Sage Handbook of Graduate Employability – Book launch

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Members of UWE’s Bristol Business School have contributed a chapter to the Sage handbook of graduate employability with is scheduled for publication in early 2023.

Join us for the launch this Thursday, the 10th of November at 9:00am.

The chapter titled: Learning through Uncertainty: Team Learning and the Development of an Entrepreneurial Mindset is written by Hugo Gaggiotti, Selen Kars, and Carol Jarvis of Bristol Business School. The chapter draws on research conducted with staff and students at Bristol City Robins Foundation and looks at their BA Sports Business and Entrepreneurship programme.  The programmes approach explores team coaching and team learning through doing, encouraging students to develop as active participants responsible for shaping their own learning and project opportunities.  

This chapter pays particular attention to three ways this approach can contribute to personal and professional development and employability –

First looking at the importance of critical independence, and the development of the qualities of an entrepreneurial mindset. This includes attributes such as resilience, adaptability, and proactivity to encourage future-oriented thinking. Enabling students to develop narratives that build from the present to their desired future.

Secondly, why this approach to team learning can encourage the formation of a learning community of practice to co-create new resources and knowledge.

Thirdly, how this is underpinned by friendship as an organising principle. Fostering a commitment to the well-being and development of others and encourages students to think beyond their personal needs to prioritise working effectively with others on the task at hand.

To find out more about the book, you are invited to the online launch at 9:00am on Thursday 10th November. Tickets are free, please register:

BOOK LAUNCH Sage Handbook of Graduate Employability Tickets, Thu 10 Nov 2022 at 09:00 | Eventbrite


What is the SAGE handbook of Graduate Employability?

The Handbook brings together the latest research on graduate employability into one authoritative volume. Dedicated parts guide readers through topics, key issues and debates relating to delivering, facilitating, achieving, and evaluating graduate employability. Chapters offer critical and reflective positions, providing examples of student and graduate destinations, and cover a wide range of topics from employability development, to discipline differences, gender, race and inclusion issues, entrepreneurialism, and beyond.

To find out more about the chapter and the team learning approach specifically, contact Prof Carol Jarvis: Carol4.Jarvis@uwe.ac.uk

Still time to complete the Advance HE Global Leadership Survey

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The Advance HE global leadership survey aims to generate a unique evidence base for leadership in higher education, highlight contextual variations across the sector and around the world and explore the impact of leadership development. It will also inform the development of a sector-led global leadership framework for enhancement and recognition.

The survey, informed by a scoping study by Professor Richard Bolden and colleagues is live until 22nd November 2022 and takes just 10-20 minutes to complete.

For further details on this project, the scoping study and how to access the survey please watch the video and click on the links below.

Why a Global Leadership Survey for Higher Education is so important

Complete the Advance HE Global leadership survey

Further information about the Advance HE leadership survey and scoping study

Professor Peter Case talks at the 24th International Leadership Association Global Conference

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Professor Peter Case was invited to join an expert panel at the 24th International Leadership Association Global Conference in Washington DC to talk about his work on HIV/AIDS prevention and malaria healthcare service delivery in Zimbabwe.

Delivered on 16th October, the title of his talk was “Multi-sector partnerships for sustainable delivery of infectious disease healthcare in Southern Africa” and the presentation formed part of a wider discussion of “Leadership Skills for Multi-sector Partnerships for Sustainability”.

In his talk, Peter gave particular emphasis to the role that the UWE Bristol College of Business and Law postgraduate certificate in “Professional Practice in Change Leadership” has played in galvanizing efforts of partners and contributing to sustainability of malaria and HIV healthcare services in Zimbabwe.

Find out more about Professor Peter Case’s research.

HIV Programme Management and Service Delivery in Zimbabwe

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Image: Professor Peter Case distributing PPCL degree certificates to successful graduands in Nyanga District, Manicaland, Zimbabwe

CBL’s Professor Peter Case recently returned from a research field trip to Zimbabwe, where he helped run a series of workshops linked to a project funded by a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant and being delivered in collaboration with researchers at University of California, San Francisco. The project, which Peter co-leads, is entitled ‘Optimizing Stakeholder Operating Models for HIV Prevention in Zimbabwe’ (OPTIMISE, for short) and has been running since June 2020. It aims to assist the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MOHCC) to improve HIV prevention programme management and service delivery. The workshops took place between 19th September and 1st October, involving health professionals from Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South and Manicaland provinces.  The current project is due to conclude at the end of this calendar year, so the trip involved data gathering on project outcomes/impacts as well as consolidating the changes to service delivery that OPTIMISE has helped implement.

Using participative action research as the main approach to leading change, the intervention seeks to integrate HIV prevention services (which are typically funded by a variety of external donors) and move them forward in a more effective and sustainable way in relation to MOHCC strategy. District-level research groups highlighted key improvements to service delivery that had been achieved to date and discussed the results of a ‘user research’ presented by the UWE/UCSF team. The events were a great success, with strong endorsements for the OPTIMISE project coming from the MOHCC. One particularly moving example of the way the work has been expanded by teams beyond the immediate HIV priorities concerned significant improvements to maternal mortality rates in Hwange district which, prior to OPTIMISE interventions had suffered the highest level of maternal deaths in the country. Thanks to implementing OPTIMISE change methods, in the past year the rates have fallen from nine deaths per year to just one.

