ISLC 2022 – Leadership and the future of humanity

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Bristol Business School at the ISLC

Several representatives from Bristol Business School at UWE Bristol are attending this years International Studying Leadership Conference (ISLC) in December. We are delighted that this year’s conference will be held in person, the first able to do so since Bristol Business School hosted the ISLC in 2019, where we hosted over 140 delegates from across the globe to discuss “Putting Leadership in its Place “. The conference featured three keynote addresses and five parallel streams (including almost 90 separate papers) exploring Place in leadership theory and practice and led to the publication of special issue of the journal leadership, which can be accessed here.

This year’s conference hosted by the University of Sussex Business School, in the city of Brighton and Hove continues to challenge the status quo of leadership research. Looking to explore ‘’Leadership and the future of humanity’’, the ISLC has put a spotlight on the need to develop better models of leadership more widely, not only within business organisations but also political networks, communities and countries. This conference will examine new ways of theorising about leadership that challenge mainstream approaches by showcasing papers that ask big questions about important issues such as leadership in politics, the issue of climate change, the growth of social inequality and other significant global issues. Further details can be found here.

Bristol Business School has always had a strong presence at the ILSC conference, this year is no different with four papers by academics and research leads from Bristol Leadership and Change Centre that will be discussed at the conference.


Apocalypse then and now: ‘End of the world’ cosmologies and the future of humanity

Jonathan Gosling, Visiting Professor, UWE Bristol

Peter Case, Professor of Organisation Studies, UWE, Bristol

This paper examines the ways in which collapse is understood, the prescriptions that follow, the kinds of organising and leading around these prescriptions. We want to enumerate the cosmologies at play here, and how they influence the ways in which collapse is foreseen and the responses they invoke. Our working hypothesis is that some responses will be characteristic of ‘apocalyptic cosmologies’ that construe time as leading towards an ‘end of days’ in which collapse is a kind of fulfilment – an end in itself, or possibly a gateway to some other-worldly resurrection and salvation.

Developing previous work on climate change and apocalypse (Gosling & Case, 2011; Bendell, 2018) and our interests in premodern thought and practice (Case & Gosling, 2007), we seek to show by way of salient historical comparison how collective patterns of response emerge frequently enough to be seen as typical of European culture when facing existential threat and imminent collapse.

We conclude with a re-examination of contemporary responses to the so-called climate emergency, and some proposals for how we citizens can contribute in constructive ways informed by a more diverse cosmological repertoire. Our paper will contribute an analysis of what might happen to leadership, as well as how leadership might assist a ‘better collapse’. 


Tackling severe and multiple disadvantage through systems change

Richard Bolden, Professor of Leadership and Management, UWE Bristol

This paper presents insights from an eight-year longitudinal evaluation of a collaborative partnership project designed to transform the design and provision of services for people with severe and multiple disadvantage (SMD) in the city of Bristol in the UK. The research was informed by ‘realist evaluation’ principles, whereby we sought to understand the mechanisms through which interventions produce outcomes within particular contexts (Pawson and Tilley, 1997).  As appropriate for evaluating complex interventions (Skivington et al., 2021), we captured multiple perspectives, experiences and outcomes over time through a combination of methodologies underpinned by a theory of change.

Whilst a diverse range of findings, recommendations and conclusions have been reported, within this paper I will focus on insights around how the programme has facilitated systems change – ‘an intentional process designed to alter the status quo by shifting the function or structure of an identified system with purposeful interventions’ (Abercrombie et al., 2015). A review of evaluation insights, alongside learning from the team leading the initiative, has revealed seven key enablers of systems changeor SMD that might be used by people developing or running systems change activities


The post truth games of populist leaders: Insights from Franz Kafka

Leah TomkinsVisiting Professor, UWE Bristol

When we reflect on the conference theme of leadership and the future of humanity, we may find it hard to feel anything but despair. The world feels unstable, and many of its most prominent leaders seem to pander to their constituents’ grievances rather than exercising anything we might call ‘ethical leadership’ (Ciulla, 2020). In such a climate, truth often has less clout than ‘post-truth’, and this is often linked to a dismissal of experts (Foroughi et al., 2019). Amplified by social media spats, post-truth approaches suggest that everyone is entitled to their own preferred version of events. Most notorious in this narrative space is the ‘alternative facts’ discourse of former US President, Donald Trump; but other populist leaders have also relished the fact that their words do not have to be true – indeed, they can often be palpably false – to be effective.

