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Learning from leading women's experience: towards a sociological understanding

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date2008
JournalLeadership
Journal number2
Volume4
Number of pages22
Pages159-180
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Conceptions of leadership draw largely on the leadership experiences of a limited population, and of those in a restricted range of organizational settings. This article begins to address some of these biases by examining the experiences of six leading women in differing sectors. In researching the `how' of leadership there emerges a web of four inter-related factors that connects these leaders to their community and that plays a foundational role in their lives: upbringing, environment, focus and networks and alliances. The ways in which leadership is experienced and constructed by women, the article therefore argues, can be made more sense of through a sociological lens, and raises questions about how tendencies in research sites lead to gendered and individualistic understandings of leadership. In illuminating the need to make the distinction between representations of leadership and our experience of leadership, the article concludes that leadership is not just about leading people, but is often pioneering and can include the leadership of ideas, communities, and the representation of issues