Spotlight on Professor Jonathan Gosling

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The International Leadership Association (ILA) brings together professionals with a keen interest in the study, practice, and teaching of leadership. It is the largest worldwide community committed to leadership scholarship, development, and practice. Each year, the ILA’s Leadership Legacy Program honours those who have made a significant lifetime contribution to the field of leadership through their published works and influential support of leadership knowledge and practice. We are delighted to hear that Jonathan Gosling, a Visiting Professor at Bristol Leadership & Change Centre, will be awarded the 2021 ILA Lifetime Achievement Award at the ILA Global Conference in Geneva later this month, and we asked him to comment about his prestigious award.

“This award recognises work with colleagues, many now based at the Bristol Leadership and Change Centre. Work which has touched the worlds of public health and private equity, from humanitarian emergencies to defence strategies.  We have always aimed to appreciate and support the extraordinarily complex work of leadership – which includes the webs of cooperation and contest in which it is often entangled.  One of our current projects with BLCC is to embed a truly worldly mindset in our Executive MBA courses by enabling students to work alongside leaders from all over the world. This is essential if we are to stand for leadership that is bold enough to stay connected and compassionate in the face of such a pressured world. So it is very pleasing that our lifetime (so far) of achievements (so far) are recognised by the ILA, and I am most grateful.”

Jonathan works closely alongside BLCC members, including Professor Richard Bolden and Professor Peter Case. He has authored a wide range of books, chapters and journal articles, many of which can be found on his personal website. The following except is taken from a recent chapter titled ‘Leadership and Management in a time of Deep Adaptation’ (2021). 

“The chapter is mainly concerned with how to sustain a capacity for leadership to contribute to organising in ways that remain kind and inclusive while also being effective and appreciated as socially legitimate.

“Leadership and management are aspects of ‘organising’ that traditionally place a special emphasis on the authority of one or a few people. Many other organising processes are required for productive work and wholesome community life (such as cooperation, peer pressure, self-authorisation and coercion (Alvesson & Blom, 2019)), and all come under pressure when things start to fall apart. Radical change tends to give rise to deep-seated responses to anxiety in individuals, groups and whole societies, especially when the threats are as all-encompassing as a pandemic of climate chaos. Leading ‘deep adaptation’ in periods of collapsing social structures requires the maturity to tolerate, contain and ‘turn’ these responses in constructive ways. This can be accomplished through individual initiative as well as through the kinds of behaviours and structures that allow leadership (along with other membership contributions) from many people.

“Leadership of adaptation is diverse and sometimes hardly recognisable as leadership. It may be found in counter-cultural experiments, in some protest and some policing, and is often persistent and undemonstrative in the sustaining institutions of society (schools, churches, professions etc.). It helps us reconcile with the situation, measure the appreciation of risks, grieve when we suffer loss, weigh with discretion when our options seem narrowed, and to choose pragmatic and courageous change. 

“However, while lauding the self-disciplined reasonableness of this kind of leadership, we should not totally eschew the bravado of the narcissist nor the bright hopefulness of co-dependent saviors: although both trade in unreality to some extent, they meet real emotional needs in individuals, organizations, and society.” (Gosling, 2021)

Understanding the strengths and limitations of different forms of leadership, and ensuring we have the capacity for deep adaptation, is a task to which our colleagues at UWE, Bristol much to offer.

To find out more about this, Pelumbra Ltd or indeed any other projects Jonathan is working on get in touch by email at


Alvesson, M., & Blom, M. (2019). Beyond leadership and followership. Working with a variety of modes of organizingOrganizational Dynamics, 48(1): 28-37.

Gosling, J. (2021) Leadership and management in a context of Deep Adaptation in Bendell, J. and Read R. Deep Adaptation: Preparing for climate chaos. London: Polity Press

The Unleadership Movement: Lighting fires at the Collective Leadership for Scotland Campfires Festival

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The Unleadership Movement is a growing collaboration of practitioners and scholars from public, private and voluntary sectors who seek to reflect upon leaderly practices that have been illuminated during the Covid-19 pandemic. Its mission is to establish how this learning can be taken forward by participants to make a leaderly impact in their organisations and communities.