The national director the MOHCC HIV Programme, Dr Murunguni, and other senior ministry officials were present to hear and comment on the progress updates, as were Provincial Medical Directors and other senior administrators. Peter also attended a partnership meeting in Harare convened by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation at which he and the OPTIMISE team discussed future projects and continuity of the work with the Clinton Health Access Initiative, Population Services International and the MOHCC. One outcome of this discussion will be UWE’s direct involvement in an attempt to seek a national scale-up of the OPTIMISE work supported by funding from the UN Global Fund for AIDS, TB & Malaria.

Integral to the OPTIMISE project has been leadership capacity building for 19 healthcare professionals enrolled on CBL’s Post-Graduate Certificate in Professional Practice in Change Leadership. All 19 students have now successfully completed the degree and a handful will be attending the CBL graduation ceremony in November. Whilst travelling to the various districts, Peter had the privilege of distributing degree certificates to many of the graduands. The module has been delivered in collaboration with a local HE provider, the Women’s University in Africa, and is contributing significantly to the strengthening of leadership and management capabilities of Zimbabwe’s HIV Programme staff. Peter would like to acknowledge the roles played by Katie Joyce (PPCL ML), Dr Priscilla Mutuare (WUA tutor and CBL AL) and Dr Greyling Vijoen (lead local PPCL tutor and BLCC visiting fellow) in contributing significantly to the success of this programme.

What works for leadership in higher education?

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Over the past year Professor Richard Bolden, along with colleagues at the University of Bristol, has been conducting a scoping study on “leadership in global higher education”.

The report, published by Advance HE on 6th September 2022, presents an overview of insights and findings from 11 round tables and four dissemination and engagement events conducted between October 2021 and March 2022.

These conversations “provided rich and revealing insights into a turbulent and changing HE landscape” and hold significant implications for effective leadership across the sector. The report forms the basis for a major survey of HE leadership, to be launched by Advance HE later this month.

Further Details

Download the full report

Workshops at the Developing Leadership Capacity Conference 2022

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The Bristol Leadership and Change Centre is hosting the 12th Developing Leadership Capacity Conference (DLCC) on the 12 and 13 July 2022 with some fascinating contributions based around the theme:

‘Leading to Care – Foregrounding Health and Well-being in Leadership Development and Education’.

Over the coming weeks we’ll be sharing some of the abstracts from the contributors to give you an idea of the depth and variety of sessions that are available to attend online over the two-day conference. Register for the free DLCC conference HERE

Workshops on Tuesday 12 July 2022

13:00 – 14:30

Aligning Leadership Methods of Inquiry and Development: Co-Emergent Strategies to Develop and Understand Leadership in the Civic Arena

Facilitators: Brandon Kliewer and Kerry Priest, Kansas State University, USA

The current social-political landscape has heightened our awareness of the tensions between aspirations for the common good – justice, equality, health, environmental sustainability – and present realities that reinforce systems of injustice, blind us to the needs of others, and even trap us in self-destructive cycles of inaction. For many leadership scholars, our teaching, studying, and practicing of leadership reflects a commitment to developing leaders for diverse and democratic societies through practices of learning, transformation, and change. To advance a common good requires us to engage, explore, and expand our approaches to leadership research and development for the purpose of actually exercising leadership on the toughest challenges facing our lives, workplaces, and communities.

This interactive session aims to explore and expand boundaries between research methods for studying leadership activity (leadership inquiry) and approaches to leadership development (leadership development practice). Leadership activity that makes progress on complex, adaptive challenges requires new learning, recognizing values and loyalties, and constructing new ways of being. A primary assumption is that learning and development are not simply individual exercises, but socially constructed through relationships and communities. This session advances our understanding of leadership in civic contexts by exploring how community-engaged scholarship methods serve as both a mode of leadership inquiry and develop leadership capacity.

Emerging theories are articulating the collective and relational nature of leadership (Ospina & Foldy, 2016; Uhl-Bien & Ospina, 2012). From a collective lens all forms of leadership are plural and relational, and leadership development builds capacity to engage organizational and public challenges (Ospina & Foldy, 2016). Leadership development focuses on individual leaders and the development of personal traits and skills is not sufficient for the relational and collective nature of leadership. Raelin (2016) argues that leadership development requires “an acute immersion into the practices that are embedded within social relational and between people, objects, and their institutions” (p. 7). Building upon this, we suggest that leadership development can be better studied while it is occurring.

According to Uhl-Bien and Arena (2018), “one of the biggest challenges facing leaders today is the need to position and enable organizations and people for adaptability in the face of increasingly dynamic and demanding environments” (p. 89). This applies not only to organizations, but in civic contexts. Chrislip and O’Malley (2013) suggest that civic leadership must mobilize people to make progress on vital issues; it requires conscious, intentional, and collective action on adaptive challenges. These contemporary perspectives (among others) drive
leadership development design and delivery. How do we enable and develop collective, relational, adaptive capacities, which involves a continuous process of learning through interaction, dialogue, and socio-material meaning making?

