Reflecting on leadership perspectives and contexts

Course Code: GFOK090
Number of Credits: 
Number of Participants: 16

1 ordinary and 1 stand-by seat booking per course permitted

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Schedule GFOK090

This course aims to provide PhD students with a comprehensive understanding of leadership as process that takes place in uncertain and dynamic situations and specialized contexts. These are situations and contexts which PhD students currently experience, and will very likely experience for the remainder of their work careers. The focus of the course will be on problematising the specificities of these different contexts. We draw on theory as well as multiple practical examples from current case studies as well as from the students' own experiences and reflections. We will examine interactions between leader, followers and situation, e.g. behavior, language, group dynamics as well as methods and tools. We will also work with self-reflection and self-development.

Intended learning outcome
On successful completion of the course the student should be able to:
  • understanding the complexity and challenges of leadership in multicultural and interdisciplinary environments: what it means and what it entails, for example, to be a leader (or follower) in academia or in an R & D department
  • develop (demonstrate) theoretical and practical leadership and communicative competence
  • evaluate and self-regulate your own managerial and leadership potential
  • develop theoretical and practical leadership and communicative competence relevant to specific contexts and situations: to train flexibility and interpersonal problem solving
  • provide appropriate and encouraging feedback
  • to coach your peers
Entrance requirements
You are required to reach at least 1,5 years of PhD studies in order to be admitted to this course.

This course is eligible within the "Generic and Transferable Skills" course curriculum for PhD students at Chalmers University of Technology


Leadership is much more than a position and title acquired through years of loyal service or working one's way up the hierarchical ladder. It is rarely gained only on the basis of an appropriate mix of charisma and conventional leadership characteristics. Leadership is an interactive process involving leader, followers and situations. It can be seen as a science, but it is also an art that draws on experience, intuition and a sense of judgement. A leader is constantly dealing with both the rational and the emotional sides of human experience. In our view, a good leader is first and foremost a competent communicator and a good learner. Most definitions of a leader include three key concepts: to rule, to motivate and to mentor. When stated so bluntly, what strikes us is the inherent incompatibility of these three acts. How can one person competently juggle the very different qualities of a ruler, a motivator and a mentor?

Thus, leadership, despite the vast amount of theorizing and empirical research, remains difficult to encapsulate in definitions or models. This is because leadership, as compared to management, for example, is a relational and dynamic process; it is an interactional process that is highly dependent on context, situations and on the people "being led". In order to be an effective ruler, motivator and mentor for heterogeneous groups in specific contexts, we need to understand the historical, social and epistemological grounding of that context, i.e. what drives the particular groupings in that context and what resources can a leader tap into in order to enhance engagement, responsibility and accountability in specific workplaces.

The following themes are included:
- Problematising leadership (1)
- Empowerment and coaching leadership
- Judgement and decision-making
- Managing conflicts and negotiating
- Leadership, gender and diversity
- Leading innovation and creativity
- The dark side of leadership
- Problematising leadership (2) Dialogue seminar

Running schedule

The course runs over one term and is divided into eight thematic full-day workshops (09.00 – 16.00) led by different topic experts. Each workshop is preceded by a reading and writing assignment, on which participants will receive comments and feedback.
The course is limited to max 16 participants.

Course leader and examiner ledarskap.png
Martin Löwstedt, Senior Lecture


This will consist of published articles sent out prior to each workshop.

All reading and writing assignments are obligatory as are the workshops. You may miss no more than one workshop.
Examination in the enrolled courses can be acquired within one year from the start. After the expiration date no missing assignments can be admitted and a participant should re-apply to another course occasion.


Stand-by list means that the course is fully booked but you may be offered a seat if one becomes available. In this case a notification will be sent to you.

Cancellation of participation in the GTS courses should be done as soon as possible and one week before start at the latest  via the link in the confirmation email. In case of cancellation less then 7 days before start, send email to Starting Autumn term 2018, late cancellations (less then 7 days) and no-showing up to the  course will be fined.

Published: Mon 28 Oct 2019.