The difference leadership makes? Debating and conceptualizing leadership in the UK voluntary sector

Terry, Vita; Rees, James and Jacklin-Jarvis, Carol (2019). The difference leadership makes? Debating and conceptualizing leadership in the UK voluntary sector. Voluntary Sector Review (Early Access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1332/204080519x15634331938320

Abstract

This paper sets out to assess the state of the academic, and policy and practice, debate around leadership in the UK voluntary sector context. There has been a lack of sustained academic interest in the notion of leadership in the UK, and equally a lack of dialogue between academia, policy and practice. As a result, it is often far from clear whether there is any agreement about what leadership consists of, and the difference that ‘improved’ leadership might make. The paper considers what is meant by leadership in the voluntary sector, and considers three dominant approaches that have been used to frame leadership in debates within the sector. The three themes we identify in existing literature are person-centred approaches, process approaches, and debates that are concerned with issues of representativeness. In particular, it draws attention to the over-reliance on individual or person-centred accounts of leadership in the sector. The paper posits instead the promise of accounts that draw attention to collective notions of leadership, and the implications of a more widespread adoption of such frames for leadership development practice and research.

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