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Rethinking leadership: a way forward for teaching leadership?

Amanda Hay (Nottingham Business School, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK)
Myra Hodgkinson (Nottingham Business School, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 1 February 2006



There have again been increasing calls for management educators to strengthen the development of leadership in their programmes. However, it is unclear as to how such calls can be best answered. One way forward may be to rethink our conceptualisation of leadership. This paper seeks to address this issue.


Dominant theories of leadership may offer limited help to management educators. The dominant conceptualisation of leadership is questioned using empirical evidence from recent studies and interviews undertaken by the authors which examined managers' understandings of leadership.


This article suggests that mainstream leadership theories are framed by systems‐control thinking and highlights a number of issues in respect of teaching leadership. Proposes that a process‐relational framing of leadership may be a more useful way to think about leadership.

Research limitations/implications

Whilst the interview data drawn upon is exploratory and therefore cannot be taken as conclusive, we hope to stimulate a wider rethinking of leadership than is currently present.

Practical implications

Tentative suggestions are presented for responding to calls to improve the teaching of leadership.


The paper emphasises a process‐relational understanding of leadership and may be seen to offer practical help to management educators concerned with the teaching of leadership.



Hay, A. and Hodgkinson, M. (2006), "Rethinking leadership: a way forward for teaching leadership?", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 27 No. 2, pp. 144-158.



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Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited