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Statement of Purpose 1.This paper aims to explore the contribution of combined social constructionist and existential perspectives to the understanding.

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Presentation on theme: "Statement of Purpose 1.This paper aims to explore the contribution of combined social constructionist and existential perspectives to the understanding."— Presentation transcript:



3 Statement of Purpose 1.This paper aims to explore the contribution of combined social constructionist and existential perspectives to the understanding of leadership. 2.This paper calls for a reconsideration of the objectivist approach. 3.It also argues the value of incorporating the subjective perspective through two related approaches.

4 What is Leadership? VEHICLE OF LEADERSHIP ExistentialismConstructionism Identification of Core Themes

5 Rationalist Perspective Traditional approaches to leadership research are characterized by the rationalist, perspective that seeks to distil the essence of leadership – to identify the composite qualities / behaviors / competencies. Kakabadse(1999) says : “From the ancient philosophers to Hobbes and Nietzsche, to current scholars, finding out what makes the visionary hero, the superhuman, the great man or woman, tick, has become an obsession.”

6 Rationalist Perspective Adler (1999) and House and Aditja (1997) highlighted the limitations. Alimo-Metcalfe and Alban-Metcalfe, 2001) highlights the risk of applying distant and charismatic models of leadership.

7 Leaders are Active, Followers are Passive, Leader the Subject, Followers the Object of their actions; Leader is Visionary, Followers are Blinkered; Leaders can Empower, Followers only have Power delegated to them.

8 Subjective perspective Collinson(2005),Pye(2005),Wood(2005),Dodge(2001) Popper(2004) writings focus on incorporating subjective elements Cooper(1999) argues that the objective research leads to “standard accounts” of the world. This is useful in dealing with constants such as inert matter, chemical reactions, and physical forces

9 Subjective perspective We have several “standard accounts” of leadership, in leadership models, leadership characteristics, dimensions and competences. How accurately do these reflect the “lived experience” of leadership in all its settings? “What the standard accounts ignore is the degree to which the world is a human one, whose structure, articulation and very existence are functions of human agency” (Cooper, 1999, p. 58). What is largely missing from standard accounts is the subjective voice

10 Existentialism & Constructionism For existentialists the self is a “being” – not a static being but one whose constant project is “becoming” through his/her actions in the world. For the constructionist, the self is a social construction For the existentialist, the self is a present and conscious being, able to experience the moment and free to choose her/his actions, to will whom to be come. A conscious being “who participates in the construction of reality” (Yablon, 1980).

11 Existentialism & Constructionism Klugman says that for the constructionist, “reality means construction of the person who is viewing or experiencing reality at any given moment” (Klugman, 1997, p. 304). So in combination, existentialism provides the perspective of consciousness of the present and of future intention to act, whilst constructionism provides reflection and awareness of influential factors both past and present

12 Existentialism: Essence follows Existence The assumption underpinning much management and leadership thinking and research, is that the “essence” of something precedes its existence. for example the feminist debates over essence, essence of womanhood, common to all women. Existentialism questions the extent to which the “essence” of people is identifiable and precedes our own existence.

13 Existentialism: Essence follows Existence A classical view described by Sartre (1958) is that if we are created in God’s likeness, our essence is preordained. He took an atheistic view of life and argued that our essence only develops in life and indeed that it is our life’s mission to create meaning for ourselves. If we can be said to have an essence at all it is only something that can be identified at the end of lives – when our “project” is complete. To identify an essence before then would be to limit any further development (Sartre, 1958, 2000). Popular views of existentialism

14 Existentialism: Essence follows Existence May mistakenly regard it as a line of philosophy that is concerned with proving the existence or non-existence of God. Woodhouse (2002) points out that this is to misinterpret existentialism: [...] a prime question for the existentialist is neither “how can I rationally prove or disprove the existence of God?” nor “What does the term God mean?” Rather, it is “Does it matter whether God exists?” or “Of what relevance to my life is God, one way or the other? (Woodhouse, 2002, p. 26

15 Existentialism: Essence follows Existence Here, we question the essentialist view of leadership through existentialist thinking, to examine if value develops only through the relationship itself, rather than being reliant on certain preconditions. For our purposes here, we might substitute the word “leadership” for “God” in the above quote and consider, not how leadership is defined but “Of what relevance to my life is leadership, one way or the other?” We argue later that through encouraging and focussing on dialogue, a fuller understanding of the individual meaning of leadership can be developed.

