Within contemporary culture, ‘leadership’ is seen in ways that appeal to celebrated societal values and norms. As a result, it is becoming difficult to use the language of leadership without at the same time assuming its essentially positive, intrinsically affirmative nature. Within organizations, routinely referring to bosses as ‘leaders’ has, therefore, become both a symptom and a cause of a deep, largely unexamined new conceptual architecture. This architecture underpins how we think about authority and power at work. Capitalism, and its turbo-charged offspring neo-liberalism, have effectively captured ‘leader’ and ‘leadership’ to serve their own purposes. In other words, organizational leadership today is so often a particular kind of insidious conservativism dressed up in radical adjectives.
This book makes visible the work that the language of leadership does in perpetuating fictions that are useful for bosses of work organizations. We do this so that we – and anyone who shares similar discomforts – can make a start in unravelling the fiction. We contend that even if our views are contrary to the vast and powerful leadership industry our basic arguments rest on things that are plain and evident for all to see.
Critical Perspectives on Leadership: The Language of Corporate Power will be key reading for students, academics and practitioners in the disciplines of Leadership, Organizational studies, Critical Management Studies, Sociology and the related disciplines.
"Finally! While Learmonth and Morrell aren’t the first academics to sound the alarm regarding the prostitution of the terms "leader" and "leadership," they have done the most thorough — and convincing — job to date. It’s not just a semantic issue, either. As the authors make clear, contemporary use of the labels goes well beyond self-congratulation; the more insidious effect is that they paper over the structural unfairness at the heart of most employment arrangements today. And while it seems unlikely we’ll convince all these leaders to stop calling themselves such, there might be some hope that we can ultimately stop ratifying the bastardization of the term in the academy itself. But maybe not. After all, that would take leadership. Congrats to these two for trying anyway." —Duff McDonald, author of The Golden Passport
List of Tables and Figures
‘Leadership’ as Rhetoric
The Seductions of ‘Leadership’
Routledge are pleased to announce a new research series focusing on leadership. Designed for scholars and researchers within the field, as well as executives and administrators, it will reflect cutting edge international leadership research. Relevant to all aspects of business conduct for individuals and organizations, books in this new series will analyse emerging and critical perspectives on leadership research, and reflect the discipline from organizational and political perspectives as well as those of individual leaders such as CEOs.