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Shaping the Shift: Shamanic Leadership, Memes, and Transformation

Abstract

The leader as shaman has three central roles: healer, connector, and sensemaker in the service of a better world. This paper argues that today’s leaders acting as shamans could become ‘shapeshifters,’ or more accurately ‘shape the shift,’ that is engage with organizational and systemic change needed to content with major problems like sustainability issues, climate change, and inequality, which business businesses are increasingly being asked to deal with as part of their societal roles. In the role of sensemaker, business leaders can shape shifts towards great sustainability and responsibility by developing new memes that speak to others and resonate across different people and groups. Memes’ roles in change, as core cultural artifacts, on which values, business strategies, and belief systems (among other things) are built, are generally overlooked but are an important element of shamanic leadership.

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Waddock, S. Shaping the Shift: Shamanic Leadership, Memes, and Transformation. J Bus Ethics 155, 931–939 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-018-3900-8

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Keywords

  • Memes
  • Sensemaking
  • Sensemaker
  • Values
  • Cultural artifacts