14:45 – 16:15 – Bringing Measurement into the Assessment of Leadership Education and Development Programs

Facilitator: Kirsten Westmoreland, Rice University, USA

Most universities across the world make some claim that their programs are helping to shape the world’s future leaders. While this could be through programs such as study abroad initiatives, or more specific leader development programs there is often an overarching focus on increasing students’ knowledge of their leadership abilities (e.g., Nelson, Grint, & Bratton, 2004) or directly growing critical leadership skillsets (e.g., Guthrie & Meriwether, 2018). Despite this, there is a distinct lack of research evaluating the efficacy of these developmental programs, especially when it comes to research using objective measures (Northouse, 2018). Beyond higher education, even in industry leadership education and development is fraught with grand impact claims and implicit assumptions of efficacy. Still, rarely does anyone evaluate these claims or test these assumptions. When any measurement occurs, it tends only to be at the level of subjective feedback (a.k.a., “smiley sheets”). One of the main reasons for the lack of impact measurement is that most people working in the leader development space simply don’t know how to go about measuring the outcomes of their programs.

As such, the purpose of this workshop is to provide participants with an overview of ways to approach the evaluation of leader development programs in higher education and beyond by developing clear and measurable outcomes. This workshop will directly equip participants with ways to develop evaluation systems capable of testing the impact of leader development programs both through interactive discussions, course content, and handouts developed by the Measurement Team at the Doerr Institute for New Leaders.

This workshop will be split up into three parts. First, an interactive presentation (approximately 30 – 40 minutes) will guide participants through all learning objectives. There will be opportunities throughout for group discussion and knowledge checks. Next participants will split into small groups and work to develop their own measurement systems (20 – 30 minutes) using lessons from the workshop. To aid this, participants will be given a measurement checklist, developed by the Doerr Institute for New Leaders, which will provide a step-by-step guide. The presenter will meet with groups individually to talk through the measurement plan being developed. The final 0 minutes will be used for questions and presentations in which groups may talk more openly about the measurement systems they developed and ask any follow up questions from the workshop.

During this workshop participants will learn the foundations of how to develop tailored outcome measurement systems that could be applied to the assessment of any leader development program. We will start by discussing basic measurement principles, including a rudimentary guide to data analysis. Participants will learn how to clarify their measurement objectives, starting with an understanding of how to establish measurable program goals. Participants will understand the different domains of experience to
approach measurement from a multidimensional standpoint. For example, we will discuss how different types of measurement can be used to assess attitudes, behaviour, cognition, or even emotion. Real life examples will be used for each of these domains, using actual measurements developed and utilized by the Doerr Institute for New Leaders. Participants will learn how best to select measures from each domain depending on selected outcomes. This will better enable participants to understand how the type of data they collect will directly address the type of outcome being assessed. This will include a discussion on how best to utilize subjective judgments by self or others, behavioural analyses, and the use of physiological data. Finally, participants will learn how to address triangulation and timeframe when developing measurement systems for programs.

Research & Theory at the Developing Leadership Capacity Conference 2022

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The Bristol Leadership and Change Centre is hosting the 12th Developing Leadership Capacity Conference (DLCC) on the 12 and 13 July 2022 with some fascinating contributions based around the theme:

‘Leading to Care – Foregrounding Health and Well-being in Leadership Development and Education’.

Over the coming weeks we’ll be sharing some of the abstracts from the contributors to give you an idea of the depth and variety of sessions that are available to attend online over the two-day conference. Register for the free DLCC conference HERE

Research & Theory from 13:00 – 14:30 on Tuesday 12 July 2022

With some amendments to the agenda, this Research & Theory presentation has been moved into the 13:00 streamed session.

The place of Negative Capability in Caring Leadership Practice

Authors: Charlotte von Bülow and Peter Simpson, UWE Bristol

The poet, Keats, described Negative Capability, as when a person ‘is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason’ (Gittings, 1970, p.43). We interpret this as a way of being that is accessible to us when we let go of our attachments to thinking, feeling, and doing. In this presentation we consider self-care in leadership practice at the level of being and the deeper links with Negative Capability.

We draw upon ancient traditions of exercises for the inner work of self-care. For example, self-examination was a practice deeply embedded in the early cultures of India and Egypt, contributing to an early form of life-long learning, giving a person a sense of meaning and direction in life (Hadot, 2004). Indicating why this is worthy of particular attention in relation to Negative Capability, Hadot (1995, p.127) makes clear that these traditions were concerned not merely with the development of the individual as a thinking, doing, and feeling subject, but comprises a range of developmental exercises that ‘have as their goal… the metamorphosis of our being.’

