This article explores employee perspectives on effective leader ship in UK
Further Education (FE). Studies on leader ship effectiveness typically seek either to specify the individual qualities of ‘heroic’ leaders or, increasingly, to highlight the collective nature of ‘post-heroic’ leader ship. While these discourses are frequently seen as dichotomous and competing, our research found that FE employees often value practices that combine elements of both. They tended to prefer subtle and versatile practices that we term ‘blended leader ship’; an approach that values, for example, both delegation and direction, both proximity and distance and both internal and external engagement. Drawing on other studies which indicate that paradoxical blends of apparently irreconcilable opposites might form the basis for effective leader ship, the article considers the implications of this analysis for the study of Higher Education (HE). It concludes by highlighting the potential value of more dialectical approaches to the theory and practice of leadership.