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University of Cumbria

Charlotte Mason Building

Ambleside Lake District Campus

LA22 9BB

United Kingdom

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The Poetics of Leadership: Creativity, Art and Story in Enabliing Meaningful Change

An international conference in the heart of the Lake District

Decision-makers need to be bold and agile to help their organisations and communities respond to rapid changes in their environments. Actions based on existing patterns of thought and behaviour will not suffice. What stimulates the necessary creativity to think afresh about contexts and choices? In this two-day event, we will explore methods available for leadership development.

Topics will include: Creative writing as a method for personal leadership development, poetry as an aid for exploring emotions, the visual and performing arts as a means of enabling new ideas, storytelling as a method for leadership communications, physical play as a means of reducing inhibitions, and outdoor activities as opportunities for deepening insight. We will experience such methods and discuss them in the context of both classical and contemporary theories on the role of creativity and arts in personal and social change. For inspiration we will draw on the creative heritage of the cultural landscape of the English Lake District, now recognised by UNESCO.

The conference is intended for academics, practitioners, postgraduate students and anyone else interested in the the theory, role and practice of leadership in these truly challenging times. Please take a look at the conference programme below for details.

The conference takes place in a historic campus in the heart of a National Park and UNESCO world heritage site, nestled in amongst beautiful hills and lakes that have attracted hikers and writers to the Lake District for centuries. On the Saturday, a selection of short activities outside the conference venue will be offered.


KEYNOTES

Jonathan Gosling. Trailing clouds of glory: Leadership on the road to hell (and beyond)

Wordsworth’s famous poem Intimations of Immortality - known as The Great Ode - ends with gratitude for a tender heart that can be moved to 'thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears’. He is talking about an intuition of beauty that accompanies a child into birth, then is all but lost through the travails of adulthood. Written just at the start of the industrial revolution, it is a theory of pre-existence, not of an after-life or reincarnation. It’s a one-way journey to death, yet perhaps infused with a spark of eternity.

As our civilisation comes further from nature we adjust to our losses, habituate to surrogate connectedness and adapt to organisations and whole industries that abuse each of us, others and nature. Wordsworth might be right –

The Clouds that gather round the setting sun

Do take a sober colouring from the eye

That hath kept watch o’er man’s mortality.

In this talk I will explore this and other understandings of death and after, asking what leadership can mean on the road to hell.

Bio: Jonathan is emeritus professor of leadership (Exeter University), where he co-founded the One Planet MBA and ran executive education. He was previously based at Lancaster and in London was involved in community mediation. He is one of the lead faculty on the Forward Institute fostering responsible leadership in the British establishment; and runs several other independent programmes on this theme. His consulting company, Pelumbra, is now engaged mostly in health care, notably towards malaria elimination in southern Africa and integrated care in the NHS. He supports CoachingOurselves.com as a means to foster engagement within organisations; and One Planet Education Networks for directing business schools towards sustainability. He is a husband and father of 2 daughters – one of whom will be marrying just before this conference. He is visiting professor at universities in China, India, Australia, Canada, Denmark and Slovenia. He is author and editor of many books and articles, hosts writing retreats in interesting places; and is a keen sailor.


Caroline Ramsey. A social poetics of leadership – or what would happen to leadership if we took away the leaders?

There are moments in conversations when something happens! Moments when the way ahead looks clearer, when collaborations form or when commitments are made. These, I would suggest are moments of leadership. What is interesting is that if you watch them carefully it is often very difficult to spot any leader! So what is it that creates such leaderless leadership? How might such leadership be developed? Now, let me be clear I am not here decrying the importance of a role for authority. I am just trying to avoid the common conflation of the role of authority and the social process of leadership. Conversations are the key. Certain conversations can deaden, terrify or irritate, but others can entice, provoke, point out or enthuse. So a question arises: “how do we create conversations that might create moments where leadership can emerge; how can we promote a social poetics of leadership?”

Bio: Caroline spent the early years of her career in the sales and marketing functions of the textile and clothing industries. A chance conversation with a friend, who was a production manager, led to the exasperated question “why don’t sales ever talk to production?” and that has remained a key question ever since… many, many words are said in meetings, so why is there little conversation? Two themes of research have grown from that question. First, she has focused on how we learn in practice, which has developed into questions about how we develop practical wisdom and sound judgment. Secondly, Caroline is researching a conversational, or relational understanding of leadership. What happens in certain conversations that turns them leaderly (sorry, she knows that’s an ugly word!)? What sort of conversations offer space for more people to contribute to leadership? Using ideas from postmodern poetics, improv theatre and conversations she has with authors and managers; Caroline is trying to find out! She currently works at Liverpool University mainly supervising practice led, doctoral inquiry. Outside work, Caroline is a companion of the Northumbria Community, a new-monastic, Christian group (she’ll explain that if you’re interested), and is currently planning to replace her sailing dinghy with a dog.


