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date: 17 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Recognition that leadership identities are competing, multiple, contradictory, and complex challenges dominant and uncritical suppositions about identities in leadership studies. Recent research on the production of leadership identities and the importance of looking beyond the individualistic and charismatic leader enables insight into the relational and intersubjective processes through which leadership is performed. Research by critical leadership scholars over the last two decades highlights the significance of interpersonal relationships and the powerful effect that interactions between leaders and led can have on lives and identities at work. Contemporary research on what has become labelled ‘relational leadership’ has the potential to offer more radical approaches, but this has yet to be realized. This chapter, located within feminist psychosocial theorizing, sheds light on leadership identity challenges at a time of considerable economic crisis, social uncertainty, and political repositioning. It further explores the question of whether these relational promises can now be realized in practice such that new forms of leadership and followership identities can be enacted that create workplaces that are more egalitarian and benevolent.

Keywords: followers, leadership identities, power, psychosocial theory, recognition, relational leadership

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