Citius, Altius, Fortius: Managers’ Quest for Heroic Leader Identities

Thibaut Bardon, Andrew D. Brown, Francois-Regis Puyou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, we draw on Foucault’s concept ‘governmentality’ to show how a cohort of middle-aged senior managers who engaged in competitive endurance sports fabricated (avowed) ‘heroic’ leader identities drawing on this repertoire of discursive resources. Neoliberalism constitutes a form of governmentality which encourages people to regard themselves as autonomous and to aspire to personal fulfilment by investing entrepreneurially in themselves as ‘human capital’. Healthism, which requires individuals be responsible for their own health and wellbeing, is one programme by which this is accomplished. We analyse managers’ talk about themselves as people who self-examined, and sought continually to transform (improve) themselves, to avow identities as superior (heroic) leaders. Our study contributes to the literature on governmentality and leadership by showing how in neoliberalism ‘healthism’ constructs managers as enterprising selves.

Original languageEnglish
Early online date16 Jul 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Jul 2021


  • Foucault, governmentality, neoliberalism, healthism, heroic leader identity, enterprising selves

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