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Leadership, leadership development and all that jazz

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-99
Number of pages19
Issue number1
Early online date29 Nov 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Nov 2016


This article critiques key elements of contemporary leadership theory and practice, notably the persistent modernist emphasis on heroic individualism in models of the leader and leadership and the highly instrumental and performative nature of the competence approach to leadership development. Against this, the article draws on the history of jazz as an improvisational art form to develop a view of leadership based on fluidity and adaptability, commitment, creativity and change, community and team enabling and the idea of mastery and wisdom. Leadership-as-practice, in this view, is “collective coherent thinking” based on a lifetime of preparation for exploring the spaces between the notes where creative interpretation meets and responds to uncertainty and unpredictability. © 2016, © The Author(s) 2016.

    Research areas

  • heroic and postheroic leadership, improvisation, jazz, leadership development, leadership-as-practice, mastery, wisdom

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