In many ways leadership has emerged in all kinds of encouraging and unexpected ways in this current crisis to break our sense of dependency on idealized individuals. Young medics have gone to work in hospitals just as they are graduating, supermarket workers have continued to turn up to help feed us every day, underpaid carers have continued to care for the vulnerable despite lacking the support and PPE they need; com
munity groups have rallied in their communities to support and aid their neighbours. Leadership doesn’t always emerge from leaders.
Rather than obsessing about leaders and leadership, the pandemic and resulting crisis has given us ample opportunity to notice how leadership is a co-created
pattern of relationships which arises in a group. It tells us as much about our own expectations of and projections onto authority figures, as it does about the authority figures themselves. We all play into some dominating emotional patterns which catch us up again and again.
It’s important to pay attention to this social and emotional perspective on leadership because it is underrepresented. The mine of leadership scholarship which has focused on individuals and how they behave, what they should be doing, has been dug very deep and every time one anticipates that there is no more digging to do, along comes another variation on a theme: transformational leadership, servant leadership, relational leadership, leadership and followership, clear leadership, dialogic leadership, leadership, leadership, leadership. It becomes hard to think about power and authority without having the word leadership somewhere in the sentence as though every societal problem can be reduced to one thing.