Dr. Mary Uhl-Bien - Leadership Through the Lens of Complexity


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Mary Uhl-Bien is the BNSF Railway Endowed Professorship in Leadership, Professor of Management at Texas Christian University. She has been named one of the most influential leadership scholars since 1990. She is widely published in the world's top leadership and management journals and since 2000 has focused her work on complexity leadership.
Select Articles by Dr. Uhl-Bien

  • Uhl-Bien, M. & Arena, M. (2018). Leadership for organizational adaptability: A theoretical synthesis and integrative framework. The Leadership Quarterly, 29(1), 89-104.
  • Uhl-Bien, M. & Arena, M. (2017). Complexity leadership: Enabling people and organizations for adaptability. Organization Dynamics, 46, 9-20.
  • Uhl-Bien, M., Riggio, R., Lowe, K., & Carsten, M. (2014). Followership theory: A review and research agenda. The Leadership Quarterly, 25(1), 83-104.
  • Uhl-Bien, M., Marion, R., & McKelvey, B. (2007). Complexity Leadership Theory: Shifting leadership from the industrial age to the knowledge era. The Leadership Quarterly, 18(4), 298-318. (Elsevier Most Cited Paper Recognition 2007-2012)
  • Marion, R., & Uhl-Bien, M. (2003). Complexity theory and Al Qaeda: Examining complex leadership. Emergence: A Journal of Complexity Issues in Organizations and Management, 5(1), 54-76.
  • Marion, R., & Uhl-Bien, M. (2001). Leadership in complex organizations. The Leadership Quarterly, 12(4), 389-418. (Center for Creative Leadership/Leadership Quarterly Best Paper Award for 2001)
  • Graen, G., & Uhl-Bien, M. (1995). Relationship-based approach to leadership: Development of leader-member exchange (LMX) theory of leadership over 25 years: Applying a multi-level multi-domain perspective. The Leadership Quarterly, 6(2), 219-247. (Most cited article in first two decades of LQ)

Quotes From This Episode

  • "So when you have complexity, it opens up adaptive space. Adaptive space is a situation in which you have to do something different. So it creates an adaptive challenge, and it loosens up so you can get things done."
  • "So the rich interconnectivity means that there are rich interactions or dynamics that occur in the inner interconnections. And when things bump up against each other, they fundamentally transform each other."
  • "The reason it's happening more now is because our world is so interconnected. So when you increase the base number of interconnections, then you increase the chance of a rich interconnection, which means we have more complexity."
  • "(Biden) has to figure out how to enable an adaptive process. And what we found in our work is at the core of leading for adaptability is enabling the adaptive process. The adaptive process occurs when there's a push for novelty, and there's a push for stability. Those are that's a polarity in organizations theory they talk about. It's ambidexterity. It's a polarity. So, or a paradox."
  • "So the bottom line is, Joe Biden has to come in and he has to enable that conflicting and connecting and enable the ideas from the different perspectives to clash together... So the challenge isn't just creating the space for the ideas to conflict and connect, it's how do you get it converted into a new order, which means new laws, new systems, etc.

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

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