How much do you trust people with the title ‘leader’? Certainly, in the popular media there has been scathing criticism of some corporate leaders. In 2016 alone, Sir Philip Green, ex-owner of the retail giant British Home Stores, was severely criticized by MPs for putting 11,000 jobs at risk and leaving BHS with a £571m pension deficit (Butler and Ruddick, The Guardian, 2016). So too was Mike Ashley, the boss of Sports Direct. His behaviours were described as ‘unacceptable’, and contributed to employment conditions at the company’s warehouse in Shirebrook, Derbyshire described as ‘more like those in a workhouse or gulag’ (Goodley, The Guardian, 2016). In academic journals, leaders have been considered blameworthy for various failings. Board (2010), for example, suggested that leaders helped to cause the global financial crisis of 2008 and will probably contribute to the next one too. Collinson (2012) argued that leaders in particular have been too ‘positive’, which leaves them unprepared for unexpected events or to listen to others who can see the problems. The work–life balance discourse can illustrate that the different ways in which we experience work are shaped by a form of hegemony, and by what we believe, what we value and what we see as legitimate (Kärreman and Alvesson, 2009; Schneider, 2000). These intangible informal structures or ‘ways of doing’ work can be thought of as ‘organizational culture’ (Ashkanasy et al., 2011).
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