By understanding and disrupting traditional leadership expectations, for example that heroic leaders must always act with well-reasoned and well-crafted visions and plans to achieve a state of perfection, the concept of unleadership reveals unexplored alternatives. For example, the practice of unleadership places a focus on those who would not normally regard themselves as leaders. These are individuals who are driven to act by their values and determination to make the best contribution that they can with the resources at their disposal and through a latent desire to pay it forward. This energy drives them to act without securing “perfect” knowledge and certainty, with the courage to act into the unknown and to admit to unknowing. They confidently connect and collaborate with others in a spirit of generosity and compassion, and they are not intimidated by the prospects of having to pass responsibility to better placed others when they reach the limit of their resources.  Stories of these acts of unleadership have emerged during the Covid-19 pandemic and have potentially profound implications for the practices of leadership as our new post-Covid working world develops and re-organises itself.

In this spirit, we recently hosted a discussion at the “Leadership Campfires” event organised by Collective Leadership for Scotland. Aiming to recreate the cozy, comfortable feeling of sitting around the campfire for some inspiring storytelling and conversation, we set up our virtual campfire and invited collaborators from around the globe to come and join us. 

Storytelling seemed a natural partner to the idea of a campfire, and one that evokes further the ability to share experiences and ideas through conversations. So, having introduced our ideas about unleadership through an informal conversation between ourselves, we then invited others to tell their stories, first in smaller breakout groups before sharing with the wider group. Whilst their stories were very different in shape and style, they revealed common aspects of experiences of the last eighteen months, and shared common threads about human endeavours, and unleaderly behaviours in such a range of different circumstances. We were enthralled by what we heard and spent time afterwards reflecting on the stories that resonated for us.

The parable of the crab describing how a lonely crab felt isolated on his own sandy beach and wanted to explore further. It was only by finding the strength within himself to explore beyond his boundaries that he then encountered another lone travelling crab and together they found joint empowerment to move beyond where they could have even considered possible, to explore new terrain.”

“The story of a musician who stepped outside of their famous role to inspire groups of non- governmental organisations to co-operate to provide aid to those who needed it most during hardships after natural disasters.”

“The story of a growing sense of place, where the community began to feel a different kind of ownership and value about their local environment and the benefits to everyone of making small changes.

These stories suggested that leaderly practices and the idea of unleadership was something that also comes from within, be that values held dearly, or inner confidence, as well as a reaction to the place we find ourselves in. They revealed that we can embrace the multi-faceted nature of our own identities and use them in different ways to inspire or take leaderly action. And they highlighted that in pushing beyond our real or imagined boundaries, even small acts can make a big difference.

The Collective Leadership for Scotland event was inspiring and ignited lots of little campfires discussing the potential for leadership to be more collective, social and democratic and to consider our own parts in this developing process. We’ve also been lucky enough to run a series of workshop conversations over the last few months prior to this event, funded through a Higher Education Innovation Fund Grant from UWE Bristol. The purpose of these workshops has been to share, develop and disseminate knowledge about the idea of unleadership and to invite others to join the conversation. With that in mind, this is the first in a series of short blogs which will discuss in more detail some of the key ideas involved in practicing unleadership. These will discuss the themes of paying it forward; living with the unknown; catching the wave; and confident connecting and collaborating.

You are all warmly invited to join our movement and contribute to the conversation!

