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The Leadership Lectures: Mary Uhl-Bien, Ph.D.

The Leadership Lectures feature world-class, accomplished and influential leaders with expertise ranging from business and philanthropy to public service and academic research. Through the Lectures we hope to allow our community to have access to the expertise, advice and best practices of some the world’s foremost leadership minds and so the lectures are free and open to the public.

Lecture

  • About the lecture

    Complexity Leadership: Shifting the Way We Think about Leadership for a Complex World

    Traditional leadership theories, which focus on how managers inspire, motivate, and align subordinates around a leader’s goal, are becoming increasingly obsolete in a world of growing complexity. Unprecedented levels of interdependence and interconnectivity mean that leaders need to move away from a focus on hierarchy and control to an understanding that “it takes complexity to beat complexity.” Professor Mary Uhl-Bien from University of Nebraska will present developments in Complexity Leadership Theory based on a qualitative research program across nine organizations. Findings show that although increasing complexity in organizational environments calls for responses that enable adaptive (complexity) dynamics, many leaders respond instead with an ordered response that suppresses generative (emergent) leadership. This is because our current leadership language and leadership development activities are designed for a bureaucratic rather than a complex context.

Presenter

  • Mary Uhl-Bien, Ph.D.

    The Leadership Lectures: Mary Uhl-BienMary Uhl-Bien is Professor and Howard Hawks Chair in Business Ethics and Leadership at the University of Nebraska. Over the past ten years, she has also been a Visiting Scholar in Sweden, Spain, Portugal and Australia. Mary’s research focuses on complexity leadership, relational leadership, and followership, and has appeared in such journals as Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Management, and The Leadership Quarterly. Her research has been funded with grants from organizations such as Booz Allen Hamilton, and she has conducted research in partnership with Lockheed Martin, Bank of America, Disney, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Stryker, and the U.S. Air Force Academy. Her papers on complexity leadership theory and followership theory were recognized with Best Paper Awards.

    Mary Uhl-Bien is senior editor of the Leadership Horizons series for Information Age Publishing, and is currently on or has served on the editorial boards of Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, and The Leadership Quarterly. She is a founder of the Network of Leadership Scholars (NLS) in the Academy of Management, and co-organizer of the NLS Annual Research/Practice Conference series. She was on the OB Executive Committee as a Representative-at-Large from 2003-2006, and has served on various OB Division committees. Mary is active in executive education nationally and internationally, teaching for the Brookings Institute, the Gallup Organization, and universities in both the U.S. and Europe. She served as the executive consultant for State Farm Insurance Co. from 1998-2004. She participated in a Fulbright-Hays grant to Mexico during the summer of 2003, trained Russian businesspeople for the American Russian Center at the University of Alaska Anchorage from 1993-1996 and worked on a USAID grant at the Magadan Pedagogical Institute in Magadan, Russia from 1995-1996. She lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, with her husband and three children.


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The Leadership Lectures are presented with the generous support of Amerant Bank.

Mercantil Commercebank

We would also like to thank our university partner, FIU Honors College for their support.

FIU Honors College