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For me, it started with the simple observation that not all leaders are managers, and not all managers are leaders. If not positional, then what exactly is leadership about, and how can someone become seen as a leader? I am currently conducting doctoral research on the hows and whens of identity-based leadership.
In a constantly changing business environment, leadership is often named as one of the key sources of competitive advantage. To cope with the increasing demands of today’s business reality, leadership is therefore no longer seen as the responsibility of a select few, but it is increasingly expected on all organizational levels. This shift in the way leadership is perceived has made rise to a new stream in the leadership literature, in which leadership is no longer solely defined by one’s role within an organization, but rather seen as a state of being that anyone can enter based on their self-concept and the behaviors that identity prompts. Yet we know relatively little about what this identity-based leadership entails, when it will occur, and what outcomes it will create. This thesis aims to dismantle the concept of identity-based leadership by looking at its outcomes, its feeding grounds and at what happens in the absence of a leader identity.