truth” (p. 37). The process of coming to understand the ideas of leadership, higher
education, subjectivity, and agency provides fuel for my imagination and sense of justice,
not the goal of finding the ultimate theory. Further, I am troubled by the unitary notion
of the subject called leader and, ultimately, a singular notion of leader is what is most
problematic for my understanding of leadership theory. By using ideas of self, power,
history, and language to think with and around leadership, I am bothered by the cohesive,
individualist person that is assumed to wear the mantle of leader.
While researching leadership, white, American men wrote all of the books and
models suggested to me. Knowing a canon can be skewed by the exclusion of diverse
voices, I started looking for women, writers of color, and leadership models written
outside of the United States. This task is harder than you may think, as the leadership
industry “remains largely…an American phenomenon” (Kellerman, 2012, p. xix),
another export of neocolonialism. Kellerman (2012) says it succinctly: “To say that each
of the [leadership] pedagogies is different from the others is to say the obvious…What is
less obvious is how they are similar, how nearly every one is a variation on several
recurring themes” (p. 182). It did not matter what model I read, the undergirding was
still the same. The assumption is that the person reading the book, taking the workshop,
or simply following the outlined steps could be a leader without complicating ideas of
subjectivity and agency.
I will examine Kellerman’s critique of leadership, employing an idea of agency
offered by women of color writers who trouble an often unquestioned feminist notion of a
unified female subject. Calling upon theorists with diverse perspectives will enable us to
see how leadership is positioned in the university setting and allow for an exploration of
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