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Boxer, P. (2019). Challenging Impossibilities: Using the Plus-One Process to Explore Leadership Dilemmas. Organ. Soc. Dyn., 19(1):81-102.

(2019). Organizational and Social Dynamics, 19(1):81-102

Challenging Impossibilities: Using the Plus-One Process to Explore Leadership Dilemmas

Philip Boxer, BSc, MBA, Ph.D.

The disruptive effects of digital technology are enabling all environments to become more turbulent, putting competitive pressure on organisations to move towards addressing the demands of their clients one-by-one. This article considers situations where this pressure cannot be ignored, for example in the provision of intensive social care to individuals, or in enabling each disadvantaged university student to gain access to the full scope of its opportunities.

A network of relationships aligned at its edge to the particular demands of a client needs tripartite leadership that is vertically accountable to the powers-that-be, horizontally responsive to the client situation being addressed, and effective in the way it collaborates within the network itself. This involves holding dilemmas between vertical accountabilities and horizontal demands. This becomes impossible when the situation is framed solely in terms of vertical accountabilities.

This article describes a witnessed plus-one process undertaken by an individual at an edge. It works from her personal valency for challenging such an impossibility to explore the ways in which the dilemma in the situation was being “set up” by how it was held by the wider system. This example is used to explore the thinking behind the process and discusses its implications for leadership.

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