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Reflective walking and leadership learning

Edwards, G; Zundl, M; Turner, A; Sutherland, N


G Edwards

M Zundl

A Turner


This paper takes a relational (e.g. Cunliffe and Eriksen, 2011) and community (e.g. Edwards, 2011) perspective of leadership learning and development as a basis for problematizing the monotheistic and unitary link made between self-development and leadership learning (e.g. e.g. Bennis, 1984, 1989; Goffee and Jones, 2000). The paper, instead, suggests a relational notion of development of self through togetherness (e.g. Maffesoli, 1996) and friendship (e.g. Little, 1993). The paper uses empirical data from experiential leadership development programmes that use reflective walking as a means of facilitating leadership learning. We argue that leadership learning is socially constructed through a process of coming together, getting to know one-another and developing friendships.
The paper also draws inspiration from the critical leadership perspective of Ford and Harding (2011) as they argue against the manipulative connotations of notions of authentic leadership (e.g. Gardner et al., 2005) linked to the search for a leader’s true self. Whilst Ford and Harding take a critical psychoanalytic perspective we turn our attentions towards a relational view based on notions of friendship and togetherness that we feel compliments that of Ford and Harding (2011). It is at this point that we pick up on links between leadership and friendship highlighted by a number of authors (see Edwards, 2011 and forthcoming, for reviews). In particular Edwards (forthcoming) uses the work of Little (1993), Phal (2000), Derrida (1988) and French et al (2009) to highlight conceptual reflections regarding the links between leadership, leadership development and friendship. Edwards (forthcoming), through Phal (2000), also raises more critical reflections of leadership as a mechanism for the development of pseudo-friendship. This paper develops these connections further through an initial review of data gathered from a variety of leadership and management development interventions.
The data gathered includes voice and video recordings of participants and facilitators in situ as well as interview reflections on learning and experience. The data also includes photographic material from the development programmes. The focus of the interviews, photographs and recordings is on a specific part of the programme that draws on the process of reflective walking within varying management programmes (see Zundel, 2013 for a theoretical review). It is this aspect of the programmes that we suggest highlight the fluid interaction of beings that construct notions of leadership. We suggest, however, that this is done through a careful negotiation around togetherness and friendship.


Edwards, G., Zundl, M., Turner, A., & Sutherland, N. (2014, July). Reflective walking and leadership learning. Paper presented at 6th Developing Leadership Capacity Conference, Lancaster

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name 6th Developing Leadership Capacity Conference
Conference Location Lancaster
Start Date Jul 8, 2014
End Date Jul 9, 2014
Acceptance Date Mar 14, 2014
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords leadership, learning
Public URL
Additional Information Title of Conference or Conference Proceedings : 6th Developing Leadership Capacity Conference