What is it about?

Personality profiling and other instruments in leadership development programs (LDPs) claims to 'measure' (profilingen) or 'represent' (leadership theory) reality. This paper claims, that these instrument create the very reality the claim to represent - i.e. they exhibit 'performativity'. We should, when designing and delivering LDP be transparent about this, rather than succumb to the claims to science and truth the instruments make.

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Why is it important?

The study is important because the leadership development industry - and we include here business schools - is growing rapidly, and in doing so deploying a host of instruments, theories and models. The performativity of these, that is the extent to which they create what they simply claim to measure or represent is important because it currently these instrument helt establish certain truth about leaders, leadership and organisations that leadership development should be all about deconstructing or at least start reflections on.


I think the paper is important partly because the points above, but also because it introduces communicative constitution of organization (CCO) to the leadership development domain. The CCO ontology is deceptively simple: And organisation consists of texts (in a broad sense) that are appropriated by and produced in conversations. And the organisation is the pattern of these texts and interactions, texts stabilizing conversations, and conversations innovating on texts. And my co-author is a truly inspiring leadership figure in this academic field :-)

Frank Meier
Copenhagen Business School

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Making up leaders: Reconfiguring the executive student through profiling, texts and conversations in a leadership development programme, Human Relations, September 2019, SAGE Publications,
DOI: 10.1177/0018726719858132.
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