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2024/2025  KAN-CSOCV1036U  Embodied Leadership

English Title
Embodied Leadership

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Start time of the course Autumn
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Max. participants 60
Study board
Study Board for MSc in Social Sciences
Course coordinator
  • Claus Springborg - Department of Business Humanities and Law (BHL)
  • Lena Olaison - Department of Business Humanities and Law (BHL)
Main academic disciplines
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Management
  • Business psychology
Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face teaching
Last updated on 16-01-2024

Relevant links

Learning objectives
To achieve the grade 12, students should meet the following learning objectives with no or only minor mistakes or errors:
  • Understand and describe key concepts, theories and perspectives presented in the course and compare and discuss these critically
  • Apply these concepts, theories and perspectives to empirical examples of leadership moments and show how these can assist in making reflected decisions about the enactment of leadership
  • Reflect on the embodied foundations of concepts that are core to different theories of leadership, such as power, support, confidence, inspiration, motivation, appreciation, service, etc.
  • Critically reflect upon the practical and theoretical limitations and implications of the applied concepts, theories and perspectives
Embodied Leadership:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Size of written product Max. 10 pages
Assignment type Essay
Release of assignment The Assignment is released in Digital Exam (DE) at exam start
Duration 48 hours to prepare
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Winter
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
In the case of re-exam, a new essay must be produced.
Description of the exam procedure

Students will be asked to reflect on common leadership challenges in relation to course theory and frameworks.

Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

Course content and structure

Through the course, students will be introduced to common leadership challenges in contemporary work-life and how these challenges can be understood and addressed by using a range of perspectives on leadership as a contextual, political, collective, and embodied process. That leadership is contextual means that the effectiveness of any concrete act of leadership depends on the context in which it occurs. That leadership is political means that it always takes place within a field of power dynamics that must be understood and navigated. That leadership is collective means that the phenomenon of leadership is not bound to a single individual and that designated leaders, therefore, must be as much at home with following as with leading. That leadership is embodied means that somatic experiences play a crucial role in guiding how leadership is enacted. No single perspective is enough. The effective leader is able to shift between perspectives as needed to understand and address leadership challenges.

During the course, students will be presented with a range of leadership theories, which will be re-examined in the light of new findings in experimental psychology and cognitive science.

The course will bring the theory to life through exercises where students are invited to put the concepts, theories and perspectives into practice. The goal of the course is to change the way students perceive the world – including what the students give their attention to and regard as important – in such a way that they will gain access to a broader range of leadership behaviours and be better equipped to make informed choices between these leadership behaviours. To achieve this objective, each session will contain exercises designed to gain practical experience with the theory in a practical context.

The course will draw on cases from the lecturer’s own research on hard leadership challenges as well as cases from his daily work as executive coach.

