pharmakon by Richard Niesche Chapter Nine........................................................................................... 126 Leadership and Big History by Gerardo Abreu Pederzini Chapter Ten ............................................................................................ 150 Leadership and Schizoanalysis by Sideeq Mohammed List of Contributors ................................................................................ 163 Index ....................................................................................................... 164


Figure 2-1. Four Archetypes and Three Transitions of Leadership. ......... 17 Figure 2-2. Four Cycles of Leadership Archetype Transitions. Visualization created from information in Bodrožiü and Adler (2018). ................................................................................ 19 Figure 4-1. Action learning for leadership using PDSA (adapted from (Deming 1994; Dick 2017; Revans 1982)). ................. 48 Figure 6-1. Prudent Decision Making by Mario De Marchis ................... 96


Table 6-1. Aspects of Prudence by Mario De Marchis. ............................ 93


I would like to thank everyone involved in the development of this book. First, Cambridge Scholars Publishing for trusting me, and particularly Adam Rummens, who was a very supportive commissioning editor, and everyone else at CSP for your hard work to make this book happen. Second, I am profoundly grateful to all of the authors for believing in this book, and for believing that we can consider leadership anew! Finally, I am extremely grateful to Krystin Zigan for her phenomenal support and help to develop this book, with her insightful advice.



Think about a leader. Just for a second try to picture in your mind the ideal leader. What does s/he look like? Chances are that you thought about a woman or man who is confident, articulate, and strong. Chances are that you thought about a person who is in control, who knows what s/he is doing, and in whom you can confide in case you get into any trouble. This experiment has actually been done endless times. Academics have asked, for instance, executives or students to draw their ideal leaders, and they usually look like the leader I just described (see, for instance, Murphy [2018]). It is not a surprise that we actually think of leaders in this way. At the end of the day, historically and even evolutionarily, the role of leaders has been precisely to represent some mystical figure that by being conceived (Abreu Pederzini 2016) by followers as larger than life (Abreu Pederzini 2018), manages to impose order on society (Abreu Pederzini 2018b), inspire people to do their best, and make us all feel like we are protected. The famous studies on the romance of leadership by Meindl and his colleagues, back in the 1980s (Meindl, Ehrlich, and Dukerich 1985; Bligh and Schyns 2007), showed us that followers fantasize about their leaders (Gabriel 1997), usually portraying them with capacities that leaders, sadly, do not actually have (Bligh, Kohles, and Pillai 2011). Because when thinking about leadership one needs to remember that leaders are simply human beings. There is nothing actually magical about them. And, hence, there is no reason for us to expect them to do magic (Abreu Pederzini 2017). Yet, the biggest challenge regarding this is that all of our fantasies of leaders have, for various reasons, been turned into academic theory that we teach and that we use to educate future leaders (Collinson and Tourish 2015). Within such romances, we can include how “followers might

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fantasize their leaders as a path to an idealized nonsubjugated existence, or the object to blame for the failure of such realization” (Abreu Pederzini 2018, 328). Like this, mainstream leadership theory inculcates in future leaders and followers, false expectations and unattainable identities (Abreu Pederzini and Suarez Barraza 2019), which will only bring, eventually, frustration, conflict and disappointment. But, how exactly? The ways in which academic theory has become permeated by these unrealistic leadership ideals, which sometimes we teach as if they were true, is complicated. Yet, in terms of academic leadership theory, we could say that this has been for long massively influenced by functionalist, modernist and positivist approaches (Marion and Uhl-Bien 2001; Heifetz 1994; Grint 2000; Mabey 2013), which although not necessarily wrong, their sometimes exaggerated implications are the root of many issues in mainstream leadership theory nowadays (i.e. the one that is usually taught in most business and social sciences schools). Let me explain each of these three terms (i.e. positivism, modernism, and functionalism), so that we know what we are talking about. Positivism is about developing social theory following tenets from the natural sciences (Gephart 2004). Thus, it emphasizes the importance of expressing phenomena in a quantitative way (Ladyman 2002). There is nothing terrible about the latter, except for the fact that it usually prioritizes quantitative and numerical theories consistent with science, but not with modern science, but with the science of 300 years ago (for further discussion see, Abreu Pederzini 2016). This was the science where the world was aimed to be reduced–i.e. simplified–so that we could supposedly understand any type of phenomena by looking at the relationship between a couple of variables. When trying to explain, like Galileo did, how an object falls due to the force of gravity in a vacuum, whatever shortcomings of the positivist approach are not that dangerous (see, Kauffman 2008), as the phenomenon itself is quite simple, and any simplification might not jeopardize its explanation. But, when we need to explain leadership, a phenomenon where endless variables come into play, then, all of the sudden our obsession with simplifying the world results in at best insufficiently rigorous theories. For better or worse, this is, however, how most leadership theory has evolved. For instance, most mainstream leadership theory comes from social-psychology, where people argue things such as, for example, that certain traits (e.g. eloquence or confidence) are necessarily related to someone being capable to lead. Is it really that simple? If it were, then, for instance, the famous story of King George VI leading Great Britain, back in the times of World War II, despite his stammer, would have never happened, right? Yet, it did. So,



why are we so pervasively obsessed with looking for simplistic supposedly universal relationships between two variables (e.g. eloquence and effective leadership)? Why are we so obsessed with looking for universal laws that can provide us with magnificent formulas to lead? Why are we so desperate to get recipes for leadership? Then, we have the modernist ethos. If you want to understand what modernism means, I would advise you to remember just one word: progress (Stewart-Williams 2010). Modernism is about the western ethos that loomed after the scientific and posterior industrial revolutions, and it is about thinking that we can be masters of the universe, and that there is nothing that we could not understand through reason. Therefore, this dream and delusion of modernism emerged from people thinking that every step into the future, as we have kept developing more technology and more ways to master nature, is a step into a better future, a step into progress (Paz 1989). In short, as Stewart-Williams argues, progress is about how as we have complexified our tools to master nature, we have come to dominate nature. Yet, in modernism this dominance is given a “positive valuation” “that is often difficult to justify” (Stewart-Williams 2010, 171). Key within modernism is the idea that we cannot know and master the world unless we can predict it. Thus, an assumption behind the progressive ethos is that somehow our science and technology make us partly masters of nature because of how we can predict the future. Yet, this assumption needs to face, from time to time, realities that defy it. Because our dream of predicting everything sometimes is challenged by the non-linearity, complexity and chaotic essence of many events we face (Mlodinow 2008). Just think about the internet. For years, during the 20th century, sciencefiction writers kept making wild predictions about crazy technologies we would have in the future. However, no one really predicted the internet. They predicted flying cars and teleportation, which have not happened, but no one thought about the World Wide Web. And, the reason is quite simple, the internet emerged partly accidentally through some minor experiments that eventually opened unimagined doors. Sadly, our desperation to predict the world is not capable of dealing with tiny things that have disproportionate consequences (Smith 2007). Finally, we have functionalism (Burrell and Morgan 2005). Functionalism assumes that human beings in social contexts survive and play a role in those contexts, as long as that role is executing a function, which is fundamental to the sustainability and survival of the social group. This way of thinking comes from Darwinism, assuming always that there are ultimate causes (i.e., “whys” (Scott-Phillips, Dickins, and West 2011))

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for things that exist in nature. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Darwinism, as far as I know. If anything, it is one of the most successful scientific theories in history. Yet, its applications into the social sciences through functionalism (Mabey 2013), cause concern, because of how simplistic sometimes they are. For instance, let us try to put together positivism and modernism with functionalism, to clarify the issues that arise here. If for modernism the ultimate end is to master the world, predict it, and control it, then certainly this quickly turns into a desired characteristic of leaders. In short, leaders should be able to be masters of the universe that are in control of things and defend their followers from all threats. Now, let us assume that positivism finds out that leaders with strong planning skills are the ones that are usually correlated to a capacity to master, predict and control the world. Then, a function emerges, which is for good planners to fulfil the necessary role of the one that can predict and control the world. In a word, a stereotype of leadership looms. And, while there is nothing absolutely wrong with this stereotype, there is however, something relatively wrong with it. What if, for instance, in the case of an emergency during, let us say an earthquake, we do not need a planner to save us, but someone flexible and adaptable, who through impromptu measures manages to at least move us, so that the tragedy does not destroy us? Or, what if, my family and I, do not want someone who controls the world, but a leader who simply loves us? The problem with stereotypes is that they chain us to a way of thinking, generally by making arbitrary value judgements. Regrettably, the profound marriage between modernism, positivism and functionalism does precisely that. Now, what I have mentioned in here in terms of leadership stereotypes is just the tip of the iceberg. So many stereotypes about leadership have emerged, that it would take a whole book in itself to describe them. Furthermore, the problem is that these stereotypes have been turned into theories, and those theories have been turned into the main elements of the educational experience of future leaders. We teach leaders at university that they need, for example, to be powerful, and that therefore, when facing any form of resistance, they need to control it and suppress it (Collinson 2012, 2017). In short, we teach them some correlations, such as good leaders are powerful, and then we expect them to use them as universal recipes, so that they can fulfil the modernist function of mastering the world. But, then, what happens? What happens when they face turmoil in their companies that they cannot control and the more they try to suppress it the more the turmoil exacerbates? Or, what happens when they were supposed to have predicted, for example, the 2008/09 global meltdown and they could not? Simply put, leaders then



fall, and most importantly, they become complicit of all of this. Because, usually when a leader, wrongly prewired to control and master the world, faces a world that does not fit those expectations, s/he rarely would be open to change his/her beliefs about leadership. By contrast, leaders insist on their beliefs, and they, then, deliberately do anything they can to protect the positivistic modernist and functionalist ideal of the leader. Even if to protect that they need to break the law or behave in the most unethical ways, they will do it. We certainly saw them doing this back in the 2008/09 financial debacle. In the end, what leaders face is a hurricane that they themselves helped generate. Sometimes because of this hurricane, some leaders will fall in dramatic ways (Mlodinow 2008), others will struggle to survive becoming conflicted with the fact that they actually do not know what to do, and others will just keep pushing and pushing for their beliefs to be held true, even if that means crossing some lines. So, to change this, what do we need? The answer is actually quite simple: we need different ways of conceiving, perceiving and thinking about leadership. We need different leadership theory. We need theory that could give leaders flexibility, theory that does not predispose them to a world that will not materialize, that it does not set them on a journey towards impossible aims, and that it does not foster in them terrible values. Most importantly, we need leaders that are not simply willing to comply with dominant academic rhetoric, but who are willing to think for themselves, challenge the status quo, and consider new ways of approaching their leadership. We need, additionally, academics who are willing to challenge the positivist, modernist, and functionalist reduction of leadership, take what is best from this approach, but look for answers to unanswered questions in other theories, in other ways of looking at the world. Key within this process would be to understand that leadership is not like gravity. That it would be quite surprising, thus, to find universal laws of leadership, and that, by contrast, we need to acknowledge how contextual factors play a key role to give leadership its own touch depending on the situation. We need to wake up and realize that language constitutes different realities in different places, that people develop different assumptions and varying cultural dispositions in different contexts, and that therefore, there is an element of leading that cannot be explained with generalisations, but needs, actually, in-depth understanding of individualities. Of course, the problem, the real problem is that positivism, modernism and functionalism permeate our society, especially western societies. They are part of who we are and how we think, and hence, they have embedded in us values, which are difficult to let go. The main values from positivism, modernism and functionalism,

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are universal knowledge, simplicity, tangibility, dominance, immediate explanations for immediate results, effectiveness and probably efficiency. We live in a world that appreciates the latter, and thus, this is why we force our leadership theories to promote leaders that would comply with such values. Yet, our natures, our worlds, our inescapable times and the intricacies around them, show us time and again that things are different, that we need to find other ways to think, and that in the case of leadership theory, we need to get over mainstream theory and search for novel ways of understanding leaders. In this collection, we are lucky to have ten different chapters, advocating for various approaches to leadership, and suggesting different arguments regarding how we might be able to think leadership anew. The collection represents a very diverse group of authors from many different countries and institutions, who have worked hard to rethink or sometimes unthink leadership. In Chapter One, Ahlness and Abdulmuminov take us through the magical world of neurobiological development, to create a radically different understanding of leadership, in light of evolution and climate change, setting like this the scene for an ambitious collection. Then, in Chapter Two, Field now uses technology instead of science to frame the possible ways through which the evolution of leadership is connected to the evolution of technology. The interconnection between leadership and technology certainly leads us to consider whether leadership is a profession, something that Miles, Corner and Schatten delve into in Chapter Three. Here, they provocatively suggest that perhaps there are issues of leadership that we will never grasp, that leaders themselves will never truly understand, or even if understanding will never be able to articulate and rationalize. Thus, they suggest the lens of a profession to re-think leadership. If leadership could be a profession, then, there are many things we need to consider about it, including of course the importance of gender issues within it. This is what Delaney and Stewart do in Chapter Four, which focusing on higher education and women’s leadership in it, invites us to think about ways to break moulds in terms of gender and leadership through action learning. In Chapter Five, Tomkins ignites a new and powerful provocation by basically arguing–although in other words–that if leadership is a profession, then, we need first to reacknowledge leaders and that leaders exist. Tomkins, using hermeneutics, invites to think about what supposedly critical leadership movements have accomplished, by denying the role of leaders in favour of systemic approaches. As valuable as those approaches might be, we cannot forget that leadership entails somehow leaders. Hence, in Chapter Six, de Marchis Pareschi wonders about what makes “good” leaders, taking us



back to the enchanting world of Greek philosophy and the powerful, yet sadly lost, concept of virtues. In Chapter Seven, Souza defends systemic approaches, and actually using some of the findings from his own research, he suggests a framework to make systemic approaches more friendly, robust, and integral. Despite all of the previous discussion on leaders and leadership, one thing by this point won’t be clear yet: is leadership a good or a terrible thing? This is why in Chapter Eight, Niesche, going back to educational settings, recasts leadership as pharmakon. Suggesting, like this, that leadership is both a cure and a poison in many ways and that this ambivalence is what possibly makes so difficult to grasp leadership fully. Thus, in Chapter Nine, Abreu Pederzini aims to grasp leadership in a radically different way that acknowledges its many faces, contradictions, levels, dimensions, times, and ambiguities. This, he tries to accomplish by suggesting an irreverent big history approach to leadership. Finally, all these efforts take us to Chapter Ten, where Mohammed powerfully concludes this collection and its aims of thinking leadership anew, by lamenting that perhaps we cannot think leadership anew. Arguing that perhaps everything has been said about leadership, he invites us to instead rethink our desire in terms of leadership.

References Abreu Pederzini, Gerardo David. 2016a. “Responding to Regulatory Jolts in the English Higher Education Sector.” Tertiary Education and Management 22 (4):316–32. —. 2016b. “Strategic Management Cultures: Historical Connections with Science.” Journal of Management History 22 (2):214–35. —. 2017. “The Senior Management Sensemaking Paradox.” Journal of Strategy and Management 10 (3):360–71. —. 2018a. “Leaders, Power, and the Paradoxical Position.” Journal of Management Inquiry 27 (3):325–38. —. 2018b. “Neoliberal Awakenings: A Case Study of University Leaders’ Competitive Advantage Sensemaking.” Higher Education Policy 31 (3):405–22. Abreu Pederzini, Gerardo David, and Manuel Francisco Suarez Barraza. 2019. “Just Let Us Be: Domination, the Postcolonial Condition and the Global Field of Business Schools.” Academy of Management Learning & Education. Bligh, Michelle, Jeffrey Kohles, and Rajnandini Pillai. 2011. “Romancing

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Leadership: Past, Present, and Future.” Leadership Quarterly 22 (6):1058–77. Bligh, Michelle, and B Schyns. 2007. “Leading Question: The Romance Lives On: Contemporary Issues Surrounding the Romance of Leadership.” Leadership 3 (3):343–60. Burrell, Gibson, and Gareth Morgan. 2005. “Two Dimensions: Four Paradigms.” In Sociological Paradigms and Organisational Analysisࣟ: Elements of the Sociology of Corporate Life, 21–35. Aldershot: Ashgate. Collinson, David. 2012. “Prozac Leadership and the Limits of Positive Thinking.” Leadership 8 (2):87–107. —. 2017. “Critical Leadership Studies: A Response to Learmonth and Morrell.” Leadership 13 (3):272–84. Collinson, David, and Dennis Tourish. 2015. “Teaching Leadership Critically: New Directions for Leadership Pedagogy.” Academy of Management Learning & Education 14 (4):576–94. Gabriel, Yiannis. 1997. “Meeting God: When Organizational Members Come Face to Face with the Supreme Leader.” Human Relations 50 (4):315–42. Gephart, Robert. 2004. “Qualitative Research and the Academy of Management Journal.” Academy of Management Journal 47 (4):454– 62. Grint, Keith. 2000. The Arts of Leadership. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Heifetz, Ronald A. 1994. Leadership without Easy Answers. Cambridge, Mass.ௗ; London: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Kauffman, Stuart. 2008. Reinventing the Sacred. United States of America: Basic Books. Ladyman, James. 2002. Understanding Philosophy of Science. Londonௗ; New York: Routledge. Mabey, Christopher. 2013. “Leadership Development in Organizations: Multiple Discourses and Diverse Practice.” International Journal of Management Reviews 15 (4):359–80. Marion, Russ, and Marion Uhl-Bien. 2001. “Leadership in Complex Organizations.” Leadership Quarterly 12 (4):389–418. Meindl, James R., Sanford B. Ehrlich, and Janet M. Dukerich. 1985. “The Romance of Leadership.” Administrative Science Quarterly 30 (1):78– 102. Mlodinow, Leonard. 2008. The Drunkward’s Walk. New York: Phanteon Books.



Murphy, Heather. 2018. “Picture a Leader. Is She a Woman?” The New York Times, March 2018. Paz, Octavio. 1989. Poetry and Modernity. Utah: The Tanner Lecture on Human Values. Scott-Phillips, Thomas C, Thomas E Dickins, and Stuart A West. 2011. “Evolutionary Theory and the Ultimate-Proximate Distinction in the Human Behavioral Sciences.” Perspectives on Psychological Science 6 (1):38–47. Smith, Leonard. 2007. Chaos: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Stewart-Williams, Steve. 2010. Darwin, God and the Meaning of Life. Cambridge: Cambridge Univeristy Press.


PTSD: Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. CE: Common Era. BCE: Before Common Era. CLT: Complexity Leadership Theory. HE: Higher Education. AL: Action Learning. PDSA: Plan-do-study-act.


Introduction It is a tale as old as time: periods of crisis call for leadership. During national and social disasters, mainstream social-psychology approaches focus on personal characteristics and social arrangements in leadership. These approaches, however, fail to explain leader-follower behavior during times of severe environmental shocks and global shifts. These shifts are cataclysmic changes, and humans are hardwired to fear and resist threats to our survival. Many social theories of leadership suggest people desire decisive and power-consolidating leadership during crises and are likely to support more authoritative leader-follower dynamics.1 This assumption is the basis of Plato’s Captain’s Parable. In this parable, the state is a ship whose captain is a skilled navigator. The citizens are capable sailors who are not qualified to pilot the ship. When a threat to the state emerges–a storm arises–the sailors need the captain to take firm control of the ship (Barker 2009). This trend is illustrated through the emergency response and power consolidation efforts following an earthquake in Wenchuan, Sichuan Province, China on May 12, 2008, during the Great East Japan earthquake on March 11, 2011, and the 2017 drought in Northeastern Brazil (Hörhager 2015; Saito and


This leader/follower dynamic forms the basis for the political science “doves and hawks” leadership phenomena. Doves are leaders who promote domestic growth and peace-pursuant policies. Hawks are aggressive and considered more effective during crises (Kelly 2014).


Chapter One

Kunimitsu 2011; Sena et al. 2018). Each case illustrates how natural disasters have a consensus-producing effect: individuals rise up to lead during uncertainty and danger. These figures consolidate power and decision-making processes, prompting followership through charismatic leadership and decisive decision-making on behalf of a community (Fritz 1961; Hanslik 2018). These leadership trends are well-documented in the recent history of natural and social disaster responses. A theme that is common to these types of crises is temporary shock to the status quo. After natural disaster or other temporary shocks, power consolidation appears but it is not an enduring trend. Rather, pre-crisis figures regain control and decision-making structures revert back to precrisis modes. The social-psychological approaches that describe these behaviors fail to explain long-term stressors. During prolonged globallevel shifts and repeated shocks to the environment, people strongly favor communicative and network-capable leaders, supporting learning and information-seeking behaviors in ways that cannot be explained through social-psychological approaches alone (Boin et al. 2005). The prime example of a stressor that repeatedly shocks and pressures humanity is our planet’s climate. These shocks and pressures not only present social challenges for humanity (climate refugees, abrupt weather patterns, droughts, etc.), they change the very neurobiological structure of our brains. This is the process we focus on as we address leadership: the impact of climate-induced brain development on leadership.

Roadmap Evolving knowledge regarding brain structures, historical cases, and climate change and connected current discoveries in neurobiological science present a comprehensive picture of what neurobiological developments mean for leadership theory. Just as humans experienced unique neurobiological developments, current exogenous shocks and pressures may prompt changes in ways we cannot foresee. It is important to look at neurobiological brain development to advance leadership theory development. The way our brains are wired dictates our receptiveness to social structures, response to disasters, and leadership characteristics. In the face of crises, we need to look to the past to see how our brains–and our leadership structures–have developed in response. Specifically, we must recognize past and contemporary challenges to our neurobiological state to understand why we respond to leadership the way we do–like taking a cognitive behavioral therapy approach to looking at our hard-wired inclinations and their impact. This is far from the

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suggested analysis, strategies and social organization explanations, advanced by mainstream social-psychology approaches. Mainstream approaches make assumptions about human nature that are not necessarily rooted in neurobiology or brain development. Classical realism, a Political Science theory that believes leaders consolidate power in dominating leadership strategies, is based on fundamental assumptions that humans are inherently flawed and self-interested, emerging from political and religious dialogues. While social-psychological leadership theories often make assertions about human nature, a gap remains between these theories and brain development studies. The assertions are rooted in contemporary behaviors rather than along their evolutionary basis. Some branches of leadership theory, particularly management research, are delving into neurobiological implications for organizations and management structures. The demand for novel approaches to management theory may translate well into broader leadership theory, as it recognizes a new approach to human inclinations (Lindebaum 2016).

Out with the old: Climate change and the cortex Major brain development in humans occurred not only through our ancestors’ interactions with other proto-sapiens, but also from climate changes and environmental shocks (Calvin 2002). The Ice Age (2.5 Million BCE) was a cataclysmic period that rapidly imposed shocks to early hominids due to abrupt climate changes every few thousand years. William Calvin, a renowned American theoretical neurophysiologist, describes these changes as “so large and quick that a single generation gets caught, forced to innovate behaviorally on the spot” (Calvin 2002, 28). In these situations, a species’ ability to develop and adapt to a particular environment is no longer applicable; they must then survive and reproduce during a chaotic climate transition, where a new “behavioral regime” has not yet been established. These are the periods where species–and their brains–are tested. The speed at which climate shifts occurred during the Ice Age is significant. In less than a century, rainfall drastically decreased, forests dried up and burned, and animal populations declined, resulting in less water, shelter, and food (Schmittner and Galbraith 2008). When global heating or cooling takes place over the course of centuries or millennia, change can take place over many generations. Hominids could repeat the livelihoods modelled by their parents while simultaneously adapting to gradually changing environments. Yet when the environment shifts within


Chapter One

the period of a single generation, an incredible demand is placed on the living generation to improvise and adapt. In addition to changes during the Ice Age is the development of larger brains in the Homo family. Their brains had cortical folds in different places. Cortical folds are the “peaks and troughs” in the brain’s surface that allow for a larger brain surface area within a smaller skull, enabling greater cognitive functionality. Early Homo erectus had a brain 80 percent larger than its predecessors (Watts et al. 2018). This growth occurred in tandem with greater hormone secretions and the development of regions within the brain, such as the hippocampus, which controls memory and learning. This wealth of neurobiological changes is identified with behavioral changes and expanded thinking capabilities, including: Ͳ Altruism: Generosity beyond basic reciprocal sharing (sharing with others during their hard times knowing they may share with you during yours); Ͳ Planning for uncertain futures: Knowing the future brings change beyond the cyclical changes of the seasons. These uncertain futures require individual and group-level planning; Ͳ Logical trains of inference: The ability to link past events to present effects; Ͳ Ethics: The ability to evaluate an action and its consequences from your and others’ positions; Ͳ Games: Engaging in play that has constructed rules (rather than “romping”); and Ͳ Creativity: The ability to speculate futures without acting in the real world.2 Common features link these developments: foremost is engaging in abstract thinking and its manifestation through more complex forms of interpersonal interaction. Many concrete behaviors emerged from these capabilities. During a time of food scarcity, hominids became able to assess creative thinking skills to plan for future meals (Watts et al. 2018), fire was introduced through the increase in social and intellectual capabilities (Gowlett 2006), and it became more common for hominids to hunt large grazing animals (moreover, because a single animal would provide too much for one person to eat, hunters would give away the meat–even to those that did not participate in the hunt–and counted on


These capabilities are widely recognized as emerging features from this period of brain enlargement. While developments in physical capabilities also occurred (e.g. accurate throwing), we focus on changes associated with thinking processes. This list has been adapted from Calvin (2002, 31).

Leadership and Neurobiological Development


reciprocity during future hunts) (Kurland and Beckerman 1985). Having a larger brain helped human ancestors develop cooperative complex social groups (Ash and Gallup 2007). With the emergence of cooperation comes a shift in desired traits of leaders. Cooperation and leadership were not just about size and strength, but about abstract and creative thought. In other words, this period exaggerated the importance of abstract thinking traits, like cooperation, innovation, and planning. Leadership structures centered on these abstract traits began to emerge around 2.5 - 2 Million BCE. This process followed the restructuring and growth of the human brain (Boyd and Richerson 2009). We can see how these abstract thinking skills translated well to effective and desired leadership. Cognition, a greater ability to think and innovate, would lead to more successful hunts and the ability to travel between important resource locations. Cooperation required the ability to influence others’ behavior to achieve shared goals. Attaining these goals led to higher survival rates, reproduction rates, and ability to geographically spread (Gowlett 2006). Finally, planning could direct food sharing, leading to a greater ability to meet growing energy requirements (a necessity to fuel enlarged brains). Ultimately, these neurobiological developments demonstrate a shift in desired leadership traits. A leader no longer had to be the strongest, fastest, or most aggressive. Someone with abstract and long-term thinking capabilities would enhance the group’s prospects for survival, which was the most desired–and basic–outcome for followers. While cooperation and leadership structures continued to evolve over time, with archeological evidence supporting spikes in cooperative developments around 700,000 and 50,000 BCE (Boyd and Richerson 2009), we leap forward to a more recent period in human history to look at the effects of another period of rapid and damaging climate change: the Little Ice Age.

In with the new: Brain development in the Common Era For hundreds of thousands of years, early humans continued to evolve and spread. Brains developed and cultures progressed. Homo sapiens began to record their events. Feudal societies developed, and kingdoms, predecessors to current nation-state forms of organization, were established. The Little Ice Age, occurring between 1300 to 1600 CE3,


The exact years of the Little Ice Age remain open for discussion, with some labels ranging from 1300 CE to around 1850 CE. Despite this variation, many


Chapter One

represents a period of environmental events that are strikingly like the Ice Age. Rather than studying skulls, changes can be identified from social behaviors, trends, and medical records. There are compelling reasons for neurobiological brain developments to occur over a few short generations during this period, similar to the era of development several million years prior. The Little Ice Age is well documented and linked to many political upheavals and plague pandemics in Europe. Winters were bitterly cold, and summers were frequently cool and rainy, leading to widespread crop failure, famine, and population declines (Pfister and Brázdil 2006). While the effects of this cooling were felt around the globe, we focus on a subset of European nations to provide illustrations of leader-follower dynamics and behaviors. In Europe, neurobiological developments happened in tandem with political-cultural events. New political elites emerged–nobles and aristocrats. People transformed their environments, expanding agriculture to make up for poor yields due to climate changes. Societies that could diversify agriculture and strengthen their trade networks were more resilient to the adverse changes. Yet it was not always a matter of geographical location that dictated whether people were resilient. The Netherlands would have been expected to suffer alongside nations like Scotland, Ireland, or Switzerland given its climatic zone; however, records show that the people of the Netherlands fared well despite their particularly vulnerable location. This region provides examples of behaviors resulting from ongoing brain development that advanced desirable forms of leadership. This raises the question of whether human brains could have undergone neurobiological changes over the course of several generations less than a millennium ago. The answer: absolutely. Studies show the human brain has continued to develop structurally and neurologically over the past several thousand years. In particular, developments in cerebral rhythm (a neural oscillation) that occurred two to three thousand years ago are believed to be tied to attention, learning ability, and working memory–all abstract skills that are necessary for longterm planning (Parameshwaran and Thiagarajan 2017). Neural oscillations (more commonly known as “brainwaves”) are respective patterns of neural activity in the brain and central nervous system. Cerebral rhythms in the parietal lobe (used in planning) would have been critical for survival and planning during famines and hardships of the Little Ice Age.

 scholars agree the harshest period in this Age fell around 1600 CE (Pfister and Brázdil 2006; Degroot 2018).

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Adverse environmental conditions further favored a particular kind of neurobiological phenomena: the ability to develop expertise (Skoyles 1999). Those that developed expertise in specific areas fared better during the hardships of the Little Ice Age. As humans engage in expertise, our brains “wire more specialized circuitry” to solve repeated problems with less effort, becoming more efficient and using less energy (Vila Pouca et al. 2018). People who could develop expertise used energy efficiently, and were thus better suited to survive a period of scarce resources. Additionally, developing expertise requires the ability to sustain activity in the frontal and parietal cortices (believed to direct attention and planning), indicating growth in these regions (Hill and Schneider 2006). The Dutch responded to climate change by adapting and developing new technologies. Political leaders set up food sharing systems to avoid malnourishment. Communities became resilient through cooperation and abstract thinking. Constructing dikes and dams planned for uncertain futures and mitigated flooding. Additionally, transportation networks connected even smaller population centers (Degroot 2018). The ability to form expertise and engage in long-term planning benefitted leaders. The Netherlands experience some of the most stable political periods among European nations during the coldest point of the Little Ice Age (the 1500s), and also experienced some of the most comprehensive support for forward-planning kings by aristocrats and nobles (who were otherwise seen as threats to ruling families throughout Europe, Rowen 1988). The Netherlands was not the only country to demonstrate resilience to environmental shocks enabled by a capacity for abstract thinking (Mandia 2000), but the wealth of data and records on this republic provides real examples of cognitive brain development during this time. The Little Ice Age contributed to new leadership models defined by an ability to use creative thinking and long-term planning to overcome challenges. People followed these leaders because of their increased capability to ensure the survival of the group. Once again, these dispositions emerged from the environmental shocks of climate change.

Filling in the gaps of traditional theory Ultimately, neurobiological brain development associated with drastic climate shifts enhance skills associated with creativity, planning for uncertainty, long-term thinking, cooperation, and altruism. Individuals who exhibit those traits are more likely to gain followers due to how these skills lend themselves to a greater chance of group survival. Under this leader-follower dynamic, it is not so much charisma or articulation that


Chapter One

gains a followership, but the ability to conceive threats to survival and act to mitigate them. As we move from Homo erectus to Homo sapiens, the threats to survival become more multifaceted while group formation becomes more complex. This is where connections develop between neurobiological science and traditional social-psychology studies. The literature of the latter provides expansive theories on how groups form, and along which lines they form (whether it be ethnic, racial, national, cultural, or otherwise) (Anderson 1983; Wenger 1998; Castells 2010). Neurobiology literature speaks more to how groups act to preserve their community, lending critical insights to traditional approaches of leadership. The origins of social leadership theory are more oriented along the lines of linear problem solving. As the field advanced (and human technological capabilities grew), it became more concerned with solving complex group problems. Leadership theory began to focus more on achieving complex well-being goals, and less on attaining the basic, fundamental goal of survival. Today, we live in a world that is once again experiencing drastic climate changes–heating–within a few generations that will affect all forms of life.

Critical considerations: Changes in the midst of modernity While the Ice Age and Little Ice Age were natural earth cycles, our current environment is experiencing heating and extreme weather cycles, magnified by human activity. Regardless of what one may believe about the role of human activity in climate change, the undebatable reality is that changes are happening, and these changes are known to result in physical neurobiological changes, as past periods of climate change demonstrate. We do not have all the answers for this new reality, but the implications must be considered: our climate affects the leadership we desire in this era. Current climate changes are associated with a variety of physical and mental conditions, such as PTSD, worsening asthma and allergies, sickness from pollution, and infections (Padhy et al. 2015; Carpenter 2016). While a growing body of research documents the physical impacts of climate change, less has been done on its impact on brain development. It is likely the first effects will appear in the brain development of children, as environmental factors play a large role in their neurological development (Sean 2018). High temperatures can alter nervous system features, including gene expression in neurons, neuron structure, and brain organization (recall the cortical fold shifts during the Ice Age). Additionally, an increase in environmental temperatures can influence the

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formation of new neurons in adults, suggesting detrimental effects on cognition and behavior (Watts et al. 2018). While the effects of global warming on Homo sapiens’ brains are still not fully known, we can draw conjectures from past shocks about what kind of leaders we favor–and need–in times of climate crisis. The implications of past brain developments suggest people favor leaders who demonstrate a capacity to deal with complex issues involving ethics, stress resilience, and abstract altruism. Yet in an era of unprecedented levels of uncertainty and need to think through actions to see the consequences4, we must identify what these capabilities look like. Climate change has non-linear and compounding effects (Luterbacher and Sprinz 2001). This makes current organizational structures, like territorial nation-states, less relevant in responding to the transboundary and the universal nature of climate change. The challenges we face call for leaders who embody and are capable of the same leadership abilities that helped our ancestors survive in ages past. Taking the same list of traits provided earlier, an updated analysis reveals how these abilities may manifest today: Ͳ Altruism: the willingness and ability to bear a higher burden in solving a problem, knowing all parties have stakes in the outcome, even if they have different capabilities and willingness; Ͳ Planning for uncertain futures: leaders must be able to not only mitigate but confront uncertain futures where earth systems may once again rapidly change within a single generation. Projections indicate that a two degree Celsius change may be a tipping point to an even larger global climatic change (MacDougall et al. 2013); Ͳ Logical trains of inference: overcoming sociopolitical barriers to cooperation requires the ability recognize the causes of modern rifts and develop action plans to work through these divisions; Ͳ Ethics: the ability to evaluate survival and climate change mitigation plans in an era where actions result in winners and losers (Wainwright and Mann 2018); Ͳ Games: the ability to construct standards of behavior (rules) and adhere to them despite possible self-interest conflicts; and Ͳ Creativity: the ability to speculate non-linear plans and possible consequences before acting in the real world.


In many ways, our technological capabilities have surpassed our human foresight ability.


Chapter One

Leadership today is not ultimately about survival in lieu of thriving, but the urgency of climate change that historically results in sociopsychological resiliency to facilitate human and societal prosperity. Because of the climate shocks we are experiencing now, we are relying on the same desired leadership traits that ensured survival during the Ice Age, though in different contexts and increasing complexities. Society has developed through many climatic events over millions of years, and once again we are relying on the evolution of leadership traits that are engrained in our brains and fundamental to our survival.

References Anderson, Benedict. 1983. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. New York: Verso. Ash, Jessica, and Gordon G. Gallup. 2007. “Paleoclimatic Variation and Brain Expansion during Human Evolution.” Human Nature 18 (2): 109–24. Barker, Ernest. 2009. The Political Thought of Plato and Aristotle. 2nd ed. New York: Dover Publications. Boin, Arjen, Paul ’tHart, Eric Stern, and Bengt Sundelius. 2005. The Politics of Crisis Management. New York: Cambridge University Press. Boyd, Robert, and Peter J Richerson. 2009. “Culture and the Evolution of Human Cooperation.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences 364 (1533): 3281–88. Calvin, William H. 2002. A Brain for All Seasons: Human Evolution and Abrupt Climate Change. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Carpenter, Zoë. 2016. “This Is Your Brain on Climate Change.” The Nation, April 2016. Castells, Manuel. 2010. The Power of Identity. Chichester: Blackwell Publishing. Degroot, Dagomar. 2018. The Frigid Golden Age: Climate Change, the Little Ice Age, and the Dutch Republic, 1560-1720. New York: Cambridge University Press. Fritz, Charles. 1961. “Disaster.” In Contemporary Social Problems: An Introduction to the Sociology of Deviant Behavior and Social Disorganization, edited by Robert Merton and Robert Nisbet, 641–94. New York: Harcourt, Brace and World. Gowlett, John A.J. 2006. “The Early Settlement of Northern Europe: Fire History in the Context of Climate Change and the Social Brain.”

