The Social Development of Leadership and Knowledge - Re-thinking Research and Practice: a Summary

Warwick, R. and Board, D. (2012) The Social Development of Leadership and Knowledge - Re-thinking Research and Practice: a Summary. In: Centre For Progressive Leadership, 12th Nov 2012, London Metropolitan University.

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How do you find something out? How might you feel in going about this task? How does this come to change your leadership and practice? We have taken these questions seriously and they form a structure of a book that will be published by Palgrave in 2013 called The Social Development of leadership and Knowledge. Experience does not follow a linear intellectual path that finally arrives at a clear destination. In fact we don’t arrive; instead we are in a constant process of arriving. Multiple avenues and possibilities fleetingly emerge and close: facing us with choices, dilemmas, exclusion, panic and hope.

We draw on two contrasting districts of the city of practice – districts which are our professional homes, namely the interplay between policy-making and front-line action in Britain’s National Health Service, and the recruitment of executives to senior management positions in the private, public, academic and voluntary sectors.

Intellectual lines of thought that have deeply influenced our thinking have included Ralph Stacey at al and Complex Responsive Process of Relating (Stacey, 2007) (Stacey, Griffin, & Shaw, 2000) and Pierre Bourdieu's notion of habitus (Bourdieu, Science of Science and Reflexivity, 2006). Both Bourdieu and Stacey explore themes of process and ongoingness that we strongly identify with. Stacey et al draw on analogies from complexity sciences as a way of exploring how people relate to reach other. This we find, particularly useful and adds to Bourdieu’s contribution. Both are keen to explore the effects that decisions and actions have when amplified or muted in the wider figuration of human interaction, some of which is known and open to experience, and other interactions which are not accessible. In summary, both Stacey and Bourdieu explore, in different ways, the impact of power relations between people as a means of connecting actions and their overt and hidden consequences. It is for these reasons that we find it helpful to explore these interactions in a more temporal way, rather than overly privileging separation and objectivity.

It is in this context that we explore the connection between leadership and knowledge. Leadership literature is enormous and has almost buckled under its own weight. The question that we address is this: how does a practitioner take their own experience seriously? In doing so there is an opportunity for the practitioner to: explore their own context (or habitus as Bourdieu terms it) in acts of leadership (that require vision, courage and conflict) to change patterns of how people relate to each other and in doing do new patterns emerge in both predictable and unpredictable ways. These new patterns form topic of conversation and knowledge between people where further opportunities for leadership develop. The foundation of leadership development and knowledge is firmly anchored to a person’s own situation, a situation in which they occupy with others. We are therefore not saying that the weight of current leadership literature is wasted. Instead, it must be read and understood within the fabric of the leaders own experience. In this paper we explore some of the theoretical aspects and practicalities behind this.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Items (Paper)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
L Education > L Education (General)
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > ZA Information resources
Divisions: Academic Areas > Business School
Event Title: Centre For Progressive Leadership
Event Location: London Metropolitan University
Event Dates: 12th Nov 2012
Depositing User: Rob Warwick
Date Deposited: 10 Dec 2020 08:52
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2020 08:52

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