In 2018 the International Studying Leadership Conference returns to Lancaster University Management School to explore ‘The Power of Leadership?’. Having hosted the Conference in 2003, 2005 & 2015, as well as launched the ‘Leadership’ journal in 2005, Lancaster provides an ideal setting for debates and discussions about new directions for leadership research.

About the Conference

As in social science generally, leadership research examines power in many different ways. Mainstream heroic writers tend to address power implicitly. Their interest in charismatic, transformational and authentic leadership, for example, typically concentrates on individual leaders’ capacity to ‘influence’ and ‘inspire’. Post-heroic writers emphasise more collective and relational dimensions of power in their focus on collaboration, cooperation and empowerment. Critical researchers address the ‘darker side’ of power, exploring for example toxic leadership, corruption, excessive control and surveillance, and the reproduction of intersecting inequalities. Some critics argue that leaders’ power is often romanticised and overstated. Suffice it to say that, whether for good and/or for ill, whether focusing on individuals and/or collectives, and whether emphasising positive and/or negative outcomes, power in all its forms is a central issue for leadership theories and practices.

Debating Future Leadership Research

In contemporary conditions of rapid economic, social, political and ecological change on a local, national and global scale, this major international conference provides a timely opportunity for participants to re-interpret situated leadership dynamics through the power lens, and to debate and discuss future directions for leadership research. The organisers invite conceptual and empirical contributions addressing heroic, post-heroic and/or more critical perspectives on the power of leadership – its various situated meanings, conditions, processes and consequences. Papers exploring alternative themes and perspectives are also welcomed.