Instead of angels: leaders, leadership and longue durée

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Abstract

This chapter builds on some ideas articulated initially in Gronn (2010, especially pp. 405-415) in which I was critical of the numerous solo or stand-alone leader approaches that have traditionally asserted such a powerful hegemonic grip on scholarly thinking about leadership. With the number of like-minded critical voices increasing, there are unmistakable indications that, nally, the eld may be starting to undergo a makeover. In addition to broad critiques of leadership, for example, there are questions being asked about the leadership industry that helps to legitimize the eld while at the same time feeding o it (e.g. Kellerman, 2012). There are initiatives to re-contour the eld that employ alternative conceptions of leadership (e.g., Denis et al., 2012). And there are systematic re-appraisals of the assumptions that undergird scholarly (and popular) thinking in key leadership domains (e.g. Brown, 2014). The broad trajectory of this incipient revisionism has been away from what is sometimes referred to by the perhaps disparaging shorthand term “hero paradigm” in the direction of plurality and collectivism. This rethinking of the directions travelled by the eld is a sure sign of its vibrancy, although the present author (Gronn, 2015, p. 2; 2011, p. 442) has intruded a note of caution. The possible displacement of an individual (N = 1) by leader pluralities (N = 2+) as the focal unit of analysis risks embedding a dualism (in a eld in which binary modes of thinking such as leader-followers already predominate, on which see below) in the guise of pendulum swing-type thinking, as scholarly prominence is accorded successive waves of either individuality or collectivism. One possible way of avoiding such an outcome is to acknowledge that individual and collective instances of leadership co-exist as part of a hybrid mix. For this reason I have proposed previously the idea of a leadership conguration as the preferred unit of analysis (Gronn, 2011).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Companion to Leadership
EditorsJohn Storey, Jean Hartley, Jean-Louis Denis, Paul 't Hart, Dave Ulrich
Place of PublicationNew York NY USA
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Chapter6
Pages89-103
Number of pages15
Edition1st
ISBN (Electronic)9781317578246
ISBN (Print)9781138825574
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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