Can the “Leadership Industry” Fulfill Its Promise?

Summing Up: Jim Heskett's readers believe leadership is teachable—to a point.
by Jim Heskett

Summing Up

How Should We Measure "Leadership Industry" Results?

Aspects of leadership can be taught, thereby providing a justification for the "leadership industry." But students of leadership (and followership) bring their own personal qualities to the task. The leadership industry in general fails in: (1) catering to customer desires for short courses that produce quick results, (2) emphasizing, and training for, ways of gaining self-knowledge, (3) providing laboratories for the application of passively learned theory, and (4) measuring results. This is my take on "the sense" of the many comments in responses to this month's column.

Leadership involves, among other things, "competence and interpersonal skill" (David Wittenberg), "visionary" and "administrative" components (Gerald Nanninga), "confidence" (Garth Trumble), "the ability to empathize" (Keith Williams), being a "curious follower and a good listener" (Bill Shirley), increasingly being comfortable with the idea that "no one person is in charge of anything" any more (Charles Green), the choice of followers (Ninie), the ability to learn from "repeated failure" (Shadreck Saili), "a quest for integrity" (Adriano Pianesi), a combination of ego control and "ambition … for the institution" (Bruno Coelho), communicating "where you are going" and creating a desire on the part of others "to go and be with you" (Mike Flanagan), "high emotional stability" (Pete Ciekurs), and "authenticity … in everything we do" (Raji Gogulapati). Some of these things can be taught, justifying a leadership industry. Others require more time than customers, and therefore those who cater to them, are willing to give it. As Sharath K put it, "Leadership … needs to be learned by experimentation over a lifetime."

There is perhaps too little emphasis on the development of self-knowledge. Wendy-Anne Naidoo, for example, commented that "… leadership growth involves a journey of a deeper awareness of self and others and impact of self on others." Jackie Le Fevre pointed out that "We can learn to become consciously connected with our own values." Scott Spreier extended this idea even further as he said "… leaders can be developed, but not unless they are willing to question their values, manage their motivation, modify their behavior, and challenge and change their very identities." Kapil Kumar Sopory punctuated this thought with the comment, "It is high time our basic teaching includes some sort of spiritual lessons."

The military is often cited as being one of the most effective corners of the leadership industry. As Pete DeLisi suggested, "… the big difference between leadership development in business and … in the military is the use of leadership laboratories in the military. Military leaders learn leadership by doing it…" Jessica Cruickshank concurred, saying that "It is the practice, more than the theories, that makes (teaching leadership) an effective experience."

Measurement is the biggest challenge to the industry. There was general agreement that it takes more time than most are willing to give it. Several commented that the best source of measurement is from followers. Tan Chin Thuan's suggestion illustrates the challenge nicely when he said "The irony yet sobering measurement of leadership could well be, 'the number of people who willingly attend a leader's funeral.'" How should we measure "leadership industry" results? What do you think?

Original Article

Leadership is under fire around the world, in business, government, and other institutions. Followers appear to be exercising more and more power, thanks to such contextual changes as the rise of social networks, ubiquitous communication, greater transparency, and rising and unmet expectations. It has made the practice of leadership more complex and demanding.

This is happening at a time when individuals and organizations of all kinds spend a great deal on leadership training, which ranges from in-house leadership programs to offerings by outside organizations. It encompasses a growth industry that spans various types of endeavors. (Several of Harvard's graduate schools include the terms "leader" or "leadership" in their mission statements.)

So why is there such a disconnect in the "leadership industry" between efforts and results? That's the primary question posed by Barbara Kellerman in her somewhat dramatically titled new book, The End of Leadership. Kellerman writes with authority, having authored, co-authored, or edited twelve books on the subject of leadership as part of her contribution to the industry. "Teaching how to lead is where the money is," she reminds us.

Kellerman hypothesizes that leadership is a process involving leaders and followers functioning in a context of societal, legal, and technological change, and that training for leadership too often ignores the importance of followership (especially changing patterns of dominance and deference), concentrating instead on the individual leader operating in a narrow, somewhat static context.

She questions several common assumptions in the leadership industry, such as:

  1. "notwithstanding the ostensibly flattened hierarchy, leaders are where the action is."
  2. in the absence of measures of leadership excellence, the best measure of leadership in the private sector is financial success.
  3. "leadership can be taught to virtually anyone and everyone," often in a one-size-fits-all manner.
  4. "leadership can be learned quickly and easily."
  5. "leadership can be codified and summarized and packaged."
  6. "leadership is a profession for which a professional education is optimal."
  7. "leadership should be taught … in different professional schools for different professional audiences."

While recommending a "buyer beware" approach to the leadership industry, Kellerman still continues to believe that there are great leaders and that learning to lead is possible. However, it will require such things as a greater appreciation of the complexity of the task of preparing leaders, a broader "curriculum" that includes emphasis on followership and the context in which the task is performed, and better measurement of effectiveness.

This leaves us with several questions: Do you believe that leadership can be taught? If so, how should we measure success? If not, how do you explain the financial success of the leadership industry? Can the leadership industry fulfill its promise? What do YOU think?

To Read More:

Barbara Kellerman, The End of Leadership (New York: HarperCollins, 2012).

