Leisureship: The Role of Serious Leisure in Leadership Identity Development

Research output: Contribution to JournalMeeting AbstractAcademic


The leadership development literature focuses much attention on leadership identity processes and the leader’s self-concept, at, and outside of work. At the same time, many leaders have a nonwork passion (a “serious leisure” interest) they strongly identify with, that plays an important role in helping them define who they are. Yet the interplay of the leader- and serious leisure- identities has hardly been explored. We lay out how the interaction of the two identities can further develop the leader identity, in a three-pronged model. Specifically, we propose that, by providing identity diversification, prompting identity work, and enriching leadership resources, the presence of the serious leisure identity strengthens the leader identity. We also examine the conditions under which this is likely to happen, such as how related the serious leisure identity is to the individual’s other identities, personal boundary preferences, followers’ granting of the leadership claims formulated using the interplay of the two identities, and the harmonious or obsessive nature of the passion for the leisure activity. Our theory contributes to leadership development research and practice, by opening a research agenda for how the personal interest domain can be harnessed in the service of leadership development, as well as to the identity work and the role enrichment literatures.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAcademy of Management Proceedings
Issue number1
Early online date1 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019


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