Emergent leadership locales: engaging relational identity leadership issues,
Launching into the 21st century, we witness the emerging context and shaping of leadership processes, situated in globally competitive markets, presenting significant challenges that require transformations in the fundamentals of leadership. As Westerns countries come to depict themselves as ‘knowledge economies’, both private and public sector entities are called on to develop innovative capacity to solve accountability, marketisation, customisation, sustainability and wider stakeholder issues. Consequently the dominant 20th-century image of the individualist ‘heroic leader’, as the sole guider of appropriate modes of conception and execution, is beginning to be undermined by the realisation that no one individual, or indeed organisation, has all the necessary expertise required to operate in such complex contextual environments. A model of ‘postheroic’ facilitative operational leadership is thus advocated, to empower employees to contribute their ideas and tacit know-how, through team-based leadership formations, and thereby build the necessary creativity capabilities advantage. This grounded emergent approach appears to offer potential for more diverse representations of leadership; both in terms of operational styles and providing for leadership participants to be drawn from a wider range of backgrounds than is conventionally the case. This paper suggests however, that leadership practitioners are currently struggling to manage this adaptation process adequately. The expectation for them to move from a remote, ‘command and control’ role (legitimated by a ‘scientific objectivist’ approach), to engage more facilitative, democratic (‘culturally subjectivist’) interpretively-informed approaches is surfacing a raft of ontological identity crises and epistemological institutional threats. Hence the paper interrogates the intricate relationship between dominant and emerging alternative ways of ‘knowing, seeing and being’, in terms of their ‘identity politics’ underpinnings. Struggles around the dynamic, relationally intersubjective, co-created, social process, underpinnings of postheroic leadership will be shown to be integrally related to an individual’s sense of identity and self-worth. Reference to ethnographic empirical studies and middle and senior management educational encounters will be drawn on to bring the issues further to life. Critically reflexive ethnographic modes of learning, in ‘community of practice’ contexts, will be identified for their enriching and empowering leadership potential. In this regard, the separation between epistemology and ontology will be challenged and reframed for productive purposes. Implications for leaders, in terms of linking increased understanding of the wider contextual change processes and associated impacts on the nature of their daily practice, will be unpacked with the objective of contributing to stimulating emerging leadership locale opportunities.
The Locales of Leadership