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Comptes Rendus Palevol 5 (1–2): 299–310. Hanslik, Margaret K. 2018. “The Use of Charismatic Leadership in Crisis Management in Policing.” San Marcos. IK-THESIS-2018.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y. Hill, Nicole M., and Walter Schneider. 2006. “Brain Changes in the Development of Expertise: Neuroanatomical and Neurophysiological Evidence about Skill-Based Adaptations.” In The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance, edited by K. Anders Ericsson, Neil Charness, Paul J. Feltovich, and Robert R. Hoffman, 653–82. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hörhager, E. 2015. “Political Implications of Natural Disasters: Regime Consolidation and Political Contestation.” Kelly, Kip. 2014. “The Neuroscience of Leadership: Practical Applications.” Chapel Hill. the-neuroscience-of-leadership-practical-applications. Kurland, Jeffrey A., and Stephen J. Beckerman. 1985. “Optimal Foraging and Hominid Evolution: Labor and Reciprocity.” American Anthropologist 87 (1): 73–93. Lindebaum, Dirk. 2016. “Critical Essay: Building New Management Theories on Sound Data? The Case of Neuroscience.” Human Relations; Studies towards the Integration of the Social Sciences 69 (3): 537–50. Luterbacher, U, and D.F Sprinz. 2001. “Problems of Global Environmental Cooperation.” In International Relations and Global Climate Change, edited by U Luterbacher and D.F Sprinz, 3–22. Cambridge: MIT Press. MacDougall, Andrew H., Michael Eby, Andrew J. Weaver, Andrew H. MacDougall, Michael Eby, and Andrew J. Weaver. 2013. “If Anthropogenic CO2 Emissions Cease, Will Atmospheric CO2 Concentration Continue to Increase?” Journal of Climate 26 (23): 9563–76. Mandia, S.A. 2000. Influence of Dramatic Climate Shifts on European Civilizations: The Rise and Fall of the Vikings and the Little Ice Age. Padhy, Susanta Kumar, Sidharth Sarkar, Mahima Panigrahi, and Surender Paul. 2015. “Mental Health Effects of Climate Change.” Indian Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 19 (1): 3–7.


Chapter One Parameshwaran, Dhanya, and Tara C. Thiagarajan. 2017. “Modernization, Wealth and the Emergence of Strong Alpha Oscillations in the Human EEG.” BioRxiv, April, 125898. Pfister, C, and R Brázdil. 2006. “Social Vulnerability to Climate in the ‘Little Ice Age’: An Example from Central Europe in the Early 1770s.” European Geosciences Union (EGU). Vol. 2. Rowen, Herbert. 1988. The Princes of Orange: The Stadholders in the Dutch Republic. Edited by J.H. Elliott, Olwen Hufon, and H.G. Koenigsberger. New York: Cambridge University Press. Saito, Tomoya, and Ayano Kunimitsu. 2011. “Public Health Response to the Combined Great East Japan Earthquake, Tsunami and Nuclear Power Plant Accident: Perspective from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan.” Western Pacific Surveillance and Response Journalࣟ: WPSAR 2 (4): 7–9. Schmittner, Andreas, and Eric D. Galbraith. 2008. “Glacial GreenhouseGas Fluctuations Controlled by Ocean Circulation Changes.” Nature 456 (7220): 373–76. Sean, O’Donnell. 2018. “The Neurobiology of Climate Change.” The Science of Nature 105 (11). Sena, Aderita, Carlos Freitas, Patrícia Feitosa Souza, Tais Alpino, Marcel Pedroso, Carlos Corvalan, Christovam Barcellos, and Fernando Carneiro. 2018. “Drought in the Semiarid Region of Brazil: Exposure, Vulnerabilities and Health Impacts from the Perspectives of Local Actors.” PLoS Currents. 639. Skoyles, John. 1999. “Human Evolution Expanded Brains to Increase Expertise Capacity, Not IQ.” Psycoloquy 10 (2). Vila Pouca, Catarina, Connor Gervais, Joshua Reed, Culum Brown, Catarina Vila Pouca, Connor Gervais, Joshua Reed, and Culum Brown. 2018. “Incubation under Climate Warming Affects Behavioral Lateralisation in Port Jackson Sharks.” Symmetry 10 (6): 184. Wainwright, Joel, and Geoff Mann. 2018. Climate Leviathan: A Political Theory of Our Planetary Future. New York: Verso. Watts, Nick, Markus Amann, Nigel Arnell, Sonja Ayeb-Karlsson, Kristine Belesova, Helen Berry, Timothy Bouley, et al. 2018. “The 2018 Report of the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change: Shaping the

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Health of Nations for Centuries to Come.” Lancet (London, England) 392 (10163): 2479–2514. Wenger, Etienne. 1998. Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.



Introduction Technological change is neither additive nor subtractive. … One significant change generates total change. … A new technology does not add or subtract something. It changes everything. … Therefore, when an old technology is assaulted by a new one, institutions are threatened. When institutions are threatened, a culture finds itself in crisis. This is serious business. (Postman 1993, 18)

The premise of this chapter is that leadership is the technology-driven practice of changing society. This is indeed serious business. Technology is “an ensemble of machineries and procedures” (Borgmann 2006, 352). Consider the example of Johannes Gutenberg, who in 1453 Europe invented movable metal type, a fast-drying oil-based ink, and used the existing wine press and paper to create the printing press. Within fifty years over twenty million books had been printed and “Printing had a major impact on the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the scientific revolution that transformed European society” (Headrick 2009, 85). The paradigm presented here is that a society or culture exists at some point in time in a steady state. Then, when a technological revolution occurs it begins a logic of evolutionary necessity in organizations where leadership proceeds through the four archetypes of Recognize, Routinize, Harmonize, Normalize, and the three transitions between them. The end result is that the previous steady-state society or culture has been changed, or indeed,


The author would like to thank Michelle Inness, Marvin Washington, and Trish Reay for their helpful comments, Lech Lebiedowski and Mark Dickens for insights on the history of technology and the ancient world, and Danny Miller for his continued support and timely advice on earlier drafts of this work.

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destroyed. This paradigm of technology-driven leadership changing society develops previous approaches of technology and leadership (Barley and Kunda 1992; Czarniawska-Joerges and Wolff 1991; Hargadon and Douglas 2001; Hoskin and Macve 1988; Uhl-Bien and Arena 2017, 2018) and reconciles their differences. We are now in a period of technological revolution to an Internet society. The impact of new technologies on organizations and society, such as Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, the Internet of Things, and Distributed Trust-Based Platforms enabled via Blockchain may effectively be studied by leadership researchers using this chapter’s paradigm as a theoretical base.

Four archetypes and three transitions of leadership The first archetype state is Recognize (see Figure 2-1). Society in its steady state is dealing with tractable problems. Then leaders, who might also be called entrepreneurs or boundary spanners, recognize that conditions are right for invention and recombination. They are working at the societal level with broad scope, pulling together pieces from disparate sciences, technologies, and cultures. Consider the example of ridesharing. Uber put together extant smartphone technology with wide adoption, cell networks, a credit card payment system integrated into a well-functioning banking system, government roads and driver licencing systems, and an automobile insurance industry. The organizational literature has considered Recognizing as: Boundary Spanning–the practice of seeing and working across the confines of an organization (e.g. Langan-Fox and Cooper 2014; March and Simon 1958; Thompson 1967; Tushman 1977); Entrepreneurship–as a system and how innovation can be implemented (e.g. Brown 2008; Drucker 1985); Social Network Theory (e.g. Burt 1992)–to explain ties between individuals, how they can be strong or weak, and the importance of structural holes; and Boundaryless Organizations–that are open in interactions with their environment (e.g. Ashkenas, Ulrich, Jick, and Kerr 2002; Semler 1994). From Recognize, Transition 1 is to the next archetype of Routinize. The revolutionary technology is brought into the organization and made tractable. The technology is optimized and regularized and the people doing that work are leaders who are keeping their eye on making the organization function with the main goal of efficiency. In the leadership literature there are several streams of thought that fit into the Routinize archetype. They are ordered in Figure 2-1 by era (see Van Seters and Field 1990). The approaches are: Personality/Great Man Theory of what type of leader is required (e.g. Bingham 1927; Bowden 1926); Behavioral


Chapter Two

Theory of what that leader should do (e.g. Fleischman, Harris, and Burtt 1955; McGregor 1966); Transactional Leadership about the work deal the leader makes with the follower (e.g. Dansereau, Graen, and Haga 1975; Hollander 1979); how the organization’s Culture should be built to get results (e.g. Groysberg, Lee, Price, and Cheng 2018; Ouchi and Jaeger 1978; Pascale 1985; Schein 1985); and how leaders need to re-engineer the Business Process (e.g. Davenport and Short 1990; Hammer 1990). The next step in this chapter’s paradigm is that the focus on organizational efficiency must inevitably lead to unintended negative consequences with the people of the organization. While efficiency has been gained, effectiveness is elusive. Transition 2 must then occur to the Harmonize archetype, as leaders turn their attention to relationships with followers. These are here described as intractable organization problems because dealing with people is inherently more uncertain than dealing with processes. In the leadership literature a number of theoretical approaches have been developed. In rough historical order they are: How can a leader best Influence others (e.g. French and Raven 1959; Schenk 1928); Situational Leadership of how to lead differently in dissimilar situations (e.g. Hersey and Blanchard 1969; Trist and Bamforth 1951); Contingency Theories of Leadership of how the leader should change behavior to match a particular situation (e.g. Fiedler 1964; House 1971; Vroom and Jago 1978); Quality Management with a focus on the people side of the quality process (e.g. Deming 1986; Hackman and Wageman 1995; Juran 1969); the Anti-Leadership approach that it is the situation itself that acts in place of the leader (e.g. Kerr and Jermier 1978; Pfeffer 1977); Transformational Leadership theory of the leader changing the nature of the follower so they commit to the organization’s task (e.g. Bass 1985; Burns 1978; House 1977); and Communities of Practice where leaders and followers are jointly dedicated to the organization’s mission and see themselves as part of a collective (e.g. Carton 2018; Wenger 1998). From Harmonize our paradigm of technology-driven leadership describes Transition 3 to the last of the four archetypes of Normalize. This is the intractable problem of leaders sometimes adapting to yet sometimes changing society and its culture to better support the operations and goals of the organization. Theoretical approaches that exist in the literature include the ties between the organization and the society of Corporate Social Responsibility (e.g. Christensen, Mackey, and Whetten 2014; Porter and Kramer 2006); who organizational leaders need to attend to of Stakeholder Theory (e.g. Doh and Quigley 2014; Hautz, Seidel, and Whittington 2017); and the Institutional Leadership approach that

Figure 2-1. Four Archetypes and Three Transitions of Leadership.

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organizational leaders can create the environment and institutions of society that will support the organization’s need to grow and thrive (e.g. Barley 2017; Besharov and Khuranna 2015; Hardy and Maguire 2017; Lawrence and Suddaby 2006).

Four cycles of leadership archetype transitions To this point the paradigm of four approaches to leadership has been presented to explain how leadership operates both inside and outside the organization, and with tractable and intractable problems. The argument was further made that there is an evolutionary necessity that Transition 1 is from Recognize to Routinize, Transition 2 from Routinize to Harmonize, and Transition 3 from Harmonize to Normalize. Four cycles of these archetypal transitions, each sparked by a technological revolution, are shown in Figure 2-2 (visualization created from information in Bodrožiü and Adler 2018). The first is steam power and railways in the 1861 to 1913 time period. The new technology is Recognized and developed, then Routinized into normal organizational operations. The end of the Routinize stage is marked by people problems that cannot be managed normally– they become intractable. In this first cycle, it is that poor employee living and working conditions lead to strikes. Harmonizing leadership is required to solve these problems. But then organizational leaders turn their attention outward to the broader society, seeking ways to change society and the people in it to create long-term and stable solutions to intractable people problems. The world is changed so that the new technology will be effective in the wider social context. There follows a period of normalcy, which is broken only by the next technological revolution. A new world is created after each one and the old world is destroyed. Two important dynamic processes are illustrated in Figure 2-2. The first is that each organizing principle of Firm, Factory, Corporation, and Network (Bodrožiü and Adler 2018) has existed for less time than its predecessor. One implication is that the next technological revolution may be already happening that will kick off the next archetypical cycle operating with a new organizing principle. The second is that the scope of each cycle has been widening, both on the organizational side and on the societal side. Within organizations scope has widened from individuals during the steam and railway revolution, to teams in the next two revolutions, and now to communities. Societies have felt this widening of scope as well, moving from local networks of mine owners and steam technologists to diverse networks of consultants, academics, and industry practitioners the world is


Figure 2-2. Four Cycles of Leadership Archetype Transitions. Visualization created from information in Bodrožiü and Adler (2018).

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more interconnected electronically and physically. While Figure 2 deals with just over 150 years of history, it fits nicely with the much larger idea that history as a whole has a direction, which is moving relentlessly towards unity (Harari 2016).

Connection to mainstream leadership literature Why should mainstream literature in leadership studies consider the approach and argument developed in this chapter? The paradigm of technology-driven leadership changing society develops the previous approaches of: 1. Hoskin and Macve (1988); 2. Czarniawska-Joerges and Wolff (1991); 3. Barley and Kunda (1992); 4. Hargadon and Douglas (2001); and 5. Uhl-Bien and Arena (2017, 2018). It reconciles their differences by a new perspective. 1. Hoskin and Macve (1988) studied how a new technology in 1817 of “ubiquitous written archives and examinations utilising mathematical grading” (38) was applied to military cadets at the American West Point military school. This, combined with the new administrative structure of line and staff organization chart (Chandler 1977) led to a “new managerialism”. What is new here is that this chapter organizes their findings into a simple model. The new managerialism we can interpret as Transition 1. West Point graduates implemented a system of piece rates, working a “full day”, along with measures of labour productivity, at the Springfield armory in Massachusetts of the USA. This is the Routinization archetype. These changes led to resistance by workers unused to such tight controls. However, evidence for the Harmonization stage in Hoskin and Macve (1988) was absent. Perhaps the mid-1850s USA was not yet ready. What did happen was that the new managerialism was exported to schools. Students who became normalized to being controlled, examined, performance recorded, and having to put in a “full day” of schooling became amenable to such a technology when they moved on to employed work. It was West Point graduates who spread these methods through society, at first via the armories and the railroads where they worked in the years after 1817. What was then a technological revolution, now 200 years later has become an invisible technology of an education system based on attendance, tests, and grading of performance. 2. Czarniawska-Joerges and Wolff (1991) cast three characters in their explanation of economic and political cycles from the 1920s to the 1990s. These were entrepreneurs who create change, managers who introduce and keep order, and leaders who work with the expectations of those both inside and outside of organizations. Entrepreneurship was described as

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leadership in exceptional situations by those who create new social and organizational realities. In their model each decade required one of these three types, driven by external crisis and political cycles. The difference between their approach and that given here is their external shock is not technology but social and political changes in society. What is new here is that technology is seen as driving those social and political changes, through leadership. 3. Barley and Kunda (1992) explained American managerial discourse as swinging like a pendulum between the two states of normative periods where social relations are fixed, and rational periods with the focus on efficiency and order. This approach can be seen to lie on the left side of this chapter’s Figure 2-1, illustrating the oscillation between the Routinize and Harmonize archetypes, which in this chapter is termed Transition 2. What is new here is that more is explained. The external technological shock allows the Recognize archetypal state and society is changed by leaders in the Normalize phase. 4. Hargadon and Douglas (2001) examined how Thomas Edison implemented the electrical power technological revolution to create an electric powered lighting system in New York City. They show how the design of the system allowed the replacement of gas lighting and eroded the power of the institutionalized gas companies. Their focus was more on the individual lighting customer than is the case in this chapter, though Edison’s system did lay the groundwork for home electrification and then its effects on people living in an electrified society. 5. Uhl-Bien and Arena (2017, 2018) describe Complexity Leadership Theory (CLT) that the leaders of organizations must enable their organizations to adapt to changing environments. What is new in this chapter’s paradigm is more specificity. First, CLT sees leadership as multi-level, which here is society and organizations. Second, CLT is processual, here the three explicit transitions. Third, CLT is contextual, being open to the environment, which here is technological revolution. Fourth, CLT is interactive in that organizational leadership and society are complex adaptive systems, affecting each other, whereas here Transition 3 is more focused on how leaders create new societies. This chapter’s paradigm of technology-driven leadership can also encompass several other ideas of organizations. One is the ambidextrous organization (O’Reilly and Tushman 2004), that organizations can both innovate and perform routine operations, which they call exploring and exploiting. Here, that is the boundary between Recognize and Routinize. A second is performativity, that “scientific devices can be performative if they perform transformations of the business world” (Abrahamson,


Chapter Two

Berkowitz, and Dumez 2016, 370). That is, when technological change is significant, one can expect the business world to change and be enacted. Technology and business co-create each other. As one example they argue that “Taylorism may have initially led to an increase in worker productivity, but the persistent, substantive use of Taylorist principles in business practice enacted a world of labor unrest that ultimately defeated Taylorism” (378). Using this chapter’s paradigm this is interpreted as Taylorism acting as a Routinizing force, whose unintended consequences required Harmonizing leadership to ameliorate. Taylorism may not have been defeated per se, but altered in the later Normalizing phase to make it more acceptable. Lastly, Smith and Besharov (2019) describe how an organization’s leaders were successfully able to meet both social and business goals, their dual gods, by being both internally stable and adaptive while enacting their social environments. This is here described as Transition 3.

Discussion Technology is moral philosophy, not science (Goodman 1970), because new technology will change society and how we live. The argument in this chapter is that leadership applies technology through the three transitions across the four archetypes, with the end result of changing society. Therefore, leadership is moral philosophy. Leaders need to take responsibility for how they enable technology to destroy the old society and create a new one. It would be easy, though, for organizational leaders to overlook this obligation. Here are two reasons why. First, and perhaps the most important, is that large scale issues can escape organizational attention (Bansal 2018). History has a long time scale with a direction towards fewer polities of increasing size. As Harari writes in his book Sapiens, “Over the millennia, small, simple cultures gradually coalesce into bigger and more complex civilizations, so that the world contains fewer and fewer mega-cultures, each of which is bigger and more complex” (2016, 166). The world of organizations is moving in tandem with world history, towards more complexity, wider scope, and fewer world-scale organizations to match fewer world cultures. Organizational leaders need to adopt a longer temporal scale to match a wider spatial scale (Kai 1993; Sayre 2005). A second reason for leaders to miss their societal responsibility is that we are collectively not paying attention to the technological society that we live in, that it is a box which surrounds us, and indeed, we are asleep inside the box (Ellul 1967). Leaders need to wake up. A good place for leaders to look for the next technological

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revolution is how moving from a print-based industrial society to a technology-based Internet society “will lead eventually to a dismantling of the traditional professions” (Susskind and Susskind 2015, 2), for example health, education, divinity, law, journalism, management, consulting, tax and audit, and architecture. Technologies they identified as part of this revolution are 3D Printing (98), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and IBM’s Watson (165), Robotics (166), Affective Computing (170), and the Internet of Things (175). To this list may be added AI in policing (Baraniuk 2019), CRISPR genome editing, self-driving vehicles, and Distributed Trust-Based Platforms enabled via Blockchain, which includes cryptocurrencies. Leaders also need to watch for the next new organizational form that comes after the Network (Bodrožiü and Adler 2018), knowing that it has to be wider in scope and larger in scale. Perhaps Blitzscaling (Hoffman and Yeh 2018; Sullivan 2016) is this new organizational form, which prioritizes speed over efficiency in the pursuit of extremely rapid growth even when bumping up against societal norms. For example, consider Travis Kalancik of Uber, and his “law” of how leaders can use technology to change society: Our product is so superior to the status quo that if we give people the opportunity to see it or try it, in any place in the world where government has to be at least somewhat responsive to the people, they will demand it and defend its right to exist (Stone, 2017, 195; italics in original).

It seems that Uber has jumped from Recognize to Normalize, forcing governments to change. Khanna (2018) deals with this issue in his article titled “When Technology Gets Ahead of Society” by saying: “Entrepreneurs … should become leaders outside the bounds of their own companies by building trust among stakeholders and helping to establish the institutions necessary for their success” (Khanna 2018, 95, italics in original). This advice seems to recommend skipping the three transitions described in this chapter and moving directly from Recognize to Normalize. Or perhaps the advice can be reconceptualised to move quickly through Transitions 1 and 2. When trust is not forthcoming, there is more regulation by governments and more pushback of societal forces acting on organizations (Wedlin and Sahlin 2017). One caveat to the paradigm proposed in this chapter, therefore, is that the three transitions may not occur in the fixed order specified here. Research is needed to identify the four leadership archetypes and how leaders transition among them. Perhaps there are conditions, such as the Blitzscaling form of organization, where some transitionary steps are


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bypassed. Leadership and technology researchers may use this chapter’s paradigm as a theoretical base for studying how leaders take a technological opportunity, build it into organizations and their operations, resolve the unintended people problems that result, and finally change society. Leadership research needs to consider the moral responsibilities of these organizational leaders as they collectively change the world we live in.

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Bodrožiü, Zlatko, and Paul S. Adler. 2018. “The Evolution of Management Models: A Neo-Schumpeterian Theory.” Administrative Science Quarterly 63, no. 1: 85-129. Borgmann, Albert. 2006. “Technology as a Cultural Force for Alena and Griffin.” Canadian Journal of Sociology 31, no. 3: 351-360. Bowden, Aberdeen O. 1926. “Study of the Personality of Student Leaders in Colleges in the United States.” Journal of Abnormal Psychology 21: 149-160. Brown, Tim. 2008. “Design Thinking.” Harvard Business Review 86, no. 6: 84-92. Burns, James MacGregor. 1978. Leadership. New York: Harper & Row. Burt, Ronald S. 1992. Structural Holes: The Social Structure of Competition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Carton, Andrew M. 2018. “’I’m Not Mopping the Floors, I’m Putting a Man on the Moon’: How NASA Leaders Enhanced the Meaningfulness of Work by Changing the Meaning of Work.” Administrative Science Quarterly 63, no. 2: 323-369. Chandler, Alfred D. 1977. The Visible Hand: The Managerial Revolution in American Business. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Christensen, Lisa J., Alison Mackey, and David Whetten. 2014. “Taking Responsibility for Corporate Social Responsibility: The Role of Leaders in Creating, Implementing, Sustaining, or Avoiding Socially Responsible Firm Behaviors.” Academy of Management Perspectives 28, no. 2: 164-178. Czarniawska-Joerges, Barbara, and Rolf Wolff. 1991. “Leaders, Managers, Entrepreneurs On and Off the Organizational Stage.” Organization Studies 12, no. 4: 529-546. Dansereau, Fred, Jr., George Graen, and William J. Haga. 1975. “A Vertical Dyad Linkage Approach to Leadership in Formal Organizations: A Longitudinal Investigation to the Role Making Process.” Organizational Behavior & Human Performance 13, no. 1: 46-78. Davenport, Thomas H., and James E. Short. 1990. “The New Industrial Engineering: Information Technology and Business Process Redesign.” Sloan Management Review 31, no. 4: 11-27. Deming, W. Edwards. 1986. Out of the Crisis. Cambridge, MA: MIT Center for Advanced Engineering Study. Doh, Jonathan P., and Narda R. Quigley. 2014. “Responsible Leadership and Stakeholder Management: Influence Pathways and Organizational Outcomes.” Academy of Management Perspectives 28, no. 3: 255-274.


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Drucker, Peter F. 1985. Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Practice and Principles. NY: Harper & Row. Ellul, Jacques. 1967. The Technological Society. Translated from the French by John Wilkinson, with an introduction by Robert K. Merton. NY: Vintage Books. Fiedler, Fred E. 1964. “A Contingency Model of Leadership Effectiveness”. In Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, edited by Leonard Berkowitz, 149-190. New York: Academic Press. Fleischman, Edwin A., Edwin F. Harris, and Harold E. Burtt. 1955. Leadership and Supervision in Industry; an Evaluation of a Supervisory Training Program. Columbus: Ohio State University Bureau of Educational Research Monograph. French, John R.P., Jr., and Bertram Raven. 1959. “The Bases of Social Power”. In Group Dynamics, edited by Dorwin Cartwright and Alvin F. Zander, 150-167. New York: Harper & Row. Goodman, Paul. 1970. New Reformation: Notes of a Neolithic Conservative. NY: Random House. Groysberg, Boris, Jeremiah Lee, Jesse Price, and J. Yo-Jud Cheng. 2018. “The Leader’s Guide to Corporate Culture.” Harvard Business Review 96, no. 1: 44-52. Hackman, J. Richard, and Ruth Wageman. 1995. “Total Quality Management: Empirical, Conceptual, and Practical Issues”. Administrative Science Quarterly 40, no. 2: 309-342. Hammer, Michael. 1990. “Reengineering Work: Don’t Automate, Obliterate.” Harvard Business Review 68, no. 4: 104-112. Harari, Yuval Noah. 2016. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. Toronto: Signal. Hardy, Cynthia, and Steve Maguire. 2017. “Institutional Entrepreneurship and Change in Fields.” In The Sage Handbook of Organizational Institutionalism, edited by Royston Greenwood, Christine Oliver, Thomas B. Lawrence, and Renate E. Meyer, 2nd ed., 261-280. London: Sage Publications Ltd. Hargadon, Andrew, and Yellowlees Douglas. 2001. “When Innovations Meet Institutions: Edison and the Design of the Electric Light”. Administrative Science Quarterly 46, no. 3: 476-501. Hautz, Julia, David Seidel, and Richard Whittington. 2017. “Open Strategy: Dimensions, Dilemmas, Dynamics.” Long Range Planning 50, no. 3: 298-309. Headrick, Daniel R. 2009. Technology: A World History. New York: Oxford University Press.

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Hersey, Paul, and Kenneth H. Blanchard. 1969. "Life Cycle Theory of Leadership". Training and Development Journal 23, no. 5: 26–34. Hoffman, Reid, and Chris Yeh. 2018. Blitzscaling: The Lightning-fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Businesses. NY: Currency. Hollander, Edwin. 1979. Leadership Dynamics: A Practical Guide to Effective Relationships. New York: Free Press. Hoskin, Keith W., and Richard H. Macve. 1988. “The Genesis of Accountability: The West Point Connections.” Accounting, Organizations and Society 13, no. 1: 37-73. House, Robert J. 1971. “A Path Goal Theory of Leader Effectiveness.” Administrative Science Quarterly 16, no. 3: 321-339. —. 1977. “A 1976 Theory of Charismatic Leadership.” In Leadership: The Cutting Edge, edited by James G. Hunt and Lars L. Larson, 189-207. Carbondale, Illinois: Southern Illinois University Press. Juran, Joseph M. 1969. Managerial Breakthrough: A New Concept of the Manager’s Job. NY: McGraw-Hill. Kerr, Steven, and John M. Jermier. 1978. “Substitutes for Leadership: Their Meaning and Measurement.” Organizational Behavior and Human Performance 22, no. 3: 375-403. Khanna, Tarun. 2018. “When Technology Gets Ahead of Society.” Harvard Business Review 96, no. 4: 86-95. Langan-Fox, Janice, and Cary L. Cooper, editors. 2014. BoundarySpanning in Organizations: Network, Influence, and Conflict. NY: Routledge. Lawrence, Thomas B., and Roy Suddaby. 2006. “Institutions and Institutional Work.” In Handbook of Organization Studies, edited by Stewart R. Clegg, Cynthia Hardy, Thomas B. Lawrence, and Walter R. Nord, 2nd ed., 215-254. London: Sage Publications Ltd. Lee, Kai N. 1993. “Greed, Scale Mismatch, and Learning.” Ecological Applications 3, no. 4: 560-564. March, James G., and Herbert A. Simon. 1958. Organizations. NY: Wiley. McGregor, Douglas. 1966. Leadership and Motivation: Essays of Douglas McGregor, edited by Warren G. Bennis and Edgar H. Schein, with the collaboration of Caroline McGregor. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. O’Reilly III, Charles A., and Michael L. Tushman. 2004. “The Ambidextrous Organization.” Harvard Business Review 82, no. 4: 7481. Ouchi, William G., and Alfred M. Jaeger. 1978. “Type Z Organization: Stability in the Midst of Mobility.” Academy of Management Review 3, no. 2: 305-314.


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Pascale, Richard. 1985. “The Paradox of ‘Corporate Culture’: Reconciling Ourselves to Socialization.” California Management Review 27, no. 2: 26-41. Postman, Neil. 1993. Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology. New York: Vintage Books. Pfeffer, Jeffrey. 1977. “The Ambiguity of Leadership.” Academy of Management Review 2, no. 1: 104-112. Porter, Michael E., and Mark R. Kramer. 2006. “Strategy & Society: The Link Between Competitive Advantage and Corporate Social Responsibility.” Harvard Business Review 84, no. 12: 78-92. Sayre, Nathan F. 2005. “Ecological and Geographical Scale: Parallels and Potential for Integration.” Progress in Human Geography 29, no. 3: 276-290. Schein, Edgar H. 1985. Organizational Culture and Leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers. Schenk, C. 1928. “Leadership.” Infantry Journal 33: 111-122. Semler, Ricardo. 1994. “Why My Former Employees Still Work For Me.” Harvard Business Review 72, no. 1: 64-71. Smith, Wendy K., and Marya L. Besharov. 2019. “Bowing before Dual Gods: How Structured Flexibility Sustains Organizational Hybridity.” Administrative Science Quarterly 64, no. 1: 1-44. Stone, Brad. 2017. The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley are Changing the World. First edition. New York: Little, Brown and Company. Sullivan, Tim. 2016. “Blitzscaling.” Harvard Business Review 94, no. 4: 44-50. Susskind, Richard, and Daniel Susskind. 2015. The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts. NY: Oxford University Press. Thompson, James D. 1967. Organizations in Action. New York: McGrawHill. Trist, Eric L., and Ken W. Bamforth. 1951. “Some Social and Psychological Consequences of the Longwall Method of Coal Getting: An Examination of the Psychological Situation and Defences of a Work Group in Relation to the Social Structure and Technological Content of the Work System.” Human Relations 4, no. 1: 3-38. Tushman, Michael L. 1977. “Special Boundary Roles in the Innovation Process.” Administrative Science Quarterly 22, no. 4: 587-605. Uhl-Bien, Mary, and Michael Arena. 2017. “Complexity Leadership: Enabling People and Organizations for Adaptability.” Organizational Dynamics 46, no. 1: 9-20.

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Introduction In the Call for Book Chapters for this volume, the editor specifies that this book “is not the place for chapters on dominant social-psychology approaches to leadership….We very much respect those approaches, but we are looking for things that are radically different”. In a more generic sense, such a statement implies that we appreciate that a scientific approach to leadership has merit, but we also appreciate that non-scientific approaches (e.g., literature, humanities, history) have merit as well. Is there a vantage point from which to integrate scientific and nonscientific approaches to seeing the domain of leadership? In the phrasing of Vladimir Nabokov (2000), “Does there not exist a high ridge where the mountainside of ‘scientific knowledge’ joins the opposite slope of ‘artistic imagination’?” The purpose of this essay is to suggest that one potential vantage point to view leadership is through the lens of a “profession”. Many professionals draw upon both codified science and tacit knowledge in their work. For example, medical doctors draw upon sciences such as anatomy and pharmacology while also drawing upon more abstract, subjective knowledge. Can we consider “leaders” as professionals in order to join conceptually these two sides of the “ridge”?

The two sides of the ridge At a conceptual level, many writers accept that leadership has components that encompass both science and art. A sampling of some of their observations includes the following.

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Some of leadership must reside inside the manager. The fact that those inside beliefs and values are hard to observe or measure shouldn’t trap even dedicated empiricists into denying their functional relevance. (Leavitt 1989, 45) Leadership might better be considered as an art rather than a science, or, more specifically, as an ensemble of arts…. Four particular arts mirror four of the central features of leadership…. Science may help the leader and the organization achieve these but fundamentally they are all subjective issues and are better considered as various arts. (Grint 2000, 27)

In essence, leadership seems to be a domain that could be better understood by triangulating from both science and the humanities. Historically, these two domains are not as integrated as might be beneficial. They seem to be two camps that do not always embrace the other, as the leadership literature relies almost exclusively on empirical and theoretical papers. This rift between science and humanities was the topic addressed by C.P. Snow (1959/1965), in his Rede Lecture, The Two Cultures, delivered at Cambridge University in 1959. Likewise, Erwin Schrödinger, in his Shearman Lecture (1948/1954, 9), Nature and the Greeks, delivered at University College London in 1948, said, about these two camps, that they: Ignore each other, little short of contempt. In a treatise on physics or biology…to digress to the metaphysical aspect of the subject is considered impertinent, and if a scientist dare, he is liable to have his fingers rapped and left to guess whether it is for offending science or the particular brand of metaphysics to which the critic is devoted.

Wilhelm von Humboldt (c. 1809), in his vision for the newly established University of Berlin, saw an idealistic intellectual community in which scholars with overlapping interests would come together and build interdisciplinary synergy from interaction with colleagues. As sciences splintered into specialties (e.g., sub-specialties of physics or chemistry) that developed their own jargon and methods, as well as separate conferences and academic communities, this element of Humboldt’s vision never took root. Snow (1959/1965, 19) observed that “All the lessons of our educational history suggest that we are only capable of increasing specialisation, not decreasing it”. And once a scholar has invested years or decades into a particular specialty, the cost, both in terms of time and mental energy, of integrating one’s research with a foreign field or subfield, can be very high.


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Many scholars generally agree that the domain of leadership might benefit from a perspective that is capable of crossing from one side of the “ridge” to the other. However, vehicles that might be useful to accomplish that task remain elusive. We propose that seeing leadership as a profession is one such vehicle.

What is a profession? There is not a uniformly accepted definition of what constitutes a profession or what separates it from other occupational groups (Abbott 1988; Augier and March 2011). For a common starting point, we will consider Abbott’s (1988, 8) admittedly “loose definition”: “Professions are exclusive occupational groups applying somewhat abstract knowledge to particular cases”. There are three elements in this characterization. First, professions assert jurisdiction over their particular domain. For example, dentists claim jurisdiction over a defined domain of knowledge and the application of that knowledge. Second, a portion of the body of knowledge that the profession applies is abstract (Friedson 2001; Hughes 1963; Jackson 1970). As characterized by Hughes (655-656): A profession delivers esoteric services–advice or action or both–to individuals, organizations, or government; to whole classes or groups of people or to the public at large… The nature of the knowledge… on which advice and action are based is not always clear; it is often a mixture of several kinds of practical and theoretical knowledge.

In addition to their abstract knowledge, most professions are also rooted in more objective underlying knowledge bases in which the profession is well-trained. Some professions are rooted in a synthesis of multiple disciplines of study. For example, the medical profession is rooted in a study of anatomy, physiology, pathology, organic chemistry, and pharmacology. The engineering profession is rooted in mathematics, physics, and chemistry. Although these bases provide the codified objective knowledge, professions also include an element of tacit knowledge (Torstendahl 1993), which Polanyi (1958) described as knowledge that is difficult to express, stemming from the fact that individuals can know more than they can tell. These additional bases of tacit knowledge are what constitute our second element of what separates a profession from other occupations. As described by Jackson (1970, 7):

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[Professions] encompass specialized areas of knowledge which affect all individuals but where only a few can become expert. By virtue of their character, these areas of knowledge… take on a mystique which distinguishes them from more mundane matters. The professional becomes necessarily the high priest of that area of knowledge in which [s/he] is acknowledged to be competent.

Third, professions provide their blend of objective and abstract knowledge to particular cases. In medicine, a “particular case” will usually involve applications at the individual person level. For example, a medical doctor needs to advise a specific, individual patient regarding whether back surgery on a herniated disc will resolve a certain problem for that specific patient. An engineer may be called upon to apply engineering knowledge to assess whether a specific aging bridge is unsafe. In summary, then, a profession (1) has jurisdiction over an identifiable domain, (2) applies abstract knowledge to which only members of the profession are privy–in addition to more objective knowledge (e.g., pharmacology), and (3) provides its combination of objective and abstract knowledge to specific cases.1

What does a professional do? Based on these characteristics, Abbott (1988, 40-52) describes three elements of professional work. First is diagnosis. This involves gathering relevant information about the specific case, excluding irrelevant information, and organizing that information into the professional’s “picture” of the specific case. Then, the professional takes that picture and compares it to his/her “internal dictionary” of situations that the professional is able to address. For example, a dentist will listen to the patient’s description of symptoms while realizing that a lay person’s description may contain irrelevant information or incorrect conclusions. The dentist will gather his/her own firsthand information by means such as

1 Some writers (e.g., Barker 2010; Flexner 1915) see the question of whether a given domain is a profession as a dichotomous declaration. Abbott (1988) tends to view meeting the criteria as being continuous. For example, he notes that some domains generally accepted as professions (e.g., nurses) do not unequivocally meet all the criteria while other domains generally not viewed as professions (e.g., automobile mechanics) meet some of them. Perhaps the weakest link in seeing leadership as a profession is the lack of exclusive jurisdiction. In this regard, it is not unlike nursing (i.e., nursing shares much of its domain with the profession of medical doctors). In this essay, we follow Abbott’s contention that the defining criteria can be viewed continuously.


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direct observation and X-rays. Then, the dentist takes this “picture”, considers it against his/her “internal dictionary” and diagnoses the problem. The second element is treatment. While diagnosis organizes the information of a given case and takes it into the system of the professional knowledge base, treatment returns instructions from that knowledge base to apply to the specific case. The third element is inference. This element brings the abstract professional knowledge to bear in mediating the transition between diagnosis and treatment. That mediation may take place in one or both directions. First, it may shape the precise information the professional seeks when assembling a diagnosis. Second, it may influence the way the professional interprets and applies the potential treatments coming from the professional knowledge system. For example, in a routine examination, a dentist may discover a cracked tooth of which the patient is unaware. Dentists will vary, to some degree, in their opinion of when a cracked tooth is sufficiently cracked to engage in treatment versus continued monitoring and whether the patient should be made aware of the discovery. In professions that are rooted in objective science (e.g., engineering, medicine), why is there a need for the professional to utilize abstract judgment in the form of inference? One might argue that the sole responsibility of a professional is to draw on empirical evidence, not inference. For example, “evidence-based medicine” is strongly emphasized as the “gold standard” in medicine (cf. Djulbegovic and Guyatt 2017). In this context, the “evidence” is that which comes from randomized control trials. Why should medical doctors have the “right” to go against the evidence of such trials? The answer to this question requires a review of inductive inference.

