By chance recently my copy surfaced of "Leaders, Leaders Everywhere", an acerbic and funny op-ed piece by Polly Morrice in the 3 Aug 1998 New York Times. Morrice critiques the boom — which still exists today — in "leadership development programs", courses that purport to build take-charge charismatic top-o'-the-heap commanders. Most of these programs are, to put it gently, mush.

Morrice quotes Garry Wills's observation, "The ideal seems to be a world in which everyone is a leader — but who would be left for them to be leading?" She continues:

The assumption that meaningful existence occurs only at the summit, preferably a corporate one, ignores how many endeavors (writing, painting, software design, among others) require the ability to work in solitude rather than command a platoon. And it undercuts the importance of essential nuts-and-bolts jobs like teaching, nursing and playing backup at a recording session. Finally, as Mr. Wills also points out, nobody assumes leadership unless others agree to become followers.

But of course, the managers who send their people off to take leadership development training think of themselves as "leaders" ...

(see also OnHubris (27 Dec 1999), PowerAsPerception (5 Jan 2000), PeaceScouts (17 Jun 2003), FearlessLeaders (27 Aug 2003), ...)

TopicOrganizations - TopicSociety - 2005-01-28

(correlates: SmallIdeas, PrimeDirective, FourPiFeedback, ...)