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Pragmatic leadership: A return to wisdom

  • Diane Ruwhiu (a1) and Malcolm Cone (a1)


Te Ao Māori, or the Māori world, locates Māori philosophy, ethics and knowledge (wisdom) in a central role, and is therefore foundational to Māori thinking and practice. In this article, we present an example of pragmatic leadership, using the epistemological and ontological space of kaupapa Māori, a perspective that represents practice guided by the wisdom of Te Ao Māori. To do so, we draw from narrative shared by 22 Māori practitioners involved in leadership roles in a wide range of organisations to illustrate key features of Māori leadership practice. We argue that this approach offers a unique contribution and deeper understanding to the contemporary and instrumental representation of pragmatic leadership. Such a perspective allows researchers to explore leadership practices, particularly those that may be heavily influenced by culturally specific behaviours. In regards to practitioners, it provides foundation for innovative leadership practices grounded on giving weight to more deeply contextualised processes and relations. The consequences are widespread not only for researchers and practitioners of leadership, but also for a perception of indigenous leadership that is true to the indigenous logics in which they are grounded and reflective of good practice.


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