This article examines the practice of leadership in organizations characterized by ambiguous authority relationships. Drawing
on three empirical case studies illustrative of a long-term research program on change in health care organizations, we examine
leadership as a practical activity focusing particularly on its dynamic, collective, situated, and dialectical nature. We
invite researchers on leadership to look carefully at the embeddedness of leadership roles in context and at the type and
consequences of practices that leaders develop in such contexts. Implications of these ideas for further research and for
would-be leaders are discussed.

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The Practice of Leadership in the Messy World of Organizations