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Wabi Sabi Leadership – Leading Through Imperfection
We invite you to be part of the Allan Gray Speaker Series, bringing together individuals with an interest in re-scripting the orientation of African organisational & societal life – to more closely reflect positive values which serve the common good, responsible leadership, clean living, embedding hope for the many, and challenging the excesses and damage caused by self-serving decisions, actions and behaviours at all individual levels and within business-, government-, and civil society organisations.



Assoc. Prof. of Coaching and Change Management at Henley Business School, University of Reading (UK), Associate of the Allan Gray Centre

The talk will specifically focus on Wabi-Sabi Leadership, which is a Japanese concept which Bourne has reoriented to personal, leadership development. Wabi-Sabi conveys a complex set of meanings which can be summarised as an appreciation of the impermanence, imperfection, asymmetry and small details in oneself and life, as well as our relationship(s) to everything and everyone around us. Closely related is Kintsugi – a powerful metaphor for overcoming hardship, trauma, loss and approaching our own perceived imperfections, weaknesses and traits which we see as undesirable. Wabi-Sabi considers our overplayed strengths to sometimes be our biggest weakness too and warns against relying too heavily upon them. Like everything else in life and nature, they can be gone very quickly. Kintsugi is also slightly different from the way in which we approach ‘personal resilience’ and ‘agility’ in the West. In the West, we often state that what does not break you makes you stronger, and use the metaphor of picking up the pieces and mending ourselves back after a setback. However, we rarely focus on how these difficult-, traumatic-, painful-, and/or destabilising experiences enriched us and made us better than we were before.


Assoc. Prof. Dorota Bourne, visiting Cape Town in November 2018, works as the Associate Professor of Coaching and Change Management at Henley Business School, University of Reading (UK), and is an Associate of the Allan Gray Centre.

She holds a PhD in Management, Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy, and Neuro-Linguistic Programming Master qualifications. She is currently an Academic Programme Director for the Apprenticeship Programmes at Henley Business School and was also a Director of the Henley Coaching Centre.

Prof. Bourne’s expertise lies in coaching and change management programmes, with a focus on leadership development. She favours mixed-methods and interdisciplinary approaches to research, but specialises in business applications of Personal Construct Psychology and the Repertory Grid Technique. In her past projects, she has worked with various clients ranging from multinational corporations, such as General Motors, to public sector institutions such as the Chinese Aerospace industry. Most of her past work dealt with large-scale organisational change and knowledge transfer processes. After a decade of working on organisational issues, she gradually moved toward individual-oriented interventions and focused on leadership development work and executive education. These themes now dominate her pedagogical-, as well as her research, efforts. Her most recent writings explore personal change and the development of leaders beyond their active career stage, and draw on the concepts of maturation and eldership in organisations. Her pedagogical and educational work is devoted to the new suite of apprenticeship programmes for adult students and executive education at Henley Business School. She played an instrumental role in the development and the launch of the Apprenticeship Academy at Henley Business School, and continues to expand the programme in her capacity as an academic director.
Event Details

12 November 2018
18:30-19:00 for 19:00 – 20:00
Exhibition Hall, UCT GSB, 9 Portswood Road, Green Point
Johannesburg, South Africa
Free of charge.


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