Call for Papers
Given the need to operationalise effective leadership in fast changing organizational times and often within states of economic, political and social crisis, the practical as well as epistemic challenges that leaders face require serious academic scrutiny. In this stream we perform such analysis by contesting the continued theorization and research of leadership as disembodied, and instead paying critical attention to the corporeal nature of leadership itself. In this way we offer this stream as a place to think about the ways in which leadership is an affective and embodied practice.
Whether it is transformational leadership, charismatic leadership, or situational leadership, the common assumption is that good leadership emanates from the mind or personality. If the body is considered, it is done so superficially, for example by associating leadership effectiveness with physical characteristics and/or assuming that the leader is able bodied and ostensibly Western. To date there have been only a small number of studies that recognize the embodied nature of leadership or question leaders’ disembodied character (e.g. Ropo & Parviainen, 2001; Ropo & Sauer, 2008; Sinclair, 2005). The bodily and affective labour of leadership and its relationship with ethical practice have also been largely overlooked (with notable exceptions such as Calás & Smircich, 1991). Moreover leadership's engagement with corporeal ethics, an ethics of the body, has been noted as a promising but as yet unexplored territory which is worthy of academic engagement (Pullen & Rhodes, 2010).
'Embodying Leadership' calls attention to the affective and embodied dimensions of leadership. This recognizes that leadership requires large elements of empathy, insight into others' normative and moral frameworks, considerable persuasive skills and, most especially, embodied interactions and responses between flesh-and-blood people. Some have characterized these qualities as feminine leadership (e.g. Peters, 1990). It has been argued that such characteristics are gendered such that men more closely conform to disembodied leadership and women to affective/embodied leadership (cf. Adler, 1997). Others argue that such attempts to typecast the sexes is itself gendered and that this reproduces rather than challenges taken for granted gender and sexual binary divisions, dichotomies and inequalities (Calás & Smircich, 1993; Knights & Kerfoot, 2004).
While gender, and its embodied manifestation, has received some attention in leadership studies 'race' and ethnicity has been neglected. The relationship between race and leadership has however been attended to in other fields, and there is an important stream of work by leadership scholars in critical management and organization (see Edmonson Bell & Nkomo, 2001; Parker, 2004; Chin, 2009; Mumby, 2011). Much of the existing work approaches the themes from the particular perspective of American social dynamics and racial and ethnic constructs (see Omi & Winant, 1994). Importantly, studies of embodiment and leadership appear to date to have neglected race and racialization, and ethnicity and ethnicization, notwithstanding important exceptions (e.g. hooks, 2004) even these too are embodied matters.
Bringing these threads of embodiment, gender and race together the stream will forge new directions in the study of leadership that no longer just keep leadership 'in mind'.
Adler, N.J. (1997): 'Global Leadership: Women Leaders.' Management International Review, 37, 171–196.
Calás, M.B. & L.M. Smircich (1991): 'Voicing seduction to silence leadership.' Organization Studies, 12, 567–602.
Calás, M.B. & L.M. Smircich (1993): Dangerous liaisons: the "feminine-in-management" meets "globalization".' Business Horizons, March/April, 71–81.
Chin, J.L. (2009): 'Gender, race and leadership.' In: R.H. Klein, C.A. Rice & V.L. Schermer (eds.): Leadership in a Changing World: Dynamic Perspectives on Groups and their Leaders. Plymouth: Lexington Books, 73–92.
Edmonson Bell, E.J.L. & S.M. Nkomo (2001): Our Separate Ways: Black and White Women and the Struggle for Professional Identity. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
hooks, b. (2004): We Real Cool. Black Men and Masculinity. New York: Routledge.
Knights, D. & D. Kerfoot (2004): 'Between representations and subjectivity: gender binaries and the politics of organizational transformation.' Gender, Work and Organization, 11 (4), 430–454.
Mumby, D.K. (2011): Reframing Difference in Organizational Communication Studies: Research, Pedagogy, Practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Omi, M. & H. Winant (1994): Racial Formation in the United States: From the 1960s to the 1990s. New York: Routledge.
Parker, P.S. (2004): Race, Gender, and Leadership: Re-envisioning Organizational Leadership from the Perspectives of African-American Women Executives. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Peters, T. (1990): 'The Best New Managers Will Listen, Motivate, Support – Isn't That Just Like a Woman?' Working Woman, September 1990, 216–217.
Pullen, A. & C. Rhodes (2010): 'Gender, Ethics and The Face.' In: P. Lewis & R. Simpson (eds.): Concealing and Revealing Gender. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 233–248.
Ropo, A. & J. Parvianen (2001): 'Leadership and bodily knowledge in expert organizations: epistemological rethinking.' Scandanavian Journal of Management, 17 (1), 1–18.
Ropo, A. & E. Sauer (2008): 'Dances of leadership: Bridging theory and practice through an aesthetic approach.' Journal of Management and Organization, 14 (5), 560–572.
Sinclair, A. (2005): 'Body and Management Pedagogy.' Gender, Work and Organization, 12 (1), 89–104.