Inductive inference The quandary of inductive inference has been described at least as far back as philosopher David Hume (1739). Briefly, the concern is that inductive inference involves extrapolating from a finite set of observations to contexts beyond those observations. For Hume, this means that just because an individual has a set of experiences (i.e. the taste of an apple, or for our discussion the link between a medical symptom and an underlying cause) it does not follow that you can be certain that future events will act in a way that is similar to previous events. However, we have a challenge from Hume: How do we justify inductive inference? How is it defensible that we can extrapolate from one set of observations to contexts where we

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have not made observations? As phrased by Hume (1739, cited in Vickers 2017), what is the defensible basis for believing that “instances of which we have had no experience resemble those of which we have had experience?” For example, in medicine, is it justifiable to immunize children with a treatment that was developed using only adults in the randomized control trials? Another way of illustrating this puzzle is to talk in terms of generalizability. How generalizable are the findings of science? Complexity theory (e.g., Bak 1996; Holland 2014; Kauffman 2008; Mitchell 2009) is informative here. Complexity theory views sciences in a hierarchy, with sciences that deal with closed mechanical systems (e.g., particle physics) at the bottom of the hierarchy and those that deal with open complex systems (e.g., social science) at the top of the hierarchy. By the nature of closed mechanical systems, generalizability is so high that the professional applying expertise to individual cases has no problem–in the extreme, all cases are identical. For example, we ask the physicist (physical sciences) whether gravity will operate next Tuesday on Sunnyside Road in Coatbridge, Scotland. The physicist who knows absolutely nothing about Tuesdays on Sunnyside Road will answer with a resounding “Yes, absolutely!” However, when we ask the dentist (life sciences) whether the pain from today’s root canal procedure will subside enough to return to work tomorrow, the dentist answers “probably”. When we ask the economist (social scientist) whether the stock market will go up or down tomorrow, s/he laughs at the idea that we think we can get a trustworthy answer. These examples illustrate two key dimensions to generalizability at work. First is generalizability across contexts. Because it involves a mechanical system, the physicist is certain that gravity operates by the same principles anywhere on Earth because the phenomena has universal attributes. It will operate identically in Scotland, Wales, Gibraltar, and beyond: “If I am anywhere on Earth, gravity will operate according to identical principles”. Second, in many mechanical systems, the future is identical to the past and thus the systems are generalizable across time. Astronomers know all the causal elements that lead to a solar eclipse; when those elements converge in the future the same way they have converged in the past, a solar eclipse will occur. Future solar eclipses– even those more than a century from now–can be predicted with pinpoint accuracy in both location and time. Because of the nature of closed mechanical systems, if all causal factors can be identified, the future is often identical to the past and can be predicted.


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In sum, physicists and astronomers can often generalize confidently because all cases are identical across time and context. Medical doctors and dentists have less ability to generalize because there is some variation across cases, but they can still make informed projections. Dealing with open, complex systems with a high level of noise in datasets, social scientists have the least ability to generalize because there is the greatest variation across cases. This variation occurs with regard to both time and context. Additionally, in open, complex systems, we are often unlikely to have identified all causal factors. For example, while we believe we know all causal factors of solar eclipses, we have less confidence that we have identified all possible factors that can influence an employee’s organizational commitment. An empirical test that can explain just 5% of the variance in organizational commitment can be published in a top-tier journal; however, the cause of the other 95% of the variance in organizational commitment is often not captured or addressed in that study. Therefore, being able to generalize from one context to another is less reliable. This happens because we do not know which of the yet-tobe-identified causal factors may or may not exist with regard to other cases, varying either across context or across time. Now, we return to the question of why medical doctors should have the “right” to go against the evidence from randomized control trials. Variability across time and context suggests that evidence-based medicine will not always offer an objective, definitive treatment that can be generalized to all cases. Worsham and Jena (2019) recommend that Skilled and informed physicians applying the art of evidence-based medicine may “deviate” from the evidence base because they find there are patients for whom evidence-defining studies are not generalizable…. And these deviations may be clinically optimal…. The optimal application of evidence is as important as awareness of that evidence, and physicians must be artists, using their best judgment to determine which evidence applies best and which treatments will be most likely to benefit individual patients.

In effect, Worsham and Jena are saying that, in the professional work element of inference, medical doctors have the right, by virtue of their training and experience, to decide what broad evidence is generalizable to specific patients–to be the arbiter of when inductive inference is and is not justified. By virtue of the fact that there are positive correlations between a symptom and a diagnosis (i.e. acute chest pain and heart attack), but that these connections are not 100 percent (i.e. the chest pain could stem from

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many other causes), a medical doctor must often draw on inference to provide a patient with a diagnosis. In contrast, in the natural sciences, broad evidence from past contexts is quite reliable to predict future phenomena. For example, when was the last time astronomers predicted a solar eclipse and no eclipse occurred? On the contrary, broad evidence is less reliable in life sciences because individual cases have some variation. In social sciences, there is the greatest variation among cases, and the reliability of evidence from past contexts to predict future contexts is less than ideal. In short, inductive inference is a quandary that–for life sciences and social sciences–cannot be justified through purely logical means (Lewens 2016). Using abstract knowledge, the professional traverses that void by deciding when generalizability is justified and when it is not. Furthermore, the professional is trusted as the judge of what treatment to apply to cases when generalizability is in question.

Considerations for the domain of leadership Dealing squarely in the arena of social science, leadership necessarily deals with issues where 100 percent of causality has not been identified. It deals with phenomena that cannot be assumed to be constant across contexts; that is a basic premise of the contingency theories of leadership. Likewise, we cannot be assured that the phenomena are constant across time. Approaches that worked for Churchill during the 1940s may not have the same degree of success if applied today even in a wartime scenario. Therefore, leadership is a domain where we cannot assume that the future will operate in a pattern identical to the past. In fact, recent trends towards more complex and innovative patterns of work in the knowledge economy place greater emphasis on the adaptability of leaders and their ability to manage the often conflicting demands of bureaucratic environments and emergent system dynamics simultaneously (Uhl-Bien Marion and McKelvey 2007). The need for the advocacy of inductive inference in the leadership domain is made clearer by considering the implications of a study by Derue, Nahrgang, Wellman, and Humphrey (2011). The authors draw from 13 meta-analyses and 46 independent studies to find that leader traits/characteristics and leader behaviors explain 31 percent of variation in leader effectiveness. This implies that 69 percent of the outcomes of leader effectiveness is explained by something beyond leader traits/characteristics and behaviors. And for a given leader, the traits/characteristics component (demographics, personality, etc.) is largely


Chapter Three

settled before emerging as a leader as a matter of birth or characteristics developed before adulthood. Presumably, for many leaders, the question that is on the forefront of one’s mind is “what can I do to change the future for the better under the current conditions of my organization?” Given the limits described in the current paper of using leadership as a prescribed method (i.e. if you are X type of a person faced with Y diagnosis then you should proceed with treatment Z), an effective leader must develop the capacity to adapt to new situations and strategically alter his/her behavior and activities in accordance with tacit knowledge or inductive inference. Even with the full, accumulated studies about leader emergence and leader effectiveness, this need does not dissipate. It remains present because 100 percent of the causal antecedents of leader effectiveness are not identified and documented. These characteristics indicate that, because inductive inference cannot simply be assumed (e.g., as in predicting solar eclipses), leaders should be justified in applying their abstract knowledge. Phrased another way, because the future cannot be assumed to replicate the past identically, leaders must be the arbiter of when inductive inference is justified and when it is not justified. Where it is not justified, leaders are expected to make decisions based on their “mysterious abstract knowledge”. To this point, we have given examples of professionals who are medical doctors, dentists, or engineers. However, maybe the best analogy for leadership is the profession of architecture. Some leadership writers (e.g., Grint 2000) suggest that the artistic side of leadership may be the more critical side, and that element has similarity to the profession of architecture. Vitruvius (translated by Rowland Howe and Dewar 1999), the Roman architect of the first century BC, observed that a building must have three qualities–stability, utility, and beauty. Whereas journeymen architects may excel in the first two of these, one mark of the true master is the ability to combine them with the third–the artistic element of architecture. For example, Antoni Gaudí, the Spanish architect of Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia, had such an inspiring vision combining scale with Gothic and Art Nouveau forms, that the cathedral, still unfinished after 133 years, has over three million visitors a year (Berlin 2019). The energy and excitement of the experience for these visitors is both palpable and unique. This may be the appropriate analogy for the leader as professional. Whereas journeyman leaders may well capture the dimensions that parallel architecture’s elements of stability and utility, the artistic side is also incorporated by the true masters. Vitruvius asserted that architects need to have mastery of geometry, drawing, lighting, philosophy, history, theatre, music, medicine, and law–indicative of a

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breadth that covers science, arts, and humanities. Similar assertions of breadth perhaps should be in order for master leaders as well. The concept of master leaders who successfully apply objective and subjective knowledge to complex situations can help to explain one of the apparent oddities of leadership scholarship and teaching. Leadership is a domain where–despite the traditional dominance of empirical research and prescriptive models in the academic literature–there remains widespread interest in the unique experiences of individual leaders in specific circumstances. For example, best-selling leadership books include those by experienced CEOs like Richard Branson and Jack Welch, as well as inspiring accounts about famous leaders in other contexts (e.g. Ernest Shackleton’s polar explorations, Nelson Mandela’s role in liberating South Africa from apartheid). People are similarly fascinated by documentaries about great leaders and opportunities to hear from current leaders in person or via mechanisms such as TED Talks. From a traditional perspective, there is little to be gained from anecdotal lessons that offer a complete lack of generalizability; the consumers of these materials are highly unlikely either to encounter similar challenges or to face similar decisions. And yet, if we begin to take into account the artistic aspects of leadership, we can appreciate the mastery of these individuals and see them in the same professional light as Gaudí. Using Grint’s (2000) approach, we can laud master leaders and learn from their artistic use of identity, strategic vision, persuasive communication, and organizational tactics even if we will never replicate their unique works of art. We recognize that this view of seeing leadership as a profession– conferring the right to use tacit knowledge and to be the arbiter of when inductive inference is warranted–might not go over well with the various institutions that teach the science of leadership based on the empirical and theoretical literature. Nonetheless, we believe that scholars should move beyond this traditional approach to incorporate the humanities in the research and teaching of leadership. As we have argued in this paper, leadership is better suited to be viewed as a profession, for it relies on the abstract and codified knowledge that comes through experience. Or as Mark Twain (1892) quipped in The American Claimant, experience is “the only logic sure to convince a diseased imagination and restore it to rugged health”.

References Abbott, Andrew. 1988. The system of Professions: An Essay on the Division of Expert Labor. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.


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Augier, Mie and March, James G. 2011. The Roots, Rituals, and Rhetorics of Change: North American Business Schools after the Second World War. Stanford: Stanford Business Books. Bak, Per. 1996. How Nature Works. New York: Springer-Verlag. Barker, Richard. 2010. “No, Management Is Not a Profession.” Harvard Business Review 88 (July-August): 52-60. Berlin, Jeremy. 2015. “133 Years Later, Gaudí’s Cathedral Nears Completion.” National Geographic (November 5). Derue, D. Scott, Nahrgang, Jennifer D., Wellman, Ned, and Humphrey, Stephen E. 2011. “Trait and Behavioral Theories of Leadership: An Integration and Meta-Analytic Test of their Relative Validity.” Personnel Psychology 64, no. 1: 7-52. Djulbegovic, Benjamin and Guyatt, Gordon H. 2017. “Progress in Evidence-Based Medicine: A Quarter Century on.” The Lancet, 390 no. 10092: 415-423. Flexner, Abraham. 1915. “Is Social Work a Profession? Accessed March 11, 2019. Freidson, Eliot. 2001. Professionalism: The Third Logic. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Grint, Keith. 2000. The Arts of Leadership. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Holland, John H. 2014. Complexity: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Hughes, Everett C. 1963. “Professions.” Daedalus, 92 no. 4: 655-668. Humboldt, Wilhelm von. c.1809. über die innere und äußere Organisation der höheren wissenschaftlichen Anstalten zu Berlin (On the Spirit of and the Organizational Framework of Intellectual Institutions in Berlin). Translated by Edward Shils,1970, Minerva, 8, no. 1: 242-250. Hume, David. 1739. A Treatise of Human Nature. London: John Noon Publisher. Jackson, John A. 1970. “Professions and Professionalism—Editorial Introduction.” In Professions and Professionalization, edited by John A. Jackson, 1-15. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Kauffman, Stuart A. 2008. Reinventing the Sacred: A New View of Science, Reason, and Religion. New York: Basic Books. Leavitt, Harold J. 1989. “Educating Our MBAs: On Teaching What We Have Not Taught.” California Management Review 31, no. 3: 38-50.

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Lewens, Tim. 2016. The Meaning of Science: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science. New York: Basic Books. Mitchell, Sandra D. 2009. Unsimple Truths. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Nabokov, Vladimir V. 2000. Nabokov’s Butterflies. Boston: Beacon Press. Polanyi, Michael. 1958. Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Schrödinger, Erwin. 1948/1954. Nature and the Greeks. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Snow, Charles P. 1959/1965. The Two Cultures and a Second Look. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Torstendahl, Rolf. 1993. “The Transformation of Professional Education in the Nineteenth Century.” In The European and American University Since 1800, edited by Sheldon Rothblatt and Björn Wittrock, 109-141. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Twain, Mark. 1892. The American Claimant. New York: Charles L. Webster & Co. Uhl-Bien, Mary, Marion, Russ, and McKelvey, Bill. 2007. "Complexity leadership theory: Shifting leadership from the industrial age to the knowledge era." The Leadership Quarterly, 18 no. 4: 298-318. Vickers, John. 2017. “The Problem of Induction.” In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2017 Edition), edited by Edward N. Zalta. Accessed March 11, 2019. Vitruvius. Translated by Rowland, Ingrid D., Howe, Thomas N., and Dewar, Michael. 1999. De architectura. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Worsham, Christopher and Jena, Anupam B. 2019. “The Art of EvidenceBased Medicine.” Harvard Business Review. Accessed March 11, 2019.


Introduction Higher education (HE) can be perceived as a bastion of thought leadership and the institutions within as ideal playgrounds to implement leadership strategies. In the past decade, the “women in leadership” movement has proliferated through industry, but HE has lagged behind (Ginsberg, Davis, and Simms 2019; Marchant and Wallace 2013; Morley and Crossouard 2015; Yousaf and Schmiede 2016). Female leadership in HE has attracted considerable attention however under representation remains, leading to the need for further discourse (Aiston and Yang 2017). In this chapter, we explore the issues of female leadership in HE in an Australian context. We draw on our experience within an action learning (AL) project targeted at the professional development of leaders in HE. To do this, firstly we look at the context of leadership in HE, then we present AL, followed by five vignettes relating to women in HE from different levels of seniority, areas of expertise and experience. These vignettes assist our investigation into how women see their leadership role in HE. We will show how the AL methodology provided the opportunity to explore these women’s individual leadership practices in a safe space that led to the setting and achievement of their goals through personal insights and priorities. While many of the recent Vice Chancellor appointments in Australian universities have been women, the HE sector is noted for its abundance of women at lower levels and with the difficulties they experience achieving promotion being renowned (Marchant and Wallace 2013). Women are

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often given leadership positions and told “it is what you want it to be”. In reviewing the leadership literature, we find there are a large number of books and journal articles, actually a whole industry, that tells us what leadership is, examples of who great leaders are and how to act like them. However, this industry is not particularly useful in navigating the hallways of HE. In fact, these reference points are enough to drive even the most ambitious female into a manic rage against the establishment. In reference to Sheryl Sandberg's famous pronouncement that women should be more ambitious, Michelle Obama recently stated, “That whole, ‘So you can have it all’–nope, not at the same time. That's a lie. And it's not always enough to lean in, because that shit doesn't work all the time,” (Sandberg 2015, Armstong 2019). As Germaine Greer says “they (females) would need to look deep into their own bodies and souls to find solutions to the dilemma of their oppression” (Kleinhenz 2018). In 2018 Donna Strickland, a Canadian physicist was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics–it took this prestigious and coveted award for her to be promoted to professor (Risse 2018). This illustrates one woman’s leadership journey and experience of leadership in HE. Although doing it differently from men, women in HE today are “introducing new ways of approaching the opportunities and challenges” (Latchem, Kanwar and Ferreira 2013, 157). Although approximately 44% of academics in Australia are women only 25% of these hold a senior lecturer or higher position demonstrating that there continues to be a significant gender inequity in senior leadership positions in HE (Lipton 2015). Research has called for studies in all organisations to understand the experiences of women in both working toward a leadership position and factors that shape their experience once they are there (Bruckmuller et al. 2014, Glass and Cook 2016). In this essay we explore how women in HE seek to understand their personal leadership qualities and style outside of the leadership literature. We propose using AL (Dick 1999, 2017) as a methodology for self-development and for finding out what we want it to be, that is to engage with the “self”. In channelling Germaine Greer “the aim is not to present a plan, or even a series of certainties or correct observations, but a correct statement of a problem” (Kleinhenz 2018).

The landscape of women in leadership The women in leadership literature in HE can be seen from many lenses. One lens tells us generically what leadership is, provides examples of who great leaders are and how to act like them; a second lens examines


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challenges, barriers, perceptions and rules for women in leadership and yet substantial research tells us about the state of play for women in HE. Generally, the context of HE presents an ever-changing environment and with this speaks to the changes, the nature and the expectations of academic work (Slaughter and Leslie 1997). Pathways to formal leadership positions are often unclear within HE. Leaders emerge or are expected to emerge by increasing their responsibilities or volunteering in some cases for more responsibilities (Beckmann 2017). The pool of leaders has been found to be constrained by hierarchies within HE institutions, and achievements in research (Fung and Gordon 2016; Robinson, Lloyd, and Rowe 2008) and has been categorized by top-down leadership models (Scott, Coates, and Anderson 2008). In addition, universities internationally are noted as being highly gendered, with women being more likely to be teaching focussed (Marchant and Wallace 2013). This leads us to a view that women lack knowledge of the “rules of the game” and hence do not engage in the self-promotional behaviours that lead to positions of power as well as other requisites of academic career trajectory and research funding (Morley 2013). A discussion is therefore needed about the changes to academic work and the leadership styles that would assist in creating more collaborative working spaces to support women in HE (Coates et al. 2009). Ramsden (1988, 4) describes leadership in HE as a practical and everyday process of supporting, managing, developing and inspiring academic colleagues… leadership in universities should be by everyone from the Vice Chancellor to the casual car parking attendant, leadership is to do with how people relate to each other.

Theories of leadership used in the HE context include the traditional models of structural/positional (Anderson and Johnson 2006), change oriented (Marshall and Oliva 2006), shared leadership (Pearce, Conger, and Locke 2008) and the emergence of distributed leadership (Woods et al. 2004) as a shared leadership form supported by Ramsden’s definition (1988). Distributed leadership has been summarised as a context that frames distributed leadership built on respect rather than regulation; a culture and values based on trust that supports individual autonomy; an acceptance of the need for change and development; a focus on activity undertaken collectively rather than by individual leaders in formal (structured) positions; and agreement by participants on mechanisms designed to resolve conflict given the participation of more people in a distributed leadership approach. (Jones 2014, 132-133)

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The challenges and barriers can be seen through a critical analysis. When distributed leadership in HE is undertaken Jones (2014) found that even with more academics involved in the decision-making process there is no correlation with democratic decision-making. Further it was noted that continual championing from the formal senior leadership group is required to influence the change being implemented by people with expertise in the area where change is needed. So, if women are traditionally not part of this formal senior management group but have expertise to effect change and development how do they see their role? Are women the thought leaders with men taking the glory in their leadership positions? A number of other themes relating to women in leadership are scattered throughout the literature. HE institutions generally require a formal benchmark of success with objective and quantifiable measures (Redmond et al. 2017). Reynolds et al (2017) found that although some women measure their success using their research performance, others use more subjective notions such as “living a balanced life”, “freedom and flexibility”, “making a difference” and “a labour of love” (8). In contrast, it was reported by (Woodward 2007) that women in HE had “unmanageably large workloads” (11) leading to the conclusiont that this is an unliveable life for many leaders (Butler 2004). The queen bee phenomenon is also used to describe female leaders in male dominated organisations (Derks, Van Laar, and Ellemers 2016). Research has found that women seek out risky appointments to establish their leadership credibility. Token role incongruity theory suggests that women's underrepresentation in organisations with a male-dominated culture results in significant leadership challenges for women (Glass and Cook 2016). It is clear that the high rate of women’s participation in the workforce have not yet led to similar participation in leadership and decision-making positions in most industries. With current state of play being characterised by continual change within universities, there is a need to recognise and utilise the expertise and capabilities of all managers to manage this change. It is therefore interesting to understand how female leaders see themselves in this process and to hear their stories in terms of how they realise and fit with the story painted in the literature.

Action learning methodology Action learning (AL) is a commonly used methodology to tackle real-life problems with an emphasis on experiences, understandings and the needs of the individual, group or organisation– “a social process” (Revans 1982,


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89). Through the sharing of experiences and reflections, we used AL to explore and support the professional development of HE academics expressly in facing the genuine problems of leadership (Kember 2000, Kember and Kwan 2002). This pro-active approach promotes the expansion of capabilities in areas of problem solving, self-awareness and solution-based processes to embed positive leadership practices (Revans 1980; Coghlan and Coughlan 2010). AL is advocated to facilitate change in people’s actions and behaviours through reflection that develops understanding of their practices and leads to transformation (Kemmis 2009). Stemming from Revans’ (1998, 1980, 1983) and Mezirow’s (1997) development of AL, the context of studying female leadership in HE is an appropriate methodological fit–i.e. Akobo 2018, Zuber-Skerritt 2002, Revans 1980. Through the iterative nature of AL long-term improvements, continual learning, innovation, and practical learning are to be expected and can be transformational for individuals (Revans 1980; Coghlan and Coughlan 2010; Dick 2017). As AL practitioners, we used the exploration of the “self” and group reflections to discover, review and reconsider our personal experiences with the aim of improving the social meaning and understanding of the individual leadership experiences. To ensure the reflective practice took a deeper approach, it was important to us that the AL sets were based on trust and respect. From the outset, ground rules were collectively set by the group, and this established a collegial tone that provided the essential foundation of a safe environment to share leadership experiences, improvements, and challenges through individual and group reflection. The AL process is where espoused ideas represent what is conceptualised through thought and ideas of what one believes or wants to happen (Dick 2017). We aimed at each person transforming from their espoused leadership actions and behaviours through to in-action to become a generalised norm and taken beyond this project (Argyris 1997). The transformational process (see Figure 4-1) is where the AL is depicted by the processes of plan (idea), do (pilot/try), study (review) then act (PDSA) whereby the action becomes embedded, amended or potentially abandoned for the process to be repeated (Deming 1994). The AL cycle ran through several iterative processes thus the reflective experience evolved from us all feeling like novices to gaining depth and richness in our self-awareness and subsequent improvement (Revans 1998; Dick 2015). In this case the aspiration was for each individual to take their AL mindset into their professional self-development.

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Although, this AL framework was the guide to support nine academics including ourselves, we are focusing on five specific vignettes as they showcase the continuum of experiences whilst drawing on the wider project and understanding. All participants were in leadership positions e.g. program director; discipline leader and self-selected to build our leadership capability. The program was designed to provide a risk-free space which was established through mutually agreed ground rules in the plan phase of cycle 1. From here the group met every two to three months over two years and were supported with online resources such as readings on AL and leadership; reflections were completed in a format guided by an online interactive tool, however most of the participants preferred to use either a word document or manual journal. This was interesting as in the initial AL cycles, the planned online tool became a key discussion point. Due to the lack of intuitive use of the online tool, a more tactile approach was preferred by most with the mutual decision made to use the mode that worked best for the individual. By cycle two the group dynamic was improving especially in gaining the trust needed to share and also in ensuring good habits such as respect in allowing others to talk; keeping track of time and topic; meeting interim goals and improving on what works for the self-reflection. Despite initial challenges of getting everyone into the room at the same time, gaining commitment and setting up the expectations, the traction and synthesis in exploring one’s own leadership style was growing. For several participants, allowing time to explore their leadership was not prioritised. We reflected on this and decided to encourage explicitly engagement through the cyclical phases. This led to time allocated to heighten engagement with the process during the in-person sessions. The PDSA cycle was not about being right but reflecting on how/why the action was positive or not, thereby resulting in further action in the next iteration. In using AL, we found value within something that is often presumed not to have value–time (Kincheloe 2011). The understanding of the “self” before understanding the environment in which you operate in (Stewart, Gapp, and Harwood 2017) is important during the AL process and we encouraged each other to be cognizant of the “self” and how that influenced actions taken.

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Figure 4-1. Action learning for leadership using PDSA (adapted from (Deming 1994; Dick 2017; Revans 1982)).


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Action learning stories The AL project set out to create and implement an innovative framework to develop emerging academic leaders’ capacity to both articulate and enhance their leadership practice. It recognises the need to support academic leaders to “succeed in increasingly complex and demanding roles, and to provide them with the capabilities to facilitate innovation and positively support staff through change and the development of a highperformance culture”. Following the AL process, we interviewed 5 participants to understand how the AL set provided a safe space to understand and support their development as leaders.

Vignette one–G Although the oldest, in terms of academic experience G was the underling of the team. G was instrumental in the formation of the ARLP along with E and gaining executive support. The AL methodology was an area G was familiar with and the prospect of taking this into exploring leadership in the academic context was exciting. Specifically, the cross disciplinary and leadership focus was of interest as she had mixed feelings about how leadership is defined, and she felt sceptical of being able to develop her abilities. During the process of exploring her leadership style through the AL, G assumed a new role (program director) and was able “to realize that what you're doing does have some impact” and as the project evolved “reflecting on my own practices and what I do, has given me a little bit more confidence”. Despite the individual successes, G was frustrated at the decision making that effected the program she was leading and expressed this reflectively “it was really good going through the exercise (decision process). But I know at the time, I was feeling very, very frustrated and very, very annoyed at the lack of decision and the lack of caring about it (the program)”. The key learnings for G, was gaining confidence, self-awareness and identity as a an academic. She also states that some “really good stuff” had been a result of the project but was concerned in terms of traction and ongoing leadership development for herself and the group. On the individual level, the AL project gave G a platform to apply successfully for a promotion.

Vignette two–C C was the leader of the AL project therefore responsible for the overall management of the project for the two-year duration. As a quantitative


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researcher, the ALS method was a foreign concept however her personality is one that pushes boundaries hence she embraced the project with enthusiasm. Towards the end of the two years C was well versed in AR and this was evident in her schoolwide workshop presentation of the project and as C stated, “I felt comfortable in what I'd got out of it and that I could help other people to get that out of it (ALS)”. As the leader of the project, C had the challenges of managing the team, the project in addition to balancing other responsibilities such as PhD supervision. Despite this C was able to reflect on the many ways her leadership had developed through the iterative nature of AL. One example was the supervision of a PhD student whose expectations of submission needed to be amended: “my PhD student has problems with me at the moment because he wants more of my time than I have to give…. I understand he's frustrated with me, but I think that a PhD student needs to learn how to manage their supervisor”. In addition, C also gave explicit insight on her individual development as it was “it was actually about me” and “what are the things that I would like to do better?” or “I would like to better at?” versus let's go to a meeting and talk about how we can run better meetings. It was, “What do I think is wrong with the meetings that I chair?” With the meeting example, C went on to explain how she resolved the procrastination of one meeting by having an agenda with achievable points that were managed to action points. This resulted in positive feedback from attendees on the effectiveness and efficiency of how C chaired the meeting. Overall, C summed up her leadership “I'm being me and I'm being authentic, and I do what I say I'll do, and I lead in the best way I know how, and I don't go out of my way to hurt or upset or anything else. But sometimes, I have to make a call and that's not always gonna make people happy”.

Vignette three–K As the only professor in the group, K was able to guide the group through some of the political situations where she naturally stepped into the leadership role. She is an impressive and charismatic figure that is able to assess succinctly situations without overpowering. The inherent leadership K exudes is combined with an energy and passion which she brought to the group. Working with people outside of her discipline in the AL was an attraction for K and she quickly recognised the common challenges of people (particularly females) in evidencing leadership as well as the barriers at the organisational level. When it came to the reflective nature of the ALS, this was a challenge. K referred to an “aha” moment that she

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needed to “percolate on” when connecting her values to her objectives as part of a reflective exercise. In taking this to the group level, she said this had substantial impact on how she leads and gave the example of “I think I've become way more focused on the people and their journey rather than the KPIs. People have to achieve certain things when you're a manager or leader or whatever but how you get people to those points has to sort of encompass your values and understanding a bit about what their values are as well”. To do this K has incorporated more reflection into her leadership practice to better understand what people need, want and how they help themselves to get where they want to be. She sees this as a collaborative process of facilitation where the people she leads now have “ownership” over their professional development. The many changes occurring in HE and K’s institution have bought about some conflict and unhappiness. To improve, K read up on leadership and together with the reflective processes this has brought her to a goal of “happiness” for herself and her staff: I've realized that as a leader, if your staff could be happy, you have to be accountable still but within the constraints of what they have to do just to function well, high performing hopefully, if you could have high performing happy people, then that's the best outcome, I think. This concept of happy has sort of really entered my thinking a lot more probably over the last six months even. Just even more recently, does that make sense?

In essence, K has developed a consciousness to the alignment of her values with her leadership style. Through the ALS K has taken on a larger leadership role which she acknowledged she would not have been confident do 12 months prior to this evidence building of leadership (professional development).

Vignette four–O O was one of the youngest in the group and comes from a large faculty that is characterized through a strong female base where she is recognised as an emerging leader. The discipline and diversity of the AL pushed O to move outside of her professional context which she referred to as her “safe space”. With the disciplinary divide, the ALS were enrichened by the continuum of perceptions of leadership. O exemplified this in comparing her practical versus academic leadership through comparisons of the differences that culminated in allowing her to “refine my own expectations of myself as a leader, what I need to do to be successful, and how I


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navigate those waters”. O emphasises the need to have a strong voice both physically and mentally to be seen as a “good leader” and talks about having a long-term plan with short term gains to be able to have influence and create impact. The confidence O has in her leadership is evident however she recognises the HE intricacies and sees how she can transfer her successes from the practitioner context and into academic management. In participating in the AL, O talks about leadership and how her “busy brain” has been afforded the opportunity to shift into proactive thoughts and ideas to “push boundaries”: “I think we've been able to create a safe space where we can really connect on a level that's meaningful for us but also explore dangerous ideas.” In the safe space of the AL, O said she was able to test ideas and “I guess the ALS has helped me take a more considered approach in leadership and who I engage with for what. It's been very positive in allowing me to articulate that better, and having I guess more of a planned direction in how I want to be as a leader”. O also highlighted the challenges of professional leadership in HE as “the university setting is one of those settings where there's such scope for diversity and autonomy that it's hard to see the expectations of what a successful leader in a university setting is and how they navigate that because of the nature of academic work”.

Vignette five–Z For several years, Z’s role has been service and teaching focused. Through this focus she has achieved a promotion and has established a reputation in management of programs. Z talked about her leadership and how participating in the ALS built confidence through exploring and sharing perceptions of leadership; how her leadership can influence; the value of making time to purposefully utilise reflection that included listening and practicing facilitation as an action. The facilitation of decision making was interpreted as “collaboration” through input and developing “two-way communication” versus an authoritarian stance. Some of the challenges noted by Z, included working as a leader with those who had substantially more experience and seniority in contrast to those who have substantially less experience but potentially still have the legitimacy of seniority. To manage this imbalance, Z said that “it's about recognizing your own strengths but finding a way to manage different levels of experience and seniority across the team”. The confidence of Z had increased, and she referred to now having a “philosophy of leadership” which has helped her “articulate her leadership strengths and capabilities”. In the past, this reflection and articulation had been focused on Z’s teaching practices, so

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the challenge was to shift her energy into increasing her understanding and awareness of her leadership. Taking the time to actively think about her leadership in the ARLP, Z commented on the “soft skills” needed and recognised “that there are different types of leaders, and it's not one size fits all approach. But I think that I'm quite confident in my style of leadership now even though there's areas that I still need to develop and grow and improve in”.

Discussion and way forward In this essay we set out to explore how women in HE seek to understand their personal leadership qualities and style outside of the leadership literature. AL (Dick 1999, 2017) was used as a methodology for selfdevelopment and to understand leadership from those who are living the title of leader. Although the vignettes illustrate a diversity of experience and thought there are common themes that have emerged. A positive view of AL and even a “thankfulness” at being able to take the time to learn and practice AL was apparent. These female leaders acknowledged that they have grown and gained in confidence through the AL experience and have benefitted from the practice of reflecting on the “self”. Although the tag of “leader” was uncomfortable for some, they all stressed the benefit from the “safe space” that was provided through this collaborative group. The “safe space” gave them a licence to reflect and explore and the right to be a leader. It also provided a mechanism for articulation of leadership thoughts, goals and plans. The AL was acknowledged as a journey, as the creation of a supportive environment and time that allowed these leaders to ask challenging questions, consider practices and assumptions, all the while learning from each other’s experience. The supportive space and nature that AL creates for leadership development purposes, allowed and facilitated discussion between peers in support of solving difficulties brought to each other’s attention. It was also evident that these female leaders see themselves as practical and academic therefore having to move consciously to a leadership mindset. This mindset shift is underscored by the deference to formal titles and positions and the confidence gained from an official job title. One of the participants stated that she had a problem with leadership in HE because it’s hard to see what success is. The legitimacy of seniority was also respected flying somewhat in the face of the clear goal of finding our own leadership style and space. Without a vision of leadership and having goal clarity, it was not surprising that the participants in the AL found it


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challenging and at times threatening to reflect on and write-down their plans and hurdles. As Gibbs et al. note, “academics are well trained in spotting weak arguments, especially weak arguments for change” (2008, 422). One leader shared her key takeaways as: “The importance of reflection. I think we get so busy often times with the day to day tasks and activities that we undertake as academics or as teachers or as program directors or as leaders. The act of reflecting isn’t recognized as part of the workload or as part of the effort and not necessarily valued”. Another shared how she is a quantitative researcher and found the process to be particularly interesting in contrast to her typical approach where “There’s A, B, C, and D and this is what we’re going to find” but after completing the AL sets, she calls herself an “absolute convert”. Other participants sought to rely on the literature of AL and leadership to gain an understanding of action learning sets. Notably at the outset, most of these “leaders” found it challenging to move from their traditional academic learning process to living the AL process and reflecting on who they were in terms of their leadership, their leadership goals and how they develop professionally to get where they want to be. The simplicity of allowing time, support and exploring options led the more engaged participants into achieving their goals. As a result, Participant G and K both applied for promotions and were successful; participant C fulfilled the goal of becoming an editor of a well ranked journal and Z moved onto a new leadership role. Looking into the future, the immediate benefits of participating in the AL group are evident. Three of the participants have continued their AL journey outside of this group thereby rolling out the practice to give licence to others and encourage them to explore their goals. In one situation, it has resulted in a program development with a collaborative team-based approach and in another situation, it has expanded into a formal research project on AL. In the long term, the impact of this experience will be interesting to track and observe which begs further questions. One challenge is how do we measure the impact of these softer skills considering the development and self-fulfilment they have given. Creating a narrative around AL to show the power of the interactive, continual and reflective practice is important as the support and timeout to achieve this is a challenging business case to sell. The AL methodology has provided the opportunity for a group of women leaders to explore their individual leadership in a safe space with the goal of setting and achieving their goals through personal insights and priorities. It is apparent that women cherish the safe space provided for them to share and collaborate. This also built the appreciation of reflection

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as a tool for better understanding themselves and the impact of their leadership in their work environment. As participant Z indicated “I'm quite confident in my style of leadership now even though there's areas that I still need to develop and grow and improve in”. As stated by (Armstong 2019) “More than good intentions, what we need is action, and that starts with senior men and women speaking out about the reality of their lives”. AL provided a safe and supportive environment for women in leadership to start this very important conversation about the reality of their lives and how they can achieve their leadership goals.

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Vic.: LH Martin Institute, University of Melbourne & Australian Council for Educational Research & Educational Policy Institute. Coghlan, David, and Paul Coughlan. 2010. "Notes toward a philosophy of action learning research." Action Learning: Research and Practice 7 (2): 193-203. doi: 10.1080/14767333.2010.488330. Deming, W. Edwards. 1994. The new economics for industry, education, government. Cambridge, MA: MIT Center for Advanced Engineering Study. Derks, Belle, Colette Van Laar, and Naomi Ellemers. 2016. "The queen bee phenomenon: Why women leaders distance themselves from junior women." The Leadership Quarterly 27 (3): 456-469. Dick, Bob. 1999. Values in Action: Applying the ideas of Argyris and Schon. 2nd ed. Chapel Hill, Qld: Interchange. —. 2015. "Reflections on the SAGE Encyclopedia of Action Research and what it says about action research and its methodologies." Action Research 13 (4): 431-444. —. 2017. Action Learning: Using project teams to build leadership and resillience. Chapel Hill, Qld: Interchange. Fung, Dilly, and Claire Gordon. 2016. "Rewarding educators and education leaders in research-intensive universities." Gibbs, Graham, Christopher Knapper, and Sergio Piccinin. "Disciplinary and contextually appropriate approaches to leadership of teaching in research intensive academic departments in higher education." Higher Education Quarterly 62, no. 4 (2008): 416-436. Ginsberg, Freda, Julia Davis, and Andrea Simms. 2019. "Women in Higher Education Leadership: Challenges Are Many While Opportunities Are Few." In Challenges and Opportunities for Women in Higher Education Leadership, 219-237. IGI Global. Glass, Christy, and Alison Cook. 2016. "Leading at the top: Understanding women's challenges above the glass ceiling." The Leadership Quarterly 27 (1): 5163. Jones, Sandra. 2014. "Distributed leadership: A critical analysis." Leadership 10 (2): 129-141. Kember, David. 2000. Action Learning and Action Research : Improving the Quality of Teaching and Learning. London: Routledge. Book. Kember, David, and Kam-Por Kwan. 2002. "Lecturers’ approaches to teaching and their relationship to conceptions of good teaching." In Teacher thinking, beliefs and knowledge in higher education, 219-239. Springer.