Carol Jarvis, Hugo Gaggiotti, Selen Kars-Unluoglu  & Kay Galpin

LinkedIn: The Unleadership Movement

Twitter: @unleadership_

HIV healthcare staff in Zimbabwe begin PG Certificate in Professional Practice in Change Leadership

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Dr Greyling Viljoen and Dr Prisciplla Matuare (Women’s University in Africa), supported remotely by Professor Peter Case, recently delivered a two-day face-to-face training workshop (18-19 August 2021) for nineteen Zimbabwe healthcare professionals enrolled on the FBL Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Practice in Change Leadership (PPCL). The students are also working as part of a Bill & Melinda Gates funded project co-led by Peter to restructure and improve HIV/AIDS prevention in Zimbabwe. The PPCL module is designed to enable students to combine their studies with experiential workplace learning.  

The PPCL programme forms an integral part of a project entitled ‘Optimizing Stakeholder Operating Models for HIV Prevention in Zimbabwe’ – OPTIMISE, for short. The project, which has been running since June 2020 and is due to conclude in May 2022, addresses health HIV service delivery in Manicaland, Matabeleland North and Matabelend South provinces. The aim is to support and capacitate the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) in working with stakeholders to develop and implement sustainability plans. This involves reviewing progress on the MoHCC strategy and facilitating the process of establishing goals, priorities and action plans. It also strives to create the necessary leadership coalition to drive change in the health service.

There is a diverse cohort of students on the PPCL module representing different levels with the system: from senior MoHCC directors through to front line staff working in health facilities. Students undertake theoretical studies supported by materials on Blackboard and are trained in the application of the project’s LEAD methodology. There is also a significant ‘supervised practice’ element of the course whereby students are supported in applying their learning.  

Thanks go to Katie Joyce (module leader) and UWE’s Faculty of Business and Law Professional Development Team for their excellent support in delivering the PPCL module.   The main collaborating partners for this work are the Malaria Elimination Initiative (University of California, San Francisco) Population Services International and the Clinton Health Access Initiative.

Innovative projects receive Vice-Chancellors Early Career Researcher Awards

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Every year Research, Business and Innovation (RBI) invite Early Career Researchers working at UWE Bristol to apply for the Vice-Chancellors Early Career Researcher (VC ECR) Development Award. The award is open to members of staff who are in the early stages of their research career, typically within five years of their first academic appointment on a teaching and research contract, or on completing a doctorate. UWE Bristol wants to support early career researchers to undertake research in areas aligned with the University’s research beacons;

  • Digital futures
  • Health & wellbeing
  • Creative industries & technologies
  • Sustainability & climate change resilience

This year, we are delighted to announce that four members of Bristol Leadership and Change Centre have been successful, here is a summary of their projects.

Navigating the storm, exploring the leadership experiences of female entrepreneurs in the South West

Beacon: Health & wellbeing

Dr Alison Miles, Senior Lecturer in Organisation Studies

The current academic debate surrounding female entrepreneurs focuses on barriers and gender differences. This, together with reports of female entrepreneurs being hardest hit by the pandemic, have shaped the current UK policy debate leading to a government pledge of 600,000 new female run businesses by 2030.

While these factors are undoubtedly true, the current debate misses ‘how’ these companies are run. The aim of this project is to explore how the leadership styles and characteristics of female entrepreneurs influences their approach to the challenges faces by their businesses due to the Covid 19 pandemic.

Using focus groups of 6 leaders in 5 areas around the region, followed by a series of semi structured interviews, the research will explore what it is about these leaders that makes them successful in the current climate, what opportunities and barriers were faced and how did the leaders respond?

In answering these questions, the research will build a narrative to highlight leader development in South West SME’s, embed opportunities and shine a light on ways to deal with change.

Organising truth: exploring critical thinking and fact-checking amongst digital natives

Beacon: Digital futures

Richard Longman, Senior Lecturer in Organisation Studies (Leadership & Change)

Richard Longman’s project is set against a modern-day maelstrom of misinformation and disinformation, and is inspired by online organisations who promote digital literacy. The project aims to investigate how people (especially those who have grown up with digital technologies) produce and consume information online and how they make sense of associated truth claims. To further this aim, the project examines the organisational processes by which information is produced and consumed online, and questions the power effects of the technologies that mediate our online experiences. From this, the project critically-evaluates the legitimacy of different truth claims – this will deepen understanding about how people and technologies go about “organising truth”.

