This book has a clear concern to offer a distinctive way of studying leadership so that it might be practiced differently. It is distinctive in focusing on contemporary concerns about gender and ethics. More precisely, it examines the masculinity of leadership and how, through an embodied form of reasoning, it might be challenged or disrupted. A central argument of the book is that masculine leadership elevates rationality in ways that marginalize the body and feelings and often has the effect of sanctioning unethical behavior.
In exploring this thesis, Leadership, Gender and Ethics: Embodied Reason in Challenging Masculinities provides an analysis of the comparatively neglected issues of identity/anxiety, power/resistance, diversity/gender, and the body/masculinities surrounding the concept and practice of leadership. It also illustrates the arguments of the book by examining leadership through an empirical examination of academic life, organization change and innovation, and the global financial crisis of 2008. In a postscript, it analyses some examples of masculine leadership in the global pandemic of 2020.
This book will be of interest generally to researchers, academics and students in the field of leadership and management and will be of special interest to those who seek to understand the intersections between leadership and gender, ethics and embodied approaches. It will also appeal to those who seek to develop new ways of thinking and theorizing about leadership in terms of identities and insecurities, power and masculinity, ethics and the body. Its insights might not only change studies but also practices of leadership.
Table of Contents
Part I Leadership: An Overview. 1 - Reflecting on Leadership Studies. 2 - Genealogies of Leadership in Practice and Theory. Part II Conceptual Reflections on Leadership, Ethics, and Masculinity. 3 - Identity and Leadership. 4 - Power/ Resistance. 5 - Diversity/Gender and Leadership. 6 - Embodied Reason and Affective Leadership. 7 - Ethics and Leadership. Part III Empirical Illustrations of Leadership, Ethics and Masculinity. 8 - Academia and Education. 9 - Change, Innovation and Technology. 10 - Financial sector. 11 – Postscript.
David Knights is distinguished scholar in the Department of Organisation Work and Technology at Lancaster University Management School, and Professor at Oxford Brookes University Business School, UK.
'...a refreshing sweep of leadership genealogical history. Leave it to David Knights to delve into the undiscussable post-humanistic heritage of leadership meaning, especially its gendered identity, embodiment, ethics, and affect. If you ride along, your destination will be changed.' Joseph Raelin, Professor Emeritus, Management and Organizational Development, Northeastern University, Boston, MA, USA
'Knights has written a timely and erudite rebuke to mainstream, or rather malestream, leadership scholars who have ignored or avoided many of the critical aspects of ethics, power and resistance in maintaining the status quo.' Keith Grint, Emeritus Professor, Warwick Business School, UK
'David Knights brings his usual erudition and critical spirit to question some of the core assumptions on how we study and how we practice leadership. By focusing on its gendered, bodily and ethical dimensions, Knights rightly seeks to restore the missing heart to leadership and dispel many of the simplistic and wish-fulfilling assumptions that surround it. His book is a must for students, teachers and, especially, those who wish to lead in more enlightened ways.' Yiannis Gabriel, Professor at the School of Management at Bath University and Visiting Professor at the University of Lund, Sweden
'This book is a refreshing and stimulating departure from well-trodden taken-for-granted conceptions of what leadership is and who leads. The book insightfully integrates thinking about gender, masculinity, the body and ethics to offer a novel perspective of leadership as ethically, embodied and involved engagement with self and others. Knights also draws upon his considerable practical experience to demonstrate the applicability of his ideas to leadership practice in different contexts.' Stella M. Nkomo, University of Pretoria, South Africa
"David Knights can be relied on to have his finger on the contemporary intellectual pulse, and this book is no exception. At once philosophically sophisticated and grounded, Knights’ critique eschews the individualism, scientism and implicit muscularity of much mainstream leadership theory. Inspired by the writings of Foucault and more recent post-humanist writing, he argues passionately for de-centred intersectional conceptions of leadership that hold the prospect of more egalitarian, a-gendered and just forms of leadership practice. So called ‘strong leadership’ is a symptom of our troubled times, not a solution. Read this book to discover the rich possibilities of a vision of leadership as an embodied and collective art of living." Professor Peter Case, Bristol Business School
"Should we be seduced by yet another book with leadership in its title? In this instance, we have to say "yes!" Decades after his retreat, David Knights returns to the subject with not "another book on leadership" but a book for thinking with "leadership" in the times of the more than human. Cautious in not declaring itself as the last word on the subject (pun intended), the book both effaces and reclaims "authorship" for bodies and affects floating through its conceptual materiality. An assemblage becoming for all to be part of…" Marta B. Calás and Linda Smircich, University of Massachusetts - Amherst
"How might we foster more ethical leadership? David Knights goes to the heart of the matter – it is about challenging reliance on masculinised reason and re-valuing affect and embodied relations. David’s lively theorising, practical experience and wisdom are welcome guides on this path." Amanda Sinclair, Professorial Fellow, Melbourne University, Australia.
"Leadership failure devastates people, communities and organizations. Considering the gendered, ethical nature of leadership is vital for responsible leadership practice which create and sustain humane workplaces. David Knights, with theoretical eminence and insightful illustrations, demonstrates that post-Covid-19 recovery relies on thinking about leadership differently." Alison Pullen, Professor of Management and Organization Studies, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia, and Joint Editor-in-Chief Gender, Work and Organization.