Losing leadership

Let’s review. Here’s the original list of issues we decided to examine at the beginning of this series. Each link will take you to the post (or first of several posts) addressing that item.

  • It is inescapably about the person – not the work. It encourages personal ties which rise to the level of cultishness. It describes these ties as existing between the “leader” & his or her “followers” – not among colleagues and their businesses or organizations.
  • It suggests that individual leadership can be developed. There is, however, no proof whatever for this contention.
  • It fails to connect leadership (especially inspirational or charismatic) with successful business management.
  • It is filled with fallacious proofs consisting of examples that seem to support it, but which ignore the multiples of examples that satisfy the posited parameters but that fail to support it, or that even contradict it.
  • Neither its presence nor its potential can be predicted.
  • It encourages adults to attempt to develop personality characteristics that may not be natural to them. This has not been demonstrated as possible; it may actually be harmful.
  • It further encourages adults to focus on developing these personal characteristics in order to attain a personally aggrandizing persona, rather than to improve their ability to contribute as part of a team to organizational work.
  • By seeking a universal individual leadership model it fails to see how individuals in “leadership” positions learn on their own to evaluate what’s working, what isn’t, and how to adapt to keep things going or to improve them.
  • It is irretrievably run through with contradictions – the most obvious being those among the widely touted and disparate lists of “essential” leadership traits.
  • It (often actively) encourages unaccountability by its recourse to superlative leadership skills and “intuition” beyond the ken of the rest of us.
  • It is, consequently, irrelevant, distracting, and thus destructive on numerous levels.

The concept of individual leadership has not weathered the examination well. And that leads to one more thing about it that cannot be avoided – we will discuss that briefly next, before summing up and then moving on to our next discussion subject.


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