Leadership-as-Practice (Routledge)

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Chapter 13. Doing Leadership-as-Practice Development David Denyer and Kim Turnbull James

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This book develops a new paradigm in the field of leadership studies, referred to as the “leadership-as-practice” (L-A-P) movement. Its essence is its conception of leadership as occurring as a practice rather than residing in the traits or behaviours of particular individuals. A practice is a coordinative effort among participants who choose through their own rules to achieve a distinctive outcome. It also tends to encompass routines as well as problem-solving or coping skills, often tacit, that are shared by a community. Accordingly, leadership-as-practice is less about what one person thinks or does and more about what people may accomplish together. It is thus concerned with how leadership emerges and unfolds through day-to-day experience. The social and material contingencies impacting the leadership constellation – the people who are effecting leadership at any given time – do not reside outside of leadership but are very much embedded within it. To find leadership, then, we must look to the practice within which it is occurring.

The leadership-as-practice approach resonates with a number of closely related traditions, such as collective, shared, distributed, and relational leadership, that converge on leadership processes. These approaches share a line of inquiry that acknowledges leadership as a social phenomenon. The new focus opens up a plethora of research opportunities encouraging the study of social processes beyond influence, such as intersubjective agency, shared sense-making, dialogue, and co-construction of responsibilities.

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