The Book Nook
Le Coin Lecture
Curl up and grab one of these books to help you navigate the work that's ahead.
This list is meant to help, challenge, and encourage discussions around DEI, Anti-Racism and Emerging Leadership practices.
August 1, 2023
Redeeming Leadership by Helena Liu
What's this about?
Author and intersectional feminist scholar from the unceded land of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, colonized as Sydney, Australia, Helena Liu challenges the professional and academic understandings of “leadership” rooted in imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. Liu provides us, through storytelling, data, and compelling examples, pathways to unlearn and take down the structures created to benefit only one type of leader. Redeeming Leadership equips us with tools and knowledge to transform existing structures through anti-racist feminist practices.
Imperialist White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy, Anti-racist Feminisms, Intersectionality, Undoing Leadership, Culture
What We Liked
The author presents examples and data to back every theory or concept they are unpacking at any given moment in the book. This helps the reader connect to what is written and imagine it in practice. The stories she pulls from and the connections she makes with how women are treated historically within the patriarchal structure really break down any confusion you might have about the image of the women in positions of power the media depicts over and over again. This book makes it easier for women to recognise gaslighting, manipulative language, and much more.
We loved that the author ended the book with pathways for individual work and community work that needs to happen for leadership to be redeemed.
What this book is : A critique of the mainstream understanding and accepted practices of leadership in companies, organizations, and society. This book is fierce. This book offers ways to challenge, dismantle and reimagine what characteristics, attributes and behaviours a leader can exhibit that aims at the betterment of everyone’s lives, not just those already born with an advantage in our world. It calls us to ditch the imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchal frameworks considered as the norm and reimagine leadership from scratch. The author takes her time to strip down leadership as it is practiced and rewarded and offers to rebuild it into something anti-racists, grassroots and non-hierarchical organizations can see themselves getting behind.
What this book isn't : This book is not, neither is it claiming to be, the only way to explore and include anti-racist feminisms to leadership development and greater DEI structures within organizations. The author mentions many times throughout the book the different definitions, understandings and applications of anti-racist feminisms through time and cultures, not seeking to invalidate any of them. Context, both geographical and cultural, is repeated across the book, such as to not generalize the studies, the data and the theorizing applied here.
Why You Should Read This
You should read this book if you’re having a hard time swallowing a stale and outdated formula for leadership in your organization. We have collectively been through so much in the last few years that our personal, professional, political realities demand a change in how we define our leaders and what we expect from them. Who gets to lead and how their entire surroundings are shaped to provide and keep power needs to get back to the drawing board. If you care about systemic, organizational, societal changes, you’re going to want to read this book!
“Violence can also become institutionalized and sentimentalized through schemes of domination, when victimes of violence come to accept the ham done to them and may even unwittingly or unwillingly be complicit in this violence (Bourdieu, 2004). When violence is supported by formal organizational structures, the guilt and responsibility for the abuse is often placed on the victim, where the violence is constructed as a necessary and inevitable part of organizational life (Linstead, 1997).”
- p.72 Destruction
"It is not only the experience of being female that unites women, but our lived experiences of structural domination and oppression. Our 'potential commonality' lies in our joint political resistance against gender, racial and class structures."
- p.107 Anti-Racist Feminisms
"Decolonizing our minds will include disidentifying from neoliberal constructions of the ideal worker/leader, especially when those idealizations reproduce harm onto others and ourselves."
- p.128 Undoing Leadership
"[...], when we explicitly designate the interlocking oppressions that characterize our cultures as the 'imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy', this makes it more difficult for users to impose their own wilful misinterpretations that dislocate our theorizing from its social justice roots."
- p.161 Restoration
Get the Gist
Read what Helena Liu had to say about her book in this article.
How does it fare?
“Liu is blunt and unforgiving in her questioning of why, in the Western world, do we so zealously accept the tales of white ’heroic’ leaders? If leadership is socially constructed, as Liu argues, why do we construct it in a way that reinforces hierarchies built by neoliberalism, patriarchy, imperialism and white supremacy?”
- Ellen Frank Delgado PhD, London School of Economics and Political Science