Understanding Leadership : An Arts and Humanities Perspective book cover
2nd Edition

Understanding Leadership
An Arts and Humanities Perspective

ISBN 9780367151812
Published December 30, 2019 by Routledge
282 Pages 70 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Laozi, Marx, the Buddha, Ibsen, Machiavelli – these are just a few of the world’s great thinkers who have weighed in on the subject of leadership over the centuries. Yet the contemporary student of leadership often overlooks many of these names in favor of more recent theorists hailing from the social sciences. Understanding Leadership: An Arts and Humanities Perspective takes a different angle, employing the works of the great philosophers, authors, and artists found in world civilization and presenting an arts and humanities perspective on the study of leadership.

The authors build their conceptual framework using their Five Components of Leadership Model, which recognizes the leader, the followers, the goal, the context, and the cultural values and norms that make up the leadership process.

Supporting the text are a wealth of case studies that reflect on works such as Ayn Rand’s novella Anthem, Eugène Delacroix’s painting Liberty Leading the People, Charlie Chaplin’s film Modern Times, Athol Fugard’s play "Master Harold" . . . and the boys, Laozi’s poetic work Dao De Jing, and Antonín Dvořák’s New World Symphony. The authors also introduce studies from various world cultures to emphasize the role that cultural values and norms play in leadership. This illuminating framework promotes the multidimensional thinking that is necessary for understanding and problem-solving in a complex world.

Understanding Leadership: An Arts and Humanities Perspective will be a valuable resource for both undergraduate and postgraduate leadership students, while leadership professionals will also appreciate the book’s unique liberal arts and cultural approach.

Table of Contents

Part I: How to Think About Leadership 

1.Understanding Leadership 

2.The Leader 

3.The Followers 

4.The Goal 

5.The Context 

Part II: The Cultural Context of Leadership  

6.Leadership in a Western Cultural Context 

7.Leadership in a Latin American Cultural Context 

8.Leadership in a Russian cultural context 

9.Leadership in an Islamic cultural context

10 Leadership in a traditional African cultural context 

11 Leadership in a Daoist cultural context 

12 Leadership in a Confucian cultural context

13 Leadership in a Buddhist cultural context

PART III: Leadership for what?

14 Leadership to develop oneself

15 Leadership to develop others

16 Leadership for the greater good


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Robert M. McManus is the McCoy Professor of Leadership Studies and Communication at the McDonough Leadership Center at Marietta College in Ohio. He is the co-editor of Ethical Leadership: A Primer (Edward Elgar) and also co-edited Leading in Complex Worlds (Jossey-Bass). He has served as the Chair of the Leadership Education MIG for the International Leadership Association.

Gama Perruci is the Dean of the McDonough Leadership Center at Marietta College in Ohio. He also serves as a consultant for the New York Times (nytimesineducation.com) and session facilitator for Dartmouth College’s Rockefeller Center for Public Policy. He is the author of Global Leadership: A Transnational Perspective (Routledge).


"There are thousands of books on leadership that answer some of the critical leadership questions. This is the only leadership book that addresses ALL of them. McManus and Perruci tackle the complexity of leadership, including the role of followers and context. They examine leadership from cultures ranging from West to East and from all continents, and they deal in depth with the critical question of "Leadership for what?" This is a must read for any true scholar of leadership."

Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D., Associate Dean of the Faculty, Kravis Leadership Institute, Claremont McKenna College, USA.

"This book opens the door to understanding leadership for students, scholars, and practitioners alike. The authors present a wide array of theories and ideas that challenge us to gain our own insights on how these can work together, and help us to become effective leaders and followers in our complex world."

Sadhana Hall, Deputy Director, The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences, Dartmouth College, USA

"In this much needed text McManus and Perruci extend the injunction to ‘know thyself’ by inviting us to know our wider world more fully. Readers will be informed, challenged and inspired through an artful examination of ‘I’/‘We’ leadership paradoxes."

Dr Ralph Bathurst, Massey University, New Zealand