An ILA Leadership Perspectives Webinar

Eco-leadership and Leadership Formation

Presenter: Simon Western

Date: 12 August 2009


Simon Western identifies four discourses that have dominated leadership thinking in the past century: the leader as Controller, Therapist, Messiah, and the emergent discourse of ‘Eco-leadership’ (Leadership A Critical Text Sage, 2008).

These leadership discourses come from particular social, political and economic conditions and they are assumed as a normative way of thinking about leadership. The Controller Leader discourse creates a technocrat leader focusing on efficiency and control of resources, material and human. The Therapist Leader came in the post war democratising project, it reflected the individualisation of society and incorporated the Therapeutic culture that infused wider society into the workplace through the human relations movement The Messiah Leader was a response to the western economic slump and rise of the Asian Tiger in the late 1970s. The Messiah Discourse provides charismatic leadership and vision in the face of a turbulent and uncertain environment. The new emergent leadership discourse is Eco-Leadership. This arises from the realisation of finite natural resources, globalisation and new technologies in a networked society. Linear and hierarchical leadership models are defunct with companies trying to grasp how to lead large complex organizations that operate like eco-systems. Ethics, leadership spirit, distributed and asymmetric leadership and connectivity are key concepts for the Eco-leadership discourse. Eco-leadership is a new way of thinking about leading, and is not fully realised.

Those attending will be invited to ‘look awry’ at leadership, and reflect on their own assumptions. They will learn about leadership development in innovative ways, exploring how to create spaces in organizations for leadership to flourish.

Note: The Western Indicator of Leadership Discourses (Wild Questionnaire) is a free test to identify your leadership assumptions, and may help prior to this Webinar. Go to > leadership > Wild Questionnaire.

Speaker Information

Simon Western writes and teaches on leadership drawing on personal experience from an unusually diverse background. He has worked with CEO’s and senior leaders designing and delivering innovative experiential leadership development in all sectors. Previously he has worked as a general and psychiatric nurse, a family psychotherapist, a clinical manager, an executive coach and an organizational consultant. More recently as an academic, Simon was Director of Coaching at Lancaster University Management School, UK, teaching coaching and leadership at international business schools. His current position is Principal Consultant at the Tavistock Consultancy Service, London. He directs the MA in Organizational Consultancy: Psychoanalytic and Systemic Approaches. Simon’s focus is on emancipatory leadership. His forthcoming book is Coaching and Mentoring A Critical Text (Sage 2010).