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Putting the contradictions back into leadership development

Vince, R. and Pedler, M. (2018) Putting the contradictions back into leadership development. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 39 (7). pp. 859-872. ISSN 0143-7739

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1108/lodj-04-2018-0134


The purpose of this paper is to outline an alternative view of leadership development that acknowledges the likelihood of unintended and contradictory outcomes in leadership work. Helping leaders to engage with contradictions is as important as developing their positive capabilities. A focus on the contradictions of leadership can help to address the emotional and political limitations that development programmes unwittingly impose on learning. The paper discusses how leadership development currently falls short in helping people to lead in complex organizational environments. This argument is illustrated by examples taken from MBA teaching programme in a School of Management together with an analysis of contradictions in the National Health Service Healthcare Leadership Model. The final section gives four examples of how to put the contradictions back into leadership development. The paper does not seek to present empirical findings. The illustrations support an argument for changes in practice. Examples are provided of a different approach to leadership development. The paper critiques approaches to leadership development on the grounds of its relentless positivity regarding leadership behaviour and that focusses primarily on the development of individuals. Attention is called to the contradictions inherent in leadership work which extend to the leadership development process itself. Once acknowledged, these contradictions offer important leadership learning opportunities for both individuals and organizations.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Henley Business School > Leadership, Organisations and Behaviour
ID Code:78554
Uncontrolled Keywords:Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous), Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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