Finally, a leadership text which reveals the paradoxical and messy reality of leadership rather than providing over simplified ‘how to’ recipes. Bolden, Witzel and Linacre have produced a radical text which is a must-read for the serious student of leadership. – Donna Ladkin, Professor of Leadership and Ethics, Plymouth University, UK

Elegantly written throughout, and deeply rooted in both research and practice, each chapter offers novel variations on the central theme of paradox. This is a thought provoking and refreshing antidote to numerous damaging myths about leadership. – Dennis Tourish, professor of Leadership and Organization Studies, Royal Holloway University of London, UK

The early part of the 21st century, to date, has been rife with complexity, uncertainty, ambiguity, and unpredictability. One of the inevitable products of the dynamics of our age is the ongoing creation of seemingly thorny, insoluble paradoxes. One cannot lead well without being able to comprehend paradoxes, and to artfully navigate them in ways that edify the group of people one leads. This topic is largely neglected in leadership courses – both in business schools and in broader leadership development efforts in industry and government. This book is an excellent response to this deficit, and a worthy introduction for students and managers who desire to increase their “paradox navigation” skills as leaders. – Mark E. Mendenhall, Ph.D., J. Burton Frierson Chair of Excellence in Business Leadership, University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, USA

Another strikingly-original text to come out of the Exeter Centre for Leadership Studies and its wide circle of contacts. Adding something new to a crowded field is not easy, but this distinguished band have done it again! – Associate Professor, Organizational Behavior, Maastricht School of Management, the Netherlands

This thoughtful and lively collection of essays not only acknowledge but duly celebrate the fundamentally paradoxical nature of leadership. The authors have many fresh and valuable insights to share with scholars, students and practitioners alike.  Professor Brad Jackson, Head of School of Government, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand


This book is a wonderful complement to the standard texts on leadership. It is so refreshing that a book sets out to provoke questions in us through the notion of paradox rather than providing answers. For example, I have yet to meet anyone that on the one hand does not know what leadership is, yet on the other hand has little understanding on why they know this. The authors have served us well by exploring various leadership topics and themes through the lens of paradox. But here’s the thing … this questioning approach does bring answers to the reader through their own personal reflection. – Steve Kempster, Professor of Leadership Learning and Development, Lancaster University Management School, UK

The effect of this book is to lift the reader to a higher perspective – at once more commanding and more humble – where the paradoxes of leadership are revealed as properly human. It is an antidote for the pseudo-reductionism that despoils much academic writing on the subject, and a stimulus to intellectual ambition. It is an excellent read for anyone who longs for a book that will recognise what it’s really like to lead. – Jonathan Gosling, Emeritus Professor of Leadership, University of Exeter; Director, Pelumbra Ltd., UK