Leaders as Heroes: Can They Liberate Themselves?

[We’re pleased to welcome author Gerardo D. Abreu Pederzini of the University of  Bath, UK. Pederzini recently published an article in the Journal of Management Inquiry entitled “Leaders, Power and the Paradoxical Position: Fantasies for Leaders’ Liberation. Below, Pederzini reflects on the inspiration for conducting this research:]

3042794481_1300140a3c_z.jpgOur world of illusions, sooner or later crumbles in front us. The dreams and fantasies that move us are doomed to show their true colors at some point or another. And, within those fantasies, that of the paternalistic leader is perhaps the most powerful. Since the times of the Romance of Leadership, we have known that people love a good hero story. Yet, finding out that the paternal figure, whoever that might be for us, is not as almighty as we used to think, is one of those crucial points in life when we cross a threshold from which most of the times we cannot go back. However, there is sometimes no way to avoid this moment, as the fantasy of great leaders usually ends with their inevitable fall. When I first realized this, I realized as well that there was a missing element in the latter narrative. We calm our fears and sorrows forcing certain people -leaders- to pretend they control it all. But, how do leaders feel playing a role that is probably doomed to fail?

It is like this that Leaders, Power and the Paradoxical Position: Fantasies for Leaders’ Liberation emerged from my curiosity to answer a perennial question: how do normal limited human beings (i.e. leaders) cope with the challenge of having to pretend that, for some magical reason, they know better than any of us what they are doing? Fantasy is the answer that my paper in the Journal of Management Inquiry proposes for the aforementioned question. But, it is not fantasy as pure magic that is explored in this paper, but fantasy as a subtle socio-cognitive process to find ways to disguise magic in reality itself. In short, it is magical realism fantasizing that explains how a group of leaders that I studied, were able to escape that paradoxical position of having to pretend that they can do it all, when actually knowing they cannot. Like this, the paper contributes to one fundamental aim: to rethink leaders from those who have all power to those that are actually subjects of it.

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Chalkboard photo attributed to thinkpublic (CC).

This entry was posted in Corporate Social Responsibility, Leadership, Social Issues, Uncategorized by Cynthia Nalevanko, Editor, SAGE Publishing. Bookmark the permalink.

About Cynthia Nalevanko, Editor, SAGE Publishing

Founded in 1965, SAGE is the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. Known for our commitment to quality and innovation, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, and students across a broad range of subject areas. With over 1500 employees globally from principal offices in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC, and Melburne, our publishing program includes more than 1000 journals and over 900 books, reference works and databases a year in business, humanities, social sciences, science, technology and medicine. Believing passionately that engaged scholarship lies at the heart of any healthy society and that education is intrinsically valuable, SAGE aims to be the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. This means playing a creative role in society by disseminating teaching and research on a global scale, the cornerstones of which are good, long-term relationships, a focus on our markets, and an ability to combine quality and innovation. Leading authors, editors and societies should feel that SAGE is their natural home: we believe in meeting the range of their needs, and in publishing the best of their work. We are a growing company, and our financial success comes from thinking creatively about our markets and actively responding to the needs of our customers.

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