Developing leadership : learning what cannot be taught
Shiel, Michael Thomas
This thesis explores leadership in a business setting and how it is learned, and the role that a teacher may play in the process of learning. The thesis draws on Stacey's theory of complex responsive processes of relating in organisations to present a view of leadership as skilled participation in an ongoing process of interaction rather than as an individualistic act. The theory is also used to take a view on the process of learning the skills of leadership. At the outset, the ideology of mainstream management, and how it is typically learned, is examined through the study of a narrative account in relation to relevant literature. A number of issues are explored which give rise to the author's dissatisfaction with current approaches. In subsequent sections, a number of typical teaching situations, a leadership workshop and a strategy workshop, are studied in narrative form and explored from the standpoint of Stacey's theory. The argument in the thesis is that while management is concerned with the coherence of action in an organisation, leadership is to do with willing and informed participation which derives from the shared meaning which is made of the situation in which the participants find themselves. What is different about the argument presented is that shared meaning arises, not from the act of an individual, but from the ongoing interaction of all participants. Not all participants in this interaction are the same; some will be more powerful, while some will be more skilful in discerning, making sense and interacting with other participants. To the extent that participants see an individual as skilled in this way, that person will be seen in a leadership role. These skills of leadership, and how they are learned, are explored with particular reference to Foulkes' theory of Group Analysis.