Ed Gillespie. A personal poetic journey (introductory keynote)

After two decades as a sustainability professional it took a profound moment at an event, the loss of his father and becoming one himself, and the end of a traumatic relationship for Ed to embrace poetry. Ed will share a still raw and emerging experience of turning to poetry to cope with loss, love and uncertainty. Caution: this talk will contain Ed’s own public poetry debut. You have been warned.

Bio: Ed Gillespie is a writer, communications specialist, serial entrepreneur and futurist. He is the author of ‘Only Planet – a flight-free adventure around the world’ a book about his circumnavigation of the globe without getting on a plane, which the Independent said “Allow[s] the world’s flaws and beauty to seep into your soul”. Ed is co-founder of Futerra, a change agency that specialises in sustainable business transformation and creative communications and campaigns. He is also the co-founder of the Global Goals Accelerator, a business programme aimed at delivering the Sustainable Development Goals. He is also actively involved in a number of pioneering ethical businesses as a Director or Investor. Ed is a facilitator with the Forward Institute, Director of Greenpeace UK, a Trustee of Energy Revolution and alongside fellow futurist Mark Stevenson is one half of the ‘Futurenauts’ doing live shows and podcasts on pragmatic optimism.


Richard Temperley-Little. The cultural heritage of the Lake District (introductory keynote)

Ambleside has a special claim to world-historical-significance (through people who lived only yards from here) for its foundational role in radical education - a kind of British Antigonish - as the birthplace of English sociology, for Utopian and Christian socialism and for feminist theology. IFLAS was conceived with this unique tradition in mind and our founding director quickly caught that scent and allowed it to infuse our thinking and teaching. Of course, there is a poetry habit here as well. In this talk, Richard will consider aspects of the local landscape and cultural heritage in relation to the conference theme.

Bio: At the University of Cumbria I am Professor of Sustainability Leadership. At Impact I am a leadership specialist and consultant with 35 years’ experience of consulting and leadership development. In both roles, I am driven by the imperative need for radical change in the nature and purpose of business education, currently in the grip of neoliberal techno-capital. I am a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development and a member of the Ruskin Society. My pronounced tendency to scepticism, especially about leadership, began to take shape when I was expelled from school, a career high-point not since surpassed.


CONFERENCE PROGRAMME

Friday 7th September

15.30 Arrival, Registration

16:00 Welcome from the organisers. Charlotte von Bülow (Crossfields Institute), Jem Bendell (IFLAS)

16:20 Introductory keynote: Richard Temperley-Little: The cultural heritage of the Lake District

16:40 Introductory keynote: Ed Gillespie: Leadership for sustainability + poetry reading

17:00 Research presentation session 1 (see below for details)

18:00 Dinner

19.00 Keynote: Caroline Ramsey. The social poetics of leadership – or what would happen to leadership if we took away the leaders?

19.30 The Suit (performance). Mark Trezona & Martyn Duffy. Followed by facilitated discussion

20:30 Close


Saturday 8th September

9.00 Reflections from the previous day + poetry reading

9.30 Keynote: Jonathan Gosling. Trailing clouds of glory: Leadership on the road to hell (and beyond)

10:00 Research presentation session 2 (see below for details)

11.00 Coffee break

11:30 Practice exchange session 1 (see below for details)

13:00 Lunch

14:00 A choice of activities, including:

  • The Poetic Treasure Hunt (outdoors)
  • Wolf Tales, a short play by Georgia Wingfield-Hayes
  • Beyond Text. Visit the camper van with Allan Owens and Anne Pässilä
  • Free initiatives (e.g., walks, spontaneous discussion groups)

14:45 Practice exchange session 2 (see below for details)

15:50 Break

16:15 Reflection. Plenary + poetry readings

17:00 End



PRESENTATION SESSIONS


Research presentations session 1

Friday 7th, 17:00 – 18:00

(Two presentations in each group. 20mins presentation + 5mins discussion + 5mins handover)

Group A

  1. Sally Elton-Chalcroft: Leading the creation of a studio school in rural North West England- stakeholders’ narratives of of the opportunities and challenges
  2. David Norbury: An approach to artful inquiry in IT consulting (paper submitted)

Group B

  1. Kevin Avison: A measure of inspiration: Demos, Aristos, poetic ambiguity & leadership (paper submitted)
  2. Mark Argent: Revisiting Oedipus as a way of thinking differently (paper submitted)

Group C

  1. John Foster and Sue Cox: “It takes two…” : Tango and creative leadership / followership (paper submitted)
  2. Rupert Read: On seeds and lifeboats: The need to start thinking seriously about the civilisation to follow this one (paper submitted)

Group D

  1. Stefan Rossbach: Resistance, Suffering and Leadership: an Introduction to Apophatic Leadership
  2. Rakhi Sameer: The power of leadership storytelling: The case of Mahatma Gandhi (paper submitted)


