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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

The Splitting of Leadership and Management as a Social Defense

This article explores a maladaptive response organizations are making to the great uncertainty and turbulence they face. The authors describe the ways in which management and leadership are split apart, with one aspect idealized and the other devalued, as a 'social defense' against confronting the adaptive demands of contemporary operating environments. Two variants of this social defense are examined: 'managerialism' which looks to the magic of technique and 'heroism' which focuses on the heroic leader. Responding effectively to current conditions requires linking what has come to be viewed as leadership, the visionary and mission setting aspects of executive action, with management, the apparatuses and tools for achieving organizational purposes.