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On Knees, Breasts and Being Fully Human in Leadership

The Physicality of Leadership: Gesture, Entanglement, Taboo, Possibilities

ISBN: 978-1-78441-290-6, eISBN: 978-1-78441-289-0

Publication date: 24 November 2014


While physical reactions and experiences are pervasive in the experiences of leaders and followers, most writing and theorising about leadership fails to register physicality’s significance. Consequently, this chapter relies primarily on a creative narrative, ‘The Interview’, to make visible the physicality in leadership. ‘The Interview’ records the experiences of three leaders in ConstructCo as they prepare for and reflect on the interview for a new CEO. Though fictional, the narrative interweaves real experiences from the lives of leaders with whom I have worked. The narrative form and allowing characters to speak give licence to the physical to appear and take its proper place as a crucial dimension of the leadership experience. The second half of the chapter explores the implications of the physical in leadership, beginning by mapping some of the dimensions of physicality experienced by the three characters in the narrative. The following discussion argues that those of us who research, teach and work with leaders should be open to seeing the way conventional norms mask the physical. I explore what new means and approaches are needed in research and writing to bring physicality into development work with leaders. This chapter, including the narrative and subsequent discussion, argues that being aware of physical selves, with the humanness, vulnerability and connection with others that physicality brings, offers new possibilities to our ways of being in leadership.



Sinclair, A. (2014), "On Knees, Breasts and Being Fully Human in Leadership", The Physicality of Leadership: Gesture, Entanglement, Taboo, Possibilities (Monographs in Leadership and Management, Vol. 6), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 177-197.



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