Research presentations session 2

Saturday 8th, 10:00 – 11:00

(Two presentations in each group. 20mins presentation + 5mins discussion + 5mins handover)

Group A

  1. Gudrun Schoder: The loss of the birdsong
  2. Paul Harper and Alice Kettle: Making leaders (paper submitted)

Group B

  1. Jem Bendell: Leadership after sustainability (paper submitted)
  2. Alex Lockwood: Making connections to cultural leadership in the face of likely collapse

Group C

  1. Kae Reynolds: The leader-poet: Ethical growth through reflexive poetic engagement (paper submitted)
  2. Georgia Wingfield-Hayes: How the journey of soul initiation influences agency and leadership in a time of global change (paper submitted)

Group D

  1. Roland Schuster: Facilitated learning by experience - exploring the boundary to unknown territory (paper submitted)
  2. Thomas Schmaus: Poetic literacy as a key for successful leadership


Practice exchange session 1

Saturday 8th, 11:30 – 13:00

Two presentations in each group. 30mins presentation + 10mins discussion + up to 10mins break/handover between sessions)

Group A

  1. Charlotte von Bulow, Peter Simpson. Working with conflicting narratives in leadership development (40mins)
  2. Katie Willocks. Self-leadership in academia: An auto ethnographic approach (40mins)

Group B

  1. Emma Watton. Me, myself and I: Using story-telling approaches for leadership development (40mins)
  2. David Norbury. Collaborative techniques for arts-based inquiry in industry. (40mins)

Group C

  1. Lenara Verla: Currency lab game: A collaborative practice to discuss alternative currencies (40mins)
  2. Joe Simpson. The politics of poetry; stories, symbols, tweets and Trump (40mins)

Group D (in camper van). Allan Owens, Anne Passila: Beyond text

  1. Session 1 40mins. Up to 4 people
  2. Session 2 30mins. Up to 4 people

Practice Exchange session 2

Saturday 8th, 14:45 – 16:00

(Presentation 1 = 40mins, presentation 2 = 30mins + 5mins handover)

Group A

  1. Rowan Middleton: Wordsworth and leadership (40mins)
  2. Emily Oliver: (Un)Learnings of collective leadership (30mins)

Group B

  1. Andrew Porter. Leading with safe uncertainty (40mins)
  2. Julie Hutchison, Miles Weaver: Pathways towards charity trusteeship and developing a community of practice in the UK (30mins)

Group C

  1. Georgia Williams: Grayson Perry, default man and me: An autoethnography exploring experiences of masculinity in the armed forces (40mins)
  2. Joshua Malkin: The holistic art and science of transformative leadership in a V.U.C.A. world (paper submitted) (30mins)

Group D (in camper van). Allan Owens, Anne Passila: Beyond text

  1. Session 1 40mins. Up to 4 people
  2. Session 2 30mins. Up to 4 people


REGISTRATION

There is no participation fee for the conference, but there is a £30 charge for food and refreshments. Please register for the conference using the 'tickets' link above. Advanced priority registration begins on November 1st 2017. General registration begins on March 1st 2018.


ACCOMMODATION

Accommodation is available from the University at £35 pounds per night (ensuite, not including breakfast). Accommodation can be reserved here: https://store.cumbria.ac.uk/product-catalogue/general/conferences-events/poetics-of-leadership-accommodation-bookings

When booking, please use the following reference: Kx. 12617


Call for submisions: The call for submissions is now closed


The Context for the Conference

The Poetics of Leadership conference follows on in a series of Collaborative Research Conferences organised by the partners in previous years. Since 2013, Crossfields Institute have co-organised a series of conferences in collaboration with the Institute for Philosophy and Aesthetics at Alanus University (Bonn, Germany). For each conference, a third partner has also been invited in to co-design, co-organise and co-host the conference. Past conferences were organised with the University of Kent and the University of Gloucestershire. The most recent was on Leadership, Ethics and Working with Unknowing (10th-11th March 2017) with University of the West of England’s Leadership Centre (Bristol Business School). The event was attended by scholars in ethics, organisation studies, leadership education and related fields; practitioners, executives, managers and students from a range of universities and institutions.

For the current conference, Crossfields Institute and Alanus University have collaborated with The Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS) at Cumbria University. IFLAS has co-organised research conferences on leadership and wellbeing for the past years with Brathay Trust, including a major international festival in 2015. www.leadingwell.org Working with Crossfields and Alanus University for a joint conference in 2018 is a natural combination of expertise and networks.


For all further information about the conference, please contact Fergus Anderson: fergus@crossfieldsinstitute.com

Date and Time

Location

University of Cumbria

Charlotte Mason Building

Ambleside Lake District Campus

LA22 9BB

United Kingdom

View Map

Refund Policy

No Refunds

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