Leadership: keeping the big picture in view

Margaret Attwood, Mike Pedler, Sue Pritchard and David Wilkinson

in Leading change

Published by Policy Press

Published in print February 2003 | ISBN: 9781861344496
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447302674 | DOI:
Leadership: keeping the big picture in view

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  • Urban and Rural Studies


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This chapter contends that ‘hero leadership’ cannot be successful in tackling ‘wicked’ or intractable problems. It suggests leadership as something for the many rather than the few ‘top’ people. The chapter explores the processes involved in leading across ‘whole systems’ – assisting sense-making, establishing ‘holding frameworks’, using collective intelligence, and so on – and some of the paradoxes with which leaders must grapple. It also suggests that images of organisations – as machines, networks, jazz groups, or flocks of birds – have significant influence on the expectations of leaders. Lastly, the chapter points the way to the link between leadership and whole systems ‘public learning’ processes.

Keywords: hero leadership; public learning; whole systems; sense-making; organisations

Chapter.  8027 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Urban and Rural Studies

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