We also draw upon Foucault’s (1997) related review of the ancient practices of ‘Care of the Self’ (heautou epimeleisthai) and recent literature has indicated its potential relevance to organisation studies (see Raffsnøe, Mennicken, & Miller, 2019) and leadership practice (Bülow & Simpson, 2020; Tomkins, 2020). Reminiscent of Keats’ deep reflections throughout his letters, this is a practice of philosophical inquiry into self.

Hadot (1995, p. 84) categorises the ancient exercises as meditations, ‘remembrances of good things’, intellectual exercises (e.g., reading, listening, research, and investigation), and more active exercises (e.g., self-mastery, accomplishment of duties, and indifference to indifferent things). These themes have emerged in recent literature, including Mirvis (2008), who argues, 

… experiences that stimulate introspection and include time and space for ‘inner work,’ whether in the forms of reflection, meditation, prayer, or journaling, can all deepen one’s sense-of-self. (2008, p. 175) 

This list might suggest practices that pander to the solipsistic concerns of some modern approaches to personal and professional development (Tomkins and Ulus, 2015). On the contrary, Foucault is clear that this practice is not selfish and ‘is not an exercise in solitude, but a true social practice’ (1990, p. 51). Hadot states that these developmental practices also ‘have as their goal the transformation of our vision of the world…’ (Hadot 1995, p. 127) – a theme that relates to a leadership practice not of defining purpose but of being open to an emerging sense of purpose. A transformation can occur not only at the level of being but also in the way in which things are seen. The exercises are designed to give a new perspective on the world and to develop a capacity for a heightened quality of attention that is inherently social: ‘the work of oneself on oneself and communication with others are linked together’ (Foucault, 1990, p. 51). 

There are several related experiential learning processes that have seen something of a renaissance in recent years (Hay & Samra-Fredericks, 2019; Purser & Milillo, 2015). However, the interpretation of these practices and the motivation for their use is often linked to short-term outcomes or guided by a ‘blind trust in an exclusively economic view of business and the world’ (Colby et al., 2011, p. 29). This tends to foster a remedial focus at the level of need (e.g., stress management, career development, problem resolution). Whilst important as aspects of self-care, Negative Capability offers the potential for a developmental transformation in our vision of the world and at the level of our being.

References

Bülow, C.v. & Simpson, P. (2022) Negative Capability in Leadership Practice: Implications for Working in Uncertaity. London: Palgrave MacMillan.

Bülow, C.v. & Simpson, P. (2020) ‘Negative Capability and the Care of the Self’, in Tomkins, L. (ed) Paradoxes of Leadership and Care: Critical and Philosophical Reflection, New Horizons in Leadership Series, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Colby, A., Ehrlich, T., Sullivan, B., & Dolle, J. (2011). Rethinking undergraduate business education: Liberal learning for the profession. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass 

Foucault, M. (1990). The history of sexuality, Vol. 3: The care of the self (R. Hurley trans.). London: Penguin.   

Foucault, M. (1997) The Ethics of the Concern for Self as a Practice of Freedom, in P. Rabinow (Ed.) Ethics, Subjectivity and Truth. Essential Works of Foucault 1954-1984 (R. Hurley trans.) (pp. 281-301). London: Penguin 

Gittings, R. (1970) Letters of John Keats. Oxford: OUP. 

Hay, A. & Samra-Fredericks, D. (2019) Bringing the Heart and Soul Back in: Collaborative Inquiry and the DBA, Academy of Management Learning & Education, 18 (1), 59-80 

Hadot, P. (1995) Philosophy as a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault. Oxford: Blackwell 

Hadot, P. (2004). What Is Ancient Philosophy? Harvard University Press 

Mirvis, P. (2008) Executive Development Through Consciousness-Raising Experiences. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 7(2), 173–188 

Purser, R.E. and Milillo, J. (2015) Mindfulness Revisited: A Buddhist-Based Conceptualization, Journal of Management Inquiry, 24 (1), 3–24 

Raffsnøe, S., Mennicken, A, & Miller, P. (2019) The Foucault Effect in Organization Studies, Organization Studies, 40(2), 155–182 

Tomkins, L. (2020). Autoethnography through the Prism of Foucault’s Care of the Self. In: Herrmann, Andrew (Ed.) The Routledge Handbook of Organizational Autoethnography. Routledge.  

Tomkins, L. & Ulus, E. (2015) Is Narcissism Undermining Critical Reflection in our Business Schools? Academy of Management Learning & Education, 14 (4), 595-606 

Case Studies at Developing Leadership Capacity Conference

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The Bristol Leadership and Change Centre is hosting the 12th Developing Leadership Capacity Conference (DLCC) on the 12 and 13 July 2022 with some fascinating contributions based around the theme:

‘Leading to Care – Foregrounding Health and Well-being in Leadership Development and Education’.

