2nd Edition

Leadership Development in Practice A Complexity Approach

By Kevin Flinn Copyright 2024
    228 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    228 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    In an unpredictable world, how do we go about supporting leaders to develop more democratic and inclusive ways of working and living? The second edition of Leadership Development in Practice: A Complexity Approach draws on autoethnographic accounts of experience from practitioners across three continents to explore the leadership development approaches that best support managers to work with uncertainty by taking their experience seriously. It offers an alternative perspective on leadership and organisation for business schools, consultancies, and corporate training functions to adopt in their development of leaders.

    Additions to this second edition include as follows:

    • A new chapter on creating large group dialogue
    • A more explicit emphasis on what it means to take gender, diversity, and social justice seriously
    • A review of the burgeoning interest in complexity perspectives on leadership and leadership development since publication of the first edition

    This book is essential reading for leadership and organisational development professionals, researchers, and students. It will also be of interest to managers looking for an approach to leadership development that works with how things are rather than with idealisations of how things ought to be.

    List of Illustrations vi

    Foreword to the First Edition vii

    Preface to the Second Edition ix

    Acknowledgements to the First Edition xii

    List of Abbreviations xiv

    Introduction to the First Edition 1

    1 Leadership, Management, and Entrepreneurship 15

    2 Rethinking Leadership 29

    3 Rethinking Leadership Development 53

    4 Coaching, Psychometrics, and 360° Feedback 79

    5 Forum Theatre 106

    6 Experiential Exercises 128

    7 Action Learning Sets 152

    8 Creating Large Group Dialogue 177

    9 No Recipes, Just Rules of Thumb 204

    Index 209


    Kevin Flinn is a Senior Lecturer in Executive Education at Liverpool John Moores University, UK.

    Praise for the first edition

    Kevin Flinn’s book on Leadership Development is an important antidote to the usual literature on leadership and leadership development. Instead of simply reinforcing largely mythical accounts of some idealised story about what leadership should be, Flinn’s book insightfully reflects on the actual experience of leading and proposes useful approaches to developing that experience.

     Ralph Stacey, Professor of Management, Hertfordshire Business School, UK

    A timely insight into the theory and practice of leadership and leadership development in a world characterised by complexity and uncertainty. In this book Kevin Flinn provides a refreshingly frank take on the limitations of traditional approaches and a thorough and illuminating exploration of an alternative, rooted in the insights of over a decade’s experience working with students and practising managers to understand how things really get done in groups and organisations.

    Richard Bolden, Director of Bristol Leadership and Change Centre,

    University of the West of England, UK

    In this gem of a book, you will find no best practices and no short cuts but a spirited writer reflecting upon his extensive practice of leadership development. If you are sceptical of prescriptions, but want to be introduced to tools and techniques for reflexivity, this book is for you. In addition, you will get a comprehensive overview of current management literature. I can highly recommend it.

     Henry Larsen, Professor of Participatory Innovation, University of Southern Denmark

    Kevin Flinn’s book is a welcomed addition to the still very small number of books written on the topic of Complexity and Management. Kevin builds on the tremendously important work of Ralph Stacey and his colleagues and adds his own story creating an important contribution to the study of management both in theory and in practice.

     Esko Kilpi, Founder, Esko Kilpi Company, Finland