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Leaders achieving focus in the place of not knowing

Peter Simpson (Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK)
Hugh Burnard (Collector (Chief Executive), HM Customs and Excise South West, Bristol, UK)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 1 August 2000

Abstract

The senior manager’s role is to constantly identify and clarify what to focus on and then to direct energy into that focus. This involves learning to gain clarity of purpose within a context of uncertainty and disagreement: the place of not knowing. Learning to work in this way involves discovering how to act as though one knows whilst still not knowing. This requires a working awareness of the fact that certainty is socially constructed knowing rather than discovered truth. In this way, leaders can lead others to know what to do. The authors present a case study of their work together (as an academic and a chief executive) which describes one approach to supporting organizational leaders in this task.

Keywords

Citation

Simpson, P. and Burnard, H. (2000), "Leaders achieving focus in the place of not knowing", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 21 No. 5, pp. 235-242. https://doi.org/10.1108/01437730010340052

Publisher

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MCB UP Ltd

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited