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Thoughtful leadership. Lessons from Bion

Simpson, Peter; French, Robert

Thoughtful leadership. Lessons from Bion Thumbnail


Robert French


In the competing discourses within organisations, primacy tends to be given to decisive, action oriented, knowing leadership in contrast to more reflective, patient, thoughtful leadership. This paper argues that there is an important place for ‘thoughtful leadership’ as one of the necessary responses to the challenge of liquid modernity and the danger of organisations going ‘off task’. Thoughtful leaders are first of all concerned with keeping their organisation ‘on task’. It pursuit of this, thoughtful leadership provides containment, is available for thought, and mobilises others in the organisation to be thoughtful. Throughout the paper lessons are drawn from the work of the psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion on the development of the capacity for thought.


Simpson, P., & French, R. (2005). Thoughtful leadership. Lessons from Bion. Organisational and Social Dynamics, 5(2), 280-297

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2005
Publicly Available Date Jun 9, 2019
Journal Organisational and Social Dynamics
Print ISSN 1474-2780
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 5
Issue 2
Pages 280-297
Keywords leadership, psychodynamics, Bion, containment, negative capability, capacity
Public URL
Publisher URL


Thoughtful Leadership PUBLISHED VERSION.doc (105 Kb)

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