Mapping the aesthetics of leadership development through participant perspectives

Carroll, Brigid and Smolovic Jones, Owain (2018). Mapping the aesthetics of leadership development through participant perspectives. Management Learning, 49(2) pp. 187–203.



This enquiry sets out to explore leadership development as an intrinsically aesthetic experience, drawing on the reflexivity of participants from four intensive, long-term leadership development experiences to claim that the very architecture of knowing and experience in leadership development may be interpreted as shaped aesthetically. Five different aesthetic discourses are identified and named as partiality, dissipation, disruption, sensation and connectedness. The interdependence between these is then examined in one extended participant narrative. What emerges is an understanding of leadership development as a felt experience, where any leadership concepts are known and experienced through the lens of a vivid milieu of affective, visceral, sensory, embodied and relational processes, which aesthetically shape what participants come to recognise as leadership. We propose that paying attention to the aesthetics of leadership development has the potential to radically change how leadership development is researched, practiced and understood.

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