9. Conclusion

Authors : Richard Bolden, Morgen Witzel and Nigel Linacre

In this chapter Richard Bolden, Morgen Witzel and Nigel Linacre review some of the key themes emerging in this book and their implications for the ways in which we think about and practice leadership and leadership development. Concepts including negative capability, the social construction of leadership, wicked problems, complexity and boundary spanning leadership are considered in order to illustrate the potential benefits and opportunities of a paradoxical approach to leadership.

Contents
  • The elusive nature of leadership
  • Changing perspectives on leadership and the nature of problems
  • Leading in complex systems
  • Finding a way forward in a uncertain world
Questions for reflection and discussion  
  1. In this chapter we have highlighted some of the key themes raised throughout this book. To what extent do you agree with our summary? What have we missed that struck you as important? What are the key points or insights for you and your own professional practice and development as a leader?
  2. Whilst we do not provide a definitive definition of leadership we recognise that definitions and descriptions can be useful in capturing and communicating key ideas. Take some time to review leadership definitions and quotes online and identify three complementary accounts that resonate with your own views and experience. If you are working in a group, share your thoughts with others and take time to reflect on what your choice of quotes and definitions says about your own values and assumptions.
  3. In this chapter we distinguish between tame, wicked and critical problems. Take a few minutes to think about the main challenges you face at work (or case study organisation of your choice). Can you identify problems that clearly fall into any of these three categories? What leadership response(s) would each call for?
  4. Leading across boundaries requires us to be aware of the social identities that are important to us, and those we seek to lead. On a sheet of paper list as many of the social identities that relate to you as possible and do the same for those you seek to lead. Do you notice any significant areas of mismatch? What could be done to help improve the fit between what your followers are looking for and what you represent?
  5. Leadership requires us to create a path forward in an uncertain and unknowable world. Take time to draw up an action plan detailing what practical steps you could take to help create the future you hope to achieve for yourself and/or your organisation. What support would you need to get there and how can you access this?
Resources

On looking for a Map and finding a Mirror: The contradictions and complexities of decision-making – Keith Grint, UWE, April 2014
On looking for a Map and finding a Mirror: The contradictions and complexities of decision-making – Keith Grint, UWE, April 2014

How to be a Great Leader -TED talks
How to be a Great Leader -TED talks

Heart of the Art
Heart of the Art