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University of Exeter Business School

Leadership: Challenges and Practice

Module titleLeadership: Challenges and Practice
Module codeBEM2037
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Mr Chris Reedthomas (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

BEM2037 Leadership Challenges and Practices addresses the more practical, active and vocational aspects of leadership. You will be encouraged to draw on your own experience of leadership in practice, and to engage in activities which enable you to develop your own leadership capacity. In this way, the course aims to enhance your employability, and to allow you to develop an action-oriented understanding of leadership as a response to personal and organizational challenges, which can be taken into your future work and organisation. The course therefore combines practical approaches to leading with a head-on approach to some of the tricky questions about leadership.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to address the more practical, active and vocational aspects of leadership, and starts from the assumption that almost every organised activity is initiated by leadership of some sort, and that most benefit from good leadership. Over the duration of this module, students will be encouraged to explore the following question:

What can we do to improve our leadership in order to address the challenges faced by organisations locally, nationally and globally?

Alongside engaging with contemporary theoretical perspectives on leadership, students will be encouraged to learn from their own and others’ experience(s) of leadership in practice, and to engage in activities which enable them to develop their own leadership capacity.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. engage in a sustained, systematic and critical way with 'real life', 'real time' leadership issues of interest to them
  • 2. critically appreciate the ways in which they themselves respond to, contribute to, challenge and/or reinforce particular ways of doing and thinking about leadership in practice
  • 3. experiment with alternative ways of thinking about and/or acting out leadership within particular contexts, ethical, diversity and sustainability perspectives, and/or their own specific areas of interest

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. demonstrate a skillful, reflexive and a generally well-informed appreciation of what is involved in taking up leadership roles and in following the lead of others, including relevant ethical, diversity and sustainability implications
  • 5. critically interpret the practice and rhetoric of leadership

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. evidence self-awareness and the capacity for personal reflection
  • 7. articulate confident and assertive arguments about their own practice
  • 8. Think and write as an independent learner.

Syllabus plan

  • Introduction to the module: Seeing leadership as a response to  challenge
  • Leading yourself
  • Developing Purpose, Vision and Strategy
  • Using Power and Influence Responsibly
  • Taking Risks, Making Change
  • Asking Challenging Questions – Is Leadership in Crisis?
  • Self Study Week – assignment preparation
  • Facilitation and Coaching
  • Networking and Leading in Networks
  • Assignment Workshops 

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching 12Lectures 1 hour per week
Scheduled learning and teaching 12Seminars 1 hour per week
Guided Independent Study50Seminar and lecture preparation
Guided Independent Study76Reading and assignment preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Formative assessment provided weekly through feedback on workshop group activitiesShort formative activities are carried out every week during lectures and workshops (up to 3 hours)1-8Verbal feedback during class

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay based upon learning and reflection through the duration of the module1003000 words1-8Individual written feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Reflective essayResubmission of previous assignment (100%)1-8September

Re-assessment notes

Re-assessments are new submissions in response to the original assignment briefs.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Set Text:

Mike, P. John Burgoyne and Tom, B. (2010). A Manager’s Guide to Leadership. London: McGraw-Hill Professional.

The above text is used as a self-development resource, rather than an up-to-date theoretical textbook.  You will be expected to combine developmental reflection with reading on current leadership research.  A further extensive reading list is provided on ELE. 

Indicative additional resources include:

Balkundi, P. and Kilduff, M. (2006) ‘The Ties that Lead: A Social Network Theory Approach to Leadership’ The Leadership Quarterly 17: 419 – 439.

Brown, A.D., Colville, I., and Pye, A. (2015) ‘Making sense of sensemaking in organizational studies’ Organization Studies 36(2): 265-277

Cranmer, G.A., Goldman, Z.W., Houghton, J.D., (2019) ‘I’ll do it myself: self-leadershio, proactivity and socialization’ , Leadership and Organization Development Journal, Vol 40, No.6, pp 684-698

Flores, O.J. and Gunzenhauser, M.G (2019) ‘The problems with colorblind leadership revealed: a call for race-conscious leaders’ , International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, Vol 32, No 8 p963-981

Furtner, M.R., Tutzer, L. and Sachse, P (2018) ‘The Mindful Self-Leader: Investigating the Relationship Between Self-Leadership and Mindfulness’, Social Behavior and Personality, 46 (3) pp353-60

Larson, L and DeChurch, L.A. (2020) ‘Leading teams in the digital age: Four perspectives on technology and what they mean for leading teams’ , The Leadership Quarterly, 31, pp1-18

Maguire, S., & Hardy, C. (2013). Organizing processes and the construction of risk: A discursive approach. Academy of Management Journal, 56(1), 231-255.

Ndalamba,K.K., Caldwell, C and Anderson, V., (2018) ‘Leadership vision as moral duty’ Journal of Management Development, Vol 7, No 3pp 309-319

Neves, P., & Schyns, B. (2018). Destructive uncertainty: The toxic triangle, implicit theories and leadership identity during organizational change. In Organizational Change (pp. 131-141). Routledge.

Partlow, P. J., Medeiros, K. E., & Mumford, M. D. (2015). Leader cognition in vision formation: Simplicity and negativity. The Leadership Quarterly, 26(3), 448-469.

Thoroughgood, C. N., Padilla, A., Hunter, S. T., & Tate, B. W. (2012). The susceptible circle: A taxonomy of followers associated with destructive leadership. The Leadership Quarterly, 23(5), 897-917.

Uhl-Bien, M., & Arena, M. (2018). Leadership for organizational adaptability: A theoretical synthesis and integrative framework. The Leadership Quarterly29(1), 89-104.

Uhl-Bien, M., Riggio, R. E., Lowe, K. B., & Carsten, M. K. (2014). Followership theory: A review and research agenda. The Leadership Quarterly, 25(1), 83-104.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

ELE will form an integrative part of the module. Lecture notes will be put onto ELE before they are delivered, together with weekly reading lists, additional reading material, and workshop exercises. Details of assessments and study skills guides will also be made available via ELE

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

The course will make use of media clips from films (DVD) and via YouTube.

Key words search

Leadership, Challenges, Practices, Self-Leadership, Vision, Power, Change, Networks, Risk, Purpose, Networking, Facilitation

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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