This paper draws on the fiction of Franz Kafka (1883-1924) to explore the tactics of post-truth leadership. Kafka has extraordinary relevance for leadership, not least because “of all writers, Kafka is the greatest expert on power” (Canetti, 1982, p.62). Kafka has long been heralded for his unique perspective on many of the past century’s most pressing issues – bureaucracy, technology, violence, alienation, and the institutions of work, family, religion and the law. Kafka’s work interweaves, amplifies, undercuts and distorts these themes, revealing their often-terrible relation with power. Recent Kafka scholarship has challenged popular understandings of Kafka as under-dog or victim of the System, arguing instead that both Kafka and his protagonists are agents as much as victims of power (Corngold et al., 2009; Tomkins, 2024). Kafka’s world is one where ‘facts’ are often insignificant in comparison with ‘alternative facts’ in skilful hands, whether these hands belong to the overtly powerful or the apparently powerless.


Using visual methods to understand the translation of inclusive leadership across different language context

Doris Schedlitzki, Professor of Organisational Leadership, London Metropolitan University

Sylwia Ciuk, Senior Lecturer in Organisation Studies, Oxford Brookes University

Gareth Edwards, Professor of Leadership and Community Studies, UWE Bristol

Harriet ShorttAssociate Professor in Organisation Studies, UWE Bristol

In this presentation, we will provide practical examples from our project to illustrate how we have used Participant-led Photography (Shortt and Warren, 2019) to research the social construction and translation of inclusive leadership narratives across three different languages within the work context of a multinational organisation. In particular, we will show how this innovative method, which has not been applied to translation and leadership studies before, has given participants a verbal and non-verbal way of expressing – and reflexively exploring – the intangible aspects of inclusive leadership practice. The inclusion of visual data in our analysis also helps to challenge the use of English as the only ‘valid’ language to carry and share leadership knowledge.

We will further provide examples from our analysis to date to show how this methodological approach enables us to take a rigorous approach to inductive theorising. Data analysis involves identification of themes in both narrative and visual data using a new visual methodological/ analytical approach – Grounded Visual Pattern Analysis (GVPA) (Shortt and Warren 2019). This methodology enables a multi-modal translation and interpretation of leadership, since GVPA provides researchers with the opportunity to systematically analyse the narrative and visual data whilst privileging the meanings the participants ascribe to their photographs. Building on such a comprehensive and detailed analysis of participants’ experiences and practices enables us to understand better how they translate (linguistically and through practice) inclusive forms of leadership.


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

What Just Happened in UK Politics?

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Professor Richard Bolden shares his views with the International Leadership Association (ILA).

Blog post orginally posted on the ILA wesbite.

Over the past seven weeks the world watched on as Liz Truss crashed and burned as Prime Minister of the UK. After just 45 days in office — two weeks less than the election process through which she was appointed and, if you take out the period of national mourning for Queen Elizabeth II, shorter than the average shelf life of a lettuce (Economist, 2022, Daily Star, 2022) — Liz Truss unceremoniously stepped down as leader of the Conservative Party.

There is no shortage of journalists and political commentators writing their own accounts of what’s happened but, in this blog post, I would like to reflect on this as a leadership researcher and educator. To do this, I will consider the case from individual, organizational and societal perspectives.

An Individual Perspective: The Fall of Liz Truss

Without doubt, the most common way in which Liz Truss’s time in office will be analyzed is in relation to her own shortcomings and failures as a leader. The benefit of hindsight is a wonderful thing and there are many people coming forward to express the concerns they had about her character and suitability for the role of Prime Minister.

Over the past few days, I’ve heard her described as “tin eared,” “naïve,” “arrogant,” “stupid,” “talentless,” and many more things beside. Whilst these may or may not be a fair assessment of her qualities, they beg the question of why on earth her candidacy was supported by so many ministers and members of the Conservative Party if this is how they felt about her. Surely there was some evidence of this, or an attempt to assess her suitability, before she was given the biggest job in UK politics?

I’ve always been dubious about the motivations of anyone who would wish to become PM or President given the immense responsibility and public scrutiny such roles carry. Indeed, in a reverse Catch-22 type scenario, anyone ambitious enough to put themselves forward should perhaps be deemed unsuitable and hence ineligible for the role. There’s plenty of research evidence on the psychopathology of leadership and the risks of narcissism, greed, and corruption amongst senior leaders in all walks of life. Such toxicity is clearly not healthy, but it’s a mistake to lay the blame wholly on the individual leader her/himself — indeed we may need to take a closer look at ourselves.

