1st Edition

Leadership Paradoxes Rethinking Leadership for an Uncertain World

Edited By Richard Bolden, Morgen Witzel, Nigel Linacre Copyright 2016
    180 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    192 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Leadership Paradoxes was shortlisted for the 2017 Management Book of the Year, an industry book award organised by the Chartered Management Institute and the British Library.


    Leadership remains one of the most sought-after qualities in contemporary society, yet after centuries of research, education and debate it remains just as elusive as ever. Leadership Paradoxes: Rethinking Leadership for an Uncertain World argues that the key to understanding and enhancing leadership education, theory and practice lies in the recognition of its paradoxical tendencies.

    Drawing on the expertise of an international team of leadership scholars and practitioners, this book examines common leadership paradoxes and challenges faced by leaders — and shows how they can be reconceived as opportunities to be embraced, rather than problems to be solved. Readers will benefit from reflective questions at the end of each chapter, plus a companion website at www.leadershipparadoxes.com offering further material and a forum for discussion.

    Leadership Paradoxes will be valuable supplementary reading for students of leadership at advanced undergraduate, postgraduate, and post-experience level, as well as professionals seeking to improve their practice.

    1. Introduction (Morgen Witzel, Richard Bolden and Nigel Linacre) 2.The first paradox of leadership is – leadership! (Morgen Witzel) 3. Paradoxes of perspective: leaders, leading and leadership (Richard Bolden) 4. Leadership Paradoxes of Team and Time (Nigel Linacre) 5. Paradoxical Truths in Heroic Leadership: Implications for Leadership Development and Effectiveness (Scott Allison and Jennifer Cecilione) 6.The Leader’s Conundrum: A Paradox of Distortion (John Lawler and Jeff Gold) 7. Leadership and the paradoxes of authenticity (Inmaculada Adarves-Yorno) 8. The paradox of right and wrong (Jennifer Board) 9. Conclusion (Richard Bolden, Morgen Witzel and Nigel Linacre)


    Richard Bolden is Professor of Leadership and Management and Director of Bristol Leadership Centre at the University of the West of England, UK

    Morgen Witzel is a Fellow of the Centre for Leadership Studies, Univerity of Exeter Business School, UK.

    Nigel Linacre is a co-founder of Extraordinary Leadership Ltd and is an affiliate of the Centre for Leadership Studies, University of Exeter, UK.

    Leadership Paradoxes was shortlisted for the 2017 Management Book of the Year, an industry book award organised by the Chartered Management Institute and the British Library.


    'The book encourages the reader to critique rational approaches to paradoxes in leadership and to view the world from different angles, as its gravity-defying cover based on Escher’s ‘Relativity’ print indicates. This edited collection is neither a text book nor a prescriptive guide. It is written as supplementary reading for advanced undergraduate, postgraduate, and post-experience students (a) to stimulate new thinking and debate; (b) to encourage wider reading of paradox and ambiguity; and (c) to consider how paradoxes impact leadership. […] this book is to be commended for reminding us that an understanding of leadership requires us to live with absurdities and question leadership practices and development. The companion website provides an excellent forum for further dialogue. Overall, Bolden et al.'s text is timely in a postheroic age as we strive to integrate converging physical, digital, and biological conundrums in the fourth industrial revolution.' - Dr Julie Davies, Management Learning, pre-published August 2016

    ‘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!’ - Dr Stephanie Jones, Associate Professor, Organizational Behavior, Maastricht School of Management, the Netherlands