The tough-talking, take-charge, individualistic view of public leadership is alive and well throughout the world, despite the enthusiasm of leadership scholars for more shared, relational, and collectivist views. The times therefore seem especially appropriate for assessing the state of public leadership theory and research and charting a path forward to enhance understanding of the continued appeal of Great Person leadership and the promise of collective leadership. This essay considers the current public leadership context, highlights distinctive characteristics of public leadership, and provides an overview of recent public leadership research through a collective lens. We call for more attention to leadership theory from within public management and the broader leadership fields and to public value and public values in leadership theorizing and research. We suggest public leadership scholars roam more freely through the disciplines and experiment with a variety of methods beyond the traditional case study.
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- collective leadership
- leadership theory
- public leadership
- public value