Exploring CEO Identities: Leadership, Accountability and Role

43 Pages Posted: 28 Mar 2012

See all articles by John Hendry

John Hendry

University of Reading - Henley Business School

Date Written: January 15, 2012


Drawing on interviews with 40 FTSE100 CEOs we extend the interpretive literature on identity work to top level managers, bringing into play a different balance of autonomy and constraint from previous studies. Four core (but overlapping) identities are observed: the leader and strategist, the manager or company man, the competitor or winner, and the accountable one. Our observations suggest that the first of these is effectively imposed on the CEO and we argue for a view of leadership as a socially constructed and role specific (so temporally limited) identity that both unites the leader with the organization and separates him from it though a sacred-profane divide. We also argue for a close link between identity and accountability, but one that is based on the generic perception of accountability rather than on specific accountabilities.

Keywords: CEO, identity, interpretive research, leadership, accountability, role

Suggested Citation

Hendry, John, Exploring CEO Identities: Leadership, Accountability and Role (January 15, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2029284 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2029284

John Hendry (Contact Author)

University of Reading - Henley Business School ( email )

Reading, Berkshire RG6 6AH
United Kingdom

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