English Research Seminar 26.04.2018

Vortrag Dr. Stephanie Schnurr (Univer­sity of Warwick, Centre for Applied Lingu­is­tics): Explo­ring ‘another side’ of internal leadership commu­ni­ca­tion through self-­deni­gra­ting humour

Zeit: 18:15- 20:00 Uhr

Ort: WU, Gebäude D2, Eingang D, 2.OG, Raum D2.2.228


This paper explores ‘another side’ of internal leadership commu­ni­ca­tion by focu­sing on leaders’ use of self-­deni­gra­ting humour. In contrast to external, and often public, perfor­mances of leadership (e.g. in spee­ches, inter­views, talks, and letters), this talk looks at how leadership is done ‘back­stage’, in suppo­sedly mundane ever­yday work­place inter­ac­tions, away from the public lime­light. I will discuss several exam­ples of authentic internal leadership commu­ni­ca­tion to illus­trate that in these ever­yday inter­ac­tions with other members of their team, leaders often use self-­deni­gra­ting humour and portray them­selves in rather ‘un-lea­der-­like’ fashion as inca­pable, awkward, naïve, as well as approachable, humane, and humble.

These episodes of self-­deni­gra­ting humour – whether in the form of an amusing anec­dote or a witty comment – construct alter­na­tive views of leadership, which chal­lenge heroic concep­tua­li­sa­tions that depict leaders as ‘the solo, all-­powerful hero’ (Holmes 2017). Through a focus on self-­deni­gra­ting humour, we can thus gain valuable insights into the comple­xi­ties and diver­si­ties of leadership, which often remain over­looked by main­stream approa­ches.


Holmes, Janet. 2017. Leadership and change manage­ment: Exami­ning gender, cultural and ‘hero leader’ stereo­types. In Cornelia Illie and Stephanie Schnurr (eds) Chal­len­ging Leadership Stereo­types: Discourse and Power Manage­ment. London: Springer.

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