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Contemporary Critical Perspectives

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May 2015 | 328 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
*Shortlisted in the Management and Leadership Textbook Category at CMI Management Book of the Year Awards 2016*

The authors, an international team of experts, guide students on an entertaining journey through key concepts, contemporary issues and debates in leadership studies.

Students can:

  • Understand how theory comes to life through a fascinating selection of case studies, ranging from political leaders such as Tony Blair to business leaders such as Steve Jobs, and from leadership in the arts to leadership in gang culture.
  • Be inspired by the ‘Leadership on screen’ feature, which encourages analysis of how leadership is represented in film and TV, including The Dark Knight, Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games and Grey's Anatomy.
  • Visit the companion website for access to additional resources including author videos and journal articles.

Critical and rigorous, yet also easy to digest, this text is ideal for students and practitioners with or without any prior knowledge of the field.

Part I: Classical Theories of Leadership
Donna Ladkin
Chapter 1: Leadership, Management and Headship: Power, Emotions and Authority in Organizations
Scott Taylor
Chapter 2: Trait Theories of Leaders and Leadership: From Ancient Greece to Twenty-first-century Neuroscience
John Cullen
Chapter 3: Leading through Contingencies
Helen Delaney and Sverre Spoelstra
Chapter 4: Transformational Leadership: Secularized Theology?
Part II: Leading in Context
Brigid Carroll
Chapter 5: Leadership Learning and Development
Annie Pye
Chapter 6: Leadership, Governance and Strategy
Amanda Sinclair and Michelle Evans
Chapter 7: Difference and Leadership
Nancy Harding
Chapter 8: Studying Followers
Part III: Contemporary Perspectives
Simon Kelly
Chapter 9: Leadership and Process
Lucia Crevani
Chapter 10: Relational Leadership
Neil Sutherland
Chapter 11: : Leadership without Leaders: Understanding Anarchist Organising through the Lens of Critical Leadership Studies
Jackie Ford
Chapter 12: : Leadership, Post-structuralism and the Performative Turn
Owain Smolovic Jones and Brad Jackson
Chapter 13: Seeing Leadership: Becoming Sophisticated Consumers of Leadership


Companion website

For Lecturers:

  • PowerPoint Slides to support teaching

For Students:

  • Videos of the book’s authors providing an overview of the chapter and discussing issues such as why the topic is important, key theories, debates, and tips for revision.
  • Links to SAGE journal articles
  • Links to additional media resources

The field of leadership has been waiting for Leadership: Critical Contemporary Perspectives. Putting power into the heart of leadership, this book will change the landscape of leadership in practice and convey the nuances and complexities of leadership thought. Carroll, Ford and Taylor bring together leading thinkers in critical leadership studies to critically interrogate taken for granted assumptions surrounding leadership. This book is a must read for any student of leadership and any manager who wants to reflect on the daily realities of being a leader from a scholarly perspective.

Professor Alison Pullen
Macquarie University, Sydney

This book will change the way you think about leadership!  A collection of renowned experts present the most important and topical debates on leadership in a refreshingly accessible, comprehensive and critical way, incorporating practical examples and innovative opportunities for reflection. A must-buy for students and educators of leadership studies.

Dr. Beverley Hawkins
University of Exeter Business School

This excellent book provokes and inspires throughout. Conventional leadership theory has made its own contribution to our world's problems by encouraging leaders to concentrate too much power in their own hands. Contributors to this wise book challenge this approach, and offer radically fresh perspectives on numerous other issues as well. It will be impossible to look at leadership in the same way again.

Dennis Tourish
Professor of Leadership and Organisation Studies at Royal Holloway, University of London School of Management,

Clear and concise explanation of thought. Proper referencing of existing literature and easy to read. Good text book for leadership students. My students have found this text very handy and useful.

Dr Joseph Ebot Eyong
Management , University of the West Of England
July 29, 2016

Since this is one of few books on critical approaches to leadership, it is difficult to adopt it for the traditional courses on leadership where traditional approaches dominate. Nevertheless, the book is excellent prepared for students since every chapter entails relevant definitions, cases studies, reflective questions and key points. A good reading for seminars or courses critically dealing with leadership. My only critical Point refers to the structure of the textbook: since it entails issue- (e.g. emotions, power, followers), leadership theories-oriented (e.g. trait theories, transformational theory) as well as perspective-oriented chapters (e.g. performative turn, anarchism, relational leadership), the orientation is quite difficult. Additionally, some of critical approaches to leadership are missed (e.g. substitutes of leadership or 'leadership on demand' according to Blom & Alvesson 2014) or get only raw deal (e.g. psychoanalytical approaches).

Ms Irma Rybnikova
Business and Administration, Technical University of Chemnitz
August 18, 2015

A good supplemental text for providing a critique to mainstream leadership theory.

Dr Steve Swanson
Institute for Sport Business, Loughborough University
July 23, 2015

A useful and comprehensive book adopting a critical approach to a range of leadership styles

Lesley Godfrey
Playwork Group, Leeds Beckett University
June 19, 2015

I am drawing heavily on this to construct my lectures and seminars. I see already that a number of my students have bought the book for themselves. Excellent scholarship and super content scope. The critical perspective is rare in the leadership literature, and this book addresses is extremely well.

Mr Steve Courtney
Manchester Institute of Education, Manchester University
October 22, 2015

Sample Materials & Chapters

Ch.5 : Leadership learning and development

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ISBN: 9781446294376