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Kemmis, S. 2009. "Action research as a practice-based practice." Educational Action Research 17 (3): 463-474. doi: 10.1080/09650790903093284. Kincheloe, Joe L. 2011. "The knowledge of teacher education." In Key works in critical pedagogy, edited by Hayes K, Steinberg S.R. and Tobin K., 227-243. Sense Publishers. Kleinhenz, Elizabeth. 2018. "Hear Me Roar." The Weekend Australian Magazine, 27 October 2018. Latchem, Colin, Asha Kanwar, and Frances Ferreira. 2013. "Conclusion: Women are making a Difference." Women and Leadership. Lipton, Briony. 2015. "A New" ERA" of Women and Leadership: The Gendered Impact of Quality Assurance in Australian Higher Education." Australian Universities' Review 57 (2): 60-70. Marchant, Teresa, and Michelle Wallace. 2013. "Sixteen years of change for Australian female academics: Progress or segmentation?" Australian Universities' Review 55 (2): 60-71. Marshall, Catherine, and Maricela Oliva. 2006. Leadership for social justice: Making revolutions in education. Boston, MA: Pearson Education. Mezirow, J. 1997. "Transformative Learning:Theory to Practice." New directions for adult and continuing education 74: 5-12. Morley, Louise. 2013. "The rules of the game: Women and the leaderist turn in higher education." Gender and education 25 (1): 116-131. Morley, Louise, and Barbara Crossouard. 2015. "Women in higher education leadership in South Asia: Rejection, refusal, reluctance, revisioning." In, 1-85. University of Sussex, Centre for Higher Education & Equity Research. Pearce, Craig L, Jay A. Conger, and Edwin A Locke. 2008. "Shared leadership theory." The Leadership Quarterly 19 (5): 622-628. Ramsden, Paul. 1988. Improving learning: New perspectives: Nichols Pub Co. Redmond, Petrea, Hannah Gutke, Linda Galligan, Angela Howard, and Tara Newman. 2017. "Becoming a female leader in higher education: investigations from a regional university." Gender and Education 29 (3): 32-351. Revans, Reginald William. 1980. Action learning: New techniques for management: Blond and Briggs Ltd. —. 1982. "What is action learning?" Journal of management development 1 (3): 64-75. —. 1983. "Action learning: its terms and character." Management Decision 21 (1): 39-50.


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—. 1998. ABC of action learning. London: Lemos & Crane. Reynolds, Michael. 2017. Organizing reflection: Routledge. Risse, Leonora. 2018. "The gender qualification gap: women ‘over-invest’ in workplace capabilities." The Conversation, 20 November 2018. Robinson, Viviane MJ, Claire A Lloyd, and Kenneth J Rowe. 2008. "The impact of leadership on student outcomes: An analysis of the differential effects of leadership types." Educational administration quarterly 44 (5): 635-674. Sandberg, Sheryl. 2015. Lean in-Women, Work and the Will to Lead. London: WH Allen. Scott, Geoff, Hamish Coates, and Michelle Anderson. 2008. Learning leaders in times of change: Academic leadership capabilities for Australian higher education. Australia: University of Western Sydney; ACER. Slaughter, Sheila, and Larry L. Leslie. Academic capitalism: Politics, policies, and the entrepreneurial university. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2715 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 212184319, 1997. Stewart, H., R. Gapp, and I. Harwood. 2017. "Exploring the alchemy of qualitative management research: Seeking trustworthiness, credibility and rigor through crystallization." The Qualitative Report 22 (1-19): In print. Woods, Philip A , Nigel Bennett, Janet A. Harvey, and Christine Wise. 2004. "Variabilities and dualities in distributed leadership: Findings from a systematic literature review." Educational Management Administration & Leadership 32 (4): 439-457. Woodward, Diana. 2007. "Work-life balancing strategies used by women managers in British “modern” universities." Equal Opportunities International 26 (1): 6-17. Yousaf, Rizwana, and Rudi Schmiede. 2016. "Underrepresentation of women at academic excellence and position of power: role of harassment and glass ceiling." Open Journal of Social Sciences 4 (2): 173-185. Zuber-Skerritt, Ortrun. 2002. "The concept of action learning." The Learning Organization 9 (3): 114-124.




Introduction In this chapter, I argue that leaders have become relatively invisible, especially with the apparent popularity of models of distributed, shared and inclusive leadership (and related discourses of collaborative agency and empowerment), which encourage us to look to “leadership” not “leaders” for the dynamics of organisation (Crevani et al. 2010; Raelin 2016). The individual leader is currently an unfashionable, uncomfortable presence in critical academic discourse, easily vulnerable to accusations of heroism, individualism and/or psychologism. I suggest that this makes the leader’s invisible efforts and experiences more, not less, significant. Invisible leaders exercise skill, patience and tolerance, especially in the face of the risk that their contribution will not be recognised or understood. To my mind, this combination of technique, restraint, understanding and resilience allows us to think of invisibility as an “art”. To understand leaders’ art-work in practice, I draw both on my own experiences of corporate leadership and on a particular philosophy of experience, hermeneutics. Through the famous motif of the hermeneutic circle, I reflect on the relationship between the leadership we apparently see and the less visible work of those who make it happen.

A distribution of leadership? In recent years, there has been increasing interest in what Denis et al. (2012, 211) call “leadership in the plural”. A range of models have been proposed for a leadership which does not rely on an individual person, but spreads or stretches the processes of leading more broadly amongst organisational stakeholders. Well-known approaches include “distributed” (Gronn 2002; Spillane 2006), “shared” (Pearce and Manz 2005), and


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“relational” (Uhl-Bien, 2006) leadership. These shift our gaze towards what happens amongst and between people, including practices, discourses and interactions, suggesting that leadership involves something other than what an individual leader does (or is). In their various ways, such collective approaches direct our attention to “leadership” as opposed to “leaders” (Crevani et al. 2010). For instance, Pearce and Manz (2005, 133-134) propose that “shared leadership occurs when all members of a team are fully engaged in the leadership of the team…. In other words, shared leadership could be considered a case of fully developed empowerment in teams”. With distributed leadership, Gronn (2002) suggests that three forms of concertive action–spontaneous, intuitive and institutionalised–reveal types of “conjoint agency”, wherein people “synchronise their actions by having regard to their own plans, those of their peers, and their sense of unit membership” (Gronn 2002, 431). It is through such synchronising of actions and interests that distributed leadership is said to unfold. The idea of “leadership” rather than “leaders” has considerable appeal. Distributed decision-making is considered vital in contemporary knowledge-based organisations, with their flatter structures and their reliance on agility and innovation. From this perspective, the dispersal of leadership creates organisations which are “leaderful” (Raelin 2011), because an “overreliance on an individual, heroic model of leadership will only continue to dampen the energy and creativity of people in our organizations and communities” (Raelin 2016, 131). A sharing or spreading of the leadership endeavour is thus co-constituted with discourses of creativity, enlightenment and empowerment. In the “leaderful” organisation, many people can contribute their talents, voice their opinions and expect to be heard. Behind the apparent popularity of this family of collective approaches lie significant differences, which have both theoretical and practical implications (Fitzsimons et al. 2011; Sergi et al. 2012; Thorpe et al. 2011). There are differences, for instance, between leadership that is “pooled” in senior leadership teams (Denis et al. 2012); leadership that is spread across organisational boundaries in various forms of coalition (Crosby and Bryson 2005); and leadership as a relational process through which institutional order is constructed and negotiated (Uhl-Bien 2006). All of these represent aspects of plurality and distribution, but they have quite different epistemological and ideological foundations and implications (Sergi et al. 2012). The sophistication of theoretical reflections on these differences is not always replicated in the ways in which distributed leadership, in particular,

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is interpreted in and for practice. Inconsistencies between theory and practice have been highlighted notably in the education sector, the setting for Spillane’s (2006) original work and the domain perhaps most concerned to consider its operational implications (Storey 2004; Torrance 2013). As Bolden et al. (2009) suggest, the academic literature often promotes distributed leadership as emergent and/or horizontal, i.e., democratically empowered and bottom-up; whereas practical applications suggest a more devolved, top-down power distribution. If one still needs direction and decision-making to be devolved from above (however light the touch), it seems that the more radical elements of distributed leadership are being watered down to make them practical (Bolden et al. 2009). This chapter builds on explorations of the complex and often contradictory ways in which leadership has been interpreted in collective terms (Denis et al. 2012; Grint 2010; Sergi et al. 2012). For the purposes of this discussion, I use the notion of “distributed leadership” as a heuristic to capture a set of ideas which seek to dissolve organisational hierarchy for the sake of more symmetrical practices of decision-making and wayfinding. This is, of course, not the only way in which leadership can be pluralised; moreover, practical applications may well diverge from their theoretical origins. My argument is thus not a critique of theory so much as a critical exploration of practice. From this perspective, I propose that interpretations of distributed leadership as something which unfolds without leaders both create and reflect considerable tensions in practice. Specifically, I argue that distributed leadership as collective and/or symmetrical empowerment does not make individual leaders redundant, but it does make them more invisible.

The invisible leader at work My reflections here derive from two decades in management consulting, where I held several significant operational and programme leadership roles, as well as from subsequent experiences in academia which enable me to reflect on my consulting career through a different, often quite uncomfortable, prism. The specific trigger for this discussion is that one of the standard elements of organisational development methodology at a former employer–a well-known international consultancy–was the establishment of a “Distributed Leadership Group” on any new change programme. This was a group of employees who agreed to participate in leadership discussions and decisions, and were empowered to voice ideas and concerns on behalf of the wider organisation, not in an ad-hoc way,


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but as a systemic part of new governance arrangements. This particular operationalisation therefore involved a distribution of some powers to some organisational members. Nonetheless, these experiences reflect something of how distributed leadership can be perceived and put to work in practice, when seen as a way of dissolving or softening hierarchy (see above). Within such a framework, manifestations of success include good ideas being generated, energised and owned within the wider group. An idea is more likely to garner momentum and resources if it is perceived as having both collective origins and collective endorsement. However, this can obscure the work of the invisible leader, who often invests considerable effort and skill in coaching, even coaxing, others towards ideas that might be successful. Those who have more experience can draw on vital additional contextual information, political insight and/or first-hand knowledge of what it takes for an initiative to have traction. I am not, of course, saying that good, implementable ideas can never come un-coaxed from within the collective; merely that this is, in my experience, less common than advocates of distributed leadership would suggest. The invisible leader is thereby something of a ventriloquist. Elaborations of leadership ventriloquism see it as “one way in which leader identity is talked into being” (Clifton 2017, 316), that is, as a method through which leaders communicatively construct their organisation and the legitimacy of their place in charge of it. For me, the fascination of ventriloquism is how leaders try to put words in others’ mouths in order to sustain ideals of empowerment and distribution, i.e., to obscure the work of “leader” in bringing about “leadership”. From this perspective, leader identity is not talked into being so much as talked out of sight. Interestingly, ventriloquism is celebrated in the realm of change management, where it is deemed “best practice” stakeholder engagement to introduce a memorable phrase to crystallise what the organisation is trying to do, and then have it claimed by others as if it had been invented by them. Securing buy-in to a change initiative is one of the change leader’s most important goals, so having stakeholders sufficiently boughtin to appropriate a change agent’s language is a sign of effective management of resistance. The objective of trouble-free implementation probably trumps any anxieties about the invisibility of efforts to bring this about. And whilst this could, of course, be seen as the manipulation of which the change management profession is often accused, I believe it also reveals one of the techniques of invisibility that inform leader-follower relations when discourses of distribution are in play.

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Because invisible leaders are balancing a desire/injunction to distribute with a responsibility for ensuring that things get done, their covert work can include preparing their own solutions, just in case the ones developed by others do not materialise or are unsuitable. My own experience suggests that subordinates, with less experience, less expertise, and often less confidence than the rhetoric of distributed leadership would suggest, might not be able to consistently achieve Gronn’s (2002) “conjoint agency”. Leaders may have to compensate for such lack of experience, expertise or confidence, and be ready to lead-from-the-front if the situation demands. It is not for nothing that the slogan from the children’s TV programme, Blue Peter, “here’s one I prepared earlier”, has an insider joke-style resonance in organisational conversations. Such just-in-case preparations may not always be needed, but they are needed often enough to justify the work that goes into them. From conversations with corporate and academic colleagues, I know that I am not alone in always having some sort of just-in-case proposition in my “back pocket”. No matter how much a project is constructed as collaborative, distributed, inclusive or dialogical, I am always ready, should the need arise, to present the “one I prepared earlier”. In highlighting such tactics or techniques of ventriloquism and just-incase preparation, I do not seek to present “invisible leadership” as any sort of formal leadership proposition. I am merely suggesting that approaches which emphasise a distribution or dispersal of power often push the practical work of leaders underground. This also creates emotional work for leaders because, by its very nature, invisible endeavour risks not being recognised, appreciated or understood: If one can see the lips moving, the ventriloquist’s performance is ruined. I am suggesting, therefore, that considerable skill and effort go into making distributed leadership seem possible. As Ciulla (2018) argues, even within the context of collective and distributed leadership, leaders take responsibility for what happens “on their watch”, despite not always being responsible in the sense of being in charge or in control of everything that happens. From this perspective, balancing the exercise of responsibility with also trying to motivate others through collaboration and engagement goes to the heart of contemporary leadership ethics. Such arguments also invoke Badaracco’s (2002) “quiet leader”, who operates under the radar, implementing strategy through small, barely noticeable acts and nudges, rather than grand gestures. Just because such efforts are subtle or surreptitious does not mean that “leadership” has replaced “leaders”.


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Leaders as well as leadership Huffington et al. (2004, 81-82) suggest that “distributed leadership does not so much remove the need for singular leadership or ‘leadership from the top,’ as qualify it”. Because the individual leader is currently so ideologically unappealing, this qualification of the leader’s role involves something of a retreat into the wings to exercise power more covertly and surreptitiously. Whilst it may be fashionable to promote “leadership” over “leaders” in more progressive academic spaces, I maintain that leaders’ invisible work has considerable resonance in everyday organisational practices and conversations. It is not by accident, for example, that Mintzberg’s (1998) “covert leadership” was initially coined by one of his practitioner colleagues. Distributed leadership may be playing to fantasies of inclusivity rather than representing a realistically implementable proposition (Huffington et al. 2004; Martin et al. 2015). We want to believe in the possibility of cooperative models of work, not least because of a deep-seated cultural appreciation of those who “play well with others”. To my mind, the idea of distributed leadership invokes a mixture of fantasies of equality (Hunter 2017) and fantasies of freedom and choice (Gabriel 2015a), allowing us to imagine that we can all have an equal say in what happens. It may even (and paradoxically) invoke a fantasy of specialness (Gabriel 2015b), allowing us to feel that what we want matters–in the sense that our voice matters more than that of other apparent equals (the paradox). In such fantasies, symmetry and specialness trump both experience and expertise. Moreover, Huffington et al. (2004) suggest that distributed leadership places considerable emotional demands on erstwhile-followers, who eschew the security and comfort of having others in charge. This may unleash a wave of vulnerabilities, as apparently newly empowered people relinquish the fantasies of containment and protection afforded by more hierarchical structures and more clearly defined accountabilities. It can involve a “dismantling of projections onto, and expectations of, others–the external authority figures to whom one has previously looked for containment or direction: idealized, envied or denigrated” (Huffington et al. 2004, 72). We should perhaps question, therefore, the assumption that everyone really wants to have leadership distributed to them (Torrance, 2013). In calling for greater participation and inclusivity, discourses of distribution risk creating a new kind of disadvantage, namely leaders who, in exercising their responsibility, power and expertise, must also make the workings of at least some of this responsibility, power and expertise

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invisible. It is now quite commonplace in critical organisational studies to hear that the empowered employee is a neo-liberal fiction, whose victims are organisational members absorbing an excessive, individualised pressure and guilt (Baker and Kelan 2018). My argument is related, but different, namely that the empowered employee is a fiction which panders to fantasies of symmetry, whose victims are (invisible) leaders. I do not wish to replace the heroic leader with the leader-as-martyr, nor am I suggesting that leaders are not remunerated for the pressures they face. I do, however, agree with Grint (2010) that leadership involves sacrifice, and denying this will not help us to get “better” leaders. Such sacrifices include, as I have suggested here: the time and effort to fill one’s metaphorical “back pockets” with just-in-case solutions, which may or may not get deployed; the time and effort to introduce ideas into the conversation, which may or may not get picked up by others; and the relinquishing of comfort that this effort and foresight will be appreciated or understood. My argument is not that broad participation in organisational conversations and decisions is not a good thing, but rather, that this represents an only partial distribution of leaders’ work, and creates new work in its stead which is not always very well understood. As Grint (2010, 89) suggests, “in attempting to escape from the clutches of heroic leadership we now seem enthralled by its apparent opposite–distributed leadership: in this post-heroic era we will all be leaders so that none are”. I think it is incumbent on us to dig below the surface of the rhetoric of distribution, and explore the leadership that is practised neither by “all” nor by “none”, but by the relatively invisible few. In short, we should open our eyes to the ways in which the distribution of power relies on the ethics and skills of its retention.

A hermeneutic framing I now turn to a more philosophical reflection on these matters from the perspective of hermeneutics–a philosophy of interpretation and understanding which is closely linked to phenomenology as a philosophy of experience (Palmer 1969). There has been surprisingly little hermeneutic theorising in organisation and leadership studies, despite the emphasis on interpretation and understanding in popular notions of organisational sense-making. (Notable exceptions include McLaren and Mills (2010), and Prasad (2002)). Gadamer (1989) suggests that hermeneutic understanding unfolds in experiences where a truth is communicated which is not easily amenable


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to scientific deconstruction or conversion into method or technique. Indeed, this chapter’s title, the art of the invisible, comes from Gadamer’s (1989, xxii) insistence that art brings us closest to such hermeneutic understanding, for “the experience of art is the most insistent admonition to scientific consciousness to acknowledge its own limits”. Drawing on hermeneutics, therefore, I now reflect on the interplay of the visible and the invisible as a movement beyond technique. The most famous motif in hermeneutics is the hermeneutic circle, which signals a move away from linear towards more iterative, integrative and co-constitutive thinking. For hermeneuticists, the circle emphasises understanding as relational and referential, whether through comparison, contrast or juxtaposition: We learn about the unknown by recognising and/or constructing its relationship with something already known (Palmer 1969). The hermeneutic circle is deployed to make sense of both the activity of interpretation (how we derive meaning from text), and the philosophy of understanding (how we might begin to grasp our relationship with the world and other people). The hermeneutic circle is most readily associated with the coconstitution of whole and parts. Thus, whilst we might accept the proposition that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, we also recognise that there would be no whole if there were no parts. In hermeneutics, the reverse is also true; there would be no parts if there were no whole, insofar as the whole represents the category of thing we are dealing with, and the parts represent specific instances of it. For example, we know what rain is (the whole or general category) because of our experiences of actual rainy days (the particular instances); and vice versa, we would not be able to make sense of actual rainy days without a generalised understanding of rain. Each is unfathomable without the other. Beyond the co-constitution of whole and parts, Gadamer’s hermeneutic circling between foreground and background has particular resonance for me. For Gadamer (1989, 304), foregrounding “is always reciprocal. Whatever is being foregrounded must be foregrounded from something else, which, in turn, must be foregrounded from it. Thus all foregrounding also makes visible that from which something is foregrounded”. This means that the background is inextricably part of the foreground’s constitution; the background is in the foreground, as it were, not separate from it. Within the context of visible and invisible leadership, such hermeneutic circling suggests that the foregrounded, visible dynamics of distributed leadership are shaped and enabled specifically in relation to the leader’s backgrounded, less visible work. The individual leader is in the

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dynamics of leadership, no matter how distributed or inclusive or “leaderful” these purport to be. From a Gadamerian perspective, therefore, we will only be able to grasp “leadership” if we also try to grasp “leaders”.1 Exploring “leadership” without “leaders” would be like trying to understand rainy days without the concept of rain. Therefore, when examining organisational processes, problems and achievements, we might ask ourselves: If that is what we are seeing, what are we not seeing? What has it taken for such achievements to become visible, and what is therefore being kept invisible? When something is being said, what is not being said? And how may keeping this unsaid have made the saying possible? When we acknowledge what is present, what should we notice precisely and co-constitutively in its absence? In short, when we admire ideas or energies that seem to have been generated collectively and/or by someone relatively junior, whose work should we perhaps also take an extra moment to recognise? (See also Fairhurst and Cooren (2009), and Ladkin (2010), on presence/absence in leadership). Of course, there is risk in a power that we cannot readily see, hence the concerns referenced earlier about the change leader’s arguably manipulative technique. Perhaps our fear of being manipulated explains our contemporary obsession with transparency, e.g., in theories of “authentic leadership” which stress the significance of emotional and intentional disclosure. My point is not to deny the dangers of invisibility, but rather to suggest that this invisible work requires exploration and understanding because of its practical and emotional demands. Being an invisible leader is uncomfortable experientially; and here, too, hermeneutics has something to say. Gadamer (1989) suggests that we need the discomfort of things not feeling right or easy to trigger hermeneutic reflection and hence begin to intuit what understanding might entail. Feelings of discomfort arise when the normally smooth, taken-for-granted circling between whole and parts, general and particular, background and foreground, is disturbed. Only then are we jolted into having to work at understanding our relations with the world and with others. As Virginia Eatough and I have elaborated elsewhere, “it is the shock of not understanding, not finding sense, which alerts us to the presence of our own preconceptions and the importance of placing these within a larger web of possible understandings” (Tomkins and Eatough 2018, 193). Jolts and discomforts are valuable precisely because they alert us to a tension between perspectives and interests, and


The reverse also holds: We can only understand “leaders” through also understanding “leadership”. If I de-emphasise this side of the hermeneutic equation, it is simply because it is leaders who seem to have fallen from favour.


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“the task of hermeneutics is not to try to cover up this tension but rather, to consciously bring it out as a way of reflecting on the differences between horizons, the very fact of otherness, and the interplay between familiarity and strangeness which is essential to understanding” (ibid.). From this perspective, we need to really notice discomforts and disconnects between foreground and background–between visible and invisible–between leadership and its leader–if we are to develop a more nuanced understanding of the dynamics of organisation. Attending to these disconnects and disruptions will not necessarily make us better leaders, or better followers, but it might nudge us towards a deeper experiential understanding of organisation from both these perspectives. This invokes Gadamer’s (1989) notion of a “fusion of horizons”, in which different perspectives and interests are not merged or assimilated, but rather, connected and acknowledged as different. Whereas Gronn’s (2002) distributed leadership relies on synchronisation of interests, a Gadamerian take on leader/leadership relations relies on an element of asynchrony, that is, on accepting them as related, but different. There is, however, a more critical hermeneutics, which urges a more radical engagement with hermeneutic circling. Whereas Gadamer can be read as emphasising the interplay between foreground/background, visible/invisible and leadership/leader as the site of potential understanding, Ricoeur’s (1970) interest in psychoanalysis makes him suspicious of anything that is foregrounded, made-visible or madeconscious. In psychoanalysis, consciousness is precisely not the source or site of meaning; the real significance of things is never in the visible, but always in what lies behind or beneath. For Ricoeur (1970), psychoanalysis is an exercise in hermeneutic suspicion, for “to seek meaning is no longer to spell out the consciousness of meaning, but to decipher its expressions” (1970, 33). This introduces a further and significant version of the hermeneutic circle as the relationship between faith and suspicion– between wanting to believe in what we see and disbelieving what we see precisely because we can see it. A hermeneutics of suspicion demands that we question precisely what appears in the foreground as a kind of false consciousness. From this perspective, distributed leadership is open to scrutiny precisely because of what it obscures, which I believe is the practical and emotional work of individual leaders. Distributed leadership is thus not only incomplete as a theory of leading (the Gadamerian argument), it might well be considered an instance of false consciousness. This is not a million miles away from the argument that the empowered employee is a neo-liberal ruse; but it does not explain why many critical organisational scholars insist on

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leadership, as opposed to leaders, as the route to more meaningful organisational experiences.

Final thoughts My arguments here may be unfashionable–they are certainly uncomfortable–but I believe that we do need leaders to make things happen, that is, actual people who have experience and expertise (and flaws and anxieties), not just processes or co-constitutions. Abandoning leaders because we do not want to understand them as bundles of traits, or as heroic figures in sole control of events, is akin to throwing the baby of both responsibility and experience out with the bath-water of individualism and essentialism. We need leaders to sustain and tolerate fantasies of distribution and empowerment whilst remaining able and willing to restore fantasies of containment and protection, as required. In contemporary workspaces, leaders must neither overplay their hand and become too visible, because this shatters fantasies of equality and symmetry; nor must they underplay their hand and be too invisible, because this exposes them to charges of laissez-faire. The former risks inviting hostility and envy, the latter risks accusations of not caring, a charge from which no leader can recover (Gabriel 2015b). A hermeneutics of faith might involve hoping for recognition of one’s efforts as a leader, however invisible; the valuing (not merging) of different perspectives; and the consolation of possible understanding of the nature of our relations with the world and each other. A hermeneutics of suspicion, on the other hand, might insist that discourses of distributed leadership represent, indeed, exacerbate, false consciousness, and that we should look for clues in the background and behind the scenes if we are to make any headway in understanding. Perhaps there is space to accommodate both modes–both faith and suspicion–and resist lurching between believing either too much or too little (Latour, 1988). With the hermeneutic circle, there is no faith without suspicion, even if this is just a fleeting moment of doubt and perhaps humility. More significantly, for my argument here, there is no suspicion without faith. As Gallagher (1992) suggests, we are able to be suspicious of X only because we have faith in Y, where Y might be only our ability to ask the right questions. As we fantasise about an elimination of asymmetry, we can be critical and suspicious of leaders only because we have faith in our ability to call on them when we need to.


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References Badaracco, J. 2002. Leading quietly: An unorthodox guide to doing the right thing. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business Press. Baker, D.T. and Kelan, E.K. 2018. “Splitting and blaming: The psychic life of neoliberal executive women.” Human Relations 72, no. 1: 69– 97. Bolden, R., Petrov, G. and Gosling, J. 2009. “Distributed leadership in higher education: Rhetoric and reality.” Educational Management Administration & Leadership 37, no. 2: 257-277. Ciulla, J.B. 2018. “The Praxiology of Collective Leadership.” In Praxiological Essays, edited by W.W. Gasparski, 59-66. New York: Routledge. Clifton, J. 2017. “Leaders as ventriloquists. Leader identity and influencing the communicative construction of the organisation.” Leadership 13, no. 3: 301-319. Crevani, L., Lindgren, M., and Packendorff, J. 2010. “Leadership, not leaders: On the study of leadership as practices and interactions. Scandinavian Journal of Management 26, no. 1: 77-86. Crosby, B.C. and Bryson, J.M. 2005. “A leadership framework for crosssector collaboration.” Public Management Review 7, no. 2: 177-201. Denis, J.L., Langley, A. and Sergi, V. 2012. “Leadership in the plural.” The Academy of Management Annals 6, no. 1: 211-283. Fairhurst, G.T. and Cooren, F. 2009. “Leadership as the hybrid production of presence(s).” Leadership 5, no. 4: 469-490. Fitzsimons, D., James, K. T., and Denyer, D. 2011. “Alternative approaches for studying shared and distributed leadership.” International Journal of Management Reviews 13, no. 3: 313-328. Gabriel, Y. 2015a. “Identity, choice and consumer freedom - the new opiates? A psychoanalytic interrogation.” Marketing Theory 15, no. 1: 25-30. —. 2015b. “The caring leader: What followers expect of their leaders and why? Leadership 11, no. 3: 316-334. Gadamer, H.G. 1989. Truth and Method. New York: Continuum. Gallagher, S. 1992. Hermeneutics and Education. Albany: State of New York Press. Grint, K. 2010. “The sacred in leadership: Separation, sacrifice and silence.” Organisation Studies, 31, no. 1: 89-107. Gronn, P. 2002. Distributed leadership as a unit of analysis. The Leadership Quarterly 13, no. 4: 423-451.

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Huffington, C., James, K. and Armstrong, D. 2004. “What is the emotional cost of distributed leadership?” In Working below the surface, edited by C. Huffington, D. Armstrong, W. Halton, L. Hoyle, and J. Pooley, 67-82. London: Routledge. Hunter, S. 2017. “The role of multicultural fantasies in the enactment of the state.” In Emotional states: Sites and spaces of affective governance, edited Jupp, J. Pykett, and F.M. Smith, 161-176. Abingdon: Routledge. Ladkin, D. 2010. Rethinking leadership: A new look at old leadership questions. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. Latour, B. 1988. “The politics of explanation: An alternative.” In Knowledge and reflexivity: New frontiers in the sociology of knowledge, edited by S.E. Woolgar, 155-176. London: Sage. Martin, G., Beech, N., MacIntosh, R., and Bushfield, S. 2015. “Potential challenges facing distributed leadership in health care: evidence from the UK National Health Service.” Sociology of health & illness 37, no. 1: 14-29. McLaren, P.G., and Mills, J.H. 2010. “Appropriation, Manipulation, and Silence: A Critical Hermeneutic Analysis of the Management Textbook as a Tool of the Corporate Discourse.” Management and Organizational History 5, no. 3-4: 408-427. Mintzberg, H. 1998. “Covert leadership: Notes on managing professionals.” Harvard Business Review 76: 140-148. Palmer, R.E. 1969. Hermeneutics: Interpretation Theory in Schleiermacher, Dilthey, Heidegger and Gadamer. Evanston: Northwestern University Press. Prasad, A. 2002. The Contest over Meaning: Hermeneutics as an Interpretive Methodology for Understanding Texts. Organizational Research Methods 5, no. 1: 12-33. Raelin, J. 2011. “From leadership-as-practice to leaderful practice.” Leadership 7, no. 2: 195-211. Raelin, J.A. 2016. Imagine there are no leaders: Reframing leadership as collaborative agency. Leadership 12, no. 2: 131-158. Ricoeur, P. 1970. Freud and Philosophy: An Essay on Interpretation. New Haven: Yale University Press. Sergi, V., Denis, J.L., and Langley, A. 2012. Opening up perspectives on plural leadership. Industrial and Organizational Psychology 5, no. 4: 403-407. Spillane, J.P. 2006. Distributed leadership. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.


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Storey, A. 2004. “The problem of distributed leadership in schools.” School Leadership & Management 24: 249-265. Thorpe, R., Gold, J., and Lawler, J. 2011. “Locating distributed leadership.” International Journal of Management Reviews 13, no. 3: 239-250. Tomkins, L. and Eatough, V. 2018. Hermeneutics: Interpretation, Understanding and Sense-making. In The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Business and Management Research Methods, edited by C. Cassell, A. Cunliffe and G. Grandy, 185-200. London: Sage. Torrance, D. 2013. “Distributed leadership: Challenging five generally held assumptions.” School Leadership & Management 33, 354-372. Uhl-Bien, M. 2006. “Relational Leadership Theory: Exploring the Social Processes of Leadership and Organizing.” Leadership Institute Faculty Publications. Accessible via



In war: resolution. In defeat: rebellion. In victory: magnanimity. In peace: goodwill. –Winston Churchill Nothing sits as well on the forehead of the victor as the crown of modesty. – Juan Donoso Cortés

Mantegna’s painting, Triumph of the Virtues, represents the Garden of Virtues, which, unfortunately, has been reduced to a marshland since being ruled by the Vices. Minerva bursts forth on the left side of the canvas. She is the allegory or symbol of practical wisdom or Prudence–one of the intellectual virtues–and is portrayed with her helmet, spear (broken as a symbol of victory), and shield or aegis. Also present are the other three virtues: Justice, holding a sword and a balance; next to her is Temperance, mixing water with wine in moderation; and in front of them both, Fortitude, wearing a lion skin and holding Hercules’s bludgeon in one hand and a column in the other. Enveloped in a cloud, in the upper right corner of the painting, these three observe and approve the virgin goddess’s actions from the heavens. In the lower half of the canvas is Sloth also known as Acedia (Apathy) or Idleness, who is among the first to be expelled from the garden. She is armless, alluding to her inability to produce or to make things. She is being dragged by a rope by Inertia, who wears a dirty and torn shirt. To the right is Immortal Hate, Fraud, and Malice, a monstrous figure with monkey-like features. Fearful and trying to protect himself from the mortal warrior, Minerva, he carries on his back


Translated by Robyn Lynn Johnson Carlson and Celia Eileen Dickens Gavito.


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three bags containing three different seeds, products of his actions: evil, worse evil and terrible evil. The group that follows is that of Diana2, the hunter, who is taken or perhaps kidnapped by a centaur, the symbol of unbridled lust. Beside him, a satyr with animal and vaguely leonine features, carries a child and an animal skin on his arm, symbolizing concupiscence or lasciviousness, in evident relationship with the centaur and Diana. The last group, in the far lower right quadrant of the painting, shows crowned Ignorance, who is transported, carried by Avarice or Greed. On the far left is Daphne, undergoing metamorphosis in the laurel tree, brilliantly represented by the painter based on the narration found in the work of Ovid (2011). There is no doubt that nowadays the term “virtue” is declining in usage to the point where some have decided to change the term to “excellence”. This latter term has a more neutral connotation or perhaps, using the modern expression, it is “lighter”. In Latin, Vir means “man”: the being who excels in the role of warrior and unites the best of human qualities. Actor and film director Woody Allen sarcastically criticizes this concept of virtue when he says: “In the world there is good and bad: the good sleep well, but the bad seem to enjoy the waking hours much more”. Nevertheless, it can be argued that Aristotle's definition of virtue remains relevant today when looking at contemporary leadership. Aristotle stated, “[Moral] virtue is a disposition to behave in the right manner, a mean between extremes of deficiency and excess, which are vices. We learn moral virtue primarily through habit and practice rather than through reasoning and instruction” (1977). Probably the worst of all excesses or vices is being sanctimonious– found in the moralist who believes himself to be gifted and perfect, the sole possessor of all virtues. Unfortunately, many managers are sanctimonious. Montaigne, one of the most significant philosophers of the French Renaissance, would have replied: “there is no man so virtuous that if all his thoughts and actions were put to the scrutiny of the law, he would not deserve to be hung ten times”. It should not be forgotten that the step from virtue to vice is often very small. Some examples include going from frank to rude, from parsimonious to stingy, from brave to reckless, and from religious to


Although some books say that the figure is Venus (Symbol and Allegory, Electa Publishers) it is more likely that she is Diana the hunter because of the bow hanging on her arm and her relation to vice in the painting. Venus, the symbol of temperate sex, on the other hand, would not likely be depicted in this context given that physical pleasures, with temperance, are a virtue from an AristotelianThomistic perspective.

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fanatical. Perhaps one of the major paradoxes in life is that a virtue may be easily transformed into a vice. In the famous movie, Nixon (Stone 1995), Kissinger, Secretary of State of the United States, observes President Nixon presenting his resignation on television and comments, “How sad: so close to greatness, but he was a prisoner of the defects of his virtues”. A good leader can find and take advantage of the talents of his collaborators, knowing how to tolerate their shortcomings and minimizing them. The words of Elbert Hubbard, American writer and editor, come to mind: “There is something much more scarce, fine and rare than talent: it is the talent of recognizing the talented”. It is fundamental to be able to form teams of capable people who are the key to success in our current knowledge-based society. This is extensively addressed in the book Yo, El Director (de Marchis 2010), which analyzes the different temperaments and how they complement each other to form high performance management teams. This leads to the fundamental art of good decisionmaking. Greek mythology illustrates this process in the story of Hercules at the Crossroads and it is represented in Carracci’s renaissance painting. The classic version of this myth is told in the Memorabilia by Xenophon, disciple and friend of Socrates. He commissioned Socrates to narrate this anecdote as if he had been told by his teacher, Prodicus. According to the myth, one day Hercules was taking care of his herd of cows, which were grazing in the field, when he was approached by a tall woman dressed in white. Meanwhile, on his other side, he was approached by another woman who was heavily made-up and wore a low-cut red dress. The latter offered sex, fun, and an easy life while the first woman in white proposed a life of work and effort rewarded with immortal fame. The first lady was known as Arete in Greek for “Virtue”, while the second was Kakia, or “Malice” (Ravasi 2009). This dilemma represents the crossroads in which the paths leading respectively to “Living Good” and the “Good Life” (Grayling 2009) are divided. Which path to choose is a question that is found in everyday life as well as in managerial settings. The answer to this question leads to a fundamental decision in our lives and it is front and center in both personal and professional ethics. The “right” decision is not necessarily accepted by all. And, it was precisely this lack of free will which inspired G.K. Chesterton (a renowned English social critic, novelist and poet) in his reproach to Bernard Shaw: For Catholics, each daily act is a dramatic dedication to the service of good or evil. For Calvinists, no act can have this kind of solemnity because the person who does it is marked for eternity and does nothing but fill his time until his sentence arrives... the difference is that, for a Christian, this short earthly life is intensely exciting and precious; for a Calvinist, like Mr.