The psychodrama of Westminster over the past weeks, months, years says perhaps as much about our own relationship to leaders and leadership as the individual protagonists themselves. In a recent book chapter I co-authored with Lucie Hartley, drawing on insights from her time as CEO of a drug and alcohol charity, we reflected on the addictive nature of leadership (Hartley & Bolden, 2022). While individual leaders may become trapped in destructive cycles of addictive behavior, the causes and consequences are not entirely of their own making. The tendency to romanticize leadership and the heroic qualities of successful leaders disguises the fact that we frequently place people in situations that would turn even the most admirable individual into something else.

While I have no doubt that Liz Truss willingly and enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to be Prime Minister, she did so at a time of extreme turbulence. Michelle Ryan and Alex Haslam (2005) coined the term the “glass cliff” to describe the circumstances in which female leaders and leaders from minority backgrounds are disproportionately more likely to be appointed to senior leadership roles in times of significant risk. While there are a number of possible explanations for this trend, it means that these individuals are placed in particularly precarious situations where the likelihood of failure is at its greatest. As the political commentator Andrew Marr stated in relation to the unraveling of Liz Truss’s government: “It was triggered by the immediate causes: bad political judgement, naiveté about markets, personal arrogance and cliquishness. Truss is simply not good enough — not shrewd enough in judgement, not persuasive enough as a communicator — to be prime minister. But this is the failure of an idea that would have collapsed even had Britain been led by better politicians” (Marr, 2022).

While I have no desire to present Truss as a victim, she became the embodiment of a set of ideals promoted by certain factions of her Party that were fundamentally out of step with the realities of the markets and wider society. She stated that in her commitment to growth she was prepared to do things that might be considered unpopular. Modeling herself on Margaret Thatcher, she claimed to be “a fighter not a quitter” and “not for turning”… until the markets and public opinion forced her to U-turn on pretty much everything she’d put in place during her time in office. We expect a lot of our leaders — including the ultimate act of self-sacrifice when things turn bad (Grint, 2010).

An Organizational Perspective: A Divided Party

The Conservative and Unionist Party of Great Britain is one of the main political parties in the UK. It represents the right-of-centre political interests and agendas and, within England at least, faces its main opposition from the left-of-centre Labour Party. There are currently 357 Conservative ministers, representing around 55% of all members of the House of Commons. The government comprises a Cabinet of senior leaders appointed by the PM and a large group of “back bench” members of parliament (MPs) elected to represent the interests of their local constituencies. An oppositional form of government is maintained, whereby, the party in power sits opposite the opposition parties in the main chamber of the House of Commons and legislation and policies are debated and voted on by members.

The origins of the UK structure of government dates back to the 13th and 14th centuries, with current arrangements largely unchanged for over 100 years. Unlike typical organizations, the PM’s authority comes from the mandate gained through General Elections, which occur every 4-5 years, where the public get to vote for their preferred party/candidate. These are supplemented by local elections to approve changes in representation between the national election cycle and by occasional national referendums on key issues, such as the UK’s membership of the European Union in 2016.

Within such an environment, the ability of the PM to instill a sense of “confidence” and maintain “discipline” is key. While MPs usually vote along party lines, within a democratic system of government they have the freedom to vote in the way they believe best serves the interests of the electorate. There are occasional exceptions to this, such as the vote on fracking on the evening of Wednesday 19th October 2022 that descended into chaos when Conservative MPs were informed that it was a “confidence vote” and they were expected to vote “no” to a motion to ban fracking no matter what their personal opinion on the matter or the views of their constituents. Despite the attempts of party “whips” and senior Cabinet members to encourage (force) members to vote as directed, 32 (nearly 10%) did not register a vote.

The events of the past few weeks have highlighted deep divisions within the Party that have existed for many years. Rather than all Conservatives sharing a unified set of beliefs, values, and priorities it is a loose affiliation of divided factions. These are the issues that David Cameron was trying to resolve when he called the national referendums, firstly on Scottish independence in 2015 and then membership in the EU in 2016. He hoped that once they had been decided through a public vote, MPs would fall into line and follow the guidance of the PM and Cabinet. In reality, however, such votes — particularly Brexit — seemed to further cement divisions within the Party and have led to widespread resistance and challenge across the different sub-groups — fueling, in large part, the churn of senior leaders, including three Prime Ministers and four Chancellors of the Exchequer (responsible for managing the national budget) in the last few months.

Commentators suggest that the Conservatives need to find a “unity candidate” to replace Liz Truss, someone who can lead and engage people from across the whole party, but such people are in short supply. The contenders — Rishi Sunak, Penny Mordant, and (the former PM) Boris Johnson — are all divisive given that they represent the interests of particular stakeholders rather than the whole party… not to mention the wider country. While Sunak, the runner up in the previous election campaign, has now gained sufficient support to be named the new leader, he has a significant challenge ahead in engaging those who hold him personally responsible for the departure of Boris Johnson and the drama that has since unfolded.

