This exposition considers perspectives underpinning contemporary leadership studies given we are located in what Hawking describes as the ‘century of complexity’, also understood as a Knowledge Era. Social complexity as context allows consideration of the turbulence our times without looking for guaranteed, certain, or ‘right’ answers and allows us to work with these conditions, rather than succumb to threat rigidity, pretend they do not exist, or think they are someone else’s problem. To make sense of these conditions requires ontological and cognitive shifts of mindset that more closely match the ‘requisite variety’ of the complexities of our times. The paper draws upon a PhD interpretive inquiry which identified cogent leadership literacies for the 21st century and explored them within Australian university settings. Various cognitive frames feature in this paper and serve to illuminate possibilities for scholars and practitioners seeking fresh approaches for leadership studies for a Knowledge Era. Whilst there are many contemporary scholars already doing so it is also clear that the ontological shifts are not easy and that archaic mindsets are difficult to dislodge even in light of wicked problems like the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 or environmental disasters.
Institution: University of Melbourne
Department: LH Martin Institute for Tertiary Education Leadership and Management
Heather is the Program Director-Awards and joined the LH Martin Institute in July 2012. She holds a BBus (RMIT), Master of Professional Education and Training (Deakin) and PhD (School of Management RMIT). Heather’s background is in research management, knowledge work, adult education, librarianship and professional development. Her research interests include university leadership and management, distributed leadership, qualitative inquiry, social complexity theories and e-learning. Heather teaches in the Institute’s Graduate Certificate programs and Master of Tertiary Education Management. She is also Program Manager for the Emerging Leaders and Managers Program (eLAMP).