How Do Senior Leaders Navigate the Need to Belong?

[We’re pleased to welcome author Dr. Jessy Zumaeta of the University of Chile and the London School of Economics. Dr. Zumaeta recently published an article in Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies entitled “Lonely at the Top: How Do Senior Leaders Navigate the Need to Belong?” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Zumaeta speaks about the motivations, challenges, and findings of this research:]

JLOS_72ppiRGB_powerpointWhat motivated you to pursue this research?

I’m very interested in Leadership research and practice. Leaders may contribute to a great extent to organizations’ success or failure. They can make organizations and its people to thrive or, on the contrary, leaders may block employees’ and organizations’ progress. Due to the importance of their role, managers at the top echelons of organizations are usually highly pressured to deliver results. Among other things, I wanted to explore to what extent these pressures affected the person behind the professional mask.

What has been the most challenging aspect of conducting your research

Considering the abundant leadership literature, I wanted to look at it from a novel perspective, so I started to explore these kind of questions: How does it feel to be a senior leader? What are the main challenges? How do top managers experience their role? I did my research to shed light on leaders’ experiences in their role, going beyond the common view of the leader as a hero. My investigation focused on senior leaders as people with personal and social needs, as everyone else.

Were there any surprising findings?

In the interviews that I conducted, I could gather very personal accounts that may give the reader a good sense of what is like to perform a high-ranked leadership role in a corporate context on a daily basis. It was surprising to me the high degree of openness that the leaders showed during the interviews, which seem to contrast with the usual levels of authenticity that they are able to perform among other workers.

What advice would you give to new scholars and incoming researchers in this particular field of study?

Organizations can be very difficult places, even for those that we all deem as super powerful. In consequence, I think we have to look at leadership phenomenon from different perspectives. It is a misleading message to think about top leaders as glamorous or highly desirable roles. Senior leaders have great responsibilities and setting them apart from the rest of people, it doesn’t seem to be helping organizations or leaders themselves. We need more workplaces centered on real people and their fundamental needs.

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About Cynthia Nalevanko, Senior 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.

2 thoughts on “How Do Senior Leaders Navigate the Need to Belong?

  1. Pingback: ¿Qué tipo de organizaciones queremos para el Futuro?: Los líderes que realmente necesitamos - Futuro del Trabajo

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