Grow your mind (with dolls)

“We have been unable to find literature which specifically examines doll-making within an organizational context, or as a form of leadership development.”

– explain Dr. Patricia Gayá Wicks and Dr. Ann Rippin from the Department of Management at the University of Bristol, UK. To address this gap in the literature, 20 participants on an MSc. course entitled Management Learning & Change (also at the University of Bristol, UK) “… were invited to create leadership touchstones, or dolls, as a way of learning about leadership and themselves as leaders”.
Over two days, the investigators recorded the students’ progress – in which: “Sixteen of the 20 participants produced dolls; the remaining produced two boxes, one ceiling mobile, and one totem pole.” Subsequent analysis of the results suggested that doll-making might indeed be able to make contributions towards a more comprehensive understanding of the more generalised concept known as  ‘Leadership-as-Art’.
In summary :

“Our two ventures into using doll-making as a way of exploring leadership suggest that it is a valuable approach.”


“Leadership, like art, can most constructively engage with the human condition when it is able to hold, not collapse, our experience of the uncanny, the abject, and the other within the ‘self’ and within the complexities of organizational life.”

The study is published in the latest issue of the journal Leadership – and can also be read in full here : Art as experience: An inquiry into art and leadership using dolls and doll-making