Description of the teaching methods
The pedagogical approach will be highly interactive, combining short lectures with discussions, hands-on, experiential learning, brief guided meditations and studio pedagogy exercises through which students’ can develop their capacity to engage with leadership and their ability to reflect on their own practice in ways that involve both the theoretical frameworks from the course literature and embodied, somatic aspects of the students’ own lived experience.
Feedback during the teaching period
Students receive feedback from the instructor and peers during the course of highly interactive teamwork and discussions, in small groups and in plenary. Feedback will also be offered on the basis of group exercises, where we reflect together on learning experiences.
Student workload
Course activities (including preparation) 136 hours
Exam (including exam preparation) 70 hours
Expected literature
  • Argyris, C. (1977). Double loop learning in organizations. Harvard Business Review, 55(5), 115–126
  • Bathurst, Ralph, and Trudie Cain. 2013. “Embodied Leadership: The Aesthetics of Gesture.” Leadership 9: 358–77.
  • Brendel, William, and Carmela Bennett. 2016. “Learning to Embody Leadership Through Mindfulness and Somatics Practice.” Advances in Developing Human Resources 18 (3): 409–25.
  • Bolden, R., Gosling, J., Marturano, A. and Dennison, P. (2003). A review of leadership theory and competency frameworks, Centre for Leadership Studies, University of Exeter,
  • Greenleaf, R. K. 1970. The Leader as Servant. Indianapolis: Robert Greenleaf Canter for Servant Leadership.
  • Greenwood, Ronald G. (1996) Leadership Theory: A Historical Look at it's Evolution, The Journal of Leadership Studies 3(1)
  • Hamill, Peter. 2011. “Embodied Leadership: Towards a New Way of Developing Leaders.” Strategic HR Review 10 (5): 5–10.
  • Isaacs, William 1999 Dialogue and the art of thinking together, New York: Currency.
  • Isaacs, W. N. (1993). Taking flight: Dialogue, collective thinking, and organizational learning. Organizational Dynamics, 22(2), 24–39
  • Kantor, D. (2012). Reading the Room: Group Dynamics for Coaches and Leaders, John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated - chapter 2
  • Kantor, D., & Hill, S. (2014). Working with an invisible reality. Change Management, (August), 17–20.
  • Karssiens, E., C. van der Linden, C. P. M. Wilderom, and E. Furtmueller. 2013. “Embodied Mind Knowledge in Leadership Practice: Creating Space in Patterned Thoughts and Behaviors.” Journal of Management Inquiry 23 (3): 231–41.
  • Ladkin, Donna. 2008. “Leading Beautifully: How Mastery, Congruence and Purpose Create the Aesthetic of Embodied Leadership Practice.” Leadership Quarterly 19 (1): 31–41.
  • Ladmin, Donna 2010 Rethinking Leadership: A New Look at Old Leadership Questions, Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar
  • Lakoff, G. (2012). Explaining embodied cognition results. Topics in Cognitive Science, 4(4), 773–785
  • Lord, Robert G., and Sara J. Shondrick. 2011. “Leadership and Knowledge: Symbolic, Connectionist, and Embodied Perspectives.” The Leadership Quarterly 22: 207–22.
  • Losada, M., & Heaphy, E. (2004). The Role of Positivity and Connectivity in the Performance of Business Teams: A Nonlinear Dynamics Model. American Behavioral Scientist, 47(6), 740–765.
  • Matzdorf, Fides. 2015. “Demanding Followers , Empowered Leaders : Dance As An ‘ Embodied Metaphor ’ For Demanding Followers , Empowered Leaders : Leader-Follower-Ship.” Organizational Aesthetics 5 (1): 114–30.
  • Musteen, Martina, Xin Liang, and Vincent L. Barker. 2011. “Personality, Perceptions and Retrenchment Decisions of Managers in Response to Decline: Evidence from a Decision-Making Study.” The Leadership Quarterly 22 (5). Elsevier Inc.: 926–41.
  • Naidoo, Loren J., Nicole E. Kohari, Robert G. Lord, and David A. DuBois. 2010. “‘Seeing’ Is Retrieving: Recovering Emotional Content in Leadership Ratings through Visualization.” The Leadership Quarterly 21 (5). Elsevier Inc.: 886–900.
  • Northouse (2019) Leadership Theory and Practice, SAGE Publications, Inc.
  • O’Malley, Alison L., Samantha A. Ritchie, Robert G. Lord, Jane Brodie Gregory, and Candice M. Young. 2008. “Incorporating Embodied Cognition into Sensemaking Theory: A Theoretical Examination of Embodied Processes in a Leadership Context.” Current Topics in Management 14: 151–82.
  • Romanowska, Julia, Gerry Larsson, and Töres Theorell. 2013. “Effects on Leaders of an Art-Based Leadership Intervention.” Journal of Management Development 32 (9): 1004–22.
  • Rooke, David, and William R Torbert. 2005. “7 Transformations of Leadership.” Harvard Business Review 83 (4): 66–76, 133.
  • Shondrick, Sara J., Jessica E. Dinh, and Robert G. Lord. 2010. “Developments in Implicit Leadership Theory and Cognitive Science: Applications to Improving Measurement and Understanding Alternatives to Hierarchical Leadership.” The Leadership Quarterly 21 (6). Elsevier Inc.: 959–78.
  • Sinclair, a. 2005. “Body Possibilities in Leadership.” Leadership 1 (4): 387–406.
  • Springborg, Claus. 2018. Sensory Templates and Manager Cognition: Art, Cognitive Science and Spiritual Practices in Management Education. Chapter 2-4, London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Springborg, Claus, and Ian Sutherland. 2014. “Flying Blind?” In The Physicality of Leadership: Gesture, Entanglement, Taboo, Possibilities, edited by Steven S. Taylor and Donna Ladkin. Bingley, UK: Emerald Books.
  • Sutherland, Ian. 2013. “Arts-Based Methods in Leadership Development: Affording Aesthetic Workspaces, Reflexivity and Memories with Momentum.” Management Learning 44 (1): 25–43.
  • Taylor, Steven S., and Donna Ladkin. 2014. “Leading as Craft-Work: The Role of Studio Practices in Developing Artful Leaders.” Scandinavian Journal of Management 30 (1). Elsevier Ltd: 95–103.
  • Wilson, M. (2002). Six views of embodied cognition. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 9(4), 625–636
Last updated on 16-01-2024