The art of leading and following: A workplace tango

Lobatto, Wendy (2013) The art of leading and following: A workplace tango. Journal of Social Work Practice, 27 (2). pp. 133-147. ISSN 0265-0533

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This article describes my experiences of leading a commissioned child mental health service through a process of change in my role as manager. The article uses the metaphor of the Argentine tango to conceptualize my efforts to implement leadership in my work. I look at the influence of the music, the relationship between leadership and followership, and the idea of mutual presence to draw out aspects of my experience. In so doing, I relate theory to practice and bring together various theories of leadership in a creative synthesis. The article draws away from realist notions of management theory to ask how it is that we perform leadership. It suggests that we do so by the provision of an ‘intelligible formulation’ of chaotic events. This can be reached through the reflective understanding of the nature of the work. It can also be striven toward through creative acts of ‘discernment’ of the practices of the agency. These acts are fostered through the distribution of leadership that simultaneously dissolves yet persists. The need for mutual presence is highlighted and the role of leadership outside the immediate circle of authority is examined. The use of the Argentine tango as a metaphor draws together these various strands and provides a clear conceptual framework in this autoethnographic article.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Published online: 18 Jun 2013
Uncontrolled Keywords: Argentine Tango, Leadership,Followership, Distributed Leadership, Managing Change
Subjects: Social Welfare > Social Welfare Personnel
Management & Economics > Leadership - Social Behaviour
Department/People: Children, Young Adult and Family Services

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