Leadership Development as Reflexive Practice
This thesis examines Leadership Development in both a corporate setting and an expedition-based setting. The assumptions that are the foundations of current Leadership Development originate, and are informed by, aspects of the natural sciences. These methods are critiqued in terms of usability and applicability in the context of human relating. An alternative approach is investigated based on nonlinear causality and the complex responsive process of relating using the work of Stacey (2003, 2007, 2010), Stacey and Griffin (2005), Stacey et al. (2000). What is explored is the Leader as expert and the ability through communication, decision making, and planning to create certainty. What is problematized is the fantasy that this creates in ongoing day-to-day interactions. The work explores interactions between a leadership consultant/coach and clients in varied domains: the role of the practitioner in the delivery and creation of theory, models, best practices and standard operating procedures; and the reflections of both the practitioner and clients that what is emerging cannot be foreseen. This leads to a further exploration cycle of the human experience in organizations and how reification, the uncanny, and the struggle for recognition might offer other ways of making sense of the experience. The work examines the role of the consultant/teacher and the client/student and the emergence of knowledge. It further investigates the relationship of time and causality and how this is connected to theoretical knowledge and knowledge in action. This leads to a further connection of thinking, reflecting and reflexivity and what this means as practice for leadership development. Using the context of leadership coaching for management teams and connecting the reflexive aspect of knowledge, what is argued is that sensemaking as developed by Weick (1995, 2001, 2009), Weick and Sutcliffe (2007) is not a sufficient practice to explain and create best practices, standard operating procedures, models, and theories. What is also necessary, and is identified as sensemaking and connected to Elias (1987) work, is our own involvement and detachment as we abstract to understand what is happening in the moment between human agents. It is argued that paying attention to these aspects of ongoing human relating offer the possibility of thicker and a more contextualized understanding of the emergent unpredictable outcomes that leaders deal with every day.