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The future of leadership: the art of leading people in a “post‐managerial” environment

Tom Karp (Associate Professor at Oslo School of Management, Oslo, Norway.)
Thomas Helgø (Senior Lecturer, at Oslo School of Management, Oslo, Norway.)


ISSN: 1463-6689

Article publication date: 11 April 2008




The purpose of this paper is to explore the future concept of leadership. The paper argues a view of leadership in organisations as a shared social influence process of relating, thus challenging mainstream approaches to leadership and the emphasis on leadership as a specialized role.


Conceptual discussion


It is suggested herein that the central acts of leadership in the future will be to focus on the emergence of identity and relationships. It is contended that current paradigms of leadership are limited as they assert leadership as a role with fundamental influence over command and control enabling the design of appropriate interventions for future organisational success. This is not consistent with reality in most organisations today, and will be even less consistent in a near future with added complexity. Therefore a future view of leadership is proposed by paying attention to how leadership may be better understood as an emergent phenomenon when people interact.

Research limitations/implications

The research is conceptual in its nature, and not grounded in empirical evidence. Further research work is needed in order to formalize a full leadership theory.

Practical implications

Leaders must then take better account of how identity and relations emerges to understand what constitute leadership – by viewing leadership as a shared social influence process of relating. For a leader this necessitates acknowledging feelings of not being in control as crucial to the leadership process; enables followers to experience their ability and find their way to act in the moment.


The article challenges the current mainstream paradigm of leadership and its powerbase. Its primary value lies in how one thinks of leadership – as position or as something being emergent/dynamic/not in control.



Karp, T. and Helgø, T. (2008), "The future of leadership: the art of leading people in a “post‐managerial” environment", Foresight, Vol. 10 No. 2, pp. 30-37.



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Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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