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Awakening the leadership anatomy in times of crisis

Roland K. Yeo (Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, Business School, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia)

Development and Learning in Organizations

ISSN: 1477-7282

Article publication date: 14 December 2020

Issue publication date: 6 July 2021




This paper explores the concept of leadership anatomy in a health crisis like Covid-19 as it relates our body parts to sensory connections that affect our response to uncertainty.


In-depth interviews were conducted with 25 leaders and a cross-section of 47 employees drawn from all six business units of a multinational professional service firm. Content analysis of the data led to key implications for leadership practice.


Leading through the anatomy results in a productive tension that awakens the inner voice, helping leaders think, feel, and act in more resilient ways.

Practical implications

Using leadership anatomy as an analogy, we suggest that leaders should learn to connect with their inner senses to develop systems thinking. Such is the ability to make sense of our chaotic surroundings in the way we think, feel, and act.


The significance of this study is the rare moments of leadership behavior captured in the midst of a pandemic that contribute to current debate and direction in leadership research and practice.



The author appreciates the feedback of two anonymous reviewers that helped bring greater practical value to the paper on a complex topic like leadership anatomy.


Yeo, R.K. (2021), "Awakening the leadership anatomy in times of crisis", Development and Learning in Organizations, Vol. 35 No. 4, pp. 8-10.



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Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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