Substituting for Leadership: The Neglected Role of the Leadership Couple

Gronn, Peter
March 1999
Leadership Quarterly;Spring99, Vol. 10 Issue 1, p41
Academic Journal
This article discusses the topic of a recent symposium in the LQ, the idea of substitutes for leadership. It provides a case study of a longitudinal qualitative variety suggested by Jermier and Kerr in their 1997 symposium contribution. The case documented is the foundation and first decade (1951-1961) of the famous Australian school, Timbertop. In particular the article considers the role played by the founder, J. R. Darling, and the first head of Timbertop, E. H. Montgomery, as a leadership "couple." On the basis of the case data it is argued that the leadership couple is a common, but neglected, substitute for the single-handed leader. Attention is paid to the dynamics of the couple role, the ways in which couples achieve substitute outcomes and effects, the defining characteristics and properties of couples and the significance of couples for future research, particularly the need to rethink the unit of analysis in the field of leadership.


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