Core Challenges to Contextual Leadership

Core Challenges to Contextual Leadership

Leadership is a socially constructed phenomenon and that organizational members act to co-create leadership.

Leadership is a vibrant, contextual phenomenon that occurs in a multitude of different organizations or systems. Mostly, we can learn from them that leadership is more multifaceted than standard business contexts imply, and that precious lessons can be gained from the characteristics and foibles of leadership in many contexts.

On the one hand, contextualizing leadership in modern organizations, which are complex systems, is more than conventional approaches can encapsulate. On the other hand, leadership theory and research in nonstandard contexts are too vague and imprecise about their contributions to the general field of leadership.

  • Pressure and competition. Leaders are under high, individualized pressure to be successful, while they can only create empowering conditions for organizational effectiveness
  • High risk. Navigating the boundaries of “life or death” contexts, leaders’ actions have possibly devastating consequences for themselves and others
  • Creativity and innovation. Leaders are challenged with the paradox between basically striving for creativity and innovation, while eventually having to meet specified targets
  • Care and community. Contextual conditions hamper leaders’ attempts and responsibilities to take care of others’ wellbeing
  • Adaptability. Leaders who plot a course through complex contexts need to be flexible in their approach to leadership, tailoring it to the idiosyncrasies of each context
  • Perseverance. Leaders need persistence to surmount drawbacks and failure in order to ultimately grow and succeed. Organizations nurture this process by providing leaders with a supportive environment, while leaving room for personal growth
  • Handling paradox. In complex contexts, paradox may arise in many different forms. Leaders can handle it, perhaps, by using formal and informal structures, and managing internal processes and external views of an organization concurrently
  • Leading with values. For the sake of their own and others’ wellbeing as well as sustained organizational success, leaders need to reflect and act based on their fundamental beliefs and moral values
  • Inventing the future. Leaders nurture creativity through socially determined processes. New approaches such as play enable leaders to envision potentialities of the future
  • Sharing responsibility. The complexities of modern organizations require leadership in the collective, for example, in the form of shared values-based leadership in communities
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Posted in Management and Leadership

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