Digital literacy is a prerequisite to the good functioning of democratic societies. As engaged, critical research, seeking to be transformative of practice, it has a dual focus. First, to interrogate the framework for information literacy advocated by FaktaBarri (a non-partisan journalistic service in Finland using social media to collect and distribute factual information with crowds). Second, to explore how people navigate informational abundance online, and to evaluate the critical thinking skills and fact-checking resources they use. The interplay between these two foci will lead to theorising about how digital literacy can combat misinformation and disinformation. Located within Bristol Leadership and Change Centre, this project makes a distinctive contribution to existing work exploring leadership and change in a rapidly-changing world by focusing on our digital futures.

Identifying Threshold Concepts of Entrepreneurship beyond business and across cultures

Beacons: Creative industries & Digital futures

Dr. Berrbizne Urzelai, Senior Lecturer of International Business

Threshold concepts are “conceptual gateways” or “portals” that lead to previously inaccessible ways of thinking about something (Meyer and Land, 2005). Mastery of a threshold concept simultaneously changes an individual’s idea of what they know and who they are (Cousin, 2009). 

This project aims to identify threshold concepts to explore how being entrepreneurial and enterprising differs across disciplines, countries and levels of study. There are three main research questions:

  1. What do Creative Industries (CI) understand by “thinking as an entrepreneur”? 
  2. Which of the CI entrepreneurs’ perspectives are concepts that are threshold concepts?
  3. Are there concepts that are distinct to 1) creative industry sector (and sub-sectors), 2) specific country (UK or Spain) or 3) level of study (undergraduate, postgraduate, other)?

The project will:

  • Provide evidence of research applied to education, and help embedding enterprise education (EE) in the curriculum and/or co/extra-curriculum (tailored programmes, modules, etc.). 
  • Inform educators and practitioners about the thinking and needs that these entrepreneurs have in different disciplines and the impact of their understanding on their practice.
  • Evidence the efficacy of EE initiatives when comparing programmes based on threshold concept related findings with programmes that have not taken these findings on board.
  • Identify concepts that complement learning outcomes and other frameworks.  

This research will enable us to validate a set of threshold concepts for Creative Industries and understand the ways of thinking and practicing that are distinctive, which can be used as a pilot for a wider national/ multinational study in the future. This knowledge can then be used to inform curriculum development. 

Developing an understanding of ‘Leadership Resilience’ within creative and cultural spaces and places

Beacon: Creative industries & technologies

Dr. Hugh Waters, Lecturer in Organisation Studies

Dr. Hugh Waters has received a competitive award from the Vice Chancellors Early Career Research Award Programme to deliver an action research project ‘Developing an understanding of ‘Leadership Resilience’ within creative and cultural spaces and places’. This project is designed to explore how emerging creative/cultural organisations see themselves, and develop resilient and authentic leadership practice in the face of current and ongoing challenges. The project intends to deliver impact in real-time enabling those participating to find solutions to identified ‘leadership’ and ‘organisational design’ challenges with the support of peers.

A further aim of the project is to continue the development of an active network with the creative industries, building on the work of a current (£10,500) UKRI Higher Education Innovation Fund award of which opportunities are provided to current and future students. In addition to assisting in the development of a new cross-faculty teaching offer between the Faculty of Business and Law alongside the Faculty of Arts, Creative Industries and Education.

