The Hidden Gem of Leadership

The Hidden Gem of Leadership

Followership Lessons from a Convent Community

This talk is relevant and timely for any senior or junior manager, who works collaboratively with others in an organisation. Attention is paid to the application of the lessons learnt from the convent community.

Since the 1990s, there has been a noticeable upsurge in the interest of leadership scholars in those perspectives on leadership practice that do not understand it as an act of a single person only (see, for example, distributed, shared, collaborative and participative leadership (Bolden, 2011)). This is beneficial in so far as more than one person can now be appreciated as having influence on what is happening in organisations, which stands in quite some contrast to earlier understandings of leadership, where attention was focused on the characteristics and/or abilities of a single person (for example, charismatic, visionary and transformational leadership (Drath, et al., 2008)), thereby “romanticising” leaders like the appearance of leader-as-hero has shown us (Allison and Goethals, 2011).

Now, a side effect that seems to have developed out of the call for a wider spread of participation in leadership practice is that kind of everyone wants to be a leader. Two thoughts come to mind:

a) If everyone wants to do the leading, who is left to do the following? This sarcastic but nevertheless pragmatic question might not be so funny when pondering on the competitive dynamics provoked by the newly inflamed motivation to be a leader of some kind.

b) Leaning on the body of knowledge of group dynamics, one could argue that leadership is an intertwined, complex, dynamic, ever-evolving process that is constantly being shaped and re-shaped by the group – leadership is the making of a group and always has been.

This latter thought means that a so-called “follower” has always been no less a carrier of leadership as has a so-called “leader”. All members of a group are creators of their leadership – in different roles, but not lacking in equal importance.

Recording of the talk

Dr Nadine Riad Tchelebi

2009-2012: PhD ‘Us versus Them: Projection in Organisations’. Doctor thesis based on psychoanalytic concepts of group dynamics (Bion, Klein, Winnicott).

2010-2017: Senior Lecturer in Organisation Studies, Bristol Business School; Programme Leader ‘MSc Leadership & Management’.

2013–ongoing: Editor of the academic journal Organisational & Social Dynamics.

2015-2017: Experiential Group Consultant “Consulting and leading in organisations: psychodynamic and systemic approaches (D10)”, The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust.

2018 & 2019: Staff member on the Leicester Group Relations Conference, Tavistock Institute of Human Relations.

2017-ongoing:  Senior OD Consultant, In Stability GmbH & Co. KG, Hanover, Germany.

Membership: ISPSO (International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organisations), OPUS (Organisation for Promoting Understanding of Society), PCCA (Partners in Confronting Collective Atrocities), DGGO (German Society for Group and Organisational Dynamics), BLCC (Bristol Leadership and Change Centre). Friend to the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations.

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