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    Change leaders can either create solutions or help people find their own

Change leaders can either create solutions or help people find their own

“Truth loves its limits, for here it meets the beautiful”, Rabindranath Tagore

Too much wasted effort in change ends up in busy action — launching lots of initiatives that create more work and never seem to stick — or fail to crack the nut of changing behaviour. It all feels (very) heavy. To assuage this situation, research and development in the […]

April 22nd, 2019|Leadership|0 Comments|

Do we even know what ‘follower’ means?

Ninety years have elapsed since Mary Parker Follett (1927) applied the term ‘follower’. The amount of literature based on the notions of follower and followership has increased enormously over the years. In an American leadership journal I found 1105 articles published on followers and followership, and in a European journal 439.

In a newly published article, I have argued that […]

April 10th, 2019|Leadership|1 Comment|

Lead like an anthropologist – and lead change well

In a previous article, I defined change as “the disturbance of repeating patterns”. And it is nigh on impossible to do this skilfully unless you can see, acknowledge and deeply respect the purpose that our cultural patterns and taken-for-granted routines serve. This requires going to source. The problem is, not many of us are able to cleanly see the causal […]

February 7th, 2019|Leadership|0 Comments|

Digital technologies are revolutionising leadership

The impact of the digital revolution is being felt across all industries. The advent of computerisation, online communications, algorithms and workflow software has certainly made its mark.

Leadership education tends to assume that all leaders are at the top of some pyramid structure with organisations that require vision, direction setting and motivation to achieve targets and goals. Digital technologies are fundamentally […]

The collapse of leadership theories

After having published an article on servant leadership and another on transformational leadership I became aware that several researchers had examined these theories in order to determine similarities and differences between them. Their purpose was to understand these theories.

A theory can indeed be understood in the way in which it differs from other theories. All knowledge is conceptually mediated […]

October 16th, 2018|Leadership|0 Comments|

When CEO hubris leads to environmental innovation

Rupert Murdoch, Marissa Mayer, Jean Marie Messier. What do they have in common? All of them are famous CEOs of successful or unsuccessful business empires and all, at some point, were accused for their hubristic personalities. The ‘hubris syndrome’ is a psychological state affecting leaders in positions of authority and power. It is characterised by an exaggerated self-belief, sense […]

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    (Mis)leading ethics: towards a bearable lightness of being  

(Mis)leading ethics: towards a bearable lightness of being  

Leadership ethics are a sacred phenomenon. We are here to preach heresy. But not too much! For who would listen? Our argument in a recent paper is that there is a romanticism that underlies established leadership ethics that is as destructive as it is seductive, as responsible for unnecessary dissonance as it is for building resonance.

A degree of utopianism […]

June 6th, 2018|Leadership|0 Comments|

How to approach innovation

Here’s the big issue – most organisations/teams/individuals only embark on innovation if they can travel in ways that reinforce existing routines. We seek new results through habitual methods. I call this conundrum the difference between ‘action’ – busily launching lots of innovation initiatives yet not fundamentally shifting underlying mindsets and ways of operating, and ‘movement’ – rewiring the very […]

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    Leadership development today requires that faculty act less as experts, more as Sherpas

Leadership development today requires that faculty act less as experts, more as Sherpas

Given the appreciative response to my article on why we need a radical change in how we develop leaders, I wish to expand on its most quoted message: that leadership development in today’s dynamic landscape requires that faculty acts less as experts, and more as Sherpas.

The reason I contend this is that the leadership skills required to navigate today’s […]

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    The old man and the sea of leadership: looking for effectiveness

The old man and the sea of leadership: looking for effectiveness

Leadership has been a scientific discipline for more than one hundred years. The magnitude of research has increased tremendously. Many different objects of study related to leadership have been investigated with the ambition to solve a variety of problems that appear to be more or less relevant for those in leadership positions.

In this blog post, I present my own […]

Is leadership research betraying leaders?

If the purpose of research is to solve problems, then the question emerges of what the problem is and who has the problem. The purpose of medical research, for instance, is to provide those who practice medicine with knowledge that enables them to cure diseases, to relieve pain, and to enhance individuals’ health. Medical research thus benefits patients.

I believe […]

Are you a leader or a manager?

The title of this article sounds like a trick question – it would seem the answer should be “leader”. But have you ever thought about what a manager does? Managers set up the systems that allow the organisation to run smoothly and efficiently. They ensure budgets are followed, timelines are met, and employees are trained and engaged. Without managers, […]

Looking for leadership guidance in classic philosophy

Some people contend that authentic leadership is more ethical and compelling. Authenticity depends on aligning what you do and say on the outside with who you are on the inside. They recommend looking inward to find your true self and core beliefs. Experts offer to help leaders bring to the surface what they find deep down.

Oddly, three celebrated philosophers […]

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    The media play a role in deciding who is an authentic leader

The media play a role in deciding who is an authentic leader

What is the electoral appeal in political candidates as different as Corbyn, Trump and Macron? Political commentary indicates that it is because they are “real”, true to themselves, and in that way, unlike the “typical” politician.

This commentary finds support in the academic literature on authentic leadership, where it is argued that the leaders who inspire confidence, optimism and trust […]

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    Why do unethical leaders thrive, despite all talk to the contrary?

Why do unethical leaders thrive, despite all talk to the contrary?

The disappearance of the iron curtain in the early 1990s led many social and political analysts to believe that liberal democracy had prevailed as the “winning” political system of humankind. At the same time, egalitarianism, positivity, and humanism (along with mainstream Western ethics) came to dominate the textbook versions of organisational life and leadership. At the very least, it […]

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    Leadership: The measurable impact of inspiring a sense of purpose

Leadership: The measurable impact of inspiring a sense of purpose

When we need to create change, the evidence shows that money and fear are poor motivators. Finding a common inspiration is an alternative that works. Leaders have the privilege and responsibility of generating alignment to a common purpose.

This is acutely true when there is a crisis or urgency to change the performance of a business. Arriving in these situations, […]

Authentic leaders tend to be effective as managers

Leadership is the process of influencing a group of individuals to achieve shared objectives. The primary function of leadership is to produce change and movement, while the primary function of management is to provide order and consistency to organisations. As both leadership and management are processes, anybody can execute leadership or managerial functions at different times. Leaders cannot be […]

Leadership studies: All bridges have been burned

Leadership has been a scientific discipline for over 100 years. The magnitude of research has increased tremendously. A variety of leadership concepts and theories has been proposed. Now, I have identified types of leadership theories in order to understand the present fissured state of leadership research.

Leadership theories may be categorised according to the following criteria: (1) theoretical assumptions on […]

A bit of madness is good for leadership potential

Successful leaders possess a personality disorder, and a modicum of psychopathology is a prerequisite for exceptional performance. Influenced by recent advances in neuroscience and genetics, I argue in a book that leadership and followership are evolutionary adaptations that developed in order to enhance group cohesion, to maximise chances for survival and reproduction, two basic functions of living organisms. A prodigious […]

It’s ok for leaders to have a sense of humour

A good sense of humour is often regarded as an important factor for successful leadership. It is an important way successful leaders motivate their followers and gain their support. For example, former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was hit by an egg thrown by an angry protester in a rally. He responded humorously and said “this guy owes me bacon […]