To find out more about this project, or any of the projects showcased above please email. You can also find out more about other current research projects within Bristol Leadership & Change Centre on our research pages

Please also follow BLCC on Twitter @UWELeadership

Publication of Malaria Elimination Open Access Resources

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Professors Peter Case and Jonathan Gosling from UWE Bristol, recently published a set of open access resources in collaboration with the Malaria Elimination Initiative (MEI) and the University of California, San Francisco. The resources are entitled LEAD: Leadership & Engagement for Improved Accountability & Delivery of Services Framework  and comprise a set of guidelines and practical tools for Ministries of Health and advisors to assist with the improvement of malaria healthcare services. It is the product of work that Peter and Jonathan have been conducting with MEI for the past seven years in low- and middle-income countries across the globe. Read about the project further in our previous post ‘Helping to improve malaria healthcare in Southern Africa’

LEAD draws upon organization development, leadership learning, participatory action research, quality improvement methods, and principles of community engagement to improve operational delivery at the district, clinic, and village level. LEAD employs a systematic process, involving continual problem diagnosis, action planning, implementation and evaluation to build capacity for change management through a series of workshops, meetings, trainings, coaching, and mentoring over the course of the planning cycle.

It was developed in response to requests from National Malaria Control Programmes (NMCPs) for assistance in tackling challenges in a systematic and participatory manner whilst, simultaneously, building capacity for leadership and management across hierarchical levels and ensuring sustainability of healthcare provision.

The tool has been implemented thus far in Vietnam, Zimbabwe, Eswatini and Namibia, leading to significant improvements in elements of programme delivery. These improvements include, inter alia: improved detection, testing and treatment, data quality, communication, and fewer drug stockout events. Additional benefits, such as capacity building of healthcare professionals and development of accredited training of NMCP staff, have also accrued, creating sustainable impacts in these regions.

To find out more visit the Shrinking the Malaria Map website.

Desperately Seeking ‘Self-ish’ space: the year of Covid-19, lockdown and making dens

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The following excerpts are taken from an article written by Harriet Shortt for Organizational Aesthetics, the full article can be read here.

As I look back on the events of last year, like so many people, my reflections turn to how our home has been central to all that we have done and all that we have experienced. And like so many others during lockdown, our dining room became a classroom, the kitchen table became a meeting space, and the living room became a gym. All this meant our homes became ‘contested spaces’ (Lefebvre, 1991) and as I recently wrote in a book chapter with my co-author Michal Izak, we have suddenly found ourselves in a space with multiple meanings and uses (Shortt and Izak, 2020). We have appropriated and re-appropriated rooms across the landscape of our domestic spaces and perhaps most predominately, the boundaries between work and home have been well and truly broken and re-established.

As a result of these broken and now very blurry boundaries between work and home, the once private, intimate space of the home has been made (partly) public. Our domestic spaces are more visible now and throughout the pandemic they have been shared with and open to a whole host of people that might not have otherwise been ‘invited in’. For lots of us this has included the ongoing avalanche of Teams work calls, the home-schooling video calls, the Zoom quizzes, Facetime with family, Pilates on WhatsApp, and webinars hosted
from the garden shed.

For me, these complexities associated with the socio-material experiences of space at home during lockdown, and how we have responded to them, were first starkly highlighted by my 5-year-old daughter, Lauren. Throughout this year Lauren has been den-making. I know this is not unusual for a child of her age, and according to Sobel (2002), den-making is a fundamental part of early and middle childhood when children create a hiding space, ‘homeaway-from-home’, removed from parents or siblings. But during lockdown the den-making was, and continues to be, prolific.

Lauren’s abundant den making, was perhaps, her response to sharing her home with us for an extended period – all of us together, all the time, in a limited number of rooms and where those rooms had become somewhat ambiguous in their use.

This made me wonder if other people might be experiencing the same thing. Lots of other local parent friends reported the same sort of behaviour, as did a number of ‘grown ups’. An entrepreneur I have been working with told me she had been frequenting the roof of her house for a bit of solitude – taking a cup of tea up to the roof to find a private moment of respite from the rest of her family. An academic colleague of mine had bought a flatpack shed for the garden as a workspace away from the three other family members all working round the kitchen table – she affectionately calls her shed ‘the den’ and has made her curtains for it.

