Attributes of Embodied Leadership: A beginning in the next chapter of leadership development

Kushwanth Koya, Jane Anderson, Petia Sice, Richard Kotter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


Research and guidance on leadership behaviour has been documented throughout history, from the epics to more recent leadership theories, evolved over the last century. Why then, when there is so much research and advice available are leaders still making so many errors? A review of literature in leadership studies reveals that recommendations have often been descriptive, assumptive and prescriptive without considering various differences in individuals. Additionally, leadership development often utilises methodologies in which individuals are trained to ‘act’ as leaders rather than fully embody leadership behaviour. This paper explores the generic attributes that describe embodied leadership behaviour. Semistructured interviews were performed on a panel of individuals from different backgrounds and analysed using a grounded theory approach. Along with the interviews, the works of Scharmer (2008) and behavioural traits identified in leadership by Derue, Nahrgang, Wellman and Humphrey (2011) were also taken into consideration. A final consensus was reached using a set of ten attributes that potentially contribute to embodied leadership behaviour; being non-judgemental, embracing uncertainty, active listening, congruence (morals and ethics), intuition, reflective practice, sense of meaning/purpose, holistic decision making, authentic presence and intention.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-300
JournalHuman Systems Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


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