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A Critical Text

Third Edition

Other Titles in:
Leadership | Leadership

March 2019 | 456 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

In this original text, Simon Western deconstructs and reconstructs leadership to challenge the popular notion of the individual or hero leader, instead using his own framework to present leadership as a distributed process.

New to the third edition:

  • A new chapter on leadership symptoms that offers a novel approach to researching and conceptualizing leadership.
  • An expanded chapter on “Leadership and Diversity” with Pooja Sachdev.
  • Updated material on “The Eco-Leadership Discourse”, with the chapter now differentiating between ethical eco-leadership and commercial eco-leaders (e.g Facebook, Google, Amazon).
  • Analysis of contemporary leadership trends, including leadership in the gig economy, algorithmic management, and the rise in messiah and authoritarian leadership in populist parties.
  • Updated case studies with references to current politicians and organizations.


Part One: Deconstructing Leadership
Chapter 1: Why A Critical Approach to Leadership?
Chapter 2: What is Leadership?
Chapter 3: The Plurality Of Leadership: A Case Study
Chapter 4: Against Leadership: Autonomist Leadership
Chapter 5: Leadership and Diversity
Chapter 6: Leadership and Organizational Culture
Chapter 7: Corporate Fundamentalism
Part Two: Reconstructing Leadership
Chapter 8: The Four Discourses of Leadership
Chapter 9: The Controller Leadership Discourse
Chapter 10: The Therapist Leadership Discourse
Chapter 11: The Messiah Leadership Discourse
Chapter 12: The Eco-Leadership Discourse
Chapter 13: An Overview of the Leadership Discourses
Chapter 14: Leadership Formation: Creating Spaces for Leadership to Flourish
Chapter 15: Seeking Leadership Symptoms
Chapter 16: Epilogue

"Everyone has opinions about leadership, but few people have thought about it as deeply as Simon Western. In this important text, he shows us why we should be suspicious of easy answers and noisy leaders. This is a beautifully written and thought provoking book for anyone who wants to move beyond glib recipes and really think hard about our collective futures."


Professor Martin Parker
University of Bristol

"Destined to become a classic, this book is one of the most comprehensive and insightful critical perspectives on leadership that has emerged in the past two decades. Now in its third edition, Leadership: A Critical Text is richly theorized, historically and ecologically grounded, and immensely practical. It is quite simply one of the very best single-volume works on leadership available."

Benjamin W. Redekop
Professor of Leadership Studies, Christopher Newport University

This very engaging book brings a welcome critical dimension, as well as highlighting a number of relevant contemporary issues informing and influencing leadership theories and practices, which resonates for the very diverse PG cohorts and their aspirations. A must read

Ms Marilia Angove
Glamorgan Business School, University of South Wales (Glamorgan)
March 21, 2019

Interesting and relevant topics discussed - author explains his background which supports the credibility of his critical analysis and interesting concepts

Mrs Laura Castles
Management, Torfaen Training
March 9, 2019

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 13: An Overview of the Leadership Discourses

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ISBN: 9781526459527

ISBN: 9781526459510