1 Defining leadership practice

A leadership practice can be defined as any practice that offers direction to a group or organisation (Crevani, 2015; Crevani and Endrissat, 2016). We draw particular attention to three dimensions of practice of value to your development and learning: processes, spaces and technologies. Each will be explored in turn this week and each arethings that make leadership happen in practice (Carroll, 2016; Carroll et al., 2008).

The distinction between viewing leadership as practice and viewing leadership as a person who generates a practice is subtle but important. Leadership as practice does not ask what kind of person you need to be in order to be a leader; rather, it asks about the things we need to do in order to feed a practice of leadership. As stated, we can break these down into processes, spaces and technologies.

You can learn so much about the kind of leadership an organisation values by observing its practices at work. Certain kinds of practices encourage particular approaches to leadership, or vice versa: from very open forms of collective leadership to the very formal and hierarchical forms of individual-focused leadership. Practices shape what is possible in leadership. Having outlined what we mean by practice, you will now go on to consider the first dimension of practice of relevance to leadership, that of processes of leadership. Focusing on processes of leadership is important because it means that we pay attention to what actually happens between people.

2 Processes of leadership