Leadership, Language and Identity

Study Unit 8 – Activities
Rana Barazi
13 July 2022

Leadership as Identity
(Ford, 2010 and Ford et al., 2008)

• Identities are never fixed or finite – always changing and evolving
– at any point in time, an individual carries a multiplicity of possible selves
– Identities are not pre-given essences of self but socially constructed and fluid
• Performative role of leadership literature:
– Reading the literature has a lasting impact on who we think leaders are and how they
should be
– Leaders are largely portrayed as transcendental, perfect beings and also as masculine,
dominant, competitive, aggressive,
controlling and self-reliant individuals
– managers are being increasingly asked to ignore their preferred identity and become
leaders, i.e. adopt the identity prescribed by literature and expected from them

Funniest Leadership Speech ever! – Bing video


1. Think about the languages (national, local and organisational) you
have experienced in your life

Activity A
Let’s try:
o What languages are you familiar with?
o How do they make meaning in different ways?
o What languages might you be working with?
o How might you manage meaning?
2. Note down in your learning diaries the meanings and identities
attached to those languages when leadership/management is
translated into them.

Use the articles attached to help you arrange your thoughts and reflections

Article 1
Leadership, Management and the Welsh Language

• Organizational leadership, a western conceptualization, dominated by a discourse
that promotes masculine, middle class, white images of leaders, rooted in the
cultural and linguistic boundaries of the assumed academic and business lingua
franca: the English language
• Leadership lacks evaluation of its relevance and meaning within other languages
and multilingual contexts
• This paper argues the importance of recognizing the linguistic imperialism of the
English language – and its dominant leadership discourse of the heroic individual
leader – over locally signified referents of leadership and management in other
languages and discourses

Article 1
Leadership, Management and the Welsh Language

• Leadership studies started to recognize and challenge the unquestioned dominance of
this mainstream discourse of the transformational, charismatic individual leader,
highlighting the linguistic heterogeneity of leadership and management within the English
language.
• The dominant meaning of the lexical items of leadership and management, rooted in
Anglo-cultures and deeply embedded in dominant leadership discourse, has colonized
organizational practice and academic research to the extent that it has limited our insights
into and search for other lexical items, referents for and meanings of leadership.
• Call for ‘contextual studies of management’ to take a situated perspective that explores
the linguistic roots and multiplicity of lexical items such as leadership and management
within multilingual workplaces.

Article 1
Leadership, Management and the Welsh Language

• The last ten years seen critical views that ‘challenge the hegemonic perspectives’ of
mainstream, Anglo-centric leadership studies. These critical voices problematise the taken
for granted power relations and dominant leader identity constructions produced through
research conducted in largely white, middle class, western, English-speaking, male
contexts.
• Critical voices are particularly concerned with the extent to which the dominant leader
identity is culturally coded as an individualised, white, masculine image with legitimised
power over the subservient, feminised follower
• Popular theories embedded in this hegemonic perspective, such as Transformational
Leadership Theory, are argued to promote heroic leader fantasies that promise greater
organizational performance but are unachievable and disadvantage those who do not fit
into this ideal image.
‘the very idea of leadership itself is alien to some cultures’.

Article 1
Leadership, Management and the Welsh Language

Leadership studies should:
• value ‘multiplicity, diversity, simultaneity and difference’.
• study and understand multiplicity through an exploration of conceptual overlap,
tensions and paradoxes
• break apart dominant and colonizing views of leadership and account for other
culturally dynamic, complex patterns of leadership.

Leadership studies should:
• value ‘multiplicity, diversity, simultaneity and difference’.
• study and understand multiplicity through an exploration of conceptual overlap,
tensions and paradoxes
• break apart dominant and colonizing views of leadership and account for other
culturally dynamic, complex patterns of leadership.
This has been answered by studies:
taking a power, gender and diversity perspective
exploring leadership in indigenous contexts
providing linguistic analyses

Article 1
Leadership, Management and the Welsh Language

Working with German language expressions and society’s beliefs was able to:
• trace the historical origin and roots of Kompetenz (competence) in the leader-follower
relationship as collective identity, inward-looking individualism and Ausbildung
(education) as a means to freedom and self-enlightenment
• Socio-historical reading of leadership stands in clear contrast to the dominant
characterization of German leadership as ‘autocratic’ mechanistic paradigm of leadership
in cross-cultural management studies
Similar research into linguistic differences highlighted the importance of challenging
universalist assumptions and the need to explore other meanings of leadership

Article 2- Working with Language: A Refocused Research
Agenda for Cultural Leadership Studies

• Different conceptual and methodological approaches within the cultural leadership
literature.
• The dominant etic (outsider), cross-cultural approach and its treatment of culture and
language presents a significant risk for misinterpretation of the meaning and existence of
leadership in other languages as well as the marginalization of other linguistically
meaningful organizational concepts.
• The field of cultural leadership studies would benefit from an alternative research agenda
focused on language multiplicity.
• Existing emic, non-positivist research demonstrated that a focus on the multiplicity of local
languages allows us to capture more adequately the complex, dynamic nature of culture
and its relationship to meanings and existence of leadership.
• Further emic research is needed to strengthen this research voice and enable it to gain a
foothold in the dominant leadership discourse.

Same results In the Arabian Gulf
Hammad, W., Samier, E. A., & Mohammed, A. (2022). Mapping the field of educational
leadership and management in the Arabian Gulf region: A systematic review of Arabic
research literature. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 50(1), 6–25.
https://doi.org/10.1177/1741143220937308

Activity B
If you haven’t already, write down some questions that you might ask in your leader
interview.
Review these questions and think about the responses you might get from them.
Use various closed (do/did) and open (what, where, when, who, how, why) questions.
Also, look back over your learning diary and use the open questions (particularly how and
why) to delve deeper into your reflections. For example, you could ask:
why did I reflect on that particular point/article?
How might I use my thoughts here to develop leadership?
Note down answers to these questions and others you develop.