Professor Donna Marie Ladkin

Professor Donna Marie Ladkin

Department of Management
Professor of Inclusive Leadership

Contact details

Birmingham Business School
University House
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Donna Ladkin is internationally recognized for her critical and accessible scholarship in the field of Leadership and Ethics. Informed by a thorough study of continental philosophy, Donna has re-considered many of the basic assumptions of leadership and its development as exemplified in her prize winning book Rethinking Leadership: A New Look at Old Leadership Questions (the second edition of which was published in 2020 by Edward Elgar).  Donna’s writing published by journals such as Leadership Quarterly, Academy of Management Learning & Education, Business Ethics Quarterly, Leadership and the Journal of Business Ethics, has extended authentic leadership theorizing  to highlight its aesthetic, embodied and context-based dimensions. 

Donna’s educative practice includes the design of leadership of programmes for practitioners in the public and commercial sectors as well as for students within university settings.  A focus on supporting the development of practitioners through scholastic work has been a feature of her supervision of PhD and DBA candidates both in the UK and in the US where she worked on Antioch University’s PhD Programme for Leadership and Change. 

Her current research interests include re-imagining leadership theorizing through the lens of Critical Race Theory, exploring how business schools might go about decolonizing their pedagogical practices, as well as studying the practices of organizations and leaders aiming to achieve ecologically sustainable ways of working.


  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts
  • MA in Environmental Ethics 2004
  • PhD in Organizational Psychology 1992
  • MBA 1988
  • BA in Music and Philosophy 1981


60 seconds with Professor Donna Ladkin on Ethical Leadership (2014)

Born and raised in the USA, Donna gained her first degree in music and philosophy at Yale University.  On moving to the UK, she was awarded MBA and PhD degrees at Cranfield University and subsequently a Masters in Environmental Philosophy at Lancaster. She has worked at a number of UK-based Universities including Cranfield University, Exeter University, and Plymouth University as well as holding a close affiliation with the University of Bath’s Center for Action Research in Professional Practice.  More recently she has been a core faculty member on Antioch University’s PhD in Leadership and Change based in the USA, where she designed and led a professional qualification in Leading for Racial Justice.   

She has published six books as well as articles in internationally-recognized academic journals, including being lead author for an article recognized as one of the five most influential articles of the decade 2010-2020 within The Leadership Quarterly: “Enacting the ‘true self’: Towards a theory of embodied authentic leadership”, Leadership Quarterly, 2010 21(1), pp. 64-74 which she co-authored with Dr. Steven Taylor.

Her academic career has been paralleled by consulting and coaching to both public sector and commercial organizations including BT, the UK’s National Audit Office, Sony, Brita Water and London’s Quadrant Housing Association.  Additionally, she is a sought-after Keynote speaker, with recent engagements including the International Leadership Association’s annual meeting in West Palm Beach Florida in 2018, the Ohio State’s Leadership Team Conference in Ohio in 2018, and  the International Studying Leadership Conference at the University of Sussex in 2022. 

She is currently supervising doctoral candidates in the areas of African American leadership approaches, how leaders create meaningful connections with their communities, and how leaders within educational settings create culturally responsive organizational cultures. 

Listen to Donna's recent engagement on Phronesis, Podcast of the International Leadership Association: Beyond Whiteness in Leadership Theorizing (with Cherie Bridge Patrick and Marion McGee) (2022).


  • MSc in Management:  Organizational Behaviour and Leadership
  • MBA: Purposeful Leadership Module


Cranfield on Corporate Sustainability: Leading for Sustainability (2013)

Research interests

  • Decolonizing management research methods
  • Exploring the socio material practices of ecologically sustainable organizations
  • Understanding ‘discernment’ as an embodied leadership practice

Other activities

Previous Posts

  • 2018-2022 - Professor of Leadership and Ethics, Graduate School of Leadership and Change, Antioch University, USA
  • 2019-2021 - Professor of Leadership and Ethics, Cranfield School of Management (fractional post), Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield University, UK
  • 2014-2018 - Professor of Leadership and Ethics, Graduate School of Management,   Plymouth University, Plymouth UK
  • 2010-2014 - Professor of Leadership and Ethics, Cranfield School of Management
  • 2007-2010 - Senior Lecturer in Organizational Learning and Leadership, Cranfield School of Management
  • 2005-2007 - Senior Lecturer in Leadership Studies, Centre for Leadership Studies, University of Exeter
  • 1997-2009 - Visiting Fellow at University of Bath, Centre for Action Research in Professional Practice


Recent publications


Ladkin, D 2010, Rethinking leadership: A new look at old leadership questions. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham.


Ladkin, D 2021, 'Problematizing authentic leadership: how the experience of minoritized people highlights the impossibility of leading from one’s “true self”', Leadership, vol. 17, no. 4, pp. 395-400.

Ladkin, D 2018, 'Self Constitution as The Foundation for Leading Ethically: A Foucauldian Possibility', Business Ethics Quarterly, vol. 28, no. 3.

Ladkin, D, Statler, M & Taylor, S 2015, 'Caring Orientations: The Normative Foundations of the Craft of Management', Journal of Business Ethics, vol. 128, no. 3.

Ladkin, D 2015, '‘The Aesthetic’ and Its Relationship to Business Ethics: Philosophical Underpinnings and Implications for Future Research', Journal of Business Ethics, vol. 147, no. 1.

Taylor, SS & Ladkin, D 2014, 'Leading as craft-work: The role of studio practices in developing artful leaders', Scandinavian Journal of Management, vol. 30.

Ladkin, D 2013, 'From perception to flesh: A phenomenological account of the felt experience of leadership', Leadership, vol. 9, no. 3.

Ladkin, D & Taylor, SS 2010, 'Enacting the 'true self': Towards a theory of embodied authentic leadership', Leadership Quarterly, vol. 21, no. 1, pp. 64-74.

Ladkin, D, Case, P, Gayá Wicks, P & Kinsella, K 2009, 'Developing leaders in cyber-space: The paradoxical possibilities of on-line learning', Leadership, vol. 5, no. 2.

Taylor, SS & Ladkin, D 2009, 'Understanding arts-based methods in managerial development', Academy of Management Learning and Education, vol. 8, no. 1.

Ladkin, D 2008, 'Leading beautifully: How mastery, congruence and purpose create the aesthetic of embodied leadership practice', Leadership Quarterly, vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 31-41.

Ladkin, D 2006, 'The Enchantment of the Charismatic Leader: Charisma Reconsidered as Aesthetic Encounter', Leadership, vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 165-179.

Ladkin, D 2006, 'When deontology and utilitarianism aren't enough: How Heidegger's notion of "dwelling" might help organisational leaders resolve ethical issues', Journal of Business Ethics, vol. 65, no. 1, pp. 87-98.

Ladkin, D 2005, 'Does 'restoration' necessarily imply the domination of nature?', Environmental Values, vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 203-219.

Belling, R, James, K & Ladkin, D 2004, 'Back to the workplace. How organisations can improve their support for management learning and development', Journal of Management Development, vol. 23, no. 3.

View all publications in research portal