Chapter Six Shaw, it is patently automatic and uninteresting. For Catholics, those seventy years of the psalms are “the battle”. For the Fabian Calvinist,3 it is only the long procession of the victors with their laurels and of the defeated with their chains. For me [Chesterton], earthly life is drama; for him [Shaw], the epilogue. Shaw's admirers think of the embryo; the spiritualists think of ghosts; Christians think of humankind. It is good to have these things clear (Chesterton 2017).

The worldview in which everything is predestined is not only Calvinistic; it is also shared by determinists. They believe that events are due to previous causes such as genetic inheritance, the environment, and so on, thus denying that free will exists. If such were the case, Hercules would no longer be at a crossroads, because the choice between paths was already predetermined since the beginning of time. This argument is frequently used to justify a decision that turns into a wrongdoing instead of facing responsibility for the action taken. This is tantamount to shielding ourselves by shifting the blame to society, genetics, multinationals, poverty, etc. In the end, the only one who has no responsibility is precisely the one who committed the reprehensible action. In México, this thesis or rationale is practiced with mastery. By assuming the role of “victim”, we think we can avoid moral responsibility for our acts. This victimization mechanism only works when the result of our actions is bad or reprehensible. On the other hand, if the consequence is good, such as success, then we attribute it to our own qualities, such as effort and personal abilities, which we believe allowed us to produce such positive results. Everyone wants the praise, and nobody wants the blame. We are deterministic in the first case when the outcomes are negative. However, we believe in free will in the second case when we can attribute the results to our own prowess. Autonomy, which is the government of oneself, is the core of freedom and, as such, reveals what is implicit: the mind is the first theater of freedom. Nevertheless, we often limit ourselves to “living the lives of others”, because our beliefs, emotions, goals and opinions are borrowed from others. Because we do not dare to think autonomously and form our own conclusions, nor dare to change our opinions upon finding more convincing arguments and evidence, we do not live our own lives. And, it is precisely here where the first four virtues


Pertains to the Fabian Society, founded in 1883, that advocates reformist socialism inspired by Fabio Maximo Verrucose (275 A.X. – 203 A.C.) from whom members take their name. Among them was Bernard Shaw and they were mostly intellectual bourgeois.

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come into play: Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance. They have been described as cardinal virtues, so called in reference to the cardini or hinges, which hold and allow the door to fulfill its function of opening and closing. Thus, cardinal virtues guide good beings in their daily actions. Another etymology, also suggestive, indicates that St. Ambrose (340-397 AD), bishop of Milan, substituted the old name of principal virtues for cardinal virtues in which the adjective cardinalis was given in reference to the foundation ceremony of Rome, which had been surveyed by using the cardinal points. Especially important was the cardo-maximus, the hinge or axis, which served as both the hub and orientation point for the new city. Cardo was the Latin name given to the north-south street in Ancient Rome and was vital for city planning. The cardo-maximus was the heart of the city and main reference point. Consequently, the cardinal virtues are the virtues after which we must orient our lives (Castillo 2001). The first, Prudence, is an intellectual virtue, while the other three are ethical virtues. Intellectual or dianoetic means that they depend on reason, on intellect (Abbagnano 2012). Before analyzing in more detail each one of them, it is worthwhile to recall a Hebrew story to examine a precious teaching on the practice of virtues: One day Rabbi Nahum suddenly entered the Talmud school and found the students playing checkers. When they realized that the teacher was present, they worried and stopped playing, but he benevolently said: “Do you know the rules of the game well?” And, as they did not say anything, he answered: “First, it is not allowed to make two moves together. Second, it is allowed to go forward but not backward. Third, when you get to the top, you can go where you want” (Ravasi 2009).

Perhaps the analogy with the game of checkers is appropriate for the practice of virtues: it is necessary to have patience, making one move at a time, but always moving a step forward. And, when it becomes a habit to do so, it will become second nature to put it in practice. It is not for nothing that we use the word virtuoso to define a musician who, thanks to constant practice and commitment to continuous improvement, perfects the art to the degree of becoming a virtuoso. And, now, recalling the rabbi from the story, he, the virtuoso, can go wherever he wants. Citing Cervantes (2015), we should remember: Look, Sancho, if you take virtue as your means and you value yourself for doing virtuous deeds, you do not have to envy what princes and lords have because blood is inherited, and virtue is acquired. Virtue, by itself, is worth what blood is not.


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Prudence As medicine is the art of health, and the direction of the ship is the art of navigation, As such, prudence is the art of living.

–Cicero Before continuing, it is pertinent to define some words with Latin roots that can be used to describe a modern leader’s desired attributes: Caution, cautious: Latin pre-cauzione. Proceeding with caution means to act with care to prevent evil and to obtain good. A cautious person is reserved, careful to avoid or prevent difficulties. Circumspection, circumspect: Latin circumspectum. A person who behaves with restraint demonstrates circumspection. A circumspect person fears to be wrong and analyzes up to the last detail. Docility, docile: Latin doceo, docilis. A person who can be instructed possesses the trait of docility. A docile person who listens to good advice. Perspicacity, perspicacious: Latin perspicacem. A person with perspicacity has insight and a sharp mind. A perspicacious person is insightful having acuity, keenness of perception, deep wit or understanding. Prevision: Latin praevidere. A person that previses has the ability to foresee, anticipating future events with knowledge. Sagacity, sagacious: Latin sagacen (sagio = smell). A person with sagacity has a keen sense for tracking and discerning. A sagacious person knows how to follow a trail of information, for example. Sedulousness, sedulous: Latín solertem/sedulous. A person who practices sedulousness is careful. A sedulous person is industrious and diligent, doing duty with care. Sensibility, sensible: Latin sensibus, sensatus. A person with sensibility has good judgment. A sensible person is reasonable. Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life. –Immanuel Kant The saddest aspect of today's society is that science is faster at acquiring knowledge than society is at acquiring wisdom. –Isaac Asimov

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All science and all philosophy are illuminated common sense. –Karl R. Popper

Now, we can analyze in greater depth the concept of the Aristotelian phronesis (ancient Greek), which is the Ciceronian and Thomistic prudence. “Phronesis is a true, reasoned disposition; a disposition to act with the objective of what is good and bad for humankind” (Aristotle 1977). Cicero defined it when he stated: “knowledge of reality is both to seek and to avoid” (Ravasi, 2009). Many times, it has been defined as “right reason in acting”, which inexorably links, among other aspects, reason, do-act, intelligence, and moral choice. St. Thomas Aquinas, an Italian-Dominican friar of the 13th century who was a philosopher, theologian, and jurist, is very clear in his definition: Prudence is a virtue most necessary for human life. For a good life consists of good deeds. Now, in order to do good deeds, it matters not only what a man does, but also how he does it; in other words, it matters that he does it from choice and not merely from impulse or passion. Now since choice is about the means to the end, rectitude of choice requires two things, namely the due end, and that which is suitably ordained to that due end. … man needs to be rightly disposed by a habit in his reason, because counsel and choice, which are about means ordained to the end, are acts of reason. Consequently, an intellectual virtue is needed in the reason, to perfect the reason and make it suitably affected towards means ordained to the end; and this virtue is prudence. Consequently, prudence is a virtue necessary for a good life (Aquinas 2015).

We can also appreciate, thanks to art, a graphic representation of prudence. Simon Vouet, in his Allegory, shows Prudence as a beautiful woman reflected in a mirror. This represents the ability to know oneself and always be able to see objectively what one is. Prudence, in the painting, has a serpent around her arm, which symbolizes the knowledge of reality. Because reptiles are generally on the ground, the reasoning follows that they directly and objectively perceive the facts (Battistini 2003). We must never forget that we are very good at fooling ourselves. To illustrate with current examples, 100% of high school students consider their ability to get along with others well above the average; likewise, 93% of university professors consider themselves more competent than the average. Both are mathematically impossible. Self-deception and overvaluation of our capacity is very frequent (Gazzanica 2010). Calling upon another symbol of honor, peace and intellectual


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achievement, we have the laurel wreath. The wreath implies that the prudent person ponders and reflects before acting while also considering time, a concept often symbolized by an old man with a clepsydra, an ancient Egyptian water clock. This requires deciding at the most opportune moment despite time restrictions. The word prudence has been changing in meaning and is often reduced to simply “caution”, which is only a part of the original meaning. Translators of great works have felt the semantic degradation and, although they could use the word prudence in English, stemming from prudentia in Latin, they have preferred to use the compound term practical wisdom to translate Aristotelian phronesis (Gomez Robledo 1997). There is a talk for business administrators, given by Barry Schwartz, under precisely the title of Practical Wisdom. This can be found at the Ted Talks website ( at the following address: Undoubtedly, prudence moves in three stages: reflection, judgment, and decision. It is precisely in the performance, the imperium in Latin, where this virtue becomes relevant: without action there is no prudent decision. That is why it is practical wisdom because it is directed to the action at the most propitious moment. In this regard, the hasty action comes to mind, and it seems to contain a contradiction. It is interesting to reaffirm that there are two types of “fast” and “slow” in reflection and in action. The Greeks, Aristotle in particular (1977), already made this fundamental difference that St. Thomas Aquinas reconsiders: when one is reflecting, one can and should doubt, but when the meditated action is implemented, it must be fast. We should doubt if we are going to pass a car in front of us on the street, but once we decide, we should not hesitate but rather go as quickly as possible (Aquinas 2015). Prudence has two facets: one that seeks to understand objective reality and the other which tries to act well; nevertheless, it first needs to manifest itself as practical wisdom. In order to understand this reality in which we must act concretely, it is important to be silent to observe and listen; a habit that undoubtedly many executives, at all levels, fail to practice. We must develop the ability to listen with empathy to others and not try to fill every moment with our own voices. Plutarch’s short essay entitled The Art of Listening, which he wrote for his nephew Nicander upon reaching adulthood, marked the point of emancipation from childhood to citizenship. This essay should be


Ted Talks are influential videos from expert speakers on various topics such as education, business, science, technology and creativity with subtitles in more than 100 languages.

Leadership and Virtues


required reading for anyone who aspires to a management position. Paraphrasing a few sentences: Good breeders make horses' mouths sensitive to the bit just as good educators make children’s ears sensitive to words, teaching them to talk little and to listen much. When Spintaro wove praises of Epaminondas, he said that it was not easy to find someone who could listen so much and speak so little. And, nature, it is said, has given each of us two ears but only one tongue because we were meant to listen more than talk. Silence, then, is the safest virtue for a young person in any circumstance and it is especially so when, listening to others, the person avoids getting agitated and barking at each affirmation. Also, if the discourse is not particularly appreciated, it is best to wait with patience for the lecturer to conclude. When it is over, wait before attacking with objections; as ancient orator and Greek statesman Aeschines says, let a little time pass to allow the other to complement, make additions, rectifications, or perhaps clarifications. Whoever immediately starts to argue ends by not listening and not being heard. Furthermore, interrupting another's speech causes a bad impression. Hastiness or controversy will be alien to the person who has learned to listen in a controlled, respectful way managing to receive and deliver useful speech, knowing how to discern better and unmask the uselessness or falsehood of another, and knowing how to project an image of a person who loves the truth rather than confrontations. It is not wrong what some say; if you want to instill something good in young people, you need to deflate them first of each presumption, much more than what is done with the air contained in the amphoras [large oval ancient Greek jars] because if not, full as they are of pride and arrogance, they will be not able to receive anything.5 [Emphasis added]

These are wise recommendations for leaders who often take public speaking courses to effectively transmit their ideas but forget that the first and most important task for a leader to communicate is to master the art of listening. This is also the first lesson that Robert McNamara, US Secretary of Defense from 1961 to 1968, transmits in the documentary The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara. The first lesson is “Empathize with Your Enemy”, in order to see each other through the other’s eyes and thereby understand their motivations, perceptions, and wants. Prudence as knowledge is composed of three parts: memory, docility, and sedulousness or sagacity. The memory being referred to must be true


Plutarch. El Arte de Escuchar, varias ediciones. [The Art of Listening, various editions, essay online].


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to reality and bring real memories of what happened, not modified by volition, consciousness or sub-consciousness to suit us. This is a real danger that is very frequent and harmful because of its imperceptibility for the common person. In no other area but our memory, thanks to its weakness, can a hidden desire be implanted by means of deformations, alterations, omissions, colors and changes of accents (Pieper 2018). Peter Drucker, a well-known business author, recommended always putting in writing the expected result of a decision, precisely to avoid the very frequent phenomenon that our mind protects itself and ends up making us believe that the obtained result was what we really expected even if this was not true (Drucker 2002). So, having it in writing is the only way to really know what the desired result was, especially, when we review it a considerable length of time after the decision was made. It is precisely through memory that we can learn from our past mistakes and form experience, which is so necessary for good managers to be able to lead others. However, “with respect to all matters of prudence, nobody is solely sufficient at everything” (Aquinas 2015) and, therefore, we must rely on and listen to the advice of others and not become impenetrable to reasonable opinions. In this respect, many modern executives fail significantly. Their sin is arrogance, not wanting to listen to the reason of collaborators, which would allow them to construct more accurate images of reality. Docility is the humility to recognize that, as St. Thomas suggests, nobody can be completely self-sufficient. This is because nobody has perfect knowledge of everything. We must rely on the memory of others to form a correct image of what is happening. Finally, there is sedulousness or sagacity, which refers to the ability to adapt to unforeseen situations, that is, unexpected events. And, docility refers to being able to find answers when new situations arise as well as the ability to respond to change. This has nothing to do with a lack of character but with the ability to change along with reality and recognize that things change because they are mutable. It is interesting that the synonym of sedulousness is sagacity which etymologically means “fine smell”: the virtue of hounds that detect the right trails by distinguishing different smells that they come across while following traces left behind. According to Josef Pieper (2018), a German neo-scholastic philosopher, fidelity of memory, ability to learn from the experience of others, and clear objectivity in the face of the unexpected are the virtues of the prudent when comprehending the surrounding reality and, thus, correctly defining the problem. At this moment, we have an image of reality or at least the closest

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thing to it, but now comes a very difficult part which is understanding this knowledge. Three other characteristics of the prudent decision come into play here: prevision or foresight, the ability to scrutinize the implications and derivations that our actions will have in the future, is the first. In Greek mythology, it is said that Zeus entrusted Epimetheus (epimetis: he who thinks later) to grant all animals a quality, that is, the characteristic instincts of that species. When he got to man, Epimetheus had already given all the different qualities he had to endow because he had been too prodigal in his assignations. Then Zeus, feeling sorry for man, entrusted the brother of Epimetheus, Prometheus (pro-metis: the one who thinks before, the one who pre-sees), to give him his own virtue: the gift of foresight (Galimberti 2008). We can never be certain that we will realize what we are planning. However, if we waited to have this certainty to act, we would never make a decision. The prudent do not wait for assurances and do not deceive themselves with false certainties. When we make prudent and careful decisions, we receive practical wisdom from the experience of life truly lived and the hope that lies in knowing that what we do is correct (Pieper 2018). There is an affinity between prudence and magnanimity: the lack of sincerity, intelligence, and loyalty are the refuge for the small and the faint-hearted, while magnanimity demands and seeks clarity (Aristotle 1977). There are only two more concepts required to make a prudent decision: circumspection and precaution. Circumspection comes from “to look around”, to take into account all the circumstances of the moment, which may influence our decision, and precaution allows us to make the decision after having considered all the potential problems involved (Aquinas 2015). Prudence acts on two levels: personal and social. On a personal level, it regulates interpersonal relationships that exist in society and it promotes fairness. On a social level, it is divided into family prudence and prudence of the State. The first one appropriately provides guidelines for the interactions within the family, especially linked first to the overall education of children and then to their parenting (García López 1986). Today, it may be especially important to be able to apply this “family prudence” to the education and parenting of children, because, perhaps in this area, there has been a total unaccountability in the roles of both parents. In many cases, they have practically withdrawn from the educational and parenting processes, transforming their children’s environment into one of total permissiveness and hedonism. To support this claim, we draw on the enlightened ideas that Jeremy Rifkin (2004), a 21st century American psychologist, economist,


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writer, and political activist, expresses in his publication, The European Dream: No doubt it is a severe judgment, but probably more and more true for a good number of young middle-class Americans [and I would add, no doubt of mistake, young Europeans and Latin Americans, too] who grew up overprotected and spoiled by parents that showered them with all the pleasures and experiences that money could buy, often even before they were old enough to appreciate them. Badly spoilt by the parents of the “baby boom”, these sons and daughters are not apt candidates for the kind of personal commitment that is required to keep the authentic “American dream” alive. Faith, discipline, work, self-confidence and sacrifice are terms that few people would use to describe today's middle-class youth… Their dreams have been answered even before they had the chance to dream them ... Their desire for immediate gratification, combined with a certain deification and the feeling of enjoying special rights and privileges can become an explosive mixture leading to narcissism. A narcissist is usually less able to face the many frustrations of life and may resort to the use of violence to achieve whatever he considers he is entitled to by both merit and right. [Emphasis added]

Unfortunately, today, we are the parents who have not managed to keep up with what was required to educate and bring up our children; indeed, we have become, in many cases, responsible for the exact opposite of proper education and good upbringing. It is paradoxical that today's parents, born in the 50s, who are the product of the social revolutions of '68 and the first generation that disobeyed their parents, became the first generation in obeying their own children. At universities, one of the most frequent and annoying problems is the participation of parents as defense lawyers of their offspring when facing any disciplinary measure or receiving a failing grade. The children are pardoned from whatever responsibility they may have, and they appeal for tolerance and understanding. However, the maxim by Aeschylus (an ancient Greek playwright) remains valid: “you learn by dint of suffering” (Toynbee 1988) and, as Rifkin correctly points out, we, the parents, have failed in our great majority. Ted Kennedy recalls in his last book the great influence that his father had on his education and upbringing. In a simple anecdote, he reflects on a revealing incident when, at the age of eleven, he went sailing with a thirteen-year-old friend in a five-meter long sloop. The trip was complicated by the weather conditions and they had to spend the whole night hungry and cold in the rain until they managed to dock the next morning. After a while, they found a gas station from where they could

Leadership and Virtues


call home. They were answered by Dave, the driver, who immediately picked them up and took them home. Upon arriving at the house, they ran into Ted's father, who was on his way out to go horseback riding. Listen to the story as told by Ted: “Teddy? I understood that you wanted to take a short cruise”. “Yes, dad, but it was cold! It never stopped raining. It was cold and I had a horrible time!” My dad asked where the boat was. I responded: “It is anchored at Bass River. Later we will go look for it. Now, I want to come in where it is warm, have breakfast, rest and sleep a while. I am really cold and soaked to the bone”. My dad turned and said to the driver: “Dave, take Teddy and Joey back to the boat. Teddy, if you go out with the boat, you come back with her”. The car turned around and we left the house. I never stopped complaining during the ride back. If that morning there was someone who felt sorry for us, it was me. … at a distance of countless hours, days and years, my father has been present to turn me around and send me to do whatever was necessary such as returning with the boat. Even now, I imagine him striding towards me, looking into my eyes, shaking my hand and laughing hardily. I grew determined not to disappoint him, not to face him without enthusiasm. In the final analysis, I was convinced that, yes, he knew that I had done everything I could, no matter how bad things were. In the end, Dad would give me the equivalent of his blessing: “After having done what you could, well, to hell with everything” (Kennedy 2011).

This is to educate children: to teach them that there are not only rights but also obligations. There is a lack of perspective among our young people today who do not realize how privileged they are. This brings to mind a letter that appeared in an Italian newspaper at the end of the 90s6: Letter from a “Grandma” Last night I was getting on public transport, and since it was already quite late, there was no one else in the vehicle, except, at the far left, a young seated couple. The girl, noticing my presence, began to passionately kiss her boyfriend and to lavish him with other displays of affection all the time looking at me out of the corner of her eye to see the scandalized "grandmother”. Someone should inform the girls of today that the women


Translated and paraphrased by the authors from a lost and old newspaper story in the 1990s.


Chapter Six of my generation did not live in a supposedly “Victorian” world, surrounded by luxuries and happiness, between silks and servants. We grew up in the middle of a war, trying to survive between fascists and Nazis, escaping the raids that took people to extermination camps. We lived with our stomachs always half empty, among members of the resistance and American soldiers, hiding at night in the underground shelters hoping that a bomb would not fall on our building burying us alive or, upon waking suddenly, listening to the shrapnel with which they had just shot some civilians on the wall of our house. And our girls today, if they could just see what we lived through….. it would make their hair stand on end and they would be traumatized for the rest of their lives. So, if you think that this grandmother is scandalized by some kisses and caresses after what we have seen and experienced, what we went through and what we had to do to survive, I think it would be good if someone took the trouble to explain how things really were so they do not have a bitter surprise. Thank you, A “granny”

Unfortunately, all our “economically developed” societies are suffering from this problem of lack of family prudence which ends up affecting other social and political aspects of society, particularly that of civic prudence. This is the main virtue that citizens must have so that a democracy can function properly. And, at democracy, we are failing brutally. Looking at another example of the common sense of grandmothers, we can see in a summarized but admirable way civic prudence at play7: Grandmother RAI (Italian Radio Television) Mrs. Livia is eighty-two years old and her head is lucid, but her legs shake severely. Mauro is sixty-four and is an ex-soldier of the Alpine Mountains. He lives in the apartment next door to Mrs. Livia and, from time to time, goes down to shop and run errands for them both. Yesterday, Mauro had to go to the post office and asked Mrs. Livia if she needed anything. She placed 112 euros in his hand, saying: “This is to pay the annual premium of the IRT.”8 Mauro explained that it was not necessary: “You are more than 75 years old and live on social security without any other income. By law, you are exempt from payment!” Livia insisted: “I can afford it”. He countered, “But you do not even get 500 euros a month in social security!” She replied, “Many are worse than I. In addition, my money will serve to


Translated and paraphrased by the authors from a Porta a Porta episode on RAI1 in 1997. 8  RAI is the Radiotelevisión Italiana [Italian Radio Television]. An annual premium is charged but the majority of people avoid paying it whenever possible.

Leadership and Virtues


cover those who cannot pay and thus improve the accounts of the RAI which, despite everything, keeps me company”. They say she does the same with some medicines she receives; she pays even though she could have them for free. Whoever is raised and believes as such will stay the same for life.

Many would not be able to reason like Mrs. Livia. And, they have their motives. To clarify: the premium of the television is not paid by the majority of citizens and there are regions that may cheer for populist proposals which really go against their interests; however, these proposals appeal to their immediate needs and beliefs. Without this education, called Paideia9 by the ancient Greeks, democracy runs into serious problems and that is why education remains the priority for prudent politicians. Government prudence is the term used by St. Thomas Aquinas and this allows official politicians to make the appropriate decisions needed to achieve the common good. The term official politicians is significant because, as ancient Greeks believed, in a political democracy we are all politicians: we send the official politicians to govern through our collective vote. So, in a democracy, no one is exempt from participation in politics which is nothing more than the administrative office of the polis, Greek for city. The Greeks gave an evocative name to whomever did not want to participate in public governance: idiot, stemming from idios, a Greek term for those who only wanted to live for themselves. Indisputably, a wise government should embrace the premise that education is the only hope for the development of countries. Andrés Oppenheimer, a contemporary Argentine editor, journalist and newsroom commentator, illustrates this concept very well in his latest book in Spanish ¡Basta de Historias! [Enough Stories!]. The importance of prudence in the sphere of government is also illustrated masterfully by the eleventh century French monk, Bernard de Clairvaux, when he narrates

9  Paideia was the basis of education given to boys to instill humanistic character. This education allowed the individual to participate in civic duties. The Greek orator and educator, Isocrates, was the first to consider paideia as an integral part of civic humanism. Gymnastics, grammar, rhetoric, poetry, mathematics, and philosophy are included in the concept of paideia. These elements should empower the individual with knowledge and control over himself and his ways of expression. Cicero translated the term to Latin as Humanitas and it later developed into Humanities although somewhat diluted in its significance. In the mid-20th century, the German philologist, Werner Jäger, published the most detailed analysis up until now of this concept in Paideia: Los Ideales de la Cultura Griega. [Paideia: The Ideals of Greek Culture.] FCE. 1962.


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that, during a conclave, the cardinals were doubtful about which of the three candidates would be the best choice for pope. One was esteemed for his sanctity, the second for his culture and worldliness, and the third for his prudence or practical sense. A cardinal said: “It is useless to hesitate more. So, the first candidate is holy? Well then, oret pro nobis, let him pray for us sinners. The second is learned? We are very happy and, well then, doceat nos, let him write a very scholarly book and instruct us. The third is prudent with practical sense? Well then, Iste regat nos, let him govern us and be appointed pope” (Luciani 2016). Finally, St. Thomas Aquinas suggests the third area of prudence which is military prudence. This refers not only to the armed forces but to all the public forces of the state when deliberating over the most appropriate and moral means for the defense of the common good. In addition, these means should avoid unnecessary material disasters and human costs which are always lamentable. For all the above arguments, prudence, in its different spheres, is what makes our life in society good and effective. As emphasized in the preceding paragraphs, prudence, along with practical wisdom, constitutes the epitome of common sense. Today, we are living the loss of what the Dominican friar refers to as sensibleness. It is unfortunate but revealing that sources on the Internet circulated the following presentation, The Death of Common Sense10: Today we mourn the death of a dear friend, COMMON SENSE, who has been among us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since data on his birth have long since been lost in the twists and turns of bureaucracy. Our friend will be remembered for having learned to cultivate such valuable lessons as “you have to work to have a roof over your head” and that “you need to read every day a little”; to understand “why early birds get worms” and also to recognize the validity of phrases such as “life is not always fair” and “maybe I was the guilty one”. Common Sense lived under simple and effective slogans such as: “don’t spend more than you earn" and "adults, not children, are in charge”. Common Sense’s health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but ineffective rules were applied. Some examples include: reports of a sixyear-old boy accused of sexual abuse for kissing a classmate; adolescents who had to go to another school for having denounced a classmate who was a drug dealer; and a teacher who was fired for reprimanding an unruly student. Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job they failed at: disciplining their ungovernable children.



Leadership and Virtues


Common Sense deteriorated even more when schools were forced to require parental permission to administer an aspirin, apply sunscreen or stick a Band-Aid on a cut; meanwhile, they could not legally inform the parents if students were pregnant and even less if they wanted to abort. Common Sense lost its desire to go on when the Ten Commandments became laughable material, churches turned into businesses, and criminals began to receive better treatment than their victims. For Common Sense, it was a hard blow that we can no longer defend ourselves from a thief in our own home, but that the thief can sue us for assault. And, that, even if a policeman kills an armed criminal, the officer may be immediately investigated for excessive defense or be accused of being trigger-happy. The death of Common Sense was preceded by the deaths of his parents, Truth and Trust, his wife, Discretion, his daughter, Responsibility, and his son, Reason. He is survived by his three frightening half-brothers: “I Know My Rights”, “It Is Someone Else’s Fault" and "I Am a Victim of Society”. There were not many people at his funeral because very few had even realized that he had left. [Emphasis added]

Unfortunately, the loss of common sense also affects brilliant scientists who, probably blinded by arrogance, forget the phrase from the great 18th century French writer and philosopher, Voltaire: “ignorance affirms, science doubts”. It is truly regrettable, however human it may be, that an extraordinary man and well-renowned contemporary scientist, Stephen Hawking, could make the following statement in his final book before his death: Because there are laws such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going (2014).

Scientists today should realize that it is unwise to make such categorical statements considering that the matter we know (neutrons, protons, electrons and their antiparticles known as baryonic matter) represents scarcely 4% of the total mass of the universe. We call the remaining 75% of mass dark energy and we call the missing 21%, dark matter. The qualifier “dark” implies that we really have no idea what they are. We probably have not even asked the right questions yet. This brings to mind the claims of other great scientists who were wrong, even to the point of being ridiculous, looking back from a modern perspective. In 1871, J.C. Maxwell, a 19thcentury Scottish mathematical physicist, wrote: “The opinion seems to have got abroad, that in a few


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years all the great physical constants will have been approximately estimated, and that the only occupation which will then be left to men of science will be to carry on these measurements to another place of decimals” (Maxwell 1965, 156). And, in 1903 A.A. Michelson, a German-American physicist, added: “The more important fundamental laws and facts of physical science have all been discovered, and these are now so firmly established that the possibility of their ever being supplanted in consequence of new discoveries is exceedingly remote” (Michelson 1903). A few years later the Theory of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics changed these extraordinary predictions, as well as the concepts and principles of classical physics, revolutionizing science itself. But, as always, we do not learn from history, and because of hubris, from the Greek word hybris meaning exaggerated pride, arrogance, and excess, we end up making categorical statements like those of Professor Hawking. Imagine, rather, if God exists: wouldn't he be laughing out loud while paging through the Physical Review Journal and reading our speculations, as we have speculated over time, regarding the validity of physical and cosmological theories? This general loss of good sense is undoubtedly something that also afflicts our organizations. Other aspects of prudential judgment, which are also scarce, include good sense, gnome, Greek for knowing, or perspicacity, which is the ability to use common sense, to feel certain reservations about obeying customary laws (Aquinas 2015) and to know when it is correct to make exceptions to the rule. And, last but not least, eubolia, Greek for good judgment, is very important; it is the ability to offer good advice which allows others to make sound decisions. A truly sensible proposal appears in the film, The Edge of Darkness (2010). Almost at the end, actor Mel Gibson, who plays the role of an honest cop, taunts his close but corrupt fellow cop and friend who sells him out to a dishonest corporation that wants to eliminate him. The scene where the crooked cop is admonished is reminiscent of one of the most cynical and famous phrases of Irish author and playwright Oscar Wilde: “True friends stab you in the front”. Similarly, the clean cop from the movie says: You know Bill, nobody expects you to be perfect. But there's just a few basic things you gotta get right: x Always do the best you can by your family. x Go to work every day. x Always speak your mind. x Never hurt anyone that doesn't deserve it... x and never take anything from the bad guys.

Leadership and Virtues


That's it. It’s not too much to ask.

This is a proposal for an ethical life which is very pragmatic, full of wisdom, and truly gives advice we can appreciate. Sometimes we complicate simple things so much that we can no longer see the elegance and goodness of common-sense phrases. At first glance, they may seem easy but putting them in practice is not a trivial matter. Good sense, not to a lesser degree, is illustrated by the 2011 story “The Grandmother’s Box” by Massimo Gramellini (2011), an editorialist at La Stampa, an Italian daily newspaper. The story goes somewhat like this: Rummaging through a family trunk, I found a tin box that my Romagna [a region of northern Italy] grandmother used, after the Second World War, as her personal bank. Each time her husband brought his salary home, she demanded her share and divided it into piles, which she placed in the box. There was the little pile for rent, bills, food and treats (that is, an occasional chocolate ice cream cone) and finally, the most important of all, the little pile of savings. My grandmother set the final goal for her savings– the refrigerator, the television–and watched the little pile grow, month after month, as if it were a seedling watered by her prayers. For nothing in the world would she allow the Treasure in the box to erode; over her dead body would she let the males of the house at it. When the little pile had reached the desired dimensions, the grandmother put on her elegant clothes and went to the store to make her purchase. Those who saw her back then assured that not even a sheik on mission to Tiffany’s could have competed with the fierceness of her gaze and determination. Once, a store clerk suggested buying in installments. She looked at him with disdain, saying: “If you give me what I want before I pay, then the desire to have it will go away along with the desire to pay for it!” She had only attended the fifth grade of primary school, nevertheless, many times I think that if she had been on Wall Street, now we would spend a whole more serene spring.11

It is interesting that in a time that idolizes youth, and everything related to it, we resort to three grandmothers to exemplify the wisdom that every leader should have. Today, the “Peter Pan Syndrome” (referring to the literary character’s refusal to grow up) afflicts a large part of rich countries’ populations. Moms and dads compete with their children to look better and younger; perhaps, we should rescue the importance of experience and respect the gray hair in the figure of a leader. These are the years that give us the phronesis, Greek reference to moral thought, and common-sense prudence so necessary in the work of a leader. These

11 From (but translated):


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years are of utmost importance because they transform into experience during the continuous learning process that every person should embrace throughout life. This process helps us to retain our youth regardless of our chronological age. Youth in spirit is what really matters. To finish up the discussion on the benefits of being prudent, it is inevitable that we observe the lack of good sense, as well as the loss of common sense in everyday life. Listening to the radio another noteworthy example of the lack of good sense of the media surfaced. On March 17, 2011, commentators described the earthquake catastrophe in Fukushima, Japan, and the danger of radioactivity leaking from the damaged nuclear power plants. The following paragraph contains a transcription of an editorial highlighting the discrepancy in reporting the news: The United States, especially the State of California, is preparing for the radioactive cloud that could cross the Pacific Ocean in a few hours. Although it would first affect the inhabitants of the Aleutian Islands, it would later endanger the health of Californians. It could be a tragedy of apocalyptic proportions. In contrast to this version of the news, the New York Times reported that the amount of radiation was practically nil and the amount which would reach the United States would be virtually impossible to detect even with the most sensitive instruments.12

This way of broadcasting the news, spreading fear among the population and creating unwarranted panic abounds in mass media. It not only spreads false information, but it is immoral and irresponsible. It cannot simply be excused by human error or stupidity; it may be premeditated to attract attention. If ordinary news can be made catastrophic, the source may have better ratings. The rating system has become the new “god” of the business of information. The following table depicts the different aspects of prudence that help us attain a clear vision of how it manifests itself at different levels and situations.


A website was created to explain the tremendous diffusion of this world-wide phenomenon; the case demonstrates an abundance of irresponsible journalism aimed at creating the fear and panic leading to greater sales. From:

1. Respecting each individual: “PERSONAL” prudence 2. Respecting the common good of society: “SOCIAL” prudence 1. Respecting “ADVICE:” expressing thoughts with propriety, virtue of good advice 2. Respecting “JUDGMENT” A. ordinary: synesis, good sense or sensibility B. extraordinary: gnome, perspicacity, fair resolution

A. ordering of the means to the ends: prevision or foresight B. consideration of all the circumstances: circumspection C. avoidance of the difficulties that may occur, caution or precaution A. of the family: family prudence B. of the state


Table 6-1. Aspects of Prudence by Mario De Marchis.

Prudence: III. Related to the Product

Prudence: II. In the Surrounding Environment

Prudence: I. Internal to the Person

A. for the perfect knowledge of human actions B. for the perfect acquisition of such knowledge

1. As to “KNOWING”

Leadership and Virtues

b. to protect it and defend it with weapons: military prudence

a. To obtain it positively: political prudence

1. by the authorities in power: governmental prudence 2. by the citizens: civic prudence

a. past: memory b. present: intelligence a. by selfintervention: sedulousness, sagacity b. by transmission of others: docility



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Prudent decision making The greatest resolutions for the most important successes need to be made step by step, but they need to be executed on the fly. –St. Thomas Aquinas

The Aquinas (2015) model is thought-provoking for decision making and undeniably useful for modern leaders who strive to make optimal decisions for their organizations. We will try to describe it in words similar to those used in business administration books by defining a series of steps. It is important to keep in mind that these steps are not a recipe but a tool for better understanding a complex process. This requires experience, and prudent decision-making can become a habit if given enough practice. Step 1: Situate yourself in the present. Prudent action takes place at the present time even while looking upon a memory of past experiences, which often is, as playwright and poet Oscar Wilde affirmed, “the name we give to our mistakes”. This action brings those experiences back to the present; try not to filter them with desires and emotions so that they remain as reliable and as accurate to reality as possible. Step 2: Remain in the present. Use intelligence to obtain a clear vision of the situation and reality at hand. Step 3: Ask for advice from the people on your team who can provide relevant opinions regarding the situation. Then, go partially back to the past, listening to your collaborators’ valuable experiences and opinions with docility or openness. Analyze and employ relevant advice. As mentioned, the ability to listen is something rare in executives. Nevertheless, it is an important ability to develop for good decisionmaking. This is even more true in an information society where leaders do not have all the necessary knowledge to make decisions under all circumstances and, thus, need to consult “experts” from different disciplines. Step 4: Deal with present situations using the abilities of sagaciousness, sensibility, and sedulousness to acquire and understand the knowledge stemming from the memories of the past and the intelligence of the moment. These provide guidance and the ability to adapt to sudden and unexpected changes. Step 5: Always in the present, keep digging and investigating in order to have a better understanding of the reality of the current situation through reason. In this phase, we try to understand the real meaning of what is happening.

Leadership and Virtues


Step 6: Now look to the future to be able to relate the ends and the means necessary to arrive at good decisions. Try to anticipate future contingencies precisely by using the intellectual virtue of prevision or foresight. This allows us to see far into the future, to anticipate what might happen and have the best options available, depending on the different scenarios that may unfold, for the organization and its people. Step 7: Take into consideration all circumstances, knowing that sometimes appearances deceive; try to take advantage of all opportunities, using circumspection, while maintaining a balance between the present and the future, between the short, medium, and long term. Step 8: And with caution, make the correct and definitive decision. Caution implies being able to act at the most propitious moment to obtain the desired end while minimizing potential difficulties. The entire process must always be accompanied by good advice or eubolia and the expression of thoughts with propriety. This includes the ability to discover alternatives and evaluate them using good sense or synesis, meaning the ability to bring things together and make sense out of them. And, finally, insight or gnome allows us to identify the times when we need to make exceptions to common rules. These are special cases that merit breaking the rules of convention under unique circumstances. During this process, we are in the field of acting-doing where people are responsible for the ethical consequences of their actions. These actions serve to make improvements, unlike the level of doing where the final purpose is perfection. This is the art of decision-making. We need to get off to a good start, because if we do not begin well, it is very easy to make more mistakes along the way. Progress management is the ability to stay on the right path and not be diverted by accidents that occur along the way that could give us a tactical advantage but at the expense of a strategic victory. This can be seen in the example of Ulysses when he was returning from the Trojan War; he needed the ability to not be distracted by the sirens that crossed his path.13 A perfect finish is to end with a prudent decision. This is exemplified with the following diagram:

13 In the 12th verse of the Odyssey, Homer narrates that Ulysses learns the danger that he will face when he approaches the Sirens: Circe tells him to put wax in his sailors’ ears and if he wishes to risk listening to the sea monsters’ enchanted songs, he should tie himself to the ship’s mast. This way he will not be tempted to go to them and thus be their prisoner and eventually die a terrible death.


