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Leadership challenges in turbulent times
Leadership challenges in turbulent times

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1 Dealing with leadership challenges

One of the few things that leadership researchers agree on is that a core skill of leaders and of leadership practice is to solve problems (e.g. Grint, 2008; Mumford et al, 2000; Reiter-Palmon and Illies, 2004). Problems can come in the form of opportunities as well as obstacles, so in this course the term ‘challenges’ will be used to reflect the complex and interrelated problems that leaders often face in turbulent, changing times.

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Figure 1 Overcoming challenges

A leadership challenge is a situation that leaders may face at any level (within a team, organisation and/or society) and in any sector (business, public sphere, civil society) where it is required to provide meaningful direction and mobilise action to achieve a given purpose. Meaningful direction refers to something that makes sense to people and/or an organisation, while action could take different forms such as active endeavours but also resistance.

Leaders may face a wide range of challenges and there are therefore different ways to deal with these challenges. In this section you will be introduced to three steps that help determine the challenge and how it will be addressed.

The first step is to identify the challenges that need to be addressed by the organisation, network or movement. The second step is to prioritise which of the challenges to tackle and the third step is to consider the nature of the challenge and what approach to take to address it.