The Mary Parker Follett Network

Unity, not uniformity, must be our aim. - MPF

Thanks to access to some of MPF's works (thanks Matthew Shapiro), I've been able to trace back kets de Vries "leaders are in the business of energy management" notion to her.

Here is a draft from part of my lit review about appropriate leadership for the knowledge era, where I'm using MPF's work to introduce the themes.


Kets de Vries’s notion that ‘leaders are in the business of energy management’ (2003, p. 111) is congruent with this line of inquiry and can be traced back, through Follett, to the work of William James.  Follett draws upon the connection between leaders and energy management on at least two occasions.  In 1927 she stated that “the leader releases energy, unites energies, and all with the object not only of carrying out a purpose, but of creating further and larger purposes” (Follett, p. 268).  Further, she recalled William James to make the connection between one’s purpose and the untapped energy reservoir within us all:

He tried to show us that…my capacities are related to the demands of the universe. I believe that the great leader can show me this correspondence, can arouse my latent possibilities, can reveal to me new powers in myself, can quicken and give direction to some force within me. There is energy, passion, unawakened life in us—those who call it forth are our leaders (Follett 1928, p. 293).

This notion is taken up by Bijur (2000) and also Loehr & Schwartz (2003) who argue that “leaders are the stewards of organizational energy…[and] the skillful management of energy, individually and organizationally, makes possible…full engagement” (p. 5).  Energy management in this context aligns with the Human Relations Movement ethos of recognising that people bring their ‘whole selves’ to work (HBR 2008), and that leadership and followership are embodied experiences (Sinclair 2007; Ladkin 2012).  Schwartz (2007) explains that energy comes from “four main wellsprings in human beings: the body, emotions, mind, and spirit” (p. 64).  The idea of managing energy also makes a place for sustainable environmental practice as a leadership concern for the Knowledge Era, and the notion of Living Asset Stewardship (Bragdon 2006) is a good example of this.




Bijur, P. 2000. The Energy of Leadership, in G. W. Dauphinais & G. Means & C. Price, Wisdom of the Ceo: 29 Global Leaders Tackle Today's Most Pressing Business Challenges, New York: Wiley, pp. 167-174.

Bragdon, J. H. 2006. Profit for Life, How Capitalism Excels:  Case Studies in Living Asset Management. Cambridge, MA, Society for Organization Learning Inc.

Follett, M. P. 1927. Leader and Expert, Dynamic Administration: The Collected Papers, H.C. Metcalf & L.F. Urwick 1940 ed., New York: Harper & Bros, pp. 247-269.

Follett, M. P. 1928. Some Discrepancies in Leadership Theory and Practice, Dynamic Administration: The Collected Papers, H.C. Metcalf & L.F. Urwick 1940 ed., New York: Harper & Bros, pp. 270-294.

HBR. 2008. Harvard Business Review on Bringing Your Whole Self to Work. Boston, US, Harvard Business School Press, 182 p.

Kets de Vries, M. F. R. 2003. Leaders, Fools and Imposters:  Essays on the Psychology of Leadership.  (Rev ed.). New York, iUniverse Inc, 140.

Ladkin, D. 2012. Perception, Reversibility, “Flesh”: Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology and Leadership as Embodied Practice. Integral Leadership Review (January), pp. 1-9.

Loehr, J. E. & Schwartz, T. 2003. Fully Engaged: Energy, Not Time, Is Our Most Precious Resource, The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal, Sydney: Allen & Unwin, pp. 3-18.

Schwartz, T. 2007. Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time. Harvard Business Review (October), pp. 63-71.

Sinclair, A. 2007. Bringing Bodies into Leadership, Leadership for the Disillusioned: Moving Beyond Myths and Heroes to Leading That Liberates, Crows Nest, N.S.W.: Allen & Unwin, pp. 91-110.



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Thanks Albie,

I heartily recommend the kets de Vries book and the notion that 'leaders are in the business of energy management' is underpinning my thesis, so it was a happy day when I was able to trace this back to MPF!!


Thanks too Heather!


Very interesting!



Great work (as usual) Heather! Glad I finally "discovered" MPF so we can share her incredible body of work!


Thanks David, Fancy meeting you here!!  I'm sure we will have many hours of conversations to come on the topic of MPF....


I just read this again. Fascinating. Is it part of a larger piece? If so, could I get a copy?

Also, I was particularly drawn to your references to embodiment. Have you checked out the CFP ILA is doing for the Embodiment of Leadership volume. Lois Melina, the department chair at Union is editing that volume and I know she'd be interested in your work here. Also if you decide to submit--and I think I will--I'll put in a good word for you!!



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