The economy of leadership

by Philip Boxer

I describe an economy of leadership as the relationships between eight patterns of leadership in the way an organisation relates to its environments, four that address the development of the networks from which the organisation is formed, and four that are enabling through the way they sustain its existing networks.[1] This economy includes eight anti-patterns of leadership (patterns of resistance) through which individuals resist taking up a relation to the other leadership patterns. The relationships are between each network-forming pattern and the other four network-enabling patterns, so that the whole economy appears as follows. The anti-patterns resist these relationships being formed:

These four types of relationship define the ways in which each network-forming pattern (or its anti-pattern) relates to the four network-enabling patterns:[2,3,4]

  • Pairing: the relation to wiRgo of the network-former becomes the governing assumption of the network-enabler – the enabler understands what the network-former really wants. The network-enabler realises the parts that the network-former cannot reach for himself/herself.
  • Affiliation: the governing assumptions articulated by the network-former become the letter of the law followed by the network-enabler  – the affiliated enabler works at sustaining the espoused practices of the network-former.
  • Dependency: The wigo/wiRgo relation of the network-former becomes the basis on which the network-enabler forms their relation to ‘truth’ – the enabler tries to emulate not what the network-former says, but what s/he does.
  • Fight-Flight: the relation to ‘truth’ of the network-former disrupts the network-enabler’s relation to wiRgo for him or her, creating a tension that makes the network-enabler uncomfortable/anxious.

Of course these are hopelessly abstract, so in the next post I will use a case study to show how all this gets put together diagnostically.

[1] This economy of leadership is a Libidinal Economy of Discourses (LEoD) that forms through the way individual use the structures of the organisation to support their identifications, expressed in the form of ‘truths’ about the organisation.  This use reflects individuals’ valency for the way the LEoD supports their relation to desire.
[2] Pairing (baP), Dependency (baD) and Fight-Flight (baF) are ‘sophisticated’ forms of the Bionic basic assumption behaviours from which they derive their names.  Affiliation is ‘sophisticated’ form of the Oneness basic assumption (baO) developed by Lawrence, W. G., A. Bain and L. Gould (1996) in “The Fifth Basic Assumption.” Free Associations 6(1): 28-55.
[3] The network-enabling patterns are the perverse discourses, and the different types of relation they have to the network-forming patterns are based on how the quadripod is supported by the way the structures of the organisation. The anti-patterns, described in leadership counter-resistance, are forms of the Meness basic assumption (baM), also described in Lawrence, W. G., A. Bain and L. Gould (1996) in “The Fifth Basic Assumption.” Free Associations 6(1): 28-55.
[4] Sandy Henderson, Director of OPUS, argues (in Henderson, S. (2017). Taking the group to task, OPUS.) that the three basic assumptions (baP, baD & baF) are responses to challenges to shared social purpose (impotence, undecideability & incommensurability respectively – my wording), the consequences of which give rise to Baburoglu’s forms of maladaptation (superficiality/monothematic dogmatism, segmentation/stalemate & dissociation/polarization respectively).  I would add that baOness is a response to the absence of authorisation, and in its maladaptive form gives rise to Hopper’s aggregation/massification.

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