Through an inductive study of Learning & Development (L&D) executives in 69 multinational organizations, this talk will build the theory on marginal leaders’ conception of learning in organizations. Dr Petriglieri found that L&D executives experienced themselves as marginal leaders faced with a paradox encompassing complementary yet conflicting view of the nature of learning. To give existential meaning and strategic direction to their work, they developed leader identities in relation to their function, the company’s leadership and its employees as learners. These identities gave informants a place as leaders in the organization and affected whether they took an instrumental or humanistic stance on the purpose of learning—or struggled to balance the two— and the learning spaces they made available to others.
Taking a systems psychodynamic perspective, this talk highlights the interplay between the learning of leadership and the leadership of learning. The theory it puts forward suggests that whether leaders leave the margins, or learn to lead from there, affects how learning is conceived and brought to life in organizations. Showing how leaders’ place and stance on learning affects the space they make for others’ learning, this study expands and bridges the literatures on leader identity and on the management of learning paradoxes.
Dr Gianpiero Petriglieri is an Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour at INSEAD. He directs the Management Acceleration Programme, the school’s flagship Executive Education programme for emerging leaders, and is the Academic Director of the INSEAD Initiative for Learning Innovation and Teaching Excellence. Gianpiero's award-winning research and teaching focus on what it means, and what it takes, to become a leader. He is particularly interested in the development and exercise of leadership in the age of "nomadic professionalism," in which people have deep bonds to work but loose affiliations to organizations, and authenticity and mobility have replaced loyalty and advancement as hallmarks of virtue and success.