A qualitative study of systemic leadership training in a Danish municipality. Leaders’ experiences of participating in leadership training based on a systemic approach

Hofsmarken, Terje (2020) A qualitative study of systemic leadership training in a Danish municipality. Leaders’ experiences of participating in leadership training based on a systemic approach. DSysPsych thesis, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust / University of East London. Full text available

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DeRue (2011) finds that the literature on leadership emphasizes dominant discourses in which the personality characteristics, ability and leadership behaviour of the individual leader are central because these are important influences on employees. Ancone & Backman (2008) and Heifetz (1994) find the same trend in their review of leadership research between 2003 and 2008. For example, 84% of leadership research focuses on the leader as an individual with formal authority. However, researchers have recognized that leadership is about managing complexity and social dynamics that are context dependent. This thesis explores how participants in a systemic leadership programme experience their learning process. The following research questions were investigated: (1) How do leaders in systemic leadership programmes construct new meaning for leadership? and (2) How do systemic leadership programmes affect the co-creation of leadership practice, and how do they affect participants’ personal discourses about their leadership? Data were collected through sixteen qualitative in-depth interviews with twelve participants and five days of fieldwork observations of leadership training. A discourse psychology analysis led to the identification of three main discourses: (1) The discourse of embodied leadership training, (2) The discourse of relational leadership and its challenges, and (3) The discourse of power and hierarchy in leadership. The research suggests that systemic approaches will humanize leadership, as people will experience and be part of continuous development, both individually and as part of something greater than themselves. A systemic approach to leadership is more flexible and dynamic than other contextual frameworks. This systemic approach to leadership training utilized actual everyday contexts that guide practice for how leaders and co-workers’ function at work. The findings of this study show that this systemic approach acts as a “bridge builder” between the dominant individualistic discourses and a more complex contextual approach.

Item Type: Thesis (DSysPsych)
Additional Information: A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of East London in collaboration with the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust for the Professional Doctorate in Systemic Psychotherapy. Click on 'Organisation' in the Related URLs below to see other titles and abstracts of doctoral systemic and family therapy research carried out on the Professional Doctorate in Systemic Psychotherapy at the Tavistock.
Subjects: Management & Economics > Leadership - Personnel Management
Management & Economics > Leadership - Social Behaviour
Department/People: Children, Young Adult and Family Services
Related URLs:
URI: https://repository.tavistockandportman.ac.uk/id/eprint/2716

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