Even though so many of us are desperate to leave our houses and socialise again, I am left wondering if Covid-19 and our experiences of lockdown will change the way we look at our homes. Post-pandemic life might involve putting the home under the microscope and thinking about the details of our homes, as Bachelard encourages us to do. What corners have we noticed? What temporary nests have provided a new place of refuge? What new patterns of spatial practice have formed and where? Home space rules are being rewritten, new agreements are being made, home and work boundaries are being reimagined. Perhaps after this year, we might be more reflective about our attachments to
chosen spots in the home and where precisely we find shelter.

Read Harriet’s full article HERE

Creative Workforce for the Future – developing an inclusive workforce

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Creative Workforce for the Future is a one year pilot developing industry employment practices embracing inclusion and diversity as an asset, and nurtures young talent from under-represented groups to gain the experience required to sustain a creative career. A key aspect of the programme is supporting creative SMEs to develop a more inclusive workforce and practices in the region by undertaking an intensive programme of inclusive professional development.

The partnership, led by UWE Bristol and Watershed are working actively with over 30 creative small to medium sized businesses in the West of England on inclusion readiness.

Earlier this year, they began running industry workshops with a range of topics and started a series of  Reflexive Sense-making Space > Leadership Coaching  sessions for leaders who want to delve deeper and transform their learning into practice. The group leadership coaching process was led by Dr Charlotte von Bülow (UWE Bristol), an experienced leadership coach, consultant, social entrepreneur and action researcher.

These sessions offer a safe space where leaders can identify and explore personal and organisational narratives and discover how these might help or hinder the change they want to create, as well as explore their own (inherited) behaviours and practices. Charlotte reflects on some of the realities facing leaders and managers:

“Within the context of the workplace, we are often caught in a difficult and rather binary situation where there is a perceived but unarticulated ‘right and wrong’ that is difficult to get one’s head around. This makes for a very anxiety provoking daily experience of ‘not knowing what the right thing is’ and many are getting stuck in narratives about the issue of diversity and inclusion, rather than looking at each situation in its own right. Ayshat Akanbi’s provocative but inspiring message – that we can move the focus from ‘right/wrong’ to empathy, compassion and respect – is pointing to what may be another way of approaching the issue. Is it possible to explore ways in which we can inspire a culture of respectful situational awareness as a ‘way of being’ rather than get caught in policy writing – and if so, how do we go about that? How do we co-create such new cultures and ensure that we also remain open to the complexity of each emerging situation? These are the kinds of questions that are being explored.”

In addition to Charlotte’s coaching sessions, workshops were offered to SME’s including ‘Fitting in vs Belonging’ and an ‘Unconscious Bias’ workshop run by Elonka Soros. Using a Diversity & Inclusion maturity model, a useful tool for action, businesses ranked themselves as either unaware, compliant, strategic, integrated or disruptive. Interestingly, most business leaders ranked their business in between strategic and integrated when in reality they were hovering at the top end of compliant – fulfilling legal requirements out of duty, rather than purpose, resulting in little action, change of impact. It’s only when businesses move more into the strategic level when diversity and inclusion is recognised as important to the success of the business, and it becomes a strategic objective with KPIs, that are tracked and have active leadership and accountability.

Inclusion is as much a personal development journey as a business journey and is not merely about diversifying a workforce. For that reason, many SMEs chose to interrogate their personal journeys as leaders on a deeper level throughout the programme by attending Dr Charlotte von Bülow’s Reflexive Sense-making sessions . In addition, a group of SMEs have been working with Marissa Ellis from Diversily on a practical approach to inclusive leadership using The Change Canvas, a simple but powerful visual framework for driving change.

Inclusion is a slow journey as it involves cultural change. However, there has already been some great investment pledges and action from leaders to take their workforce on this journey and a noticeable shift from ‘we need to diversify as an industry’ to ‘we need to dismantle the culture that sustains the inequality and lack of inclusion’.