16 Existentialism: Essence follows Existence The existentialist would argue that reductionist views of leadership miss the uniqueness of each individual and of each individual relationship as an important consideration in leadership An important aspect of existentialism is consciousness.

17 Existentialism: Essence follows Existence We might summarise this (and grossly oversimplify: for detailed discussion see Sartre, 2000) as follows: Being-in-itself: acting unreflectively; Being-for-itself: acting reflectively; and Being-for-others: reflecting on being objectified by another(s). If we consider these different aspects in relation to all involved in the leadership process, we can see the complex possibilities of a range of subjectivities in interaction between people. The dominant, objective approaches to leadership referred to above, give little attention to such subjectivities.

18 Social Constructionist Perspective Sources of Social Constructionist Inquiry includes:- Sociology, literary studies, history, anthropology, women’s studies, psychology and cultural studies. Burr (1995, p. 2) indicates, there is not one feature from across the range of disciplines and writers that can be said to classify a social constructionist viewpoint. Harding (2003) identifies the consideration of power, which is a key dynamic in studies of leaders and leadership. Viewing leadership as socially constructed encourages greater attention to features such as the local circumstances, local practices, local processes, local situations, local ideas etc. that may be creating repressive climates or preventing new and creative practices of leadership. One such practice is dependency on leadership.

19 Social Constructionist Perspective Gemmill and Oakley argue that dependency on leadership is a serious sign of social pathology that induces massive learned helplessness among members of a social system.

20 A Combined View: The Dynamic Process of Leadership Leadership is not about a leader decreeing what should occur and followers responding in a mechanical way, but is a complex social process in which the meanings and interpretations of what is said and done are crucial. Thus, to define and describe leadership is to recognize its slippery nature, its meaning shaped by both individuals’ own experiences, personal backgrounds and reflexive thoughts and by those of all the other people involved within the local context (Alvesson, 2002; Campbell, 2000; Smircich and Morgan, 1982).

21 C + E = Social Dynamic Process of Leadership Researchers’ role will be changed Less dependency on leaders management of meanings will be developed when leader and led will interact Consideration of the Individual perspective Importance of interrelated and dialogical self will be utmost Encouraging more open dialogue Character of Relationship will be discussed No external imposition by one individual/external forces alone Leadership will not be restricted by the definition of universal model

22 Dialogue Discussion and Leadership Taylor (1991) argues that if we are to become authentic” in relationships – either though self-fulfilment (prospective) or self- realisation (current awareness) – we need to recognise our “dialogical” (rather than monological) selves. Leadership is thus viewed as an inter-subjective phenomenon in which the leader and led interact and develop meaning. This interaction of leader and led is part of a social process in which particular forms of leadership are constructed and reproduced over time (Sandberg, 2001).

23 What Is Leadership? Leadership is the thought you have about it; it is subjective. All people are different and they have their own perspective on things and leadership is one of them.

24 The Definition of Leadership: The people that make up the meaning of leadership are leaders

25 Conclusion Personally speaking, objectivist approaches to leadership neglect these 8 considerations that is 8 missing links that are being highlighted in this research 1.Consideration of the asymmetrical power relations in work relationships 2.Historical and cultural factors 3.Local influences, local circumstances, Practices, Processes, Situations, and Ideas 4.To acknowledge subjective experience of relationships 5.Opportunity to discuss the intricacies of meaning in the leadership relationship 6.Little attention to subjectivities 7.Uniqueness of each individual 8.Uniqueness of each individual relationship


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