Professorial Lecture Series: Professor Steve Kempster

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Date: 06 June 2019
Venue: Bristol Business School
Venue Location:
Time: 17:30-20:00

Join us at Bristol Business School for a Professorial Lecture with Professor Steve Kempster (Lancaster University) on the topic "What are the responsibilities of business leadership: Generating good dividends?"

Please register to attend.


17:30-18:00: Registration

18:00-18:05: Welcome

18:05-18:50: Professorial Lecture

18:50- 19:15: Q and A

19:15-20:00: Networking over refreshments


The talk will focus on Steve's new book (with Thomas Maak and Ken Parry) out in February 2019 that explores the role of leadership in making manifest societal purpose to everyday business activity - how business value and social impact can be aligned and realised. Too little attention in leadership is focused on the responsibilities and activities of those who lead.

Steve will seek to answer the question 'leadership for what?' He will outline an answer through focusing on responsible leadership of purpose through an interdisciplinary perspective. Responsible leadership moves the axis of leadership from leader - followers to leader - stakeholders; away from looking at leadership as person-centric - the qualities, abilities, and effectiveness of the leader - to a focus on the purposes, responsibilities, and activities of leadership.

Leadership orientation is about realising value for a range of constituencies, not just the shareholders of a business. In this way Steve will seek to offer up an alternative business model to that of dominant neo-liberal approaches to capitalism and its flow-on effect to the leadership project. The ideas draw on a most obvious assumption (an assumption that has shaped the argument for integrated reporting) - if leaders maximise the use of all the capitals of their business they will maximise their dividends, and thus deliver their responsibility to the shareholders as well as other relevant stakeholders. Steve will explore how five dividends (based on five capitals) can be developed through attention to a sixth dividend (and sixth capital) - the dividend from our planet and communities. The planetary and community dividend is the flourishing of humanity - but it is also a significant dividend to a business. For example, by engaging a business in a purpose-led orientation to enhance the planetary and community dividend, the dividend from human resourcefulness becomes manifest- employee sense of purpose, commitment, passion, and energy. The realisation of such can also connect with dividends from innovation, operations, and brands.

In short, responsible leadership of purpose outlines a case for leadership to focus on a connected portfolio of 'good' dividends as an answer to the question 'leadership for what?' The ideas are could be naïve - which can often be the case with interdisciplinary work. But for sure the ideas are intended to be ambitious: ambitious, in terms of moving leadership towards realising purpose; ambitious by seeking to align a range of business disciplines around responsible leadership; and ambitious because it challenges the dominant assumptions that shape business leadership.

Speaker biography

Steve Kempster is Professor of Leadership Learning and Development at Lancaster University Management School, UK, and Visiting Professor at Bristol Business School, University of West England. He has authored the books LEADing Small Business (Edward Elgar) and How Managers Have Learnt to Lead (Palgrave Macmillan), has coedited (with Brigid Carrol) Responsible Leadership: Realism and Romanticism (Routledge), and coedited (with Arthur Turner and Gareth Edwards) The Field Guide to Leadership Development (Edward Elgar). Steve has published widely in The Leadership Quarterly, Management Learning, Leadership, and other top-ranking journals.

Steve's first career was as a chartered surveyor, during which time he ran his own practice. In his second career, his research and engagement interests span leadership learning, responsible leadership, and through addressing the question “leadership for what?” examine the contexts, purposes, actions and outcomes of those who lead.

How to attend

This lecture is free to attend but pre-registration is required. We will have refreshments on arrival so please arrive at 17:30 to sign in. There will be an opportunity for networking over drinks and nibbles after the lecture.

Register now.

Research Symposium

In the afternoon, the Bristol Leadership and Change Centre also hosts a Research Symposium, in collaboration with the Centre for Responsible Management at the University of Winchester. This BLCC Research Symposium will be on the topic of 'Responsible and inclusive leadership: Paradoxes and possibilities.' For more information and to register for this event, please see the event page.

Please note that you must register separately for each event.

Cost: Free
Telephone: +44 (0)117 32 86453

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