Leadership with a heart: an inquiry into leading with intimacy

DProf thesis

Utku, A. 2014. Leadership with a heart: an inquiry into leading with intimacy. DProf thesis Middlesex University / Ashridge Business School Institute for Work Based Learning
TypeDProf thesis
TitleLeadership with a heart: an inquiry into leading with intimacy
AuthorsUtku, A.

This dissertation is about an inquiry on leadership and transformation in a consulting organisation in Turkey. The purpose of the inquiry is to explore a fresh perspective on leadership through the lenses of power and love, within the researcher’s context of a local consulting firm in Turkey and also beyond that into a more global setting. It offers personal inquiry and action research as significant change tools for leaders. It challenges some of the conventional assumptions where the leader is seen as a heroic, autonomous figure and instead explores transformation within the relational context within which a leader exists.

The inquiry aims to make a unique contribution to leadership practice by working with the themes of intimacy, presence, being “real”, power and relational leadership. It offers a different perspective to leadership practice by integrating Sufism, which is an Eastern mystical tradition, with Western theoretical traditions such as social construction and relational leadership. It also invites readers and future inquirers to consider Sufism as an integrative and non-dualistic ground when inquiring into leadership and change – from both a personal and relational perspective.

The dissertation uses action research as its informing approach to inquiry and involves the use of a range of techniques and tools such as journaling, conversations and collaborative inquiry processes as a part of its methodology. Sufism informs the praxis of the inquiry and is integrated with other theoretical frames, most significantly from social construction and relational leadership. It offers collaborative inquiry as an organisational change methodology where a leader with a discipline of personal inquiry will invite others to engage in their own inquiry. It positions a leader in a relational context and proposes that a leader can sustain change by changing the relational context by using creative experiments as transformative opportunities.

The inquiry involves two cycles. The first cycle involves first person research practice and is a cycle of discovery, into intimacy within leadership practice. In addition to intimacy, the cycle involves learning about the researcher’s relationship to power and how this relates to intimacy in my practice.

Building on the learning from the first cycle, the second cycle includes new ways of relating as a leader of a consulting organisation working with first and second person research practices. The centrepiece of this inquiry cycle is a group process and sample accounts of specific group encounters. The cycle concludes with reflections and learning from the cycle and is followed by a section reflecting on the overall inquiry process before the concluding chapter, where a summary of learning from the inquiry is presented with emerging propositions developed through the dissertation process.

Sustainable Development Goals9 Industry, innovation and infrastructure
Middlesex University ThemeCreativity, Culture & Enterprise
Department nameInstitute for Work Based Learning
Institution nameMiddlesex University / Ashridge Business School
Collaborating institutionAshridge Business School
PublisherMiddlesex University Research Repository
Publication dates
Online13 Jun 2024
Publication process dates
Accepted12 Jun 2024
Deposited13 Jun 2024
Output statusPublished
Accepted author manuscript
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