At the end of the day, leadership is about building, rather than burning, bridges.

The social identity approach to leadership, outlined by Alex Haslam and colleagues (2020), highlights the need for leaders to be seen to represent the interests and identity of a collective and to be doing it for “us.” Application of these ideas to the COVID-19 pandemic by Jetten et al. (2020) goes further, suggesting that (1) leaders need to represent us, and in a crisis “us” becomes more inclusive; (2) leaders need to be seen to do it for us, and there is no place for leader exceptionalism; and (3) leaders need to craft and embed a sense of us, and this creates a platform for citizenship.

This mirrors evidence from the Center for Creative Leadership on the nature and importance of “boundary spanning” leadership — defined as “the ability to create direction, alignment, and commitment across boundaries in service of a higher vision or goal” (Ernst & Yip, 2009). Direction, alignment, and commitment are far from evident within UK politics at the moment, and with its absence, the sense of shared purpose and capacity for collaboration needed for effective leadership and governance have evaporated. As the long-standing Tory MP Charles Walker stated following the chaotic vote on 19 October — “I’ve had enough of talentless people putting their tick in the box, not because it’s in the national interest but because it’s in their own personal interest” (Walker, 2022).

A Societal Perspective: Uniting Around a Shared Purpose

To understand Liz Truss’s spectacular failure, however, it is not sufficient to just consider individual and organizational factors. The speed and scale of her demise was largely shaped by factors beyond the direct control of either her or her colleagues.

She came into her position at a time of significant economic and geopolitical turmoil. The Russian invasion of Ukraine and a number of related factors (including the legacy of COVID-19) had driven up fuel costs and impacted food production, which had a direct impact on the cost of living for people across the UK. There were urgent calls for support in helping businesses and working families as well as those already receiving benefits, to cope with the rising cost of bills for fuel, food, and a wide range of essentials. Rapid action was required to put systems and processes in place before the winter in order to minimize the adverse effects.

The policy advocated by Liz Truss and her allies was one of establishing the UK as a high growth, low tax economy. Described by some as “Singapore on Thames” and others as “Trussonomics” — the approach is founded on the idea of cutting red tape and taxes to drive economic growth. This “trickle down” approach proposed that cutting taxes for the wealthiest would benefit those on lower incomes by mobilizing spending and job opportunities. This vision was core to Truss’s campaign to be elected as Party leader and was presented as confident and optimistic in the face of her opponent, Rishi Sunak’s, campaign that spoke of hard times ahead and the need to reign in public spending. When 141,000 Conservative members voted on whom to elect as party leader in September 2022, 57.4% chose Truss over Sunak (Statista, 2022), quite probably because of the more inspiring vision she set out of a post-Brexit Britain.

While those Conservative party members who voted for her, however, may have been persuaded by her argument, the “markets” were far less sympathetic — particularly when her (then) Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, announced a “mini budget” on 23rd September 2022 that included £45 billion of unfunded tax cuts. This “spooked” the markets and led to a rapid drop in the value of the pound, forcing the Bank of England to intervene, increasing interest rates and buying government bonds. The crisis in the financial markets was fueled, to a large extent, by the lack of communication and engagement between Truss and Kwarteng with the business and financial sector (including the Bank of England and, indeed, their own MPs) in advance of the announcements. The unusual decision not to check projections with the Office for Budget Responsibility (established to give independent advice on the UK’s public finance) further undermined confidence — leaving many to assume that the government’s plans were not based on robust analysis and would leave a large gap in the UK economy.

Together, these factors demonstrate the importance of building consensus and support with key stakeholders beyond the immediate team/organization before launching a significant shift in strategy. Without this, the perceived competence, credibility, and legitimacy of leaders can quickly evaporate, making it very hard (or impossible) to regain sufficient support to move forward. The series of U-turns on the policies within the mini-budget, while essential to rebuilding some kind of stability within the markets, whittled away what remaining authority Truss held such that there was no option than to eventually resign.

Where Next?

Today we find ourselves turning to a new leader of the Conservative Party — someone who will also take on the role of Prime Minister. Recent events illustrate the ambivalent relationship to leadership we have in the UK (Bolden & Witzel, 2018). We appear to love and hate our leaders in equal measure — to put them on a pedestal and then topple them when they fail to behave in ways, or to deliver, what we expect (despite the warning signs that might already exist or the incredible demands they face).

