The New Psychology of Leadership: Identity, Influence and Power

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According to John Adair, the most important word in the leader's vocabulary is "we" and the least important word is "I". If this is true, it raises one important question: Why do psychological analyses of leadership always focus on the leader as an individual - the great "I".

One answer is that psychologists have never properly understood the psychology of "we-ness". This book presents a new psychology of leadership that is the result of two decades of research inspired by social identity and self-categorization theories. It argues that to succeed, leaders need to create, champion, and embed a sense of group identity of which they themselves are representative. It also shows how, by doing this, they can make a material difference to the groups, organizations, and societies that they lead.

Written in an accessible and engaging style, the book examines a range of central theoretical and practical issues, including the nature of group identity, the basis of authority and legitimacy, the dynamics of justice and fairness, the determinants of followership and charisma, and the practice and politics of leadership.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A ground-breaking book on leadership analysing the old psychology of leadership in terms of great men and the cult of personality, the current psychology of leadership focusing on context and the contingency of the perfect match between individual and group before moving on to propose a new psychology of leadership." - Network Review

"The book abounds with historical, political, and organizational examples and anecdotes that breathe life into the concepts and arguments and make them resonate with the reader, providing some entertainment in the process. ... The New Psychology of Leadership: Identity, Influence and Power thus has something new to say on one of the most widely researched topics of all time. This is no small accomplishment. It also speaks to a broad audience, creating a theoretical space for researchers from many disciplines to forge collaborative conversations about collective action and effective leadership, which is another significant accomplishment. It will be worth your time to check out this book." - Caroline A. Bartel, University of Texas at Austin, USA, in Administrative Science Quarterly

"This exciting book ... argues that leadership is not about mastering the 10 or 20 decisive traits that drive change and success, but about "the followers" – about engaging them to work with the leader to develop the organisation’s goals and aspirations. ... What I like about this book, and why I will recommend it to anyone interested in leadership, is how the science of leadership is mingled in a readable way with historical and modern-day examples. It is a must-read for those seeking a different approach to the "five ways to success as a leader" type of book." - Cary L. Cooper, Distinguished Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health, Lancaster University Management School, UK, in the Times Higher Education

"An illuminating perspective on leadership. ... This book debunks the myth of a specific set of stereotypical leadership qualities." - Alan McLean in the Times Educational Supplement (Scotland)

"The New Psychology of Leadership is written in an accessible style, and logical structure. It goes beyond social and organisational psychological accounts, which, so far, have fallen short of explaining leadership and followership comprehensively. By identifying key principles that provide insight in the ways leaders lead followers, the authors cover new territory for social and organisational psychologists. This sets an exciting and new research agenda for years to come. ... Without doubt, this book will become regarded as a landmark text, and it has the potential to dramatically change our understanding of leadership in the years to come." - Frank Mols & Jolanda Jetten in The Psychologist

"'New Wine; New Bottle.' Citing over 400 empirical studies and texts on leadership spanning 170 years from 1840–2010, The New Psychology of Leadership: Identity, Influence and Power adds a powerful and meaningful review of the literature on leadership otherwise unavailable in one place. As such, this book should be of interest to a wide audience of scholars, students, consultants, and trainers in the field of leadership development, as well as to leaders or aspiring leaders themselves." - Paul R. Ahr in PsycCRITIQUES

"[The New Psychology of Leadership] brings a scientific approach to an important subject that has been without it for too long." - Michael Bond in Nature

"As Haslam, Reicher and Platow set it out, a simple but profound theory underlies their New Psychology of Leadership. And that theory seems so very right that it may come as a surprise that this is not already the concept of leadership everywhere. This captures the true structure of what leadership is all about. Accordingly, on almost every page of the text there is a new subtlety about what leadership means and about how it works. It takes a subject older than Plato and as current as Barack Obama in a new and correct way." - From the Foreword by George A. Akerlof, Nobel Laureate in Economics, University of California, Berkeley USA

"Haslam, Reicher, and Platow provide a tremendous service by sorting through the tangle of leadership studies and theories to offer a new perspective that is at once elegant, supported by eclectic research, and readily translatable into practical implications for social domains as varied as business, politics, and sports. It contains a profound wealth of insights on the nature and dynamics of leadership." - Blake Ashforth, Professor of Management, Arizona State University, USA

"An amazing book, that completely changed my mind about leadership. It's a double treat: a new theory and a new set of empirical regularities. That the theory makes intuitive sense and that the data fit the theory is just a bonus. I expect that this new, systematic approach to this important topic will attract scholars from many disciplines." - Rafael di Tella, Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School, USA

"This is a first rate work that makes a major contribution to an expanded understanding of leadership.... The authors provide a major advance in thinking and they have written a rich and accessible account that will have a major impact on the field." - George Marcus, Professor of Political Science, Williams College, Williamstown. Massachusetts, USA

"This book offers a creative, integrative, and highly generative new perspective on a topic of long-term, central interest in psychology, sociology, political science, and allied disciplines. Unusually broad in scope, it offers a comprehensive review of classic and contemporary research on leadership and presents new integrative insights grounded social identity and self-categorization theories. The volume strikes the right balance between breadth and depth, summarizing past scholarship and guiding and inspiring future research, and between theory and application. It will be recognized as a path-breaking book that reinvigorates and redirects scholarship on leadership for many years to come." - Jack Dovidio, Department of Psychology, Yale University USA

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781841696102
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 11/8/2010
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 296
  • Sales rank: 416,911
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

S. Alexander Haslam is Professor of Social and Organizational Psychology at the University of Exeter. He is a former chief editor of the European Journal of Social Psychology, a recipient of the European Association of Social Psychology’s Kurt Lewin award for excellence in social psychology, and a Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.

