One of the principal lessons from Modules 1 and 2 is the loose way in which our primary concepts have been used, and are still used by citizens, news media, and even those who write about leadership and present leadership programs. As you would appreciate, without a standard understanding (definition) of a word or concept (and the thing it refers), it is a stretch to compare them across users, cultures, languages, and ages.
The absence of consistent definitions – and often the complete absence of definitions – plus the varied models and theories of leadership are some of the first hurdles we arrive at when attempting to understand and assess leadership as a subject matter and practice, over time and across societies, cultures, and languages.
In Module 3 we take a brief tour through, firstly, imagined leadership behaviours, then the ideas, theories, models and practices of philosophers, leadership scholars, martial strategists, rulers, entrepreneurs, and business people. What we are mostly interested in is whether these dated approaches, even in their heyday, were productive (produced beneficial outcomes – inclusively . In particular, we ask the question whether they are useful in the 21st Century, when we are better informed on their past performance.
After all, the results of ‘leadership’ should surely be a sensible measure of their success.
There are vested interests in any status quo, in the way things are, no matter how wrong or disadvantageous for most people. This is also the case for the ‘business of leadership’, and by that we mean the entrenched thinking, behaviours, promoters and sellers of leadership as it exists today. Making fundamental changes to a primary social construct like leadership is difficult, and it will be resisted in some quarters, but this is no reasons not to do what is necessary.
After all, being an influential Leader is about going first. There will be detractors, that is a guarantee. At every moment of great change, whether economic, political, social, or technological, there is inertia amongst many people and prevailing systems. Sometimes people will not only voice their opposition, but actively work against you and the change. That is a fantastic compliment – it is surely a signal that what you are doing is so productive that the old guard are uncomfortable! That is why we are influential Leadership Activists.
Let us be reminded that in other social domains we have gone from footslogging to space travel, from family unit to globalisation, and hollering to online mass video events, and rulers to functional democracies (in a few cases). Is it then not incredulous that a core social construct – such as leadership – should still be based on what we did eight million years ago?
There is not even an argument to be had that change is long overdue.