Introduction to the special issue: why the coronavirus crisis is also a crisis of leadership
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-07, 08:48 authored by Dennis TourishDennis Tourish
This editorial introduction argues that the coronavirus crisis is also a crisis of leadership theory and practice. Decision making is particularly hazardous when we have poor evidence to guide us and face unpredictable outcomes. Mainstream leadership theories are of little help, since an environment of radical uncertainty means that leaders have less information, expertise and resources to guide them than is often assumed. Undaunted, populist leaders exploit uncertainty to suggest that simple solutions will work. I suggest that the responses of such leaders have been characterised by incompetent leadership, denialist leadership, panic leadership, othering leadership and authoritarian leadership. I also consider the implications of the crisis for business leadership, suggesting that already strained relationships within organisations are likely to deteriorate still further. Critical leadership studies has an important contribution to make in challenging self-serving theories of business that have come to guide much leadership decision-making. We have an opportunity to do research that really matters, and participate in vital conversations about how the theory and practice of leadership can contribute to better outcomes from the coronavirus crisis, and others still to come.
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