While the image of the lone heroic figure often accompanies the term "leader," the most interesting developments in the study of leadership view it as a dynamic process of exchange among several actors beyond a leader and follower.
Scholars have increasingly called for a more nuanced approach to exploring leadership, one that looks more at the "how" than the "what," understands that leadership is embedded in history and context, and recognizes that leadership is a social process imbued with meaning by the group.
When we view leadership as a collective achievement, it is seen as an active process in which people come together to pursue change, and in doing so, together develop a shared vision of what the world should look like, make sense of their experience and shape their decisions and actions.
Sometimes applying a collective lens demands a participatory approach to research in which all parties involved in the research process are co-researchers rather than objects of study. This approach to research helps to find new ways in which leadership is practiced.
Fostering leadership as a collective achievement means distributing the work of leadership among a group working toward a joint goal. It means emphasizing relationships over a "command and control" style of directing work, promoting sustainable change over efficiency, and appreciating the power of many and multiple voices. Learn more about ways to cultivate leadership as a collective achievement.
A Constructionist Lens on Leadership: Charting New Territory
By Sonia Ospina and
The Quest for a General Theory of Leadership (2006) 188-204.
Appreciative Narratives as Leadership Research: Matching Method to Lens
By Ellen Schall, Sonia Ospina, Bethany Godsoe and Jennifer Dodge. Advances in Appreciative Inquiry, Vol. 1 (2004) 147-170.
The Deep Blue Sea: Rethinking the Source of Leadership
By Wilfred Drath,