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Figure 6-1. Prudent Decision Making by Mario De Marchis.

Although everyone knows The Prince by this name, it was originally entitled Of the Principalities by its author Machiavelli, a 15th century philosopher, politician, writer, and diplomat born in Florence, Italy. This is in reference to the rule of the princes in subordinate states within a larger entity. This is not a minor detail: it is as if a business book were entitled “Of the Manager” or “Of the Company”, where the central point of reflection is changed. It is noteworthy that three hundred years later, the Florentine mentions and advises the prince in the same way proposed by St. Thomas Aquinas but with different words (Machiavelli 2014, Chapter: XXXIII): ..... surround yourself with the men, councilors, of your state with good judgment giving to them only the liberty of speaking the truth to you, and then only of those things of which they are inquired….but you must question them on all matters, listen to their opinions with patience and then draw your own conclusions..... make sure that each of them knows that the more freely he speaks the more he will be preferred.….outside of these, listen to no one, pursue the thing resolved on and be steadfast in your resolutions.

Leadership and Virtues


The similarities emerge: to obtain valuable advice, we must surround ourselves with the best collaborators we can find and question them on all matters. In this way, we can get the most accurate vision of reality without fostering a culture of gossip. Machiavelli advises the prince that he must inquire about all matters and listen with patience (docility) to different opinions. For the council to really be valuable, it must let the members know that “the more freely he speaks the more he will be preferred”. This concept is very important in decision-making; however, we normally observe precisely the opposite. The flatterer, the one who says what the boss wants to hear, is the one who is rewarded. This results in the worst decision-making mistakes by fostering complacency and ignorance of reality. On the one hand, the so-called “Sir Isaac Newton's fourth law [of motion] for organizations” is famous in administrative environments: “everything that creeps up tends to rise”. On the other hand, we should not forget the wise advice of Baltasar Gracián (2018), a 17th century Jesuit priest, who illustrates a deep knowledge of people: “Princes want to be helped, but not surpassed; they want the council to take on the character of recovering lost memories rather than a character of enlightenment they themselves had not had. The lucky stars teach this subtlety: although they shine and can be its children, they can never outdo the splendor of the sun”. Looking at leadership from another perspective, David Petraeus, a four-star general who had extensive service in US military campaigns including in Afghanistan, recounted that he received a lesson of utmost importance when, as a mere captain, he went to work with Major General Jack Galvin. The Major General explained that the most important part of his job was to criticize his boss. He said, “My job is to command the division, yours is to criticize me”. The main lesson was that it is not enough to tolerate dissent: rather, it is often necessary to encourage it (Harford, 2011). Only in this way can we be sure that we have explored all possible alternatives which are often not mentioned for fear or conformity or simply because it is not in our best interest. Finally, Machiavelli (2014) recommends “pursue the thing resolved on and be steadfast in its resolution”. This is also excellent advice for organizations because what happens is that they usually do not allow enough time for the fruition of a decision. Leaders often change resolutions, give in to new administrative trends, or fall for the pitch of “expert” consultants who sell their cure-all remedies or panaceas for all organizational problems. Remaining on course is another important ability for success; to reach a goal, despite failures along the way, is referred to as perseverance


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(Aquinas, 2015). There is an Internet site of an association of American universities14 where they report 50 cases of famous people who failed several times before being successful in their businesses. Its purpose is to encourage the perseverance of university students who are dropping out at alarming rates when facing the first difficulties in their studies. Following are some examples found on this site. Thomas Edison allegedly said: “Many of the failures of life are of people who did not realize how close they were to success when they surrendered”. It is memorable that he had to conduct more than a thousand experiments before finding a filament sufficiently resistant and capable of not melting from the heat produced by the flow of electric current, and thus illuminating the environment; he had invented the incandescent lamp. He had not allowed himself to be overcome by failures even when his school teachers had told him that he was too stupid to achieve anything in life. This was not a very accurate prognosis considering that Edison is still the inventor holding the most patents in the history of United States and the world. Another example is the comment of Jimmy Denny, the director of the music program Gran Ole Opry. It was no less appropriate than Edison’s teachers’ comments to young Thomas when Denny dismissed Elvis Presley, saying: “You're not going anywhere. You should go back and drive a truck”. Yet another example is found in the publishing world: Stephen King, when trying to publish his first book, the iconic thriller Carrie, received thirty rejections from different editors; however, his wife kept trying until she found a publisher and, today, he is probably the most successful author of horror novels in the world. A final example among the 50 reported on the site is that of Walt Disney, who was fired by the editor of the newspaper where he worked because: “you lack imagination and you do not have good ideas”. After this, Disney started several businesses that did not last long and ended in bankruptcy. He kept trying until he achieved success and founded his empire. These examples demonstrate the importance of the strength of perseverance.

References Abbagnano, Nicola. 2012. Diccionario de Filosofía. México: Fondo de Cultura Económica. Aquinas, Tomás. 2015. Suma de Teología: Parte I-II. Madrid: Biblioteca

14 From:

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Autores Cristianos. Aristóteles. 1977. Ética Nicomaquea. Madrid: Editorial Gredos. Battistini, Matilde. 2003. Los Diccionarios del Arte. Símbolos y Alegoría. Italy: Electa. Campbell, Martin. 2010. The Edge of Darkness. Warner Bros Pictures, United States. Castillo, Carmen. 2001. “La Cristianización del Pensamiento Ciceroniano en el Officiis de San Ambrosio”. Anuario Filosófico 34: 297-322. de Cervantes Saavedra, Miguel. 2015. Don Quijote de la Mancha. London: Penguin. Chesterton, G.K. 2017. Lo que está mal en el mundo. California: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform. Drucker, Peter. 2002. Escritos Fundamentales. Sudamericana. Galimberti, Umberto. 2008. La Morte dell’Agire e il Primato del Fare nel’ Etá Della Tecnica. Rome: AlboVersorio. García López, Jesús. 1986. El Sistema de Virtudes Humanas. Editora de Revistas. Gazzanica, Michael. 2010. ¿Qué nos hace humanos? Barcelona: Ediciones Paidós. Gómez Robledo, A. 1997. Ensayo Sobre Las Virtudes Intelectuales. México: Fondo de Cultura Económica. Gracián, Baltasar. 2018. Oracolo manuale e arte di prudenza. Roma: Saggi e documenti del Novecento. Gramellini, Massimo. 2011. “La scatola della nonna”. Italy: La Stampa. Grayling, A.C. La Elección de Hércules. Barcelona: Biblioteca Buridán. de Marchis, Mario. 2010. Yo, el director. México: Océano. Hawking, Stephe. El Gran Diseño. Madrid: Critica. Harford, Tim. 2011. Elogio dell'errore. Perché i grandi successi iniziano sempre da un fallimento. Italy: Sperling & Kupfer. Kennedy, Edward. 2011. Los Kennedy. Mi familia. Madrid: Grupo Planeta. Ovidio, Publio Nasón. 2011. Las Metamorfosis I. Madrid: Editorial Gredos. Luciani, Albino. 2016. Ilustrísimos señores. Madrid: Biblioteca Autores Cristianos. Machiavelli, N. 2014. El Principe. Meexico: Editorial Porrúa. Maxwell, J.C. 1965. The Scientific Papers. Dover: New York. Michelson, A.A. 1903 Light Waves and Their Uses. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Pieper, Josef. 2018. Las Virtudes Fundamentales. México: Ediciones Rialp. Ravasi, Gianfranco. 2009. Ritorno alle virtú. Italy: Mondadory.


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Stone, Oliver. 1995. “Nixon”. Buena Vista Pictures, United States. Rifkin, Jeremy. 2004. El Sueño Europeo. Barcelona: Ediciones Paidós. Toynbee, Arnold. 1988. Historia de las Civilizaciones. Madrid: Editorial Alianza.


Introduction The idea of collective leadership is becoming increasingly influential among leadership scholars under many guises that recognise the intrinsically collective nature of leadership (Ospina and Foldy 2015) in opposition to the traditional leader-centred perspectives. Particularly, in the Brazilian context leadership research has closely aligned with what I call the “I” approaches to leadership. These approaches use more “traditional” leadership theories that focus on the single actor form of leadership. Traditional scholarship in the organisational field has been mostly dominated by the perspective that leadership is held and manifested by a single person (Pearce and Manz 2005) who is often referred to as the “great man” (Reicher, Haslam, and Hopkins 2005). In Brazil, the extant research on leadership tends to focus on the influence of personality traits (Fonseca et al. 2015), as well as leaders’ values and attitudes that impact organisational performance (Fonseca et al. 2012). Additionally, earlier studies related to management and leadership (Barros and Prates 1996; Tanure 2004) demonstrated the difference between “leaders” and “followers”, with followers being passive receivers of the influence of leaders in a relationship ruled by personalism, paternalism and loyalty to leaders. Scholars have also emphasized the need for leaders to manipulate the so-called “typical Brazilian cultural traits” to improve the competitiveness of organisations (Tanure and Duarte 2005). These traditional perspectives permeating leadership theories and practices do not consider that leadership is a process co-created in the social relations between individuals (Collinson 2006). More recently, leadership scholarship has developed an emerging body of research


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devoted to what I call the “we” approaches to leadership. The “we” approaches to leadership recognize that leadership is co-created in the relational interactions between people as a dynamic process that develops and changes over time (Uhl-Bien and Ospina 2012). These views represent a “growing body of organisational research and theorizing that examine leadership not as the property of individuals and their behaviours, but as a collective phenomenon that is distributed or shared among different people, potentially fluid, and constructed in interaction” (Denis, Langley, and Sergi 2012, 2). These scholars situate leadership in the ways that actors engage, interact, and negotiate with one another to influence organisational understandings and to produce outcomes (Barge and Fairhurst 2008). In this case, leadership is viewed as a “we” approach or collectivistic phenomenon that involves multiple individuals who assume leadership roles over time in both formal and informal relationships (Yammarino et al. 2012). Despite the growing interest of academics in the collective forms of leadership and the current views of leadership as a collaborative agency (Raelin 2016), the field still tends to focus on the qualities of individual “leaders” and their roles in the successes or failures of groups and organisations (Storey 2016). While leadership is seen as something that is no longer exercised solely by those in formal positions of authority who have a particular style or management skills (Wood 2005), in a number of empirical accounts of distributed leadership, individual leaders have figured prominently as agents of influence (Gronn 2002). On one hand, this can be explained by the complex dynamics between individual and collective leadership (where leadership is situated), which point to the current gap in leadership research shifting its attention from individual leaders towards leadership as a collective effort (Denis, Langley, and Sergi 2012). On the other hand, traditional leadership research lacks the understanding that leadership operates as dialogic relationships. With that understanding, more refined knowledge about leadership creation practices in a range of contexts can be built, resulting in several forms of leadership configurations (Gronn 2009). This chapter aims to respond to this state of affairs with a particular interest in exploring the challenges that collectives face in creating leadership through dialogical relations. The dialogic nature of relations highlights that the creation of leadership is a dynamic, fluid, and sometimes unpredictable process that needs to be more holistically appreciated from a variety of perspectives and in a more systemic manner. Moreover, it is based on the conception of leadership development as a relational and participative process enacted by individuals in dialogical

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relationships (Van Loon 2017). It is inspired by previous empirical work in the context of urban slums (Favelas) in Brazil (see Souza and Jackson 2019), which examines the interconnections between community leaders, residents, place, purpose, and leadership process, and how these interconnections combine to create collective leadership practices. Favelas have much to offer in illuminating the leadership that needs to emerge in order to address wicked problems. More specifically, favelas pose particular challenges for developing collective leadership, as leadership needs to be constantly created in the face of the significant challenge of securing infrastructural necessities for sustaining everyday life (Das and Walton 2015).

Leadership and the collective: Theory and method During recent years, an emerging debate emphasized leadership as a collective activity rather than as the actions of formal leaders. Leadership is seen as preferably a collaborative and collective responsibility where responsibilities, competencies and decision-making are distributed to several people rather than to one individual (Crevani et al. 2010; Huxham and Vangen 2000). Therefore, leadership does not reside “in” people but is produced through their recurrent interactions, and is viewed as collectivistic because it is the result of these interactions and social processes (Sergi, Denis, and Langley 2012). The idea of collective leadership is emerging as a theoretical umbrella that captures diverse scholarship on “plural” (e.g., Denis, Langley, and Sergi 2012), “shared” (e.g., Pearce and Conger 2003), “distributed” (e.g., Gronn 2002), “networked” (e.g., Balkundi and Kilduff 2006), “collaborative” (e.g., Collinson 2007), and “complexity” (e.g., Uhl-Bien et al. 2007) leadership. Some scholars use collective leadership to refer to the constellation of individuals who contribute within a network (Raelin 2018), while other scholars use it to study decentred practices that result in a collective achievement caused by all participants of the leadership process (Contractor et al. 2012). Under this umbrella term, scholars are attempting to redefine leadership as a property of the collective, whether it is a group, an organisation or a social system (Cunliffe and Eriksen 2011; Uhl-Bien 2006). They focus on social interactions and are guided by the underlying assumption that leadership is co-constructed in multiple configurations and requires a rich appreciation of context (Gronn 2015). As collective leadership has blossomed, the challenge of connecting theory to method in a meaningful manner has been recognized (Ospina, Foldy, Fairhurst, and


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Jackson 2017). Extensive theoretical work, however, has yet to be convincingly translated into sound research designs that enable identifying and analysing the relational and collective forms of leadership in the field by, for example, using a process lens to capture the various ways in which collective leadership is co-constructed through social interactions. These differing approaches pose challenges to defining, measuring and documenting collective leadership. It is difficult to translate the assumptions of a collective lens into adequate leadership theories, research design decisions and leadership development practices. Therefore, there is clearly room for further research work, especially work that addresses the dynamic and emergent nature of collectivistic leadership approaches. Acknowledging this challenge in capturing collective leadership processes and motivated by a desire to bridge this theory-method divide, I have elsewhere examined (see Souza and Jackson, 2019) the creation of collective leadership in the favelas of São Paulo, Brazil. While favelas have been portrayed as the geographical spaces that epitomize the vast socioeconomic divide in Brazilian society (Hughes 2012), community residents have become engaged in transforming these places and their representations of themselves (Hamburger 2008). In the last decades of the twentieth century, urban slums have become a feature of all major Brazilian cities. By 2010, approximately 6% of the Brazilian population (11.4 million) lived in vulnerable communities such as urban slums, with the majority of slums being located in São Paulo (Pasternak 2016). In these spaces, community leaders and residents organise collective action aimed at making communities more resilient and sustainable (Moulaert et al. 2010) while engaging in a self-representational reframing by positioning themselves and the favela as a legitimate part of the city and combating exclusionary and marginalising perspectives on favelas (Holmes 2016). Based on this work, I present here an extended version of a framework of leadership lenses first introduced by Grint (2005). This framework encompasses six lenses of leadership: Person, Position, Performance, Process, Place and Purpose (Jackson et al. 2018). It provides a method for empirically examining leadership practices in a longitudinal manner, using the six lenses to capture the various ways in which collective leadership is co-constructed through social interaction. Conceptually, three lenses reflect how leadership has been approached by more traditional perspectives (the lenses of Position, Person, and Performance), which link leadership to formal and informal positions of authority, and/or the results achieved by the leaders. The Process lens reflects the more processual and relational emphases of leadership enacted by social interactions, while the

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Purpose lens represents a more recent concern with a purposeful leadership orientation among leadership scholars actively engaging in a “responsible leadership” research, education and development agenda (Maak and Pless 2006). Finally, the Place lens addresses a place-based leadership which “requires scholars to think of organisations not only as strategic enterprises in a global economy, but as buildings and grounds peopled by humans with bodies who live in places and communities that have complex, ecological, social and political histories” (Guthey et al. 2014, 256). Collective leadership has been characterised by its complex and dynamic nature (Denis, Langley, and Sergi 2012). Leadership scholars try to conceptualise and define “what is collective leadership”, but the phenomenon remains elusive. One key challenge is how to define what is “collective” in a collective leadership practice. Is it how individuals created leadership (process)? Is it the persons (leaders and followers) and how they conceive and act towards leadership? Is it a shared purpose that creates the grounds for a collective action? Is it what leadership produces as outcomes (performance)? I try to answer tentatively these questions by arguing for the importance of four lenses of leadership: Purpose, Process, Person and Place. Purpose: As Kempster et al. (2011, 331) suggest, it is necessary to position “leadership as purpose” in the foreground and “to develop a more nuanced and grounded understanding of how purposeful leadership discourse occurs in practice in order to gain a keener appreciation of the circumstances that promote and constrain such discourse”. Purpose can be seen as an aim or objective that guides action. Shared purpose is capable of facilitating individuals working collaboratively together. As long as they share the same purpose, people will engage in organising leadership practices that privilege the collective and not individuals. They can even engage in a leadership process that does not necessarily involve collective decision-making or shared and distributed leadership roles. However, they keep aligned by having a common purpose that unifies them. Process: In order to be considered “collective”, a leadership process has to, in some measure, involve collective problem solving, decision making, shared responsibilities, and shared understanding of what needs to be accomplished by a team, group or organisation. When a collective process is implemented, it implies reciprocal, interrelating and emergent coordination (Uhl-Bien 2006). Leadership is situated not in individuals but in a jointly constructed and disembodied process. As Hosking (1988, 147) explains, “it is essential to focus on leadership processes: processes in which influential ‘acts of organizing’ contribute to the structuring of


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interactions and relationships, activities and sentiments; processes in which definitions of social orders are negotiated, found acceptable, implemented and renegotiated; processes in which interdependencies are organized in ways which, to a greater or lesser degree, promote the values and interests of the social order. In sum, leadership can be seen as a certain kind of organizing activity”. Person: Ladkin suggests that “leadership cannot exist without those who would enact it, the context from which it arises, as well as the socially constructed appreciation of it as a particular kind of interaction between human beings” (2010, 31). Multiple individuals contribute with knowledge, skill, and meaning to the leadership process (Raelin 2018). As Melucci (1989, 35) writes, “collective identity is an interactive and shared definition produced by several individuals (or groups at a more complex level) and concerned with the orientation of action and the field of opportunities and constraints in which the action takes place”. Individuals who engage in a collective effort share certain orientations in common and on that basis decide to act together. Place: Place asks where leadership is created by encompassing both its geographic and historic constructions, as well as economic, social, and cultural factors. Place also relates to space and time, how these dimensions serve to shape leadership, and how, in turn, leadership shapes them. Place establishes the context within which leadership is created. The relational perspective that envisages leadership as a collectively produced phenomenon sees it in a system or context–social, organisational, group or team–emerging only in the context of “a particular form of interaction happening at a certain time and place” (Drath 2001, 16). Applying each of these four lenses of leadership can yield important insights regarding the creation of collective leadership; the full power of this frame can be demonstrated through the analysis of the interactions (“ratios”) or relations between them.

The dialogical challenge of leadership research In A Grammar of Motives, the literary critic Kenneth Burke proposed the “Dramatistic Pentad” model as the core structure of dramatism, a method for examining motivations (Burke 1969). Paralleling the journalistic “Five W”s” (who, what, when, where and why), the Pentad comprises five categories: agent, act, agency, scene, and purpose. Burke animates the Pentad providing a system of analysis based on ratios in which these categories are analysed in relation to each other (e.g., the Scene-Act ratio).

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In doing this analysis, the critic reveals additional motivations that might not be readily discernible when focusing just on the individual category. The system of analysis based on ratios suggested by the Pentad inspired the analysis of the interconnections among the Position, Person, Performance, Process, Place and Purpose lenses of leadership. The analyses reveal that a range of dialogical conversations can be generated between the lenses. This can evoke new insights and opens up new options for better aligning the study of leadership and leadership development with the needs of adaptive challenges that groups and organisations face in a range of contexts (Bushe and Marshak 2016). The ratios introduce additional questions about leadership that are not as obvious and are sometimes overlooked. For example, how does the place of leadership influence the purpose of leadership? In turn, how does the purpose of leadership influence its place? In common with Burke, I see the ratios as being inherently dialogic; they are best viewed in conversation with each other, especially when confronting a problem, such as the creation of leadership in this case. Below, I highlight some ratios that are pertinent to the analysis of collective leadership practices that have emerged from previous empirical research (Souza and Jackson 2019): 1) Place-Person: As individuals engage in relationships in different places, a leading and following process unfolds, and it can assume different configurations (Gronn 2015). Place actively shapes leadership and vice versa. It provides the basis for forging a common identity and direction. Leadership processes may be created in order for individuals to respond to particular challenges posed by the place in which they are situated. Individuals engage in social interactions that influence the creation of relational and collective leadership practices as they come together to organise their activities in distinct settings (Koonce 2017). Therefore, to study leadership is to reveal the relations between persons and places. 2) Place-Purpose: In my view, purpose precedes the emergence of collective leadership practices and acts as an anchor or facilitator for the creation of a collective effort. Purpose differentiates leadership from other activities, despite the results that may originate from it (Grint, Jones, and Holt 2017). Purpose has a role to play in social relations forged in a place (Kempster, Jackson, and Conroy 2011), as “leadership is more than a person; it is a sense of purpose, a force that gives people a common direction” (Drath 1998, 406). Purpose has a role in enacting leadership to transform places. 3) Place-Process: Applied to leadership development, the PlaceProcess ratio emphasizes two important aspects. First, leadership process


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results from interactions and from the organising process that individuals undertake as they engage in social relationships in a distinct place (Koonce 2017). In addition, a leadership process that takes place in pluralist social and organisational settings has to foster a sufficient degree of commonality among social actors and organisation members to accomplish objectives. Leadership enacted in social contexts reveals that commonality of interests in a place cannot be assumed and, therefore, that leadership processes are required for the creation of common direction, alignment and commitment in a collective effort (Hartley 2017). 4) Purpose-Person: It is necessary to foreground “leadership as purpose” and “to develop a more nuanced and grounded understanding of how purposeful leadership discourse occurs in practice in order to gain a keener appreciation of the circumstances that promote and constrain such discourse” (Kempster et al. 2011, 331). A collective that seeks to create collective mobilization should interact within a particular place and work towards an explicit purpose (Ladkin 2010). 5) Purpose-Process: The Purpose-Process ratio helps us to examine how purpose mobilizes individuals engaged in leadership practices and the distinct processes that such mobilization accomplishes depending on the circumstances. The leadership process expresses how people understand and approach leadership. Depending on what it is trying to achieve, a collective creates a leadership configuration that best fulfils that purpose. As Ladkin (2010, 102) mentions, “the creation of meaning is seen as a dialogic endeavour, emerging from processes of translation and mediation between leaders, followers and the purpose towards which their action is directed”. 6) Person-Process: Leadership may assume different configurations as the leadership process unfolds, given that individuals who trust in a relational approach conceive of leadership as a “social influencing process through which emergent coordination and change are constructed and produced” (Uhl-Bien 2006, 655). Thus, in order for collective leadership to emerge in a group, team or organisation, a shared view of leadership as a relational practice is enacted in a context of interdependence (Fletcher 2004).

Concluding remarks Over the past 20 years, developments in leadership research have challenged the leader-centric view and moved towards a more “decentred” understanding of leadership (Ospina and Foldy 2010). In research on collective leadership, attention has shifted from individual leaders towards

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leadership as a collective endeavour (Denis, Langley, and Sergi 2012), thus blurring the leader-centricity. Followership research, in turn, shifted attention from leader(s) to followers and, in doing so re-centred leadership with another participant of the interaction (Uhl-Bien and Pillai 2007). Through these recent developments, leadership has come to be viewed as co-constructed and negotiated in interaction, and as a process relying on mutual recognition of relations between those known as “leaders” and “followers” (DeRue and Ashford 2010) to create a mutually important identity, purpose and direction (Jackson and Parry 2018). Increasingly, research on leadership is moving beyond individualist and heroic models towards understanding how it is realized in social interaction and in myriad forms. The relational aspects of leadership have received greater attention (Uhl-Bien 2006). Further, more collectivist models, such as shared or distributed leadership, have become essential for understanding the effective performance of complex tasks (Gronn 2009) and forcing organisations to move beyond traditional models based on hierarchical command and control. The proposed analysis of ratios of leadership lenses enables the advancement of the theory by proposing a dialogical mechanism of analysis and theorisation. Specifically, in contexts where collectives engage in social action, the ratios between Place, Purpose, Person and Process lenses reveal important components in the emergence and development of leadership. Of these four lenses, place appeared to have the most discernible impact on leadership practices, especially when it was deployed as part of a ratio. Along with purpose, place helps to forge relations that enact collective leadership practices. In addition, collective leadership configurations can be reinforced or hindered based on what occurs in the spaces between people (the Person lens) who are engaged in leadership practice and how leadership processes are enacted and maintained in organisations (the Process lens). I agree with Jackson and Parry (2018, 7) when they argue that “leadership is needed in order to provide groups of people, whether they are based in formal or informal organisations or in communities or societies, with a shared sense of identity, purpose and direction”. Approaching leadership from a collective perspective, rather than as an activity done by a single individual, allows us to explore the inter-related aspects. Namely, in order for a collective to establish a common direction (i.e., where they are going), this collective must understand its distinctive identity (i.e., who they are) and the shared purpose that unites its members (i.e., why they exist). I therefore aim to emphasize that future leadership studies should also focus on “Leadership through Purpose”.


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Moreover, it is important to highlight “where” leadership is created. I argue that place acts as both an enabler and a constraint of leadership. As I mentioned previously, place actively shapes leadership. It provides the basis for forging a common purpose and direction. By the same token, place is shaped by leadership. Leadership practices are created for people, teams and organisations to respond to particular challenges posed by places. Additionally, as individuals engage in relationships in distinct places, a leading and following process unfolds, and it can assume different configurations (Gronn 2015). With this, I aim to emphasize the future leadership studies should also focus on “Leadership through Place”. Finally, further leadership studies could put less emphasis on “what makes a leader or a follower” and could instead emphasize what happens “in between” people and how leadership and followership take place in distinct organisational environments. By saying this, I reinforce that future leadership studies should focus more on “Leadership through Process”.

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collaborative agents in the transformation of social reality”. Leadership Quarterly, 16: 547-568. Sergi, Viviane, Denis, Jean-Louis, and Ann Langley. 2012. “Opening up perspectives on plural leadership”. Industrial and Organisational Psychology, 5 (4): 403–407. Souza, Renato, and Brad Jackson. 2019. “Enacting Leadership in the favela: An Empirical Investigation Using a Dialogical Heuristic Framework”. In The Dialogical Challenges of Leadership Development, edited by Rob Koonce and Rens van Loon. Greenwich: Information Age Publishing. Storey, John. 2016. Leadership in Organisations: Current issues and key trends. Nova York: Routledge. Tanure, Betânia. 2004. Gestão à Brasileira. São Paulo: Atlas. Tanure, Betânia, and Roberto G. Duarte. 2005. “Leveraging competitiveness upon national cultural traits: the management of people in Brazilian companies”. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 16 (2): 2201-2217. Uhl-Bien, Mary. 2006. “Relational Leadership Theory Exploring the Social Processes of Leadership and Organizing”. Leadership Quarterly, 17: 654-676. Uhl-Bien, Mary, and Sonia Ospina. 2012. Advancing relational leadership theory: A conversation among perspectives. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishers. Uhl-Bien, Mary, and Rajnandini Pillai. 2007. “The Romance of Leadership and the Social Construction of Followership”. In FollowerCentered Perspectives on Followership: A Tribute to the Memory of James R. Meindl, edited by B. Shamir, R. Pillai, M. Bligh, and M. UhlBien, 187-210. Charlotte: Information Age Publishers. Uhl-Bien, Mary, Russ Marion, and Bill McKelvey. 2007. “Complexity leadership theory: Shifting leadership from the industrial age to the knowledge age”. Leadership Quarterly, 18: 298í318. Van Loon, Rens. 2017. Creating organisational value through dialogical leadership: Boiling rice in still water. Berlin, Germany: Springer. Wood, Martin. 2005. “The fallacy of misplaced leadership”. Journal of Management Studies 42 (6): 1101-1121. Yammarino, Francis, Eduardo Salas, Andra Serban, Kristie Shirreffs, and Marissa Shuffler. 2012. “Collectivistic leadership approaches: Putting the “we” in leadership science and practice”. Industrial and Organisational Psychology, 5 (4): 382–402.


Introduction Leadership, and also educational leadership, or as I prefer, leadership in education, has often been portrayed and constructed as the work of exceptional individuals (Evers and Lakomski 2013) and also as the solution to many educational problems. Critiques of these approaches have also focused on the problems associated with the development of a “leadership industry” (Kellerman 2012) and also leadership as inducing “organisational stupidity” (Alvesson and Spicer 2016). This chapter also sits within a critical framing and approach to leadership in education, and as a response to some of these discourses, I draw on the work of French philosopher Bernard Stiegler to think about educational leadership as a form of pharmakon, a concept of ambivalence, that is, both poison and cure. As such, educational leadership, through a range of discourses such as school effectiveness and improvement, leadership standards, school autonomy reforms and various adjectival models of best practice and good leadership, has been constructed as the vehicle through which improvement in students’ outcomes and performance in education systems is claimed to be achieved. That is, the “cure”. However, alongside these discourses run the socially critical and counter positions of leadership that draw attention to the problems with educational leadership, namely, its highly gendered discourse, ignorance of complexity and context, hero worship, work intensification, instrumentalist models, and hierarchical approaches hidden in the language of more democratic and equitable models. This, then, is the “poison”.


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To expand briefly on a few of these points, leadership discourse often exists in the form of adjectival models and approaches, as well as standards, competencies and capabilities for the purpose of best articulating what “good” leadership should look like. While acknowledging there is much work and research of value in these areas, there are also, at the same time, approaches that are prone to hero-worship, fads, feel-good descriptions and platitudes that fail to capture adequately the complex work of leaders in education, and particularly schools (Thomson 2009). Not only do these approaches fail to adequately capture and describe educational leadership but they also fail to account for the complexities of identity and subjectivity formation of leaders and leadership (see Niesche 2011; Niesche and Keddie 2016). There has been a long and extensive history of research in leadership and also educational leadership that has critiqued the traditional and sometimes conservative approaches (see for example, Smyth 1989; Gunter 2016). However, there still appears to be a large gulf between these different sets of ways of examining and constructing leadership (not to characterise the research into these two “paradigms” as there has been significant historical and theoretical work to understand better the complex nature of the development of the field (see Gunter 2016). It is without doubt too simplistic to see leadership as merely either positive and/or critical. However, for the purposes of outlining my argument in this chapter, I aim to draw on the theorising of Bernard Stiegler to try to nuance the complexity of thinking about leadership that can take into consideration multiple approaches and viewpoints to develop ways of understanding and theorising leadership that move beyond adjectival approaches and also simple criticism. My focus in this chapter is to take this notion of pharmakon and draw attention to other means by which education and leadership have been caught up as forms of what Stiegler describes as psycho-power, that is, power exercised on and through individuals via the immaterial, memory and attention formation (Stiegler 2010). This forms a part of Stiegler’s broader critique of consumer capitalism and the proletarianisation of knowledge in the pursuit of quick and easy solutions, for products to be continually “consumed” by educators, leaders and reformers (Stiegler 2015). It is here that leadership also functions as a form of pharmakon as it is both problematic and yet one of the important mechanisms by which societal change needs to come about to enable both productive critique and a re-thinking/re-theorising of our educational institutions and their requisite leadership. In the next section of this chapter, I introduce Derrida’s use of pharmakon as this is instrumental in its usage by Bernard

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Stiegler. I then explain how Stiegler mobilises this term in conjunction with psycho-power as a way to view the current malaise and problematic nature of educational leadership research. Finally, I provide a few reflections on how educational leadership functions as a form of pharmakon and what this might contribute to different understandings of educational leadership.

Derrida’s pharmakon It is in Jacques Derrida’s re-reading of Plato in ‘Plato’s Pharmacy’ (Derrida 1981) that he explicitly focuses on the term pharmakon to think about the ambivalence of binaries or opposites that constitute a part of the history of Western metaphysics. Derrida’s critique of Western philosophical thought revolves strongly around its tradition of the structuring of binaries such as presence/absence, nature/culture, speech/writing etc. in order to provide a stable platform with which to make sense of the world (Derrida 1973, 1997). Derrida argues that metaphysics structures these dualisms so that the first term becomes privileged over the second. There is the installation of a hierarchy in this structure that Derrida seeks to challenge. The second term of the two is typically considered in negative terms against the first, or is grasped with a sense of lacking, for instance in the binary “leader-follower” (see Niesche 2013). However, Derrida is not simply working to revert the hierarchical order, as this too then requires deconstructing, but rather to introduce instability in the relationship between the two terms, to deconstruct the binaries, to work against the structure of opposition that has been constructed through the history of Western thought since Plato. Derrida argues that the time has come for a questioning of structuralism, as it can no longer form a vehicle for a stable representation of thought and meaning. Plato’s Phaedrus describes how Theuth, the Egyptian God of writing, offers King Thamus writing as a remedy that can help with memory (pharmakon). Yet King Thamus rejects the gift because he believes that it will only create a form of forgetfulness by relying on the written text and thus it is a poison (also pharmakon). In his reading of Plato’s Phaedrus (Derrida 1981), Derrida draws attention to the play of different meanings attributed to the word “pharmakon”. Pharmakon then refers to a polysemic notion of medicine, recipe, poison, drug, cure etc. It is in relation to the written texts, that Phaedrus brings to Socrates, that he refers to them as a form of “drug”–a form of writing that has a different effect from that of a speech. A spoken speech has an effect that is different from


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that of the written text, which is by its nature, deferred. Derrida argues that Plato is presenting writing as ambivalent as it constitutes both remedy and poison. For Derrida, the definition of pharmakon as simply a remedy is incorrect: “such an interpretive translation is thus as violent as it is impotent: it destroys the pharmakon but at the same time forbids itself access to it, leaving it untouched in its reserve” (Derrida 1981, 99). Pharmakon is ambivalent in that it is constituted by the play and production of difference in the binary terms remedy and poison. Such is the way I seek to theorise leadership as a form of this ambivalence through multiple discourses in education. To do this I also bring in the work of Stiegler, as he interprets Derrida’s use of pharmakon but also beings in the notion of psycho-power.

Bernard Stiegler, educational leadership and psycho-power Bernard Stiegler sees one of the most pressing issues for contemporary society being the deeply problematic influence of consumer capitalism. The profound influence of consumerism on all aspects of society is particularly felt in the realm of education (Stiegler 2010). In order to understand the contemporary era of education reform, one cannot ignore the role of these shifts and contexts and how they form particular education discourses and their requisite problems. There is a general feeling of malaise regarding the declining education performance in many countries around the world, particularly in relation to results on national and international standardised tests. Solutions to these problems are constructed in terms of the needs for more autonomy in schooling systems and decision-making processes, as well as calls for strong and decisive “leadership” in this area. What I argue here through the work of Stiegler is that educational leadership specifically is being turned into a form of consumerism, that disempowers and de-professionalises educational and school leaders into adopting and desiring superficial products and approaches that are sold to them. This then creates a reliance on and a desiring for, consumerist activity that decreases critical thinking and critical knowledge formation in the field. It is therefore the creating of a system that disciplines leaders into requiring easily digestible solutions and best practice models to be sold and delivered by edu-preneurs and consultants, is one that devalues time and deeper forms of knowledge creation and scholarship. In other words, the development of a consumerist leader subjectivity but also a form of pharmakon, as within this approach there are both remedies and poisons for leaders and

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leadership discourse. Leadership is neither good nor bad, positive or negative but is at risk of both and in different contexts and circumstances. There is a need to nuance the concept of leadership to better understand its effects on leaders themselves and also leadership discourse. Stiegler uses the term psycho-power to designate the controlling of both an individual’s and society’s short-term consumerist drives that are no longer focused on desire but through techniques of attention control (Stiegler 2010). It is through these technologies of control that a cultural and cognitive revolution is occurring. Stiegler gives the example of recent changes in French law in regard to the crimes of minors as simultaneously resulting in the questioning of a status of adults. So, to treat minors as adults, as has recently been put forward for certain crimes, this then also places a different status on adults as to that of minors. The implication from Stiegler being that adults are expected to look after and take care of minors and thus if minors are to be tried as adults then adults are correspondingly constructed as irresponsible and being subject to such new definitions as a part of a contemporary consume culture. It is through these technologies of cultural capitalism that people are having their attention captured, and not in a productive way. Stiegler calls this a psycho-technical apparatus that is destroying people’s attention through job and life skills, the role of the media, globalised forms of culture, consumerism and short-termism through websites and apps. People’s attention is the primary focus of these consumerist technologies in which “cultural consumption, methodologically massified, is not without consequences for desire and consciousness” (Stiegler 2100, 54). Furthermore, “the question is no longer that of a bio-power over producers, but a psycho-power over consumers” (Stiegler n.d., 9). Stiegler acknowledges the prior work of Foucault on disciplinary and bio-power but is also critical of the limits of Foucault’s work (Foucault 1990, 1991) for contemporary society. Technologies of psycho-power, as understood by Stiegler’s theorising, could include things such as leadership standards frameworks and documents as seen in many countries around the world, the rise of edu-preneurs and privatisation of education, the MySchool website in Australia, and school-based management and autonomy reforms. I will briefly highlight a couple of these examples below. The MySchool website was created in Australia in 2010 to show schools’ performance data on a national standardised test (National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy or NAPLAN). The aim was for parents to be able to see how schools perform on the test and compare and choose schools for their children. Schools are also benchmarked against “like schools” on a socio-economic index and also school financial


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data. There has been a lot of research and commentary in to this phenomenon1, most of it fairly critical. However, I would argue that MySchool operates as a form of psycho-power. It is a technique that creates not only parents and students but also school leaders and other educators as consumers of education products to help look better and perform better according to standardised test results. As a result, these groups are targeted in terms of their psyche and desire through consuming products, programs, and forms professional development, a form a leadership industry as psycho-power. Addressing the transformation of people’s psyche, cognitive processes and attention formation according to these consumer industries needs to be carefully considered. This then creates leadership as a form of pharmakon both the solution and part of the problem (a lacking of leadership or poor leadership) in resolving these educational issues and problems. Another example might be this concept of a “leadership industry”. While not a new idea as it has been on the radar of a number of leadership scholars (for example English 2013; Gunter 2012; Kellerman 2012), this industry, by and large, is focused on providing knowledge and advice about matters of school effectiveness and improvement, or “what works” and counts as “best practice”. However, with the recent changes in education policy and school reforms towards more autonomous structures and school-based management in countries such as England, the US and Australia, school leaders have been faced with pressures of work intensification, managerialism, high stakes accountabilities and performative measures of their work and schools’ performance that see them desperately search for answers to these serious and in some cases, health and life-threatening work conditions (see, Riley 2019). Not only is much of this professional development and entpreneurialism co-opted by corporatised and high profit-making interests (not to mention corruption as evidenced by news outlets in the US and England around charter schools and academies), but it is arguably contributing to a dumbing down of deep knowledge and context formed scholarship that is not couched in the language of easy solutions and marketable products. This is a leadership industry of hyper-consumerism developing a relentless thirst and need for more product that both takes time away from deep knowledge creation, theorisation and conceptual development and thinking beyond how to divert resources to meeting the administrative requirements of professional


For example, see Hardy and Boyle (2011), Lingard (2010), and Lingard, Thompson and Sellar (2015). See also a 2015 special issue of Educational Philosophy and Theory, 47(2) with papers by Sellar, Niesche, Mills, Gowlett, Lingard and Rasmussen.

