One of the victims of the COVID-19 pandemic, argues social psychologist S. Alex Haslam, are many traditional views of leadership. In this short video, Haslam – one of four editors of the recent book, Together Apart: The Psychology of COVID-19 – discusses what leadership means and how it has manifested itself during the pandemic.
Haslam, professor of psychology and Australian Laureate Fellow at the University of Queensland, opens with a definition of leadership: the process of influencing people to contribute to the achievement of group goals. He stresses, both in general and in the present moment, that this is not just about leaders, but about followers, that leadership itself is a group process and not about individuals. The power of leadership is the power of the group. Leaders give groups a sense of direction, and they hold groups together. Both of these, he argues, have proven critical during the pandemic: “What should we as members of the public be doing in order to stay healthy and in order to promote the health of others. And how do we, as a community or a nation, how do we ensure that everybody is going along with a particular vision, that everybody is complying with the rules and regulations.”
COVID has highlighted limitations to some of the traditional views of leadership – “not so much about the I-ness of the leader, but about the we-ness of a leader” – but it still supports leadership’s features of cohesiveness and a sense of direction.
The editors of Together Apart –Jolanda Jetten, professor of social psychology at the University of Queensland; Stephen Reicher, Wardlaw Professor of Psychology at the University of St. Andrews; Tegan Cruwys, senior research fellow at the Australian National University; and Haslam – showed their own sense of direction by working at warp speed for the serious academic endeavor of producing the book at the beginning of the pandemic. Collaborating remotely put together the edited volume Together Apart in record time for SAGE Publishing (which released the entire book for free download on Social Science Space in May).
Now, in the dawn of 2021, they are revisiting their work and that of their contributors in a series of seven videos in which they talk with the academics who wrote edited volume’s various chapters.
Further videos in the series will appear on Wednesdays for the next three weeks.
The series so far:
Social influence during COVID-19 | Alex Haslam, Nik Steffens, Matthew Hornsey and Frank Mols
Improving the Response to COVID-19 | Jolanda Jetten and Jack Dovidio
Polarization During COVID-19 | Jolanda Jetten, Heme Preya Selvanathan and Charlie Crimston
Two Psychologies Of COVID-19 | Stephen Reicher