Over the coming weeks we’ll be sharing some of the abstracts from the contributors to give you an idea of the depth and variety of sessions that are available to attend online over the two-day conference. Register for the free DLCC conference HERE

Case Studies from 13:00 – 14:30 on Tuesday 12 July 2022

The ‘Leadership Squeeze’ – Frictions between Resourceful and Brittle Resilience Strategies

Author: Dr Caroline Rook, Henley Business School

Whereas the factors and components of leader resilience have been studied little is known on how leaders are different from employees in how they
remain resilient at work. In fact, one could argue that the previously established factors (global, fast paced, digital work environment, time and resourced pressured job-tasks, interpersonal issues, lack of downtime; Foerster & Duchek, 2017) are not very different from employees’ experiences of the world of work. Components such as confidence, purposefulness, adaptability, and social support are equally important for employees and leaders in being resilient. However, leaders, as per the definition of being in a position of power to influence others towards goal attainment (Northouse, 2019), have unique
role demands in contrast to employees such as responsibility for challenging organisational performance targets, responsibility for managing teams and their performance and loneliness at the top. Furthermore, contrasting views exists as to whether occupying a leadership role is more or less detrimental to one’s well-being in contrast to being an employee. Some scholars argue that the higher levels of control that leaders possess lead to lower stress levels (e.g.
Mintzberg, 1971). Others argue that the psychosocial demands are so much higher for leaders than for employees that leaders experience lower levels of health than employees (e.g., Campbell Quick, Cooper, Gavin, & Quick, 2008). Insights into leader specific resilience strategies would allow to develop interventions with the right person-intervention fit (Randall & Nielsen, 2012).
Developing meaningful resilience interventions specific to leaders is important as being able to cope with adversity and bounce back (Cooper et al., 2013), i.e. being resilient, is “strategically important organizational behaviour for success, growth, and even survival” (King, Newman, & Luthans, 2016, p. 782) in today’s world of work where stressful situations, performance pressure and setbacks are part of leaders’ work experience.
Furthermore, in order to determine how to support individuals to be resilient,
increasingly, resilience research is uncovering the micro-processes that are happening during coping with adversity and during bouncing back. However, current research is still lacking in two ways in this regard. First, the identified mechanisms of coping with adversity add little if any further insight to a long line of coping literature. Second, the focus remains on individual characteristics such as learning from experience, ability to relax, ability to think optimistically, ability to reflect, ability to act rationally, ability to structure, professional skills, interpersonal communication skills, and social skills (Foerster & Duchek, 2017). It remains unclear how leaders try to cope and bounce back in their unique organisational contexts.
This in-depth inductive study examines how leaders differ from employees in regard to remaining resilient at work and explores what resilience strategies are used by leaders. 31 semi-structured interviews were analysed through inductive thematic content analysis. Three key findings emerged from the leaders’ narratives about their attempts to be resilient: (1) being resilient (in terms of coping with adversity) focused not only on dealing with the challenge (like employees would) but how to engage with the team and organisation while
doing so; (2) whether leaders shared their vulnerability in the coping process or engage in impression management depended on their perception of what a ‘strong’ leader does; and (3) bouncing back strategies involved either long-term focused resource-creating strategies versus short-term focused brittle coping strategies. Implications for leadership well-being interventions, well-being theory and leader identity theory are drawn.

Crisis as Space for Unknowing: Implications for Creative Industry Leadership

Author: Hugh Waters, Bristol Leadership & Change Centre, UWE Bristol

This paper provides a perspective on the development of resilient leadership for creative industry collectives through periods of crisis. Ricoeur (1988) considers that crisis presents a radical openness towards the future and instability concerning the present ‘not knowing any longer what my position within the universe is; not knowing any longer which stable hierarchy of values should guide my preferences; not being able any longer to differentiate between friend and foe’ (Ricoeur, 1988: 54; translation). Such instability offers disruption to leadership and subsequently calls for resilience in the face of vulnerability. It is clear, however, that interpretations of crisis for individuals may well differ temporally and present unknowability. Pearson and Clair highlight that ‘organizational crises are, by definition, infrequent events. When they do occur, organizations are reluctant to open current or past ‘wounds’ to external examination and speculation’ (1998: 74). This suggests that vulnerability is not a favorable position or in revealing a lack of resilience, but it is through such vulnerability and disruption that vital learning and adaption can occur. Building on this view of crisis and of its implications for leadership, this paper asks how the Covid-19 pandemic might be framed as a period of crisis for the creative industries? And, in an attempt to learn from this period of crisis, if, and if so, creative industry collectives are able to develop more resilient leadership through reflexive space?  These questions are essential to our understanding of how resilience acts to overcome fundamental aspects of crises. Emphasis is then given to how action-oriented methodologies provide reflexive space for experiential leadership development.

Communicative Resilience as Reflexive Practice

Communicative resilience as a process provides a basis for understanding how collectives construct meaning, to both define and pursue resilience through collaborative dialog (Buzzanell, 2010). In so doing communicative opportunities are created for ‘individual and collective reflexivity’ (Raelin, 2016: 5), so that people are able to actively engage in shaping ‘new, more collaborative, and inclusive forms of reality’ (Cunliffe, 2009: 409). An unresolvable unknowability is fundamentally important for being reflexive and can help promote more inclusive and equitable forms of managing and organising (Allen, 2017).

