The Aesthetics of Subversion


aesthetics, leadership paradox, choral leadership, authenticity, phenomenology

How to Cite

JanssonD. (2023). The Aesthetics of Subversion: Learning From the Fringes of ’Good’ Leadership . Organizational Aesthetics, 12(1), 69-93. Retrieved from


The notion of balance is assumed in a variety of aspects of leadership such as task/relational orientation, control/autonomy, the leader person/function, and attending to competing organisational concerns. Such issues have also been framed as paradox in leadership, and this study is situated at the intersection between balance and paradox. A balanced leadership act is ephemeral and cannot be understood in terms of prescribed contingencies. Balanced leadership is an aesthetic experience that involves all faculties of perception and agency. This paper investigates how 'inappropriate' leader interventions and off-balance leadership is experienced, with the aim to inform the balanced act. The empirical material is from an experimental workshop with nine choral leaders who designed their own leadership interventions on the fringes of their regular practice. The research applied a hybrid methodology with a phenomenological point of departure. The analysis revealed that the impact of off-balance is experienced differently, depending on whether the intervention is of a task, relational, or existential nature. Even within the limited scope of the study, the findings point at several theoretical and practical implications.

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