Constructing Leadership through Language

Janet Holmes, Meredith Marra and Bernadette Vine

in Leadership, Discourse, and Ethnicity

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199730759
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918454 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Sociolinguistics

Constructing Leadership through Language

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Leadership is a dynamic concept that has been studied from a myriad of perspectives across diverse disciplines. The language of leadership, however, is a relatively neglected area of research. This chapter provides a brief survey of studies of leadership, identifying the potential role of language in leadership construction. It highlights transactional and relational dimensions of effective leadership as useful background for Chapters 4 and 5, and explores the key role of language in enacting and indexing different facets of leadership identity. It highlights the crucial role of discourse in the enactment of leadership identity, and the contribution that discourse analysis can make to understand leadership behavior. The chapter also includes discussion of the importance of cultural factors in leadership performance. There are many similarities in the ways that Māori and Pākehā leaders discursively index their leadership identities, but there are also some important differences that indicate the critical influence of Māori culture on ways in which Māori leadership is enacted in Māori communities of practice. Two such issues are examined in the last section of the chapter.

Keywords: language; leadership identity; discourse analysis; leadership behavior; Māori; communities of practice; Pākehā

Chapter.  7650 words. 

Subjects: Sociolinguistics

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