It is suggested for something new to emerge the old established way of doing things has to give way (Fiol & Romanelli, 2012). Of interest, is the process by which leadership learning emerges from crises among collectives requiring members to negotiate a new set of practices (Hardy et al., 2005). Interaction provides space for learning and togetherness in unknowing, enabling participants to re-examine their ways of thinking and revise assumptions that inform norms, rules and practices. Communicative spaces alter power dynamics by enhancing participants’ ability to uncover alternative, suppressed, or hidden framings.  Methodologically this paper proposes that for such framings to be surfaced communicative space needs to be created for their observance.

Crisis as Space for Learning

Action learning provides participants with a powerful communicative space, allowing individuals time and space to reflect on where they are feeling ‘stuck’ or confused (Raelin, 2006).  A process of questioning from members seeks to surface particular real-time challenges in relation to crisis with associated complexity or anxiety (Revans, 1982), with set members helping to explore alternative interpretations of those challenges. Group members are best placed to question given a sharedness in challenges faced, where the role of the researcher is merely to offer light facilitation. When participants return to their everyday lives, they are ‘reincorporated’ with an improved understanding of how to apply their learning, and possibly, an improved understanding of themselves as ‘leaders’.  A shared sense of unknowing may present a blank canvas for individuals to make sense of crisis. As such crisis gives rise to new space for ideas to move freely and quickly, necessary for innovation. Thus, resilience is an ongoing communicative process of transformative struggle through periods of disruption (Buzzanell, 2018:15).

Opportunity for Empirical Study

There is limited empirical research which directly observes communicative processes over time in response to crisis. Some limitations centre on the ability of the researcher to seize opportune moments to enter the field of study in a natural way. As such action learning is proposed as a means to observe communicative processes as a means of reflexive practice.  Resilience as a form of learning not only enables a collective to adapt but, in the process, strengthens its capability to overcome future challenges. This over time may manifest as learning and experimentation which leads to emerging practices intended to work towards resilience and through crisis. Communicative resilience is not just about collaborative inquiry into resilience as a process it also involves defining system attributes and properties and developing our capacity to identify appropriate goals and the obstacles to achieving them (Goldstein, 2012). This empirical study takes an action-oriented research approach where participants in real-time use communicative space to identify appropriate goals and the obstacles to achieving them. Powley (2009) suggests that “resilience activation” is dependent on social connections and interpersonal relationships. Whilst this limits our understanding of the natural spaces created in which resilience is developed, the access to such space or level of observation required may appear overly intrusive. The purpose of using action learning as a method allows for the recreation of communicative space both that allows a researcher ready access but also a meaningful use of participants time. 

The Place of Negative Capability in Caring Leadership Practice

Authors: Charlotte von Bülow & Peter Simpson, Bristol Business School, UWE Bristol

The poet, Keats, described Negative Capability, as when a person ‘is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason’ (Gittings, 1970, p.43). We interpret this as a way of being that is accessible to us when we let go of our attachments to thinking, feeling, and doing. In this presentation we consider self-care in leadership practice at the level of being and the deeper links with Negative Capability.

We draw upon ancient traditions of exercises for the inner work of self-care. For example, self-examination was a practice deeply embedded in the early cultures of India and Egypt, contributing to an early form of life-long learning, giving a person a sense of meaning and direction in life (Hadot, 2004). Indicating why this is worthy of particular attention in relation to Negative Capability, Hadot (1995, p.127) makes clear that these traditions were concerned not merely with the development of the individual as a thinking, doing, and feeling subject, but comprises a range of developmental exercises that ‘have as their goal… the metamorphosis of our being.’

We also draw upon Foucault’s (1997) related review of the ancient practices of ‘Care of the Self’ (heautou epimeleisthai) and recent literature has indicated its potential relevance to organisation studies (see Raffsnøe, Mennicken, & Miller, 2019) and leadership practice (Bülow & Simpson, 2020; Tomkins, 2020). Reminiscent of Keats’ deep reflections throughout his letters, this is a practice of philosophical inquiry into self.

Hadot (1995, p. 84) categorises the ancient exercises as meditations, ‘remembrances of good things’, intellectual exercises (e.g., reading, listening, research, and investigation), and more active exercises (e.g., self-mastery, accomplishment of duties, and indifference to indifferent things). These themes have emerged in recent literature, including Mirvis (2008), who argues, 

… experiences that stimulate introspection and include time and space for ‘inner work,’ whether in the forms of reflection, meditation, prayer, or journaling, can all deepen one’s sense-of-self. (2008, p. 175) 

This list might suggest practices that pander to the solipsistic concerns of some modern approaches to personal and professional development (Tomkins and Ulus, 2015). On the contrary, Foucault is clear that this practice is not selfish and ‘is not an exercise in solitude, but a true social practice’ (1990, p. 51). Hadot states that these developmental practices also ‘have as their goal the transformation of our vision of the world…’ (Hadot 1995, p. 127) – a theme that relates to a leadership practice not of defining purpose but of being open to an emerging sense of purpose. A transformation can occur not only at the level of being but also in the way in which things are seen. The exercises are designed to give a new perspective on the world and to develop a capacity for a heightened quality of attention that is inherently social: ‘the work of oneself on oneself and communication with others are linked together’ (Foucault, 1990, p. 51). 