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learning accreditation. This industrial economy of leadership and consumption of products by educational gurus (see Eacott’s excellent 2017 paper on this) has taken over the attention of educators who probably have within their school, the expertise to tackle many of the problems they face or they had the time and access to generalised research and knowledge developed by researchers. This is not to say academics and researchers have the solutions, as Stiegler is very critical of the role of universities in these profound changes (Stiegler 2015). Of course, there are a number of structural requirements, shifts and transformations that need to be undertaken to allow this to happen. For example, the digital world is both part of the problem and also the solution (pharmalogical) and requires a large-scale re-modelling of a system whereby those who use and consume knowledge are heavily involved in the creation and manufacturing of it, not beholden to marketers, gurus, large corporations–that is, a leadership industry. These issues highlighted above feed into a leadership industry that compels educators, that is, teachers and school leaders to be consumers of education and educational leadership “products”. Through a liquidation of forms of knowledge that these educators bring, a regression of knowledge, educators and leaders are proletarianised into consuming these products. Under the cloak of “what works”, “best practice”, “evidence based” such theoretical weakness is obscured in favour of catchy, seductive and saleable items that count as professional development and learning but rather they do the opposite. Through Stiegler we can see they these forms of psycho power create attentional forms that lead to “systemic stupidity” (Stiegler, 2015)–a form of theoretical weakness that pretends to be based in “reason”. This is not saying the people advocating for these ideas, or the recipients and implementers of them are stupid but rather these technologies employ mechanisms of psychic-disindividuation that results in a form of society that de-values critical thinking, deep thought and long term theoretically informed approaches to knowledge development that draws upon the knowledge of those who use it to become co-producers of that knowledge (Stiegler 2015). Teachers and educational leaders in schools then must be co-producers of that knowledge and not simply the recipient of products via consumerist models of education–again the remedy side of pharmakon and also illustrated in recent research such as “Flip the System” (Netolicky, Andrews and Paterson 2019).


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(Educational) leadership as pharmakon In light of the above comments and critiques of educational leadership discourses, I would like to present the idea of leadership as both poison and remedy, that is, a form of pharmakon. Pharmakon can be a medicine or drug that is both poison and cure at the same time or healing and both intoxicating. It is this tension in language that Derrida reveals in his deconstruction (see, Derrida 1981). Like Derrida, Stiegler uses the term pharmakon from Plato to designate something that is both poison and cure at the same time. Derrida used the term through the deconstruction of Plato’s dialogue Phaedrus to argue that writing, or the act of writing, is a form of pharmakon, that is two contradictory words coming together at the same time in the same text in a similar way to the notion of “painful pleasure” (Derrida 1981, 99). In undertaking a very careful and meticulous reading of Plato, Derrida reveals the impossibility of articulating the opposition of speech and writing. Stiegler also uses the term to designate both poison and remedy, for example one of Stiegler’s recurring themes is of the consumer who is both rendered structurally irresponsible and dependent but at the same time must also be transcended through care and attention through the invention of a new industrial organisation and society. Similarly, I present the idea that leadership here is both a poison to leaders themselves and yet it is the leaders who will be the vehicle through which a new framing of leadership and leaders’ work must be re-imagined. This is not an absolving of responsibility of us, as educational leadership scholars and academics, but rather requires a role whereby we can help re-imagine this new state of affairs. This is a struggle against forms of psycho-power whereby the attention of leaders needs to be turned away from short term and dependent consumerism and re-imagined into careful attentive subjects that Stiegler refers to as a new industrial intelligence (Stiegler 2010). This new maturity must engage both psycho-technologies or politics of the mind and spirit but also a politics that addressing the structures that are so crucial in forming the requisite conditions in which a higher level of individual and collective spirit can emerge. For example, the destruction of public education around the world has not just been a part of a neoliberal regime of successive government dismantling but also a destruction of public opinion and a constitution of the public as consumers or an audience rather than a genuine, mature educated public (Brown 2015). This transformation of the public into an audience also feeds into educational leadership where the teachers and school leaders have become an audience that no longer figures in the production of knowledge but

(Educational) Leadership and Pharmakon


rather are consumers of education products and services that further beholden and entrench them into an industry that is not able to control its own authority and authorship. Teachers and school leaders should no longer be passive consumers of professional development and other edupreneurial services that infantilise them as a part of this populists, simplistic industry but rather, must be able to take an active role on their own knowledge production and subject formation as deep, engaged professionals through. As scholars and knowledge producers ourselves in the form of academics, we have a responsibility to re-constitute a system of care and civilised public to develop the education system and technologies that will lead us out of a society dominated by unreason, stupidity and madness. This then requires what Stiegler refers to an organology of knowledge (Stiegler 2015), that is the development of theories, instruments and understandings that can lead to the destruction of the proletarianisation of teachers and school leaders that we have seen over recent decades. This organology of knowledge is a knowledge capable of studying organisational complexities and processes of individuation and disindividuation made possible through the tertiary retentions of consumerism and consumer capitalism and the dismantling of the public. This must be a goal of the university, to reclaim its role in the development of instruments, strategies and approaches that do not abandon the critique of political economy (see Stiegler 2010). This undermining of universities and the education system outlined in States of Shock and Taking Care of Youth needs to be reversed with new conceptual weapons.

Conclusion The use of philosophy in approaches to educational leadership has been marginal at best. I believe there is still a need for these kinds of approaches to bring a diversity and difference to the field, particularly when calls for different ways of thinking are required to move the field beyond its longstanding limitations and fascination with heroic models of best practice. In this chapter, I have reflected on the use of the term pharmakon by both Derrida and Stiegler to rethink an account of leadership that avoids both overly positive and negative connotations or accounts of leadership; and doing so with a term that occupies that grey space in between. Leadership is neither in and of itself positive or negative but can be both, and also more than that. The deploying of the term pharmakon is a way to broach the concept of leadership to include these


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different conceptualisations while not closing down opportunities for the different and diverse. Drawing on leadership as pharmakon may also being a different tone to the concept but also possibly bring together the positivist accounts and socially critical accounts of leadership to acknowledge the benefits and limitations of both and bring a theoretically robust engagement with different perspectives and ideas for the benefit of the field as a whole.

References Alveson, M. and Spicer, A. 2016. The Stupidity Paradox: The Power and Pitfalls of Functional Stupidity at Work. London: Profile Books. Brown, W. 2015. Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution. New York: Zone Books. Derrida, J. 1973. Speech and Phenomena and Other Essays on Husserl’s Theory of Signs. Evanston: Northwestern University Press. Derrida, J. 1981. Dissemination. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. —. 1997. Of Grammatology, Corrected edition. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press. Eacott, S. 2017. “School leadership and the cult of the guru: The neoTaylorism of Hattie.” School Leadership and Management 37, no. 4: 413-426. English, F.W. 2013. Educational Leadership in the Age of Greed. Michigan: NCPEA Publications. Evers, C.W. and Lakomski, G. 2013. “Methodological individualism, educational administration and leadership.” Journal of Educational Administration and History 45, no. 2: 159-172. Foucault, M. 1990. The History of Sexuality: Volume 1. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. —. 1991. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. Gunter, H. M. 2012. Leadership and the Reform of Education. Bristol: Policy Press. Gunter, H. 2016. An Intellectual History of School Leadership Practice and Research. London: Bloomsbury. Hardy, I. and Boyle, C. 2011. “My school? Critiquing the abstraction and quantification of education.” Asia Pacific Journal of Teacher Education 39, no. 3: 211-222. Hogan, A., Sellar, S. and Lingard, R. 2016. “Commercialising comparison: Pearson puts the TLC in soft capitalism.” Journal of Education Policy 31, no. 3: 243-258.

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Kellerman, B. 2012. The End of Leadership. New York: HarperCollins. Lingard, R. 2010. “Policy borrowing, policy learning: Testing times in Australian schooling.” Critical Studies in Education 51, no. 2: 129147. Lingard, R., Thompson, G. and Sellar, S. 2015. National Testing in Schools: An Australian Assessment. London and New York: Routledge. Netolicky, D. Andrews, J. and Paterson, C. 2019. Flip the System Australia: What Matters in Education. London: Routledge. Niesche, R. 2011. Foucault and Educational leadership: Disciplining the Principal. London: Routledge. —. 2013. Deconstructing Educational leadership: Derrida and Lyotard. London: Routledge. Niesche, R. and Keddie, A. 2016. Leadership, Ethics and Schooling for Social Justice. London: Routledge. Riley, P. 2019. The Australian Principal Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing Survey 2018 Data. Fitzroy, VIC: Australian Catholic University. Smyth, J. 1989. Critical Perspectives on Educational Leadership. London: Routledge Falmer. Stiegler, B. 2010. Taking Care of Youth and the Generations. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. —. 2011. Suffocated desire, or how the cultural industry destroys the individual contribution to a theory of mass consumption. Parrhesia 13: 52-61. —. 2015. States of Shock: Stupidity and Knowledge in the 21st Century. Cambridge: Polity Press. —. (no date). “Biopower, psychopower and the logic of the scapegoat.” Accessed from on 12/4/2019. Thomson, P. 2009. School Leadership: Heads on the Block. London: Routledge.


“Nescire autem quid antequam natus sis acciderit, id est semper esse puerum” (To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child) –Marcus Tullius Cicero

In leadership studies, we have seen a plethora of approaches to leadership (Avolio, Walumbwa, and Weber 2009; Grint 2000; Juntrasook 2014; Grint 2005a). Within that variety, most leadership research has focused on the immediate processes and features of leadership. An example of the latter would be the literature on traits (see Glynn and Raffaelli (2010)), or on how to develop leaders (Day 2000). Other perspectives, such as contingency theories, have studied how situations define leadership (Yukl 1989). Additionally, a different approach to leadership is to think of it as a social construction, through which identities of and narratives on leaders are developed (Grint 2005b; Driver 2013; Abreu Pederzini 2016a; Abreu Pederzini 2018b). On the opposite side of the leadership spectrum, one finds followership work, where researchers wonder what it means to follow (Gabriel 1997; Hernandez, Long, and Sitkin 2014), how followers make leaders (Derue and Ashford 2010), and specially, how followers romanticize leaders (Meindl, Ehrlich, and Dukerich 1985; Baker 2007; Abreu Pederzini 2018a). Most of these conventional approaches to leadership entail a historical element. For instance, traits approaches wonder where those leadership traits come from, and contingency approaches need to understand how events developed in a specific situation. Thus, one could say that most leadership research has focused, in terms of history, on proximate causes, which answer “the ‘how’ question” (Scott-Phillips, Dickins, and West

Leadership and Big History


2011, 38). Hence, for example, a contingency study or a followership study, might focus on developing instruments, such as case-studies, to understand a context and how in that context followership or leadership emerged. This is consistent with how history–overall–as a field, migrated in the last century(ies), from universal history to more narrowed and focused historical approaches. The latter has to do, as Mazlish argues, with most universal history being based on myth, due to the essential human condition of wanting to understand big questions, (e.g. where do we come from or how do we fit in with the universe?), but without having sufficient information to answer any of such questions. Thus, “The mundane and the immediate had taken over the mythical and eternal” (1999, 233). In short, the scale of history was reduced to consider the most immediate history that could be subject to adequate empirical analysis. Here, immediate means anything from a day to hundreds of years (e.g. the 20th or 19th centuries), as in the timescale of the universe, this remains immediate. Certainly, in leadership studies those approaches would be the norm; where, as van Vugt, Hogan & Kaiser argue, “research largely concentrates on proximate issues of leadership” (2008, 182). Yet, beyond proximate causes there are also ultimate causes, which answer “the ‘why’ question” (Scott-Phillips, Dickins, and West 2011, 38). Ultimate causes in biology explain why something–e.g., an animal feature–was naturally selected. Therefore, the aim is to understand how specific things today fit in with the broader history of energy and matter in the universe and life on Earth (Wilson 2014). Approaching these questions is difficult; however, the historian most learn how to use the outstanding advances of modern science, to engage with ultimate approaches. The latter, Christian claims, should lead us to attempt “to understand the past at all possible scales, up to those of cosmology” (2010, 7). This is important because, as connectionists imply (see, Boisot and McKelvey (2011)), everything, from the big bang until today has probably played a role–even if only tiny–in defining ourselves; thus, “by thinking big, it is possible to discern general patterns that would remain obscured if one were to examine only smaller portions of our past” (Spier 2010, 16). Hence, Christian defines Big History, as being “prepared to explore the past on many different time scales up to that of the universe itself” (1991, 223). Big history approaches have not only recently increased, but have also become widely popular (e.g., Harari (2014), Christian (2004), Kauffman (2008) or Dawkins (2006)). Big history can help us understand leadership better, and how our broader history defines it. Approaches to leadership based on big history have been tried (King, Johnson, and Van Vugt 2009). For instance, Heifetz


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links leadership to Darwinism (1994), de Waal explains leadership through primatology (2006), and de Marchis uses the whole history from the big bang until today (2013). Unfortunately, big history remains a weak voice in leadership studies, which is why in this chapter I will explore what the big history of leadership is, and what it could contribute to our understanding of leadership. Now, we could write encyclopaedias on the big history of leadership, and it would still not be enough to say everything big history has to say about it. Thus, this paper is simply a first rudimentary attempt to put in a very brief and incomplete way the essence of what the big history of leadership could be, and hopefully, motivate novel research questions and endeavours to emerge in this field in the future. In short, the aim is to start a debate, not to say everything about it, as it would be impossible. I will do the latter through the spirit of big history: interdisciplinarity. Because, in the end, “If a question requires some knowledge of biology or geology, then so be it” (Christian 1991, 226). This will, therefore, align with Spisak, Nicholson & van Vugt’s recent call to address “the scarcity of interdisciplinary treatments” in leadership studies (2015, 291), which hopefully could help us move leadership studies away from conventional ideological approaches to it, which tend to overemphasize artificial disciplinary barriers that academics have built, sometimes trying to separate things that should have never been separated. At the end of the day, based on science, we know that all energy in the universe came from the same place. And, most importantly, genetic analyses show that it is extremely likely that all life comes from a common ancestor (Dawkins 2006). The latter is why modern science would rather support an ontology of connectionism, more than the atomistic one that tends to support the vast majority of research in the leadership field. I would like to cite here a biologist by the name of Garrett Hardin, who about interdisciplinarity said, “Scientists know how to train the young in narrowly focused work; but how do you teach people to stitch together established specialties that perhaps should not have been separated in the first place?” (1998, 280). Unfortunately, to start a debate on a big history approach to leadership is not a simple task, precisely because of how used we are to think in disciplinary terms. Hopefully, this chapter could be an effort to trigger that curiosity in leadership scholars regarding what connections exist between different theories and disciplines, and how, by acknowledging such connections we could learn much more about leadership by learning to apply to it the historical imagination (Smith 2000) in the ultimate scale of time.

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To illustrate how the big history of leadership could teach us a lot regarding modern issues in business, economics and social phenomena, I will end this chapter by briefly exploring a case in point, which will be neoliberalism. Neoliberal ideology is one of the key underpinning ideologies of modern businesses, corporations and many organizations, which is why it will be instrumental to use it to exemplify the ramifications of understanding the big history of leadership. Big history starts always at the (alleged/only known) beginning, so let us jump into a time machine and go back 13.7 billion years ago.

Genesis in a nutshell: On life and its aggregates Scientists claim that about 13.7 billion years ago, “the universe started, in the big bang, in a highly ordered initial state…, and has become less ordered overall ever since” (Kauffman 2008, 27). Interestingly, in that arrow of time that never decreasing entropy (i.e. disorder) casts on the universe, instances of self-organization (i.e. spontaneous order) emerged. This includes many things, such as stars or crystals forming (Strogatz 2003), so that instead of matter floating around without much order, some of it has apparently come back together to form aggregates that give it some structure. The emergence of life on Earth about 3.8-3.5 billion years ago, certainly falls within the realm of self-organization (Abreu Pederzini 2017). Various efforts have been done to explain the origin of life. For example, for Oparin-Haldane inspired theories, there must have been in the terrestrial beginnings, a primordial soup that contained the crucial chemical blocks of life (Wagner 2014). In such a primeval soup, molecules eventually aggregated into more complex molecules. So “that the development of matter [and life] proceeded from simpler to more complicated systems” (Oparin 1957, 289). Therefore, from atoms forming molecules, molecules aggregating into molecule complexes, and these then forming intricate aggregates such as organisms, life is certainly the result of self-organization (Bak 1996). Where, by organization I mean the ordering of parts through “constraints placed on the ability of parts to act in certain ways” (Human and Cilliers 2013, 27). And, by self, I imply: “The order…” that “is not merely tinkered, but arises naturally and spontaneously” (Kauffman 1995, VII). That this happens naturally is simply astonishing, because “Organization is not the norm in the world. As the second law of thermodynamics tells us, left unattended, everything slips into disorder” (Deacon, Haag, and Ogilvy 2011, 9).


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Darwin was aware of life’s self-organization and provided a theory on how this process works and results eventually in the varieties of life we see today. According to Darwinism, life is predicated on tensions that form “a struggle for existence” (Malthus 1798, 14), which results in differential rates of survival across living organisms. Darwin, therefore, realized that “if variations useful to any organic being ever do occur, assuredly individuals thus characterised will have the best chance of being preserved in the struggle for life” (1872, 148). Thus, Darwinian evolution through natural selection suggests that within a population of organisms, those with traits that might best fit their environments would be more likely to survive and reproduce. Clear is now why we call it evolution through natural selection. Evolution, because the process “transforms one living system into another” (Nowak 2012, 120), and natural selection because in the long run the fittest are usually (although not necessarily) selected, creating the illusion of “organisms that appear to be designed to maximize fitness” (Scott-Phillips, Dickins, and West 2011, 39). Certainly, humans would be among those fittest organisms; not that there is much achievement in it, the process is unintended. Darwinism explains our unintended raise to populate Earth, where it is estimated that our species–Homo sapiens–only emerged about 300,000250,000 years ago. However, our ancestry dates back as far as probably the first instance of life on Earth, because there is evidence that all life probably shares a common ancestor (Dawkins 2012). In short, that all life probably comes from the same place.

Social self-organization: The first leaders In life’s struggle for existence, originally most of humans’ behaviour was encoded in the brain genetically (Blackmore 1999). Where, “The behaviour… is determined to a large extent by… genes” (Harari 2014, 33). And thus, an automatic system in the brain is said to have evolved. A system that is partly enslaved by genes (Evans 2003), and which inherited a variety of prewired routines–i.e. behaviours–that were naturally selected. In other words, just as natural selection could select grey wolves that behaved friendly to humans–i.e. what are now dogs–, because their friendliness gave them a survival advantage, equally nature could have selected humans that arguably exhibited behaviours that were beneficial in their survival and reproduction. One of such behaviours would probably be cooperation (see, for further discussion, Nowak (2012)). Cooperation is beneficial because it allows groups of animals, including humans, to defeat threats they could not individually. Thus, pro-social animals (e.g.,

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ants, bees, or humans) “collaborate for mutual benefit” (Tomasello 2013, 236). We humans inherit biological structures that underpin cooperation. For instance, Bloom, based on his research on babies, argues that morality is prewired in people, as it enables cooperation by sometimes–although not always–forcing us to act pro-socially (2013). Like this, a natural tendency evolved for us to do everything for other people to like us: because “putting out propaganda… to persuade others that… [I am] a good investment” (Kurzban 2010, 148), pays off when people help me with things I could not handle alone. Regrettably, not everything that we inherit is pro-social. Thus, from our evolutionary history we also inherited a dark side; sometimes called our “spiritus animalis” (Akerlof and Shiller 2009, 35). This is what drives us into conflict. Now, since cooperation is so essential for some species as ours, it makes sense that nature would have selected behaviours that could preclude or control conflict too. One of which is, of course, leadership. In the animal kingdom there are various ways through which leadership is expressed, but one that is popular is animals’ tendency to form hierarchies (King, Johnson, and Van Vugt 2009). We find hierarchies in ants, gorillas or humans (among other examples), centred around a leading individual (or group) that sets rules or regulates others. For instance, de Waal discusses some experiments with macaques, where the dominant leader was put in a transparent box watching others. “[L]ow-ranking males refused to approach females so long as the dominant looked on…, yet as soon as this male was removed, the same males freely copulated with females” (2014, 188). In a word, dominant leaders self-organize groups by bringing groups from more natural tendencies to fewer; just as the macaque dominant male brought a world of possibilities in terms of sexual behaviour–which could easily result in chaos–to a constrained one. “Thus, leadership probably has a long evolutionary history. It may have emerged as a solution to specific group coordination challenges–group movement, intragroup conflict, and intergroup competition are prime candidates” (Van Vugt, Hogan, and Kaiser 2008, 184). In humans, leadership is more complex, because our behaviours are more complex. Particularly, humans’ behaviours are not solely constrained by genes. But, at some point in history, a reflective system evolved, which “became a ‘long-leash’ system with little direct genetic control, allowing humans to pursue their own individual goals rather than to act merely as slavish vehicles of the genes” (Evans 2003, 458). In short, this represented a behavioural rebellion of humans against their genes, known as the cognitive revolution. The cognitive revolution happened probably around 70,000 years ago; and it bestowed on us “a complex cognition that


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produced a symbolically mediated worldview and facilitated language ability” (Marean 2015, 539)

Beyond genes: Human social self-organization As humans became partially freed from their genes, new ways of making sense of their world and relating to it emerged: i.e., culture. Henrich, Boyd and Richerson, have broadly defined culture “as information stored in human brains–information that got into those brains by various mechanisms of social learning” (2008, 120). This information changes human brains and some of their routines. Thus, everything continues being biological, although now, culturally mediated (Han and Ma 2015). Importantly, culture is not simply an individual’s worldview, but a social phenomenon of individual brains resonating. Within cultures’ vast ways of making sense of the world, one can include values, symbols, arts, rituals, myths, science, institutions, power structures and ideas/ideology. Cultures evolve too, and to describe their evolution, meme is the name that Dawkins gave to the alleged “unit of cultural transmission” (2006, 192). If memes transmit culture–a social phenomenon–, there needs to be ways for them to be communicated (i.e. replicated) (Sterelny 2006). Apparently memes are passed on through imitation, or more broadly, through social learning (Boal and Schultz 2007). While genes reside in cells, Blackmore argues that “Memes are stored in human brains (or books or inventions)” (1999, 6). And, whereas the content of genes is base sequences in DNA, Distin sustains that for memes “representational content is the cultural equivalent of DNA” (2005, 37). In sum, while making sense of their world (Steinbauer, Rhew, and Chen 2015), humans interpret their world through memes they construct (e.g. stories, myths), which are passed on, and in the process, they evolve, so that from whatever becomes shared, culture emerges. Where a meme starts and ends, or what is the simplest meme, or how are memes constituted, are contested questions. But, that should not be a problem, the definition of strategy (Abreu Pederzini 2016b), or power (Abreu Pederzini and Suarez Barraza 2019), among other concepts, is contested too, without having precluded us from using these concepts. In the end, “Memes are hypothetical constructs inferred from observation of behaviour rather than observed in themselves” (Coker 2008, 905). Additionally, not everything in our heads is a meme. If a meme transmits culture, then first, it needs to be part of our sensemaking of the world. Second, it should not be the product of genes. Third, since culture is a social phenomenon, memes should be communicable. So what might not

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be a meme? For example, allegedly pre-programmed concepts (e.g. kinship) in our brains that genetically evolved with us (Delton and Sell 2014). Moreover, Blackmore differentiates between memes and memeplexes, to acknowledge that simple memes (e.g. words) can aggregate and form other more intricate memes (e.g. novels) (1999). Importantly, since memes are replicators, they are historical too: i.e., by evolving their history defines them. Therefore, memes: replicate, variate and are naturally selected (Dennett 2002), which are the three fundamental dynamics of evolution through natural selection. To look first at variation in cultural evolution, in what follows, I will do a thought experiment.

The potency philosophical experiment Picture an imaginary planet. In this planet, suddenly you wake up, and you are the only human there. Moreover, you know nothing about this planet. You are a quasi-tabula rasa–with the exception of knowing language. Initially, this planet looks as filled with “events that are novel, ambiguous, [and] confusing” (Maitlis and Christianson 2014, 57). To cope with the cognitive mess created by all these cues that bombard you, you try to interpret them. But, you look around and there is just so much happening. Thus, you make an incision, “an operation which is designed to facilitate and procure a form of limiting so that what is apprehended as reality becomes thereby cognitively ‘manageable’” (Chia 1994, 794). Having cut off your environment, you reduce it to one object. That object, as Laclau claims, is a fullness (1997, 311); in short, a locus of meaning: it is potentially full of meaning, yet–so far–meaningless to you. There is no way to get help. No one like you has ever interpreted this fullness, and there is no other type of organism you could communicate with. Furthermore, you are on an accidental planet within a random universe, which was designed by no one, so there are no intended meanings. Therefore, you face a challenge: you want to make sense of this object–i.e. attach a meme to this object that will give it meaning so you know how to relate to it. However, to this object, countless memes could be attached, as it could mean anything. Your object’s meaning will collapse when you have decided what this fullness represents. So, then, from all of what your object could mean, you look at it, pick a meme, and you decide the object is: “X”. The object as a fullness had symmetry, which you, by collapsing one meaning, have broken. In sum, the most important big history lesson is that if we can explain the universe and our evolution in it through science, without invoking so


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far a creator, without needing apparently a masterplan, and without arguably needing purpose, then, this is probably because the universe, at most, probably just is: it simply is, it does not likely mean anything (at so far). Like Whitehead says, “Nature is a dull affair, soundless, scentless, colourless; merely the hurrying of material, endlessly, meaninglessly” (1967, 54). And, thus, if we want to make it meaningful there are arguably endless possibilities. In our day to day, we do not usually realize this world of possibilities. We were raised in societies full of meaning. So much has already been done for us that we do not even usually challenge the meanings around us. Since the potential of a fullness to collapse countless meanings, is such an important implication of big history, I will give it a name: potency. Thus, anything that is, represents a fullness (i.e. a locus of meaning such as an object, an event, etc.), which possesses potency: the potential to collapse meaning–to break the meaning symmetry–in many ways. How meaning collapses is probably the result of a plethora of factors, including the interpreter’s background, the people around the interpreter, among others. Giving birth, then, as promised, to variety within memetic evolution.

The symbolic orders: Retention and selection It was arguably the agricultural revolution around 10,000 years ago, which forced humans to gather into larger groups. Yet, their natural–i.e. biologically prewired–social proclivities were probably not enough to gather in groups larger than those of the hunter-gatherers. This is why culture and its production of meaning is so important: because it provided a new mechanism to self-organize people. Meaning is produced by various types of memes (e.g. accounts, stories, or ideology); yet they are interconnected through their frequent use of language. Saussure defines language as “a collection of necessary conventions that have been adopted by a social body” (1966, 9). Famously, he also conceptualizes language through the connection between a sign and a signifier. Where, on one hand, the signifier is “the sound or the visual appearance of the word, phrase, or image in question; on the other, the signified, its meaning” (Belsey 2002, 11). In other words, the meaning of something is that to which it points (Dingemanse et al. 2015). So, the meaning of “table” is presumably that fullness with four legs in my living room. However, because of potency it is impossible to find absolute meanings. Even in the case of science, with its attempt for objectivity

Leadership and Big History


(Thagard 2010), there is always an element of ambiguity. For example, gravitational theories (e.g. Newton’s/Einstein’s) can predict gravitational phenomena. But, when we cast an equation which predicts a gravitational trajectory, is an object following the trajectory casted by the equation or is it just being the way it is, of which we make sense of through an equation? As we move from science into art, religion and other types of memes, things turn even more complex. Something that is illustrated by the variety of beliefs developed by people. Now, let us part ways from my idealized potency thought experiment, where only one man is making sense of the world, and look at the necessary corrigenda. First, humans do not usually collapse meaning in isolation. They tend to be surrounded by others, who, given potency, could collapse different, perhaps even opposing, meanings for the same fullness. From the plurality of possible meanings, politics could emerge: “two or more parties”, who are interdependent, arrive at differing meanings, producing “divergent interests… such that there is, or may potentially arise, conflict between the parties” (Bradshaw-Camball and Murray 1991, 380). Hence, there is not only a tension regarding which meaning to collapse, but also on how to convince others of such meanings. Thus, “actors influence each other through persuasive or evocative language” (Maitlis and Lawrence 2007, 57), to arrive to an at least mutually accepted meaning: i.e., we have retention, memes are passed on from one person to another, and can even survive the challenge of time, when passed on to new generations. Finally, from those memes that are spread out to other people, only a fraction–the fittest memes–eventually become preponderant or selected based on the benefits they bestow on their believers.

The fittest memes: Cultural selection through some philosophizing How the fittest memes are selected, most likely entails a bottom up, top down, and a stop clause dimensions. The stop clause is a corollary of the Derridean concept of la différance. In short, “Every concept [meme] is necessarily and essentially inscribed in a chain or a system, within which it refers to another and to other concepts” (1973, 140). For instance, love could be attraction, but attraction is desire, and desire could be two people kissing, but two people kissing are a plethora of cells from different organisms connecting, and cells are atoms, and so on. To cope with la différance, people define instead a meme for what the meme does not mean: its “constitutive absence” (Deacon and Cashman 2012, 2012). Thus, the white meme does not mean black. Nonetheless, white does not mean


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black, or green, or yellow, or brown, etc. Humans cannot continue through such an infinite regress, and so through those sequences of equivalencies, closure is aimed via an imposed stop clause that would “furnish it [a fullness] with a final signified” (Barthes 1977, 147). For example: white is not black and that is it, stop thinking, let us pretend that provides unequivocal determinacy. Some have argued, this stop clause is fundamental, because “without that fictitious fixing of meaning there would not be meaning at all” (Laclau 1997, 302). The top down and bottom up influences in this process of selection are equally important. Once a stop clause is reached, it could have power repercussions. As when my friends and I decide that George is God’s descendant and we should obey him as our monarch. Therefore, Marx and Engels emphasize that powerful groups force, top down, certain memes; ergo, in Marxism “The ideas [memes] of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas” (2000, 21). Marxism probably exaggerated the relevance of top-down influences. In complex societies, full control is a utopia, something that Foucault acknowledges (1970). For him, discourse is “…a communicative set of interactions, through which social and cultural beliefs and understandings [memes] are shaped and circulated” (Freeden 2003, 103). Such communicative interactions attempt to homogenize, bottom up, humans’ meanings. The result of the stop clause, top down, and bottom up processes is what Berger and Luckmann called the social construction of reality (2011). In short, we become encapsulated then in symbolic orders made up from the fittest memes: “the decentred discursive mechanisms that generate Meaning” (Žižek 2012, 23). In a symbolic order, most fullnesses have quasi-shared stop clauses that give them meaning. So that people at the social level can begin to self-organize, and as long as their selforganization works and they survive and reproduce, their symbolic order continues. This is arguably/partly how in the last 10,000 years of Earth’s history, humans probably managed to transform a meaningless world of hurrying matter, to one that was and is full of various tones of meaning. Like that, people enabled themselves to aggregate into levels of selforganization (e.g. nations, corporations) never seen before. The sine qua non of such self-organization is, that as societies reach quasi-shared meanings, individuals can break away from the tension of potency, because in a symbolic order there is no more indeterminacy (Žižek 1989). In a word, as Althusser argues (2006), a symbolic order hails us, and once being reified and felt as if it was an agency, tells us, in a Lacanian style (2005), who we are and what our meaning is.

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An example–out of many–of how the latter has dramatically changed the world throughout history, would be Christianity. As Ehrman documents, the memes on Jesus Christ allegedly evolved from a story of an originally apocalyptic Jewish preacher–not divine at least at first sight– announcing the coming of the Son of Man, to a variety of interpretations on whether he was a messenger of God, or the son of God, or God itself (2014). Subsequently, some memes–i.e., the fittest memes–won the Darwinian struggle, and became socially dominant. Key events, such as the Nicene Council, were efforts to achieve homogenization around the meaning of Jesus only as God/Son of God. So that “Whatever he [Jesus] may have been in real life, Jesus had now become fully God” (Ehrman 2014, 181); enabling, then, the formation of one of the most influential institutions in history: the Catholic Church. Hence, through the evolution of culture in the last 10,000 years, not only have we reached unprecedented levels of order, but we have built unprecedented imaginations that feel as if real. Resulting in a new natural ontology particular to our species, the as if real one (Hay 2014).

From Inverted Reflection: The new leadership When being enacted, the meanings humans construct usually command them: “directing agents to elaborate on the default or prototypical scenario in ways suggested by the frame, narrative or category” (Holt and Cornelissen 2014, 526). In other words, humans search for where their meanings are pointing to, and sometimes, in those memes that bestow meaning, humans find direction: as if people were “organized with respect to some end or intended content” (Sherman and Deacon 2007, 874). Nonetheless, since people are looking for their sublime purpose, they cannot arguably conceive it as emerging directly from them. They need to pretend purpose comes from a sovereign frame of reference: this is when the symbolic is reified. A historical example, par excellence, is probably (although nobody really knows) God. God is allegedly a meme that gives meaning to people. However, God, as we saw in the case of Christianity, is probably (although again nobody really knows) partly our own socialconstruction. Yet, he looks as if independent from us. Thus, “While in reality human beings are subjects who have projected onto the divine their own attributes (their own human predicates), in fact the divine is perceived by human beings as a subject of which we become the predicate” (1986, 4). In short, as Marx and Engels claim (2000), a process of alienation– inverted reflection–is produced, where the meaning conferring memes of our symbolic orders “tend to appear as an autonomous reality” (Ricoeur


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1986, 5). This as if real autonomous reality exerts phenomenal power over us by telling us what to do and where to go to, “so that men and women submit to what are in fact products of their own activity” (Eagleton 1991, 70). As aforementioned, like this, through symbolic orders that via inverse reflection subject us, memes have arguably self-organized–domesticated– people for thousands of year now. Thus, memes continue nature’s tendency towards self-organization, so that just as DNA historically guides and self-organizes massive amounts of atoms to form a human being, memes through their continuous history–i.e. evolution–, partly selforganize massive groups of people through the reification of the symbolic and its effects on human behaviour. In a word, memes lead humans.

Leadership again It is clear, thus, that if leadership has to do with organizing and coordinating people, then, biology initially plays a huge role, given how it has prewired us towards sociality. However, as we have seen, biology is not almighty. Yet, in humans, it historically bestowed on us certain cognitive freedom, which produces culture and the symbolic, which when reified, coordinates us as biology could not (although also not perfectly; i.e., the symbolic can also easily result in conflict because of potency). Therefore, the big history of leadership apparently strips leadership away from the agency of individuals, and it delivers it to a historical and systemic process, partly biological and partly cultural (as far as we know). Let me explain why nature and culture–i.e., a reified symbolic order– are leadership and not an agency, as most conventional approaches would put it. Yukl defines leadership as “an exercise of influence” (1989, 252). As leadership relates to influence, thus, leadership is not about an individual, is about a process. Furthermore, as Grint states, “leadership is necessarily a relational not a possessive phenomenon” (2005b, 2). And, what the study of historical evolution adds to this, is that this relational process is between gene–which codify pro-social and hierarchical routines in humans, among other things–, memes–which through the symbolic command us–and humans. This is why Heifetz defines leadership as “activity to mobilize adaptation” (1994, 27): because through these genetic and memetic commands we move towards adaptation, and those who cannot move there, simply perish. However, adaptation is just an example of self-organization. Where self-organization is “an intrinsically arising asymmetric change from more to fewer dynamical tendencies” (Deacon and Cashman 2012, 200). Furthermore, self-organization is as well unlikely, given some natural tendencies (e.g. the second law of

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thermodynamics). Therefore, we can conclude based on the big history of leadership, that leadership is activity to mobilize unlikely selforganization. So that what leads is whatever mobilizes self-organization: i.e., our inner and partly shared nature and culture.

