Management Seminars: Doris Schedlitzki
Dr Doris Schedlitzki (University of the West of England)
G.15, 15-19 Tyndall's Park Road, BRISTOL BS8 1PQ
Title: Discursive identity misalignment in the context of leadership development
This paper contributes to our understanding of identity construction in the context of leadership development by analysing and conceptualising a case of discursive identity misalignment. This focus on misalignment as a form of rupture within processes of identity construction is currently missing from the field of leadership studies and complements existing critical studies of power and resistance in leadership development. Based on our analysis of 65 qualitative interviews, we argue that there are three interrelated issues contributing to the emergence of discursive identity misalignment: a) an organisationally imposed discourse promoting distributed leader identities that lacks traction with employees, b) employees’ authoring of a second, competing discourse of heroic leadership and hierarchy-based managerial identities that reflects the importance of formal authority central to employees’ daily situated experiences at work, and c) a top-down approach to leadership development training that undermines the distributed leadership discourse and reinforces the perceived importance of authority. We pay attention to processes of power, agency and the organisational context to explain this case of discursive identity misalignment and highlight how these insights help to inform critically our conceptual and practical understanding of identity constructions within leadership development.