This post was edited from the Creative Workforce for the Future blog, read the full article here. The programme is in its final stages and has ran over 15 industry workshops with 42 of creative SMEs in the West of England with more lined up for January – March 2021.

This is an exploratory new pilot programme funded by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) and the European Social Fund (ESF) and led by the Bristol+Bath Creative R+D programme working with Rife at WatershedKnowle West Media CentreCreative Youth NetworkThe Guild co working spaceSpike Island and Bristol Museums.

Global Leaders gather at ILA Conference

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Leadership experts from around the world will gather live and online 5 – 9 November for the International Leadership Association’s (ILA’s) virtual global conference, Leading at the Edge. Global leaders and featured speakers will meaningfully address the changing role of leadership globally in an era of COVID-19, declining democratic norms, social justice movements, economic uncertainty, corporate responsibility, climate emergency, and more.

A partial list of featured plenary and spotlight speakers includes:  

Global Leaders – Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (Director-General, The World Health Organization – WHO); Princess Mabel van Oranje ( Initiator & Board Chair, Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage)

Thought Leaders – ILA 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award Winners Ron Heifetz (Harvard University) and Ron Riggio (Claremont McKenna College); Otto Scharmer (Presencing Institute); Margaret Heffernan (Forward Institute); Matt Qvortrup (Coventry University); Richard Bolden (Bristol Business School, University of the West of England); Henry Mintzberg (McGill University); Barbara Kellerman (Harvard University); Gareth Edwards (Bristol Business School, University of the West of England).

Business Leaders – May Abdel Asim (Founder, Media & More in Cairo); Helle Bank Jorgensen (CEO, Competent Boards); Christophe Dubi (ED, International Olympic Committee); Gamini Hewawasam (CEO, FineFinish Engineering); Aline Kamakian (Chef & CEO, Fig Holding); Mahmoud Mohieldin (ED, International Monetary Fund); Marta del Rio (Founder & CEO, Wasi Organics); David Lee Schreiner (President & CEO, Katherine Shaw Bethea Hospital); Mark Shapiro (President & CEO, Toronto Blue Jays).

With a stellar list of keynotes and featured speakers, 400+ expert session and workshop presenters, and a diverse array of networking opportunities Leading at the Edgepromises to inform, inspire, and invigorate.

As ILA President & CEO, Cynthia Cherrey sums up, “Our live, online virtual event is designed to deliver everything that makes an in-person ILA conference special: plenaries from global leaders working at the intersection of theory and practice; workshops, panels, and presentations with speakers from around the world; special networking activities organized by our member communities and social engagement committee designed to help attendees converse and create collaborative networks; and a Meeting Hub that allows you to easily set up impromptu virtual meetings on our conference platform.”

The conference is open to everyone. Registration fees are as low as $125 USD and attendees can choose to attend the sessions live or access the video recordings on-demand through the end of the year. Continuing Education credits (CEUs) are also available to meet professional requirements.

“We invite you to join us for this live online virtual conference as we explore leadership, the ways that we lead, and what we expect from leaders,” remarks Conference Chair Kathryn Goldman Schuyler. “Leading at the Edge will nourish those who lead, consult, teach, study, and conduct research with exciting ideas, innovative projects, and good friends — both old and new.”

For complete details, please explore the conference website at or email

The International Leadership Association is a worldwide professional association committed to advancing leadership knowledge and practice for a better world. We accomplish our mission through the creation of trusted leadership resources and via the synergy that occurs by bringing people together in the trusted space of our conferences and events, collectively having a multiplier impact on leadership and change. For more than twenty years the ILA has convened extraordinary talent across sectors, cultures, disciplines, and generations. Learn more at

Distinguished Professorial Address Lecture with Jackie Ford

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We are delighted to welcome Jackie Ford, Professor of Leadership and Organisation Studies at Durham University Business School, to present a virtual Distinguished Professorial Address Lecture based on ‘A critical rethink of relational leadership: recognising the mutual dynamic between leaders and led’.

