« "When did you know?" - The new question of choice | Main | Informal Coalitions - Six years on »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Bruce Waltuck

Hi Chris. Very timely post. I just saw Gautam Mukunda a few days ago in Washington, D.C., at the Excellence In Government conference. Based on his presentation, I understood he was sorting leaders into "filtered" and "unfiltered" types. By this, he meant filtered leaders are those whose ideas and capacities are genrally known when they assume leadership (his analysis was of all U.S. Presidents). As an example, he noted Lincoln's leadership characteristics were not well-known when the Republican nominating convention happened to take place in Lincoln's home state, and when Lincoln was nominated.

With broader regard to the notions of exceptional characteristics making exceptional leaders, I personally agree with your comments. Leadership is something beyond the assignment of authority or power. It is as much emergent from local interactions, as it is bestowed with a particular job or title. In this, I would cite the excellent work of Goldstein, Hazy, and Lictenstein, and their book "Complexity and the Nexus of Leadership." i'd also cite the work of Ron Heifetz and Marty Linsky on Adaptive Leadership. In addition to their books, Ron's teaching and ideas are wonderfully described in Sharon Parks' book, "Leadership CAN Be Taught."

Take care!

Bruce Waltuck, M.A., Complexity, Chaos, and Creativity

Chris Rodgers

Many thanks, Bruce, for your helpful comments and useful references.

There is a paradox here, of course. On the one hand, I'm suggesting that leadership is best seen as an emergent property of day-to-day interactions, rather than as an elite practice confined to 'the chosen few'. On the other, much of my consulting practice is based on working with those in formal leadership positions (throughout an organization) to raise their awareness of the hidden, messy and informal dynamics of everyday organizational reality. And this includes the 'messy' (political, ideological, social, emergent, paradoxical, etc) reality of their own role - in contrast to the neatly packaged set of scientifically rational practices which conventional management 'wisdom' attributes to them.

Implicit in this idea of raising awareness, and stimulating a more informed approach to 'formal' leadership practice, is recognition that leadership can indeed be taught. Or rather, perhaps, that it can be learnt as a result of reflective and reflexive practice, arising in the midst of challenging and supportive conversation.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)