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Do leaders really need to be tired? A sustainable view of leadership development and the vital leader

Martine Cannon (Director of Martine Cannon Consulting, London, UK)

Industrial and Commercial Training

ISSN: 0019-7858

Article publication date: 12 July 2011




This paper aims to make a contribution to the field of sustainable leadership development. It seeks to explore the positive implications associated with developing a vital leadership team. The paper addresses the rising concerns about leadership burnout and aims to offer a view on how to develop sustainable leaders and vital organisations.


The views offered come from client work in the field using an action inquiry methodology. The author/consultant takes an appreciative, social constructionist view of organisations.


Taking an expert‐led, linear approach to the development of leaders' vitality brings with it many limitations. This paper discusses the positive implications surrounding taking a complexity based approach to the vitality of leaders in organisations. It discusses how change occurs in the area of wellbeing, which is an area where change is notoriously difficult and often unsustainable. Finally, it discusses organisational norms that can stand in the way of executives being as vital as they need to be, to do the jobs asked of them.

Practical implications

The paper provides a practical approach for HR, OD and business leaders to begin investigating the relative vitality of their workforce and offers key insights into how to take an integrated approach to leadership development (inclusive of vitality).


The paper offers new insights into the emerging field of sustainable leadership – a relatively untouched performance opportunity for those interested in leadership development.



Cannon, M. (2011), "Do leaders really need to be tired? A sustainable view of leadership development and the vital leader", Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 43 No. 5, pp. 307-313.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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