Many accounts of leadership studies appear to take too lightly, if they treat of it at all, the insecurity, anxiety and ambiguity in the lives of leaders and led (Ford and Harding, 2004; Ford, 2006). Through ignoring these feelings, they actively create such feelings. Leaders are told they should be confident, secure and very clear about what they are doing, and why they are doing it, in all circumstances. This is an impossible feat in practice – who could live up to such a paragon? By failing to achieve an over-ambitious norm, leaders can feel themselves to be failures. But in equal measure, there is a risk that control of work processes and conversations may still be regulated by power elites qua leaders who manipulate organisational discourses through structural and cultural norms that remain embedded in historical traditions. This can in turn have disastrous consequences on followers in organisations – as Jackie will illuminate during her presentation. 

A little about Jackie;

Jackie Ford is Professor of Leadership and Organisation Studies at Durham University Business School and has held various professorial posts since 2008 at the Universities of Leeds and Bradford. She has over 25 years’ experience of working in Higher Education, having spent the previous decade in a range of managerial roles in the British NHS, culminating in an Executive Board-level Human Resources Director post.  Jackie’s research includes the study of working lives, notably in exploring critical approaches to leadership; gender, diversity and inclusion; ethics, management and organization studies.  She has co-authored a monograph entitled Leadership as Identity: Constructions and Deconstructions (Ford, Harding and Learmonth, Palgrave Macmillan, 2008); co-edited Making Public Services Management Critical (Currie, Ford, Harding and Learmonth, Routledge, 2010); co-edited a textbook, Leadership: Contemporary critical perspectives (Carroll, Ford and Taylor, Sage, 2019. 2nd edn); and has published in a range of journals including British Journal of Management, Human Relations, Journal of Management Studies, Leadership, Management Learning, Organization, Organization Studies, Sociology, Work Employment and Society.

Date: Wednesday 2nd December 2020

Time: 17:00 – 18:30 GMT


Multidisciplinary Research Teams and Transdisciplinary Impacts

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In September Peter Case, Professor of Organization Studies at UWE Bristol delivered a webinar for staff and doctoral students at the College of Business, Law & Governance – James Cook University in Australia. Here is a summary of his presentation, talking about multidisciplinary research teams and transdisciplinary impacts.

Researchers increasingly find themselves inhabiting a world in which sponsors demand that their work generate outcomes and impacts beyond the walls of academia. There is an expectation that applied research will yield beneficial changes to one or more of the following areas of life: economy, society, culture, public policy, the environment, health and wellbeing. Moreover, many of the problems that researchers face are extremely complex, if not ‘wicked’ (Rittel & Webber, 1973) in nature.

The challenges of tackling problems caused by climate change or trying to achieve sustainable development, for example, typically involve multiple stakeholder interests and are mediated by an array of interrelated socio-material factors.  Accommodating such high levels of complexity is an endeavour that, arguably, falls beyond the scope and capacity of any single disciplinary frame.

One response to challenges posed by complexity is to employ multidsiciplinary research teams. These teams typically comprise a diverse set of experts who bring particular specialist perspectives, theories and methodologies to bear on a given problem. Multidisciplinary teams thus afford a more holistic approach to the issue at hand and, moreover, hold the prospect of producing ‘joined up’ solutions to any given problem.

Peter Case recently gave a talk on this, sharing some of his experiences of working with mutlidisciplinary research teams in the context of complex problems and large scale projects. He spoke about drawing on his work in international development and global healthcare spaces to explore what is involved in forming teams, managing group dynamics and harnessing collective efforts to meet overall project aims and objectives.

Peter concluded by arguing that enhancing research impact entails moving beyong a strictly multidisciplinary approach to a transdisciplinary mode of stakeholder engagement; one in which academic researchers facilitate and contribute to wider dialogue with partner institutions and intended beneficiaries.