There are several related experiential learning processes that have seen something of a renaissance in recent years (Hay & Samra-Fredericks, 2019; Purser & Milillo, 2015). However, the interpretation of these practices and the motivation for their use is often linked to short-term outcomes or guided by a ‘blind trust in an exclusively economic view of business and the world’ (Colby et al., 2011, p. 29). This tends to foster a remedial focus at the level of need (e.g., stress management, career development, problem resolution). Whilst important as aspects of self-care, Negative Capability offers the potential for a developmental transformation in our vision of the world and at the level of our being.

Workshop at Developing Leadership Capacity Conference 2022

Posted on

The Bristol Leadership and Change Centre is hosting the 12th Developing Leadership Capacity Conference (DLCC) on the 12 and 13 July 2022 with some fascinating contributions based around the theme:

‘Leading to Care – Foregrounding Health and Well-being in Leadership Development and Education’.

Over the coming weeks we’ll be sharing some of the abstracts from the contributors to give you an idea of the depth and variety of sessions that are available to attend online over the two-day conference. Register for the free DLCC conference HERE

Workshop from 10:30 – 12:00 on Tuesday 12 July 2022

Care within a Context of Chaos – Intuition, Imagination and Inspiration as a Way of Working with Emergence

Facilitators: Charlene Collison, Associate Director, Forum for the Future and Visiting Fellow, Bristol Leadership and Change Centre. Dr Charlotte von Bülow, Senior Lecturer in Leadership, Bristol Business School, UWE and Founder of the Crossfields Institute Group, UK.

This workshop takes inspiration from two central questions emerging from the invitation to this conference –

  • What might be done to develop a deeper sense of care, and to consider the implications for organisations and societies?
  • How can we situate issues of health and well-being at the forefront of the objectives that it wishes to accomplish? 
Background

At risk of stating the obvious, we wish to recognise the following as our building underlying premises for a workshop that sets out to inspire a conversation about the practice of accessing intuition, imagination and inspiration as a way of working in the current global context:

  • We are experiencing increasing periods of exponential change across society, technology, environment, the economy and political landscapes. What worked in the past has been less and less reliable as a way to know what will work in future. This is now not only accelerating but shifting into chaos and breakdown.
  • The stability of the world over the coming decades will be fundamentally shaken by climactic changes, climate breakdown, and resulting crisis in our social and economic systems. This is already creating extreme suffering around the world, and it will inevitably increase. [1]
  • The emerging world is one in which we increasingly will not be able to plan with sufficient certainty, even with increased adaptability. As our current approach to visioning, goal setting, budgeting and planning becomes more challenged, leadership must transform its approach to aspiring towards a goal and moving towards it in a way that is not only highly flexible, but works in a context of human disruption, confusion, bewilderment and disorientation. (Cascio, 2020)[2]
  • As leaders, managers and societal citizens we will often not know what to do. We need to prepare for bafflement, not knowing what solution is most likely to work, or what to prepare for. Leading within a context of “not knowing” – negative capability – will become essential (Bülow and Simpson, 2020)[3]

In this workshop, we propose that the practice of accessing intuition, imagination and inspiration offer ways of working in the current context. We propose that intuition is a way of recognising different forms of knowing; imagination might be a way of re-patterning what we know from the past in new and creative ways; inspiration, a way of identifying and engaging with emergence and that which is coming towards us from the future, individually and collectively. A response to uncertainty and chaos may also require us to learn to be with the complexity and suffering we witness, rather than retreating to distraction, denial, isolation or “othering” – we may need to develop ways of creating islands of sanity where people can work together in safe, supporting ways towards a shared good. For leadership, this means adopting a different kind of metric for success; letting go of expectations for achieving set targets in expected ways, setting goals in ways that will allow re-creation and adaptation as disruptions inevitably occur. We need to practice a more flexible approach to working towards goals, grounded in care and compassion for other human beings.

The workshop will be interactive and dialogic. After a short contribution from each contributor, we will invite a Symposionic conversation about the phenomenology of the backdrop outlined here and then focus our collective enquiry on how we learn to develop a sensitivity towards a practice of intuition, imagination and inspiration as a way of exploring a new form of self/leadership practice in a world of complexity. The workshop will be 2 hours long with a 15-minute break in the middle.


[1] AP News. (2022). UN Climate Report: Atlas of Human Suffering. Available from: https://apnews.com/article/climate-science-europe-united-nations-weather-8d5e277660f7125ffdab7a833d9856a3 [Accessed: May 1, 2022]

[2] Cascio, J. (2020). Facing the Age of Chaos. Medium. Available from: https://medium.com/@cascio/facing-the-age-of-chaos-b00687b1f51d [Accessed: April 29, 2020]

[3] Von Bülow, C., & Simpson, P. (2020). Negative capability and care of the self. In L. Tomkins (Ed.), Paradoxes of Leadership and Care: Critical and Philosophical Reflection (131-141). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. https://doi.org/10.4337/9781788975506.00021. Available from https://uwe-repository.worktribe.com/output/3282609


Case Studies at Developing Leadership Capacity Conference 2022

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(Image sourced from www.cre8rel8.com/we-believe)

The Bristol Leadership and Change Centre is hosting the 12th Developing Leadership Capacity Conference (DLCC) on the 12 and 13 July 2022 with some fascinating contributions based around the theme:

‘Leading to Care – Foregrounding Health and Well-being in Leadership Development and Education’.