The big history of leadership: Implications Let us look now at leaders (i.e. those single individuals that in conventional approaches to leadership are casted as responsible for it). The standard conceptualization of leaders is as paternalistic (Ffytche 2017) heroes, who “announce magnificent strategies, do dramatic deals and promise grand results” (Mintzberg, Simons, and Basu 2002, 71); where, it seems that leadership is the product of leaders. And, while there is no doubt that leaders play a role in self-organization; nevertheless, leadership is a systemic emerging process. So, are classic approaches focused on leaders wrong? Not really. It turns out that these conventional approaches to leaders are constructing memes describing leaders; memes which could mobilize followers. Let me take an example. In his heyday, Lance Armstrong emerging victorious from cancer to win seven times the Tour de France, influenced people. His story, in the epoch of obesity and diabetes, moved people to cycle, and to get organized in the fight against cancer via Armstrong’s legendary foundation. Yet, what was mobilizing people (i.e. leading) was a meme of Armstrong the hero, and not Armstrong himself, because as we know the real Armstrong did not beat cancer and won seven times the Tour de France, but beat cancer and by doping, cheated seven times. Hence, in conventional approaches, there is usually a fantasy of the leader–as a hero or change agent or commander– falsely embodying the leadership process, yet, adequately enabling it. In a word, is it relevant that, for instance, a hero fantasy does not match the person? Not at all: if followers’ apotheosis of leaders or demonization of them, mobilizes followers towards self-organization that is all that matters for leadership.

From the big bang to neoliberalism Having explored the big history of leadership, which shows leadership as a natural phenomenon defined by our broader evolutionary past, I would like to say something–very briefly–about a modern symbolic order and the implications on it from the big history of leadership. A symbolic order of global significance today is neoliberalism, which entails the rebirth of liberalism in capitalism.


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After the Great Depression of the 1920s and World War II, Keynesians “challenged classical liberal beliefs that the market mechanism would naturally correct itself” (Steger and Roy 2010, 6). Thus, a type of capitalism emerged where muscular government intervention was common. In other words, a not so liberal version of capitalism. Nonetheless, there were always intellectuals like Hayek, who thought that “the abandonment of laissez-faire economics… had threatened the very foundations of liberty” (Jones 2015, 21). Eventually, the traumatic oil shocks of the 1970s evidenced that some of the Keynesian’s assumptions were incorrect. This opened the door for resistors to lobby politicians through think tanks (e.g. The Adam Smith Institute). Finally, Reagan in the US and Thatcher in the UK took the bait, and betted on a liberal version of capitalism; meaning, small government and “fiscal austerity, market determined interest and exchange rates, free trade, inward investment deregulation, privatization, market deregulation, and a commitment to protecting private property” (Centeno and Cohen 2012, 319). Neoliberalism comes from potency, because when it was arising there were other ways to order socio-economic systems, such as communism or socialism; and even within capitalism, there was the less liberal version that neoliberalism partly dethroned (Hall and Soskice 2009). Hence, there was a meme contest. As part of it, then, the big history of leadership would suggest that efforts for dominance would have emerged, which they did. The main one being the Washington Consensus (see, Chomsky (1999)), which was a US–and allies–imperialist doctrine to support struggling countries only if they accepted neoliberal reforms in their economies. Neoliberalism works through values and beliefs, including: that people need to be autonomous, everyone is in it for themselves and if you do not make it is your fault, that we must work towards progress, that part of progress is owning as many things as we can–i.e. consumerism–, and that, there is a ladder called meritocracy that can take anyone who works hard enough to the top. There is no question that such symbolic order leads people nowadays. We see it when parents do anything to get their children into higher education, or when people take massive debt to pay for endless things they do not need, or when people believe that poor people are poor and rich are rich because they deserve it, among other instances. Thus, in a world of 7 billion people, it is certainly not individuals who lead, but powerful memes. Importantly, Chomsky claims that neoliberalism is a farce (1999), that tyrannical elites want neoliberalism to protect their status as a dominant class, and that they rule through the logic of “One rule for us, one rule for

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everybody else” (Jones 2015, 6). An example of the latter would be elites asking governments to deregulate banks, but once ambitious elites destroyed them–in the 08/09 crisis–, then, they asked to forget about deregulation, and instead went for government intervention to save them. There are two ways in which the big history of leadership is relevant here. One is that the allegedly tyrannical elites might be simply following their spiritus animalis. In the end, culture has evolved at an impressive pace in the last 10,000 years, and it could be, that nature has not caught up to select behaviours that best fit our modern environments. Thus, old– perhaps nowadays useless–behaviours might survive in people, and affect especially those that lead. One of such behaviours could be the hubris of leaders not recognizing their mistakes (de Marchis 2013), and hence, after neoliberalism almost crumbling in 2008/09 they could not see how they got it wrong. By contrast, another behaviour could be their natural proclivity for power. Nature probably hardwired us to desire power. De Waal even made famous a story of a group of chimpanzees in a zoo, that after having been dethroned, conspired against the new leader, and ambushed and assassinated him (2006). So, the persistence of abusive elites in neoliberalism might come from an outdated nature, as evolutionary psychologists would claim. Now, the second way in which big history is important to understand neoliberalism and its persistence, is that as aforementioned, animals in nature–including ourselves–find in hierarchies, stable structures for survival (Wilson 2014). Yet, in human history, hierarchies have ended in terrible chaos–e.g. the French Revolution–, which is why neoliberalism could simply be the next evolutionary step to disguise a hierarchy in the delusion of free-markets and meritocracies, so that it works. This is evident in the incapacity of the 08/09 crisis to produce a revolution despite the system having crumbled. Why is that? Perhaps because in neoliberalism people tend to care mainly about their own individual progress, or perhaps because they are constrained being buried in debt, or perhaps because they think that elites earned and deserve what they have, or simply because may be people have ran out of novel memes to suggest a new system. Whatever the reason is, the point is that evolutionary speaking, the values behind neoliberalism might have been selected–i.e. survived and became dominant–, because they are capable to bestow some stability on a modern human hierarchy, by deceiving humans that neoliberalism is not hierarchical, but fair; and even if it is not, you should not care about it, because in neoliberalism you should only care about yourself.


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Looked at it coldly, the latter seems to work (at least so far), in the sense that it sustains social organisation. But, we all know the inhumane costs that we have paid for that. One is the tyrants in disguise that still dominate us. Another one is inequality, which is probably the main nightmare of neoliberalism. Simply “In 2015, just 62 individuals had the same wealth as 3.6 billion people” (OXFAM 2016, 2). We live no longer in a Pareto world, but something much more unequal. The problem of course is, that if we want to get out of this, if we want to fight for egalitarianism once more, then, perhaps we need to start thinking why hierarchies exist and endure in nature so abundantly (e.g. in bees, in chimpanzees, in ants, in social wasps, etc.). This means, therefore, that the study of human leadership needs to study much more than the traits and identities of certain people, and start studying nature. The challenge is not impossible. I have shown how already in the past humans have gone well beyond nature and transformed their natures. To change our nature is part of our history. Yet, the challenge is not easy either, because what is required is the social-construction of a symbolic order based on strong enough ideas–i.e., memes–that would leads us in some ways against trends that have been casting our destinies for eons. Could this be possible at all or is it simply a utopia? That is the leadership question that emerges from a big history perspective. A conventional approach to leadership might simply look for grand leaders with traits that could save us from ourselves. Something that is clearly expressed on how people, in the aftermath of neoliberalism crumbling in 08/09, decided to focus on electing public officers that in the past would have never been elected, simply because they think they could change things. But, the world is not so easy, leadership is not so easy, and most of such prophets are simply false prophets. We will lead ourselves out of the neoliberal nightmare only as we find and construct new symbolic orders, powerful enough to re-shape our natures.

Conclusions In sum, leadership is a systemic phenomenon that guides, moves, and motivates people as to order and coordinate them. And, which big history shows us that it emerges naturally through biology and culture. Furthermore, it is not only the naturality of leadership that is important, but also the need to understand modern leadership expressions in light of the big history of this phenomenon. In doing so, we will see that our spiritus animalis still define a lot of what happens in leadership today, and that what moves people is not an individual, but the individual’s biology

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and the memes that manage to capture the individual’s attention. Additionally, through big history we realize as well that the symbolic– cultural–dimension of leadership, is equally natural, as it belongs to a broader trend towards self-organization; and that it creates meaning from meaninglessness, which through potency, explains the naturality of human politics. Finally, the big history of leadership gives us an idea of the ultimate cause of leadership too. In short, the phenomenon emerged and has survived because it usually helps, in various intricate ways, different animals in nature–like us–to survive and reproduce. Finally, big history is not only about the past, but about the future too. The big history of leadership certainly teaches us that leadership is an instrument of social self-organization. And, thus, by seeing a world of gigantic corporations and enormous nations, we can see that human leadership has been successful. But, for how much longer? Never in history had there been 7 billion–and counting–humans in the world. Certainly, as we developed into larger groups in the past, new mechanisms, such as our heightened cognitive capacities, were essential so that we could keep leading and coordinating ourselves. Yet, as populations continue increasing and problems (e.g. inequality) continue to accrue, we must stop to think what will be the leadership mechanisms of the future and whether we could find them.

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A little additional effort is enough to overturn everything, and to lead us finally toward other far-off places. –Deluze and Guattari

Introduction There is nothing new that can be considered or thought about leadership. To describe leadership as an “extensively researched” area would be an absurd and erroneous understatement. Some would say that the wealth of academic attention conferred upon leadership in recent years is commensurate to its importance and how pervasive it is within our society. After all, we see leaders everywhere in our social milieu. They crop up in the formal structures of our organizations (and emerge informally within them). They appear on our televisions and direct our favourite sports teams. Our industries have leaders and so might our trade unions. One sees leaders in our politics, in our families, buys books on leadership, and goes to sleep with posters of great leaders on their bedroom wall, tucked snugly under a Steve Jobs bedspread. Because of this wealth of attention, a new researcher interested in understanding leadership today will likely spend several years trying simply to familiarize themselves with the state of the field. They might begin as a student with widely read and frequently used textbooks like those of Yukl (2013), Iszatt-White and Saunders (2014) or Carroll et al (2015) and then progress to the numerous handbooks and guidebooks that commendably serve to introduce us to the deluge of scholarship which has tried to meaningfully theorize leadership (Grint 2010; Jackson and Parry 2011), and then continue on to the mammoth academic compendiums that begin to highlight the nuanced and detailed theoretical perspectives and research contributions at work in the field of Leadership

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Studies proper (Day 2014; Alan Bryman et al. 2011), all before realizing that this is only the tip of the iceberg. Leadership as a discipline now has its own dedicated journals like Leadership Quarterly or Leadership, and conferences like the well-regarded “International Studying Leadership Conference”. A new researcher would have to somehow parse the extensive popular and academic literatures that over the last century alone have concluded that leadership is the purview of “Great Men” who were born with certain traits and thus that we should devote extensive consideration to their biographies, histories, and development. We have also considered leaders as those who demonstrated certain behaviours or achieved certain results. We have thought about leadership as a technical-rational function or office within an organization from which one might discharge particular responsibilities. We have thought that good leadership might be a question of “style” and thus come to suggest that good leaders are the ones who are able to change their style to adapt to their situation, perhaps being authoritative or democratic depending on the context. We have considered that good leaders are motivating and inspiring; visionaries who are different from management/managers who are boring bureaucratic functionaries. We have thought that leadership is best understood in the context of discussions of charisma, transformation, authenticity, reflexivity, and ethics. We have produced endless reams of “theory” to these effects, charting the different varieties and variances of leadership (see Dinh et al. 2014 for a comprehensive summary). We have even made significant forays into thinking critically about these conceptualizations of leadership. Distinct from what Wilson (2016) identifies as the dominant paradigm of psychology-based, positivistic research on leadership, scholarship within the field of Critical Leadership Studies, as Grint (2001, 420) prefigures, suggests that questions of leadership often compel us to confront its “talismanic origins: it performs a ritual that followers appear to require”. Informed by such a reflexive awareness of the complexity of leadership as a phenomenon, research in this area showcases attempts at considering leadership as an event (Wood 2005), a “relational, contextual and political practice” (Liu 2017), as an identity (Ford, Harding, and Learmonth 2008), or as “sacred” (Grint 2009), and recently has sought to reaffirm a long held skepticism about the role that leaders play in organization in terms of the way that it is romanticized (Collinson, Smoloviü Jones, and Grint 2018) around the heroic myths of heroic individuals. In their own ways, these approaches offer highly insightful responses to the challenges of trying to think about leadership pragmatically or ethically within the context of contemporary


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organization. Critical scholars have also begun to reflect on leadership in the context of postcolonial power relations and dynamics (Nkomo, 2011) and how it manifests as queer in and is practiced by members of the LGBT community (Courtney 2014). Summarizing these different approaches, Collinson (2011) identifies three dichotomies along which we might continue to think about leadership critically. Firstly, we might consider control/resistance by continuing to think about questions of power and how it manifests and is deployed by leaders. Secondly, we might think about dissent/consent, particularly in relation to followers and the acknowledgement of their role in the relationship as considered in the rise of Follower Studies (Collinson 2006; Uhl-bien et al. 2014) or on Leader-Member Exchange (Graen and Uhl-bien 1995). Third, a critical gaze might focus on the binary of men/women, reflecting thus on the “gendered” nature of perceptions of leadership and the discursive constructions of particular leadership traits as “masculine” or “feminine” (see Billing and Alvesson 2000 for a critical review). Far from radical now, such approaches are generally accepted as part of the “mainstream” of leadership theory and our hypothetical new researcher might even encounter these in the introductory guidebooks with which they began their study of the discipline. It is thus that we arrive at the primary concern of this chapter. While we are certainly sympathetic to those who might argue that there is still much critical work to be done to denaturalize leadership practice and challenge the taken-for-granted assumptions that inform it, to think critically about leadership is here certainly not thinking it “anew”. Indeed, at present the intellectual terrain of leadership research (in its mainstream and critical variants) might seem to be so thoroughly saturated that a new researcher might either rightfully despair that there is nothing that they could hope to add to it, or otherwise resign themselves to the banal task of eking out some small contribution to some pre-existing psychologistic model. For this chapter, it is thus worthwhile to take stock and consider, not what these extant traditions of leadership research have to say, but to reflect on what they can tell us about our understanding of the contemporary social milieu. The plurality of leadership research, we suggest, speaks to deeply rooted desires for subordination and domination, power and serfdom, control and authority, in short, that there should be something like leadership at all. In this chapter we are thus less interested in theorizing “Leadership” per se than we are with reflecting on what this critical mass of paradoxical and heterogeneous theorizing tells us about desire itself as it exists and operates throughout our social fabric.

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In order to further an account of this desire, however, it seems to us that we must acknowledge that there is nothing new that can be said about leadership, only more crisscrossings along the same tired old lines of discussing traits, behaviours, influencing and so on. The only thing that is left is for us to begin to unthink leadership. This is a monstrous task akin to trying to forget how and when to blink, for thinking in the contemporary social milieu is so irrevocably vitiated by “leadership” as to be irredeemable–our language, collective mythos and popular culture, social structures, and ways of interacting with each other are all articulated through the lens of leaders and leadership. In many ways this unhealthy obsession reveals our understanding of the social itself to be in its infancy, still developing and not yet matured out of the mythic flights into hero-worship and fantasy that preoccupied us all in our youth. That the success or failure of an organizational endeavour, spanning multiple countries and hundreds of different actors with conflicting agendas might be attributable to singular Atlasean individuals should seem absurd. But it is naturalized for us, embedded in the way that we see the world. Thus our theorization of the social world and the milieu of the contemporary organization and organizational theory seems to be quite basic, irreflective of the perhaps (un)common sense understanding that even the simplest of the problems of social organization are not solved because one person was able to spout the right kinds of “business bullshit” (Spicer 2018) that we consensually accept to correspond to a thing called “Leadership” with a capital “L”. This chapter’s intellectual challenge is that we begin to pathologize this and take steps to undermine it. We need intellectual and political strategies that can help us to unthink the organizational primacy of leadership in order to attend to the lived complexity of organizations. In this regard, the work of philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari on schizoanalysis can be invaluable to us, as their work offers a means by which we can begin a scouring of the unconscious, a process of developing an awareness of the complex and messy nature of desire. Reading via Deleuze and Guattari we might ask a series of more interesting questions around how desire comes to be coded in the social. How does desire come to desire either the power and insecurity of leadership or the power and insecurity of being a follower? Most importantly, how can we facilitate the liberation of desire to desire otherwise, to begin to conceptualize a social world in terms other than those of leader and follower? It is to these questions which we now turn.


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Unthinking leadership, liberating desire To understand this chapter’s concern with Leadership Studies and unpack how we arrive at a situation where we seem to actively labour to render ourselves subordinate to leaders while at the same time lusting after their perceived power for ourselves, we need to understand desire and how it can come to be viewed as controlled and codified within the social fabric. We might consider a simple example. Writing in Britain in March 2019, the current uncertainty and unrest around the negotiated exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union (“Brexit”) proves a most pressing and timely case study for this. The newspapers daily decry the failure of political leaders and call for the resignation of the Prime Minister, Theresa May, plastering her face on the front page of every newspaper. Defeats of her proposed Brexit plan are framed as her personal failings and the result of her poor “leadership”. Some commentators, thinking themselves enlightened, call for more blame for the current debacle to be placed on David Cameron and his capitulation to anti-immigrant rhetoric, which was itself a form of malicious state propaganda that sought to distract from the social problems caused by austerity. At the same time, a public who sees their futures at risk because of the negotiations, feel maligned and taken advantage of and blame Boris Johnson and the Leave campaign for printing half-truths about NHS funding on the side of a bus or Jeremy Corbyn for not being able to mobilize a strong enough opposition. Those on the Left blame Nigel Farage and his ilk for cultivating the xenophobia and bigotry that made people want the referendum at all and those on the Right blame EU leaders like Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker for not giving the UK a good enough exit deal. Academic commentary about the network of blame shifting between different proper names is still forthcoming, but no doubt the next few years will see a dearth of publication in mainstream and critical outlets analysing the different leaders involved and their actions and inactions. This chapter does not mean to suggest that these individuals are blameless for what is taking place in the UK at the present moment. Rather, we wish merely to suggest that, on the one hand, thinking about which leaders are to blame and who should be scapegoated is wholly inadequate to apprehending the complexity of the social and political problems which Brexit reflects and of which it is the product, and on the other hand, that no “new” way of thinking about leadership emerges from such an analysis–only further iterations and reproductions of over fifty distinct approaches to thinking about leadership that are currently popular in leading journals (Dinh et al. 2014). Why might we not desire to move

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beyond this? How is desire here being mobilized to always function to construe organization as taking place through particular leaders? To answer this, we might turn to Deleuze and Guattari, whose seminal book Anti-Oedipus, often speaks in praise of the psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich, who reminds us that the fascism that swept across Europe in the 1930’s and 40’s was democratically supported. For them Reich, refuses to accept ignorance or illusion on the part of the masses as an explanation of fascism, and demands an explanation that will take their desires into account, an explanation formulated in terms of desire: no, the masses were not innocent dupes; at a certain point, under a certain set of conditions, they wanted fascism, and it is this perversion of the desire of the masses that needs to be accounted for. (Deleuze and Guattari 2000, 29)

The masses were not fooled by a few bad actors, or tricked by a charismatic leader. For Deleuze and Guattari, desire can become so perverted and corrupted that it actively desires its own repression. This conceptualization of desire, as Thanem (2004) reminds us, is not understood as a “lack” as it is in the Freudian/Lacanian tradition. Rather, desire is polymorphous, a productive and generative force. They see the unconscious itself as a productive factory, always reaching out to make new connections, create new flows, cut off others, and form disjunctions and so on. As Gao (2013, 406) summarizes it “desire is not a psychic existence, not lack, but an active and positive reality, an affirmative vital force. Desire has neither object, nor fixed subject”. Desire is inappropriate, perverse, messy, and disruptive to the degree that “no society can tolerate a position of real desire without its structures of exploitation, servitude, and hierarchy being compromised” (Deleuze and Guattari 2000, 116). For Deleuze and Guattari, desire is revolutionary, liberatory, and thus dangerous, to the degree that every social order must seek to control and direct desire, and here we read this channelling as to and through the dynamics of leaders/followers. We know nothing other than to desire to be a leader or a follower. In Anti-Oedipus, Deleuze and Guattari are particularly concerned to chart out the process of repression that leads to desire being controlled and closeted, for example, into Freudian “familialism”. We might here see the same logic apply to “leadership”, “two figures are made to appear, the Great Man and the Crowd” (Deleuze and Guattari 2000, 102), except instead of being defined by oedipal psychoanalysis, the great man being a stand-in for the father and the crowd a generic feminine, it is a dynamic of leader and follower that is forced out of social relationships, everywhere and always the flow and flux of social life is reduced to a refrain of “Who


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is in charge? Who are we following?” It is necessary for us to unthink this and thus Deleuze and Guattari’s (2000, 105) schizoanalysis can prove useful. As they describe it, the goal of schizoanalysis: to analyze the specific nature of the libidinal investments in the economic and political spheres, and thereby to show how, in the subject who desires, desire can be made to desire its own repression.

To think leadership “anew” might thus be to unpack this desire for repression, to understand why we seek out our continued collective subordination to Leadership.

The three tasks of schizoanalysis In Anti-Oedipus Deleuze and Guattari identify three tasks of schizoanalysis, tasks that represent the beginnings of a cartographic map for the liberation of desire from the ways in which it has been repressed by the social. This chapter views these three as a useful roadmap for beginning to unthink the hegemony and dominance of our preoccupation with Leadership. Let us consider each of these tasks in turn. Destroy, destroy. The task of schizoanalysis goes by way of destruction–a whole scouring of the unconscious, a complete curettage. Destroy Oedipus, the illusion of the ego, the puppet of the superego, guilt, the law, castration. (Deleuze and Guattari 2000, 311)

The first task of schizoanalysis calls for rapid destruction, a rejection of the Oedipalization of desire. Deleuze and Guattari call for a rejection of the whole psychoanalytic apparatus, though we do not have the scope to develop this here, we note that they see Freud’s Oedipus complex as a construction, rather than some universal truth about the human psyche. They call on us to reject it. As they say: You weren’t born Oedipus, you caused it to grow in yourself; and you aim to get out of it through fantasy, through castration, but this in turn you have caused to grow in Oedipus–namely, in yourself: the horrible circle. Shit on your whole mortifying, imaginary, and symbolic theater. What does schizoanalysis ask? Nothing more than a bit of a relation to the outside, a little real reality. (Deleuze and Guattari 2000, 344)

In our context we see the leader/follower dynamic as a form emergent from the disciplinary apparatuses operating in control of the unconscious.

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We are told that leadership is indispensable and we see how much we reproduce the tropes and valorization of heroic leadership, either through perpetuation, or critique and rebuke which in a horrible circle keeps our focus on Leadership. We weren’t born thinking about Leadership, we had to grow it in the social. Reading this discourse via schizoanalysis might impel us to simply destroy–“destroying beliefs and representations” (Deleuze and Guattari 2000, 314)–in order to reject Leadership as an explanatory device for what we see taking place in the society in which we live. It is not enough to focus only on certain figureheads which emerge as pustules from the body of social organization. To think leadership anew, we might be compelled to shit on the entire mortifying edifice of Leadership Studies–and think beyond. Having rejected the codification and control of desire in this way, we would then be in a position to begin the first positive task of schizoanalysis; understanding desire in all of its polymorphous perversity, pursuing all of its connections, its lines, its creativity, and genesis. This task thus becomes about the rediscovery of the unconscious, a reflexive acknowledgement of its productive nature and consequential complexity. As Deleuze and Guattari (2000, 322) say, the second task consists of discovering in a subject the nature, the formation, or the functioning of his desiring-machines, independently of any interpretations. What are your desiring–machines, what do you put into these machines, what is the output, how does it work, what are your nonhuman sexes?

To begin anew is to ask genuinely about the machinations of desire. Desire is not doomed to be serf to leaders, to covet domination by leaders, to seek out power as a leader, to abdicate responsibility and take control by scapegoating leaders and so on, but desire that can function otherwise. The second task of schizoanalysis is about becoming open to the possibility of a radical reorganization of the unconscious. This is not an easy thing, and represents a long drawn out process of seeking to open up the possibilities of desire to desire otherwise, rendering available and building new forms of social organization without Leadership, or ways of thinking that do not reduce all forms of interaction to be visible through the lens of leaders and followers. The third task involves acknowledging the ways in which desire and by proxy our understanding of it is “muddled” within the social milieu. This involves drawing a distinction between “the unconscious libidinal investment of group or desire, and the preconscious investment of class or interest.” (Deleuze and Guattari 2000, 343). Deleuze and Guattari use the example of the “gay liberation movement”, which might commendably


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seek the rights, recognition, and freedoms of LGBTQ people, but they suggest that sexual freedom will never truly be possible so long as sexual difference itself is maintained. The desire for equal rights for LGBTQ individuals read in this way only serves to further entrench and embed a heteronormative hegemony (which is against their interests) (see Buchanan 2000 for an exegesis of this). As Deleuze and Guattari (2000, 350) describe it: The task of schizoanalysis is therefore to reach the investments of unconscious desire of the social field, insofar as they are differentiated from the preconscious investments of interest, and insofar as they are not merely capable of counteracting them, but also of coexisting with them in opposite modes.

The schizoanalytic task is thus to work to extinguish or disrupt or disorganize the interest altogether so that desire and interests can begin to function coextensively. Here again we see the relevance for unthinking leadership, for what is more against our collective interests that to always render ourselves as subordinate to certain great leaders with whom we are enamoured or who excite us in particular ways, or conversely to always seek to control and dominate others in what we understand to be a protracted farce of power? Read in this way, focusing on leadership at all can be read as being against ones “interests”, blinding one to the complicity that one or the masses has in (to return to earlier examples) the establishment of a fascist regime or the democratic vote to leave the European Union. Thus, this desire to be a follower or a leader, via a schizoanalytic viewing, might be problematized. First by rejecting and destroying the dynamic, viewing it as obsolete and reductive, second by reflexively introspecting to see what in our individual and collective histories have led us to always reproduce these roles and dynamics and thereby beginning a positive reconstruction of desire, and finally, by allowing for the alignment of desire with our interests towards a more egalitarian and communal politic. In short, schizoanalysis offers a map by which we might begin the long process of dismantling the psychic apparatus of leadership and its hold over our scholarship and our experience of social life.

Conclusion Given the arguments that this chapter has tried to levy, no doubt many readers are already preparing their indignant rebuttals: “but I have made

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such and such a novel contribution to the extant traditions of research in such and such an area of leadership research by drawing on such an such a model which is of growing interest to scholars in Leadership Quarterly...” and they will proceed with their pseudo-erotic lionizing of certain leading researchers in the field until finally they say: “Is that not thinking anew? I prudently carved out a careful contribution with the fine file of scientific research”. But this is not even thinking and whatever “art of dosages” (Deleuze and Guattari 2005, 160) we might want to see here is problematic; it is the endless reproduction of the same, the monomyth of leadership manifesting in every field of social life like so many cancerous cells, purifying and over-simplifying our understanding of the complex and messy entanglements of the different forces and relations that constitute a given social milieu. But even this position, which has thus far underpinned this chapter’s polemic and at times dogmatic argumentation, has been said before and we return to a conversation about “distributed leadership”, or leader/follower dynamics. Indeed, in their own way, even the simple introductory guidebooks on leadership with which a new researcher might start might reproduce the same line of sceptical argumentation that we have pursued here–see for example, Grint’s (2010) frank consideration of the question “Can we do without leaders?”. We are thus not so much going in circles as we are circling the drain, spiralling into the abyss, a black hole from which no form of new thinking can escape. The social world and the milieu of the contemporary organization seem thus irrevocably vitiated by the conversation around leadership; riven by its pervasive language (see Learmonth and Morrell 2017). For some, the idea that we might look to the radical rejection of psychoanalysis that Deleuze and Guattari propose to begin the work of rejecting this way of thinking about the social, will indicate a kind of willed ignorance at best and, at worst, a cowardly attempt to avoid the pressing problem that leadership is a very real phenomenon that we should seek to study and understand because of the tremendous impact that it has on the daily lives of so many who are either in leadership roles or who are servant to the designs of particular leaders. Again, this chapter defers to Deleuze and Guattari (2000, 277) who suggest that Good people say that we must not flee, that to escape is not good, that it isn't effective, and that one must work for reforms. But the revolutionary knows that escape is revolutionary–withdrawal freaks–provided one sweeps away the social cover on leaving, or causes a piece of the system to get lost in the shuffle.


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Escape. Let go. Begin the long drawn out process of scrubbing your unconscious of the fascicizing desire to be subordinated to leaders or control others as a leader. The perversity of always seeking to subordinate and be subordinated, corralling desire into the torturous cage of a simplistic recurring leader/follower binary, is not to be perpetuated, or thought in “slightly” different terms which continue it. We might instead ask “What lines brought you to this; where else can they go?” We maintain that in seeking to unthink leadership in this way, the work of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari on schizoanalysis can be invaluable to us, as their work offers a means by which scholars within Leadership Studies can begin to unpack the complex of desire that produces the desire for mutual repression present in either the power and insecurity of leading or the power and insecurity of being a follower. Most importantly, it charges us to reflect upon how we can facilitate the liberation of desire to desire otherwise, to begin to conceptualize a social world in terms other than those of leader/follower. For my part, I will write and speak no longer about Leadership. I am moving on, with just a little additional effort, so that I can begin to think anew.

References Billing, Yvonne Due, and Mats Alvesson. 2000. “Questioning the Notion of Feminine Leadershipௗ: A Critical Perspective on the Gender Labelling of Leadership.” Gender, Work & Organization 7 (3): 144– 57. Bryman, Alan, David Collinson, Keith Grint, Brad Jackson, and Mary Uhl-Bien, eds. 2011. The Sage Handbook of Leadership. London: Sage. Buchanan, Ian. 2000. Deleuze and Guattari’s “Anti-Oedipus.” London: Continuum. Carroll, Brigid, Jackie Ford, and Scott Taylor, eds. 2015. Leadership: Contemporary Critical Perspectives. London: Sage. Collinson, David. 2006. “Rethinking Followershipௗ: A Post-Structuralist Analysis of Follower Identities.” The Leadership Quarterly 17: 179– 89. —. 2011. “Critical Leadership Studies.” In The Sage Handbook of Leadership, edited by A. Bryman, D. Collinson, K. Grint, B. Jackson, and M. Uhl-Bein. London: Sage. Collinson, David, Owain Smoloviü Jones, and Keith Grint. 2018. “‘No

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More Heroes’: Critical Perspectives on Leadership Romanticism.” Organization Studies 39 (11): 1625–47. Courtney, Steven J. 2014. “Inadvertently Queer School Leadership amongst Lesbian , Gay and Bisexual ( LGB ) School Leaders.” Day, David, ed. 2014. The Oxford Handbook of Leadership and Organizations. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Deleuze, Gilles, and Felix Guattari. 2005. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. London: University of Minnesota Press. Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. 2000. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Dinh, Jessica E, Robert G Lord, William L Gardner, Jeremy D Meuser, Robert C Liden, and Jinyu Hu. 2014. “Leadership Theory and Research in the New Millenniumௗ: Current Theoretical Trends and Changing Perspectives.” The Leadership Quarterly 25 (1): 36–62. Ford, J., N. Harding, and M. Learmonth. 2008. Leadership as Identity: Constructions and Deconstructions. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Gao, Jihai. 2013. “Deleuze ’ s Conception of Desire.” Deleuze Studies 7 (3): 406–20. Graen, George B, and Mary Uhl-bien. 1995. “Relationship-Based Approach to Leadershipௗ: Development of Leader-Member Exchange (LMX) Theory of Leadership over 25 Yearsௗ: Applying a Multi-Level Multi-Domain Perspective.” Leadership Quarterly 6 (2): 219–47. Grint, Keith. 2001. The Arts of Leadership. Oxford: Oxford University Press. —. 2009. “The Sacred in Leadership: Separation, Sacrifice and Silence.” Organization Studies 31 (1): 89–107. —. 2010. Leadership: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press. Iszatt-White, Marian, and Christopher Saunders. 2014. Leadership. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Jackson, Brad, and Ken Parry. 2011. A Very Short, Fairly Interesting and Reasonably Cheap Book about Studying Leadership. London: Sage. Learmonth, Mark, and Kevin Morrell. 2017. “Is Critical Leadership Studies ‘Critical’?” Leadership 13 (3): 257–71. —. 2017. “Reimagining Ethical Leadership as a Relational, Contextual and


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Political Practice.” Leadership 13 (3): 343–67. Spicer, Andre. 2018. Business Bullshit. Oxon: Routledge. Thanem, Torkild. 2004. “The Body without Organs: Nonorganizational Desire in Organizational Life.” Culture and Organization 10 (3): 203– 17. Uhl-bien, Mary, Ronald E Riggio, Kevin B Lowe, and Melissa K Carsten. 2014. “Followership Theoryௗ: A Review and Research Agenda.” The Leadership Quarterly 25: 83–104. Wilson, Suze. 2016. Thinking Differently about Leadership: A Critical History of Leadership Studies. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing. Wood, Martin. 2005. “The Fallacy of Misplaced Leadership.” Journal of Management Studies 42 (6): 1101–21. Yukl, Gary. 2013. Leadership in Organizations. London: Pearson.


(In alphabetical order by last name) Akmal Abdulmuminov Gerardo Abreu Pederzini Ellen Ahlness A.J. Corner Deborah Delaney Richard Field Mario de Marchis Edward W. Miles Sideeq Mohammed Richard Niesche Jeff Schatten Renato Souza EAESP) Heather Stewart Leah Tomkins

Independent Researcher University of Kent University of Washington University of Ottawa Griffith University University of Alberta Universidad de las Américas Puebla Georgia State University University of Kent The University of New South Wales Washington and Lee University Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV Griffith University The Open University

INDEX Considering Leadership Anew

abstract knowledge, 37 action learning, 42 Action learning, 45 agricultural revolution, 134 Altruism, 4 ambidextrous organization, 21 Aquinas, 94 art, 59, 66 big bang, 129 big history, 128, 134, 143 Big History, 127 big questions, 127 brains, 4 Brazilian, 101 captain, 1 chaotic, 3 charisma, 151 charismatic, 2 Circumspection, 83 climate change, 2, 3 Cognition, 5 collective leadership, 101, 105, 108 collectivistic leadership approaches, 104 Common Sense, 88 complexity, 103 Complexity Leadership Theory, 21 consumerism, 118 cooperation, 5 Creativity, 4 crises, 2 Critical Leadership Studies, 151 cycles of leadership archetype transitions, 18 danger, 2 decision-making, 2 Deleuze, 153 denaturalize, 152 desire, 152, 154, 155 dialogical relations, 102

distributed leadership, 44, 61, 62, 102 Distributed leadership, 64 educational leadership, 115 Ethics, 4 eubolia, 90, 95 evolution, 130, 138 expertise, 7 fantasies, 69 Female leadership, 42 follower, 153 Gadamer, 66, 67 generalizability, 35 Guattari, 153 Hercules, 76 hermeneutic circle, 59 hermeneutics, 65 Higher education, 42 humanities, 31 identity, 107 inclusive leadership, 59 Inductive inference, 34 inference, 4, 9, 34 Institutional Leadership, 16 interdisciplinarity, 128 interdisciplinary, 31 invisible, 59, 61, 63 invisible leadership, 63 la différance, 135 language, 134 leadership in education, 115 leadership industry, 120 leadership studies, 128 Leadership Studies, 151, 154 LGBT, 152 LGBTQ, 158 Machiavelli, 97 mainstream, 20 Mainstream, 3 managerialism, 20

Considering Leadership Anew meme, 132 memeplexes, 133 memes, 132, 139, 142 neoliberalism, 139, 140, 141 network, 103 neurobiological, 2, 6, 7, 8 Ovid, 74 PDSA, 48 Phaedrus, 117 pharmakon, 115, 116, 117, 118, 121, 123 phronesis, 80, 91 Plutarch, 80 potency, 133 power, 2, 61, 153 prevision, 95 profession, 30 proximate causes, 126 prudence, 83, 92 psycho-power, 117, 118, 119, 122 quiet leader, 63 rapid destruction, 156 relational practice, 108 sagaciousness, 94 schizoanalysis, 153, 156 science, 128, 134 sedulousness, 94 self-organization, 129


sensibility, 94 sensibleness, 88 Situational Leadership, 16 social-psychology, 8 social-psychology approaches, 1, 3, 30 Socrates, 117 spiritus animalis, 131 Stakeholder Theory, 16 Stiegler, 115, 117, 118, 119, 121, 122 symbolic order, 138 tacit knowledge, 32 Technology, 22 technology-driven, 14, 20 The Prince, 96 Thomistic, 79 traits, 37 Transformational Leadership, 16 Triumph of the Virtues, 73 ultimate causes, 127 uncertainty, 2 unconscious, 157 unthink, 153, 156 virtuoso, 77 Voltaire, 89 women in HE, 44