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Leadership, authenticity and representation in troubled times

Bolden, Richard; Oliver, Thom; Edwards, Gareth

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Richard Bolden
Dir of Res Ctr - Ldrship & Behav Change

Gareth Edwards
Professor of Leadership and Community Studies


In this paper we draw on insights from political science and leadership studies to explore how dynamics of representation play out within place-based leadership. We focus on a case study of Marvin Rees, the Mayor of Bristol’s response to the toppling of the statue of the slaver trader Edward Colston during the Black Lives Matter protests in June 2020. Through analysis of a range of data sources, including media interviews, press articles and city events, we unpick the processes and practices through which Rees crafted a consistent and coherent narrative that created and maintained an environment in which he and other civic leaders could work through and tackle the issues surfaced by this incident. Taking a narrative storyline approach, we focus on events that preceded and followed the ‘leadership moment’ (Wood and Ladkin, 2008) in order to situate and contextualise the ways in which Rees, and other actors, were able to reframe this from an act of vandalism to an opportunity for open and constructive debate about the legacy of slavery and systemic inequality in the city.
This paper contributes to the literature on relational leadership, identity work, representation and authenticity that has implications beyond the domain of politics to any context where leaders must collaborate across boundaries in order to secure the active engagement of a wide range of stakeholders and constituents.


Bolden, R., Oliver, T., & Edwards, G. (2020, November). Leadership, authenticity and representation in troubled times. Paper presented at ILA 22nd Annual Global Conference

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name ILA 22nd Annual Global Conference
Start Date Nov 5, 2020
End Date Nov 9, 2020
Deposit Date Nov 28, 2020
Publicly Available Date Dec 2, 2020
Public URL


Bolden Et Al - Leadership And Representation In Troubled Times ILA (19 Kb)

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