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The Leaderful Shift: Intersecting Formats for Collective Practice

Research Cluster

Speaker:Professor Joe Raelin, Northeastern University, USA
Date: Wednesday 28 March 2012
Time: 1.00 pm
Location: Matrix Lecture Theatre, Building One

Further details

In this presentation, Joe Raelin, the Asa Knowles Chair of Practice-Oriented Education at Northeastern University in Boston, USA, will begin where Bolden, Hawkins, Gosling and Taylor left off in their Exploring Leadership text. Accordingly, he will liberally comment on the emerging tradition of deconstructing leadership from its identity as an individual trait and bolster its view as an immanent process and product of those contributing to an endeavor of import who together decide on their responsibilities.  Joe contributes to the practice perspective of leadership, now referred to as “leadership-as-practice,” by developing his own democratic ideological version, known as “leaderful practice.” It calls for the co-creation of community by all who are involved interdependently in its development. It is democratic because it calls for direct participation by involved parties through their own exploratory, creative, and communal discourses.

What Bolden et al. have accomplished is to open up the study of leadership to an array of perspectives in terms of substance and scope, and it is at times dizzying to distinguish some of these alternative approaches because of their diverse historical traditions. Joe will first offer some background on his distinctive leaderful view. Then, he will entertain a dialogue that will initially differentiate but then converge on some of the common elements among some of the emerging approaches to collective leadership. This will necessarily incorporate some attention to what is meant by the practice approach to collaborative agency in organisations. From this point, there should be time to dedicate to questions of leadership development (when practice is at stake) and to research opportunities beyond transcendental models, as per the interest of the seminar participants.


Joe Raelin is an international authority in work-based learning and collaborative leadership development.  He holds the Asa S. Knowles Chair of Practice-Oriented Education at Northeastern University and was formerly Professor of Management at the Wallace E. Carroll School of Management at Boston College.  He received his Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Buffalo.  His research has centered on human resource development, focusing in particular on executive education through the use of action learning.  He is a prolific writer with over 100 articles appearing in the leading management journals.  He is also a management consultant with some thirty-five years of experience working with a wide variety of organizational clients.  Among his books are:  The Clash of Cultures:  Managers Managing Professionals, considered now to be a classic in the field of professionals and bureaucracy (Harvard Business School Press, 1991), the latest edition of Work-Based Learning: Bridging Knowledge and Action in the Workplace (Jossey-Bass, 2008), Creating Leaderful Organizations: How to Bring Out Leadership in Everyone (Berrett-Koehler, 2003), and now to accompany the latter, The Leaderful Fieldbook: Strategies for Developing Leadership in Everyone (Nicholas-Brealey, 2010).  Joe was recently named the recipient of the 2010 David Bradford Outstanding Educator Award from the OBTS Teaching Society for Management Educators.

Prof. Raelin is currently contributing to the development of the field of work-based learning as well as to that of the new paradigm of shared leadership via what he refers to as "leaderful practice." These two domains intersect accordingly in terms of:
1)  dialogue and reflective practices – what is the role of change agency and facilitation in promoting emancipatory forms of discourse?
2)  work-based learning and collective leadership – what epistemological shifts occur when we view leadership as a collective phenomenon that is conceived as a practice?