Polymathic Leadership: Theoretical Foundation and Construct Development

198 Pages Posted: 29 May 2018

Date Written: April 15, 2015


The objective of this work is to propose a novel theoretical approach to leadership called polymathic leadership. “Polymathic” originates from the noun “polymath,” which means “a person of wide-ranging knowledge or learning” (OXFORD, 2015). Polymathic leadership is here presented as a pattern of leader behaviors that encourages and inspires followers to advance to higher levels of depth, breadth and connectedness of ideas, knowledge and competence. It is theorized this kind of leader behaviors and the kind of collective behavior it inspires are especially positive in dealing with problems and situations that are characterized by being difficult, complex, volatile, uncertain and ambiguous. Due to the obscurity of the term polymathy, the work first explores and reviews the meanings and definitions of the term, then articulates it with other, well-defined, constructs of the literature. After that, the definition and description of polymathic leadership is presented, along with its differentiation from other types of leadership. Moreover, the work introduces a model of polymathic leadership with examples of its relevance and usage in work groups. It concludes by highlighting the possibilities of further studies unfolded by this novel approach.

Keywords: Polymathy, Leadership, Polymathic leadership, Groups, Teams, Theory, Theoretical framework

JEL Classification: O15, I25

Suggested Citation

Araki, Michael, Polymathic Leadership: Theoretical Foundation and Construct Development (April 15, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3166622 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3166622

Michael Araki (Contact Author)

University of Louisville ( email )

110 W Brandeis Ave
Louisville, KY 40292
United States
502-852-6440 (Phone)

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