An ILA Leadership Perspectives Webinar

Fictional Leaders: Heroes, Villains, and Absent Friends

Leaders: Heroes? Villains? Absent friends? Join in this analysis of  leadership as described, admired, and sometimes criticized by some of the world’s greatest novelists and poets:

  • What  can we learn from fictional leaders that we cannot glean from standard leadership texts?
  • Why do we find some characters so engrossing?
  • Why do we identify with them and their dilemmas, and why do they remain in our minds long after we have “finished” the book in question?

Fictional characters offer a relatable context for understanding the every-day challenges that leaders face. Jonathan will present some of the characters, critiques, and themes which exemplify the predicaments of leadership in a range of circumstances. During the session, based on his forthcoming edited volume, Fictional Leaders: Heroes, Villains, and Absent Friends, which is due out December 24 from Palgrave Macmillan, he will analyze leadership as described, admired, and sometimes criticized by the world’s greatest novelists and poets. Perhaps your favorite fictional hero or villain is analyzed here; or the absent friend whose leadership might have made a difference. The idea of leadership is itself the hero (or villain) of some chapters: is it a delusion, a distraction, or an absurd folly, that we pin so much on leaders? 

This session will focus on the humanity of leadership rather than the techniques, and will explore the experience of leading through the lens of well-known works of fiction. Don’t miss this sneak of peek of Fictional Leaders: Heroes, Villains, and Absent Friends.

Book chapters include:

  • Leadership and Monomania: Herman Melville’s Moby Dick; B. Slevers
  • ‘Things for fall apart’ – Chinua Achebe; J. Gosling
  • The Silhouette of Leadership – James Bond and Miss Moneypenny; B. Hawtkins
  • The Leader as Poet: Tennyson, Whitman and Dickinson; B. Mossberg
  • Leadership and Acceptability: Plato and the Odium of Truth; N. Harter
Fictional Leaders book jacket cover

Learn More About This Topic

Visit the Palgrave Macmillan website to buy the book on which this webinar is based.

Speaker Information

Headshot of Jonathon Gosling

Jonathan Gosling is Professor of Leadership Studies at the University of Exeter, UK, and has published articles in Harvard Business ReviewSloan Management Review, LeadershipManagement Learning, and elsewhere. Professor Gosling also played a significant role in the so-called ‘critical management’ movement, launching an influential MPhil and Ph.D. He advises companies, agencies, and government departments across the world on their leadership-related issues. He is Fellow of the Windsor Leadership Trust and the Leadership Foundation, a member of the Advisory Board of the Defence Academy, co-director of the European Leadership Centre, and director of Coaching Ourselves Inc. 

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