Over the coming weeks we’ll be sharing some of the abstracts from the contributors to give you an idea of the depth and variety of sessions that are available to attend online over the two-day conference. Register for the free DLCC conference HERE

Case Studies presented from 10:30 – 12:00 on Tuesday 12 July 2022

Leadership Learning and Development for Global Health: A Case Study of Capacity Building in Southern Africa

Authors: Peter Case1, Rudo Chikodzore2, Precious Chitapi1, Amanda Marr Chung3, Jonathan Gosling1, Roly Gosling3,4, Katie Joyce1, Priscilla Mataure5, Greyling Viljoen1

Affiliations: (1) Bristol Leadership & Change Centre, University of the West of England, UK; (2) Ministry of Health and Child Care, Zimbabwe; (3) Institute for Global Health Sciences, University of California San Francisco, USA; (4) Department of Disease Control, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK (5) Women’s University in Africa, Harare, Zimbabwe

For the past eight years, Bristol Leadership & Change Centre (BLCC), UWE, has been collaborating closely with the Malaria Elimination Initiative (MEI) to improve the management and leadership of healthcare programmes in Vietnam, Zimbabwe, Eswatini and Namibia. Most recently, UWE has been working with MEI (a research centre based at the University of San Francisco, California) and the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) on a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation project aimed at providing better integrated and more sustainable HIV prevention services in Zimbabwe. An integral part of our work in malaria and HIV prevention spaces, has been training programme staff in the use of participatory action research and learning methods, typically with a focus on identifying and addressing operational challenges.  The challenges that inhibit health service delivery can often be addressed by improving communication and coordination, clarifying lines of resourcing and accountability, maintaining motivation, providing adequate training and supervision, and removing bureaucratic silos. The training programmes, which sit alongside our health system change interventions are accredited via a Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Practice in Change Leadership (PPCL) awarded by the University of the West of England. The PPCL module has been delivered successfully in Zimbabwe (2017-18) and Namibia (2019-20) for cohorts of malaria control programme health professionals and, since 2020, UWE has been collaborating with the Women’s University of Africa on a third run of the module for twenty professionals working for the MoHCC in Zimbabwe.

CathArtic spaces: Bringing lived experience into leadership development

Elinor Rebeiro & Chris Hayes, Co-founders of Create Relate Ltd.

“Art is an expression of the human condition. It is a reflection of our memories and experiences, which are more often than not rooted in the world around us.”

(Vijayan et al 2022, p1)

Holding onto pain, grief, trauma is known to have a negative impact on our well-being, both mentally and physically (CIPD 2022, Vijayan et al, 2022). In our ‘private lives’ we are encouraged to open up, to talk to someone, to share how we feel (NHS 2021, Mind). This release of emotions can be known as catharsis (Vogel and Flint, 2021) But how does this play out when we are at work? Our work place is a place where we are meant to bring the best of ourselves, to maintain a control over our emotions continuously. Yet we often spend longer at work than we do at home and the work that we carry out can be emotionally charged with pressure, meeting overload, navigating complex relationships and the pressures to succeed – assuming that you buy into the duality and separation of ones home and work ‘self’. The pressures placed upon people during and following the pandemic have also brought about traumatic experiences.

The exploration of catharsis as a way to access deeply felt experiences is one we have been immersed in for some time. Using cathartic images as a way for people to be able to safely explore how they feel about the lived experience of their work lives is at the heart of this exploration. Understanding the shadows and challenges in our everyday lives offers up the opportunity to make sense of ourselves and each other. Cathartic spaces also allow us to recognise that we are not alone and enable the opportunity to make deeper more relational connections with other people. But, what happens when this learning is used for organisational and leadership development understanding? What happens if Leaders are not provided with the opportunity to also connect deeply to the challenges and shadows of their own experience? When we work within, what Herron calls a “non-cathartic society” (Herron, 1998) we cannot tolerate in others what we cannot tolerate within ourselves. This disconnect between repressed felt experience and the observing of and feeling of others experience can make it too hard to explore, too hard to accept or embrace and can lead to the rejection of this felt experience either in the form of denial of its ‘truth’ or through a recognition of the experiences, followed by a refusal to share back the learning for fear that the content is too sensitive, too raw to be made sense of, or be embraced as learning that could support how leadership happens.

Using organisational examples and drawing on our work creating cathartic spaces within organisations we seek to explore the opportunities, often unappreciated, that this type of space and the learning and understanding that comes from it can bring. We will also highlight common and possibly damaging shadows that come from not taking this learning seriously. As a final point we will explore how cathartic spaces can catalyse a rethink into leadership development in its wider context.

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