While the primary focus of the current crisis in UK politics is “leadership,” we may, perhaps, be advised to spend more time thinking about the importance of “followership.” While each of the contenders for the role of Prime Minister had their own group of loyal advocates, to be successful Rishi Sunak will have to gain the support of a diverse range of stakeholders — including his own party, business and financial services, the public sector and the wider UK population — and demonstrate how he will represent and deliver against their needs and aspirations rather than those of a narrow clique. At the end of the day, leadership is about building, rather than burning, bridges. It is about articulating and working towards a shared purpose that unites, rather than divides, those around them. Ultimately, this might require those in senior leadership positions to put aside their own personal ambitions in the pursuit of a genuinely collective endeavor. As with the apocryphal quote of a Roman Senator claiming “there go my people… I must go after them, so I can find out where they want me to lead them!” (Witzel, 2016) — the key to political leadership is to follow the “will of the people.” Whether or not anyone in the current UK government has the willingness or capacity to do this is yet to be seen.

References and Further Reading

  • Bolden, R. and Witzel, M. (2018) ‘Dis-United Kingdom? Leadership at a crossroads’ in S. Western and E.J. Garcia (eds) Global Leadership Perspectives: Insights and Analysis, London: Sage Publications, pp 161-169.
  • Bolden, R., Hawkins, B., Gosling, J. and Taylor, S. (2011) Exploring Leadership: Individual, organizational and societal perspectives.  Oxford: Oxford University Press. – Second edition to be published in March 2023.
  • Daily Star (2022) LIVE: Can Liz Truss outlast a lettuce? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sm-RE95lKJ0
  • Eardley, N. (2022) How big-bang economic plan and political turmoil sank Liz Truss, BBC News, 20/10/2022 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-63335671
  • Economist, The (2022) Liz Truss has made Britain a riskier bet for bond investors, 11/10/2022 https://www.economist.com/leaders/2022/10/11/liz-truss-has-made-britain-a-riskier-bet-for-bond-investors
  • Ernst, C. and Yip, J. (2009) Bridging Boundaries: Meeting the Challenge of Workplace Diversity, Leadership in Action, 28(1), 3-6.
  • Grint, K., (2010) The Sacred in Leadership: Separation, Sacrifice, and Silence, Organization Studies, 31, 89-107.
  • Hartley, L. and Bolden R. (2022) ‘Addicted to Leadership: From crisis to recovery’ in Morgen Witzel (ed.) Post-Pandemic Leadership: Exploring solutions to a crisis, London: Routledge.
  • Haslam, S. A., Reicher, S. D. & Platow, M. J. (2020). The New Psychology of Leadership: Identity, influence and power, 2nd Edition. London & New York: Psychology Press.
  • Jetten, J., Reicher, S.D., Haslam, S.A. and Cruwys, T. (2020) Together Apart: The Psychology of COVID-19. London: Sage.
  • Kuenssberg, L. (2022) Tory leadership: Why would anyone want to be prime minister now anyway? BBC News, 22/10/2022 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-63343723
  • Marr, A. (2022) The death of global Britain, New Statesman, 19/10/2022 https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk-politics/2022/10/andrew-marr-death-global-britain 
  • Ryan, M. and Haslam, S. A. (2005) The glass cliff: evidence that women are over-represented in precarious leadership positions, British Journal of Management, 16, 81-90.
  • Statista (2022) Percentage of votes won in the Conservative party leadership elections in the United Kingdom in 2022, by round.  https://www.statista.com/statistics/1323720/uk-conservative-leadership-leadership-elections/
  • Walker, C. (2022) I’ve had enough of talentless people, BBC News, 19/10/2022, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-politics-63320605
  • Witzel, M. (2016) The first paradox of leadership is – leadership! In R. Bolden, M. Witzel and N. Linacre (eds) Leadership Paradoxes: Rethinking leadership for an uncertain world. London: Routledge.

Dr. Richard Bolden has been Professor of Leadership and Management and Director of Bristol Leadership and Change Centre at Bristol Business School, University of the West of England (UWE) since 2013. Prior to this he worked at the Centre for Leadership Studies at the University of Exeter Business School for over a decade and has also worked as an independent consultant, research psychologist and in software development in the UK and overseas.

His research explores the interface between individual and collective approaches to leadership and leadership development in a range of sectors, including higher education, healthcare and public services. He has published widely on topics including distributed, shared and systems leadership; leadership paradoxes and complexity; cross-cultural leadership; and leadership and change. He is Associate Editor of the journal Leadership.

Richard has secured funded research and evaluation projects for organisations including the NHS Leadership Academy, Public Health England, Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, Singapore Civil Service College and Bristol Golden Key and regularly engages with external organisations. 

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

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

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

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


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