Stephen Reicher is Professor of Social Psychology at the University of St Andrews. He is a former chief editor of the British Journal of Social Psychology, a recipient of the British Psychological Society’s annual award for excellence in teaching, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Michael Platow is Associate Professor of Social Psychology at the Australian National University. He is on the editorial board of European and Asian Journals of Social Psychology, a holder of several major grants from the Australian Research Council, and a former President of the Society of Australasian Social Psychologists.

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Table of Contents

List of figures ix

List of tables xi

Foreword xiii

Preface xix

Acknowledgments xxv

1 The old psychology of leadership: Great men and the cult of personality 1

Leadership in history: The "great man" and his charisma 2

The political decline of the "great man" approach: The impact of the "great dictators" 5

The standardization of leadership: Personality models and their failings 7

The biographical approach: Looking for the roots of greatness in personal histories 10

The theoretical deficiency of individualistic models 12

The political deficiency of individualistic models 14

The faulty definition of leadership 16

Conclusion: Five criteria for a useful psychology of leadership 17

2 The current psychology of leadership: Issues of context and contingency, transaction and transformation 21

The importance of context and contingency 22

The importance of followers 28

The importance of that "special something" 38

Conclusion: The need for a new psychology of leadership 42

3 Foundations for the new psychology of leadership: Social identity and self-categorization 45

Social identity and group behavior 46

Social identity and collective power 60

Defining social identities 64

Conclusion: Setting the agenda for a new psychology of leadership 73

4 Being one of us: Leaders as in-group prototypes 77

The importance of standing for the group 78

Prototypicality and leadership effectiveness 82

Prototypicality and leadership stereotypes 94

Prototypicality and the creativity of leaders 103

Conclusion: To lead us, leaders must represent "us" 106

5 Doing it for us: Leaders as in-group champions 109

The importance of fairness 111

From fairness to group interest 118

Clarifying the group interest 130

Conclusion: To engage followers, leaders' actions and visions must promote group interests 132

6 Crafting a sense of us: Leaders as entrepreneurs of identity 137

The complex relationship between reality, representativeness, and leadership 138

Social identities as world-making resources 143

Who can mobilize us? The importance of defining category prototypes 147

Who is mobilized? The importance of defining category boundaries 155

What is the nature of mobilization? The importance defining category content 159

Conclusion: Leaders are masters not slaves of identity 162

7 Making us matter: Leaders as embedders of identity 165

Identity as a moderator of the relationship between authority and power 166

Leaders as artists of identity 171

Leaders as impresarios of identity 179

Leaders as engineers of identity 188

Conclusion: Leadership and the production of power both center on the hard but rewarding work of identity management 192

8 Identity leadership at large: Prejudice, practice, and politics 197

The prejudice of leadership 198

The practice of leadership 205

The politics of leadership 215

Notes 219

References 223

Glossary 245

Index of leaders and leadership contexts 253

Author index 257

Subject index 263

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  • Posted November 25, 2012

    Winner of The University of San Diego's Department of Leadership Studies 2012 Outstanding Leadership Book Award

    The New Psychology of Leadership: Identity, Influence, and Power offers a highly relevant, forward-looking way of thinking about leadership. Emphasizing leader-follower relationships, social connection, and group context, Haslam, Reicher, and Platow provide an exciting, fresh perspective on the study and practice of leadership that brings social identity and self-categorization theory to the forefront of the conversation. The authors articulate the importance of a leader’s dedication and wholehearted commitment to their group’s interest, while emphasizing the degree to which group members continuously shape each other within a collective context. Haslam, Reicher, and Platow also closely examine how effective leaders can skillfully represent and craft social identity, thereby enabling their followers to meaningfully act upon organizational values and goals to realize greater potential. New Psychology gracefully walks the line between research and practice, supporting arguments with evidence from academic publications and exemplary case studies from well-known leaders. Haslam, Reicher, and Platow offer theoretically-grounded, rich content in accessible language. Figures appear throughout the text illustrating key concepts, each chapter ends with a transitional conclusion section synthesizing earlier themes and arguments, and the book’s content is well organized overall. Haslam, Reicher, and Platow’s examination of past and current thinking leads them to conclude that a “new psychology of leadership” is needed in today’s complex and turbulent environment. Pulling from theoretical frameworks found within the social sciences, the authors persuasively argue that the new psychology of leadership should account for social group context, collective identity and influence, and the psychological connection between followers and leaders. The final chapter offers a simplified framework for today’s leaders, what the authors call “the three Rs of identity leadership: Reflecting, Representing, and Realizing.” Integrating relevant themes such as in-group prototypicality, identity innovation and mastery, fairness, group mobilization, and the collective origins of power, Haslam, Reicher, and Platow make a compelling case that leadership in today’s world should more comprehensively consider the power of social connection and influence. What the New Psychology of Leadership truly offers is a refreshing way to examine the complexities of identity and its influence on the process and practice of leadership. With clear examples, cogent arguments, and careful critical analysis, the authors have crafted a work that is accessible and provocative. The basic tenet that there is an embedded representation—a “we-ness”—at the core of leadership is alone worthy of deeper exploration, rigorous debate, and further study. The strength of New Psychology is in how it will challenge practitioners to examine their approaches to organizations and invite scholars to consider their allegiances to prevailing theory.

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