An enterprise in crisis, for example, will conjure up a charismatic leader to steer the organization between Scylla and Charybdis and into a greater future; in tranquil or halcyon times, we demand only that our leaders maintain stability and maximize returns or market share! So are there aspects of leadership about which we can all agree? How should we understand leading and leadership? How can we behave to achieve the best results? How can we become leaders who have a benign influence on the behavior and beliefs of the organization? How can we best evaluate leaders? How can we identify and nurture potential leaders? A short history of leadership literature Leaders have fascinated us from the beginning of history it seems, and their stories form the bedrock of human culture.
Writers often cite Gorbachev, Thatcher, Reagan and Kennedy as evidence for the importance of charisma; some suggest that followers can bestow charismatic qualities upon their leaders - that is, they endow leaders with the qualities necessary to satisfy the need for security, safety, direction.
Leadership manifests when the designated or nominal leader and the followers interact in a particular context and culture, usually working together in a common cause to produce a significant decision or action; the specific leadership event actually occurs periodically in the interstices or at the interfaces between the leader and follower or stakeholder.
In other words, leaders must practice strategic management - develop a researched vision, a viable strategy, a focused plan and a measured implementation process and then prepare for discontinuity by continuously monitoring the environment.
The research support for the effectiveness of such training is meager, and there's little evidence that leadership-academy graduates are uniquely equipped to lead. Harvard professor and leadership critic Barbara Kellerman agrees: she observes that most subordinates don't consider their leaders to be either honest or competent, and she complains that the leadership industry is ''self-satisfied, self-perpetuating, and poorly policed.
Leadership theory and principles can be taught, but my experience over the past six decades - as both a leader and a follower - suggests that leadership behavior must be both learned and put to use.
Leaders attend to the needs of multiple stakeholders; they balance economic and non-economic goals and they establish and monitor both short-term and long-term performance metrics.