    • David Wittenberg
    • CEO, The Innovation Workgroup
    Leadership consists of two components, competence and interpersonal skill. Interpersonal skill can definitely be taught by leadership trainers and demonstrated consistently. Competence can be acquired separately and demonstrated to potential followers situationally.
    • Henry Nejako
    • Program Mangement Officer, US Department of Transportation
    Even if leadership isn't fully teachable, articulating leadership concepts, theories and empirical observations should strengthen the preparation of future leaders. The Federal Executive Institute in Charlottesville, VA offers a powerful 4-week program called "Leadership for a Democratic Society."
    • Yaron Kaufman
    • CMO,
    Leadership schools effectiveness and financial success can possibly be explained by the idea of self-fulfilling prophecy: make them believe they are natural born leaders. This goal, by itself, worth the tuition. Leadership school can also motivate learning from other organizations successes. However, true leadership can only grow within the organization, as an answer to the challenges the organization confronts.
    • Anonymous
    Management techniques can be taught/learned.
    Leadership is a quality that can shine with or without being in a management position.
    • Anonymous
    I haven't read the comments, but one of the key criteria of a good leader is failure and it starts in grade 1. But today - kids aren't permitted to fail - so don't gain this experience when they fail math and reading in grade 3, but still get promoted to grade 4 and later to grade 7 when they failed grade 6, but get into grade 10 when they failed grade 9 and gain admittance to a middle of the road college, or university without having all the grade 12 qualifications required for the first year.
    • Gerald Nanninga
    • Principal, Planninga from Nanninga
    To my way of thinking, leadership has two basic components:

    1) Visionary - Where should I lead people
    2) Administrative - How to get the pieces of the organization to effectively follow to achieve the vision.

    If we spent more time teaching "doer-ship" (how to more effectively follow), leadership would be a lot easier. More time could be spent finding better visions.

    However, we all really know why the focus is on leadership rather than doer-ship. It's greed. Leaders make more money than doers. Instead of leadership training, we could call it "How to increase your salary" training.
    • Garth Trumble
    • Business Consultant, The Better Business Trust
    Not only can leadership be taught, it comes naturally: every parent is a leader to their children, every school teacher is a leader in the classroom. Of course this doesn't imply a level of leadership competence - that's the part that needs to be taught. I believe the fundamental requirement for leadership is confidence, because without that one can't even begin to lead. All the other competencies follow it.
    • D Nelson
    • Quality Lead, SFS
    Leadership, or at least the basics and other components, can be taught. As with any art, individuals predisposed to be leaders may be better at the art than those more predisposed to another art. Leadership success measurement and related metrics would vary by entity, e.g., shortterm profits versus the long-term career successes of the people led by the trained leaders, and everything in-between. Measurement of the industry's success would take at least a decade of following each provider's graduates and applying SMART criteria over that decade based on the respective provider's promises. The success of the industry (currently profit making and growing) can be explained by the human desire for fast, simple solutions. Many educational industries have come (and gone) by promising new teachings, methodologies, etc., that would take the place of hard work, over time, by all concerned. The industry players may or may not fulfill or b
    e fulfilling their individual promises. The industry as a whole will never meet the aggrandized expectations. Full development of a professional, any professional let alone a leader, is at minimum a focused, planned seven-year or so effort. Typically the new educational industries don't last the seven years. Of those that do, they may or may not be good, but they are perceived as better than any other apparent alternative (to the hard work, over time, by all concerned.) If the respective industries are seen to be just one more component to continuous improvement by their customers, they can be successful, seen as successful and the success more easily measured and demonstrated.
    • Keith Williams
    • P:rincipal, Profit Improvements UK
    I learned leadership as a Midshipman, 50 years ago. It wasn't an academic subject, it wasn't even referred to as leadership but was more of a composite. It became apparent, very quickly, that someone without the ability or inclination to empathise would never lead, let alone successfully ask others to risk their lives.
    Can leadership be taught? As a Fellow of the Institute I am supposed to say it can. In truth it can only be taught effectively to those with the necessary personality traits.
    • Anonymous
    Leadership skills can be taught.

    Leadership style can not...leadership style manifests from one's upbringing and in some cases, basic moral compass as well as one's personality traits.

    In my opinion leadership training has become all the rage primarily because business 'leaders' have confused their desire for leadership with their desire for a specific type of leadership style.

    Until more business leaders come to terms with the fact that not everyone leads in the same manner that they might, leadership trainers and 'experts' will enjoy good times.
    • Kamal Hossain
    • Lecturer of Business, London School of Commerce
    I doubt leadership can be taught. We don't have Steve Jobs in every organization, nor Bobby Knights in every sports. But they serve as models for future leaders and hence attract students for leadership courses, a reason for the success of the leadership industry.
    However, this exact reason is why I seriously advocate that there should be further R&D in this sector. I can only see better outcomes if further studies and experiments are carried out.
    A leader is someone who can vision and lead to some place new. When it becomes known, it loses to be new. And hence others trying to emulate can NOT be a leader in that same path. But can BE a manager. So, although leadership courses can not necessarily develop leaders, it can make better managers. And it has, who serve in many such leading organizations in various sectors. Another reason why Leadership Industry has seen growth.
    To create a better leadership industry, courses should highly focus on creating visions for the students. This can be achieved through current market analysis and future paths of business opportunities. An example would be BRICS, which should be part of leadership courses as many analysis show future businesses in this region.
    To measure the success, there needs to be a feedback and followup procedure to identify if such future visions have been followed and accomplished by the students. In an MBA program, Harvard University students can do a semester in the Indian campus, while being actively participating as an intern in a local company. I am confident this would trigger a more clear future vision for the student which can be brought back to the university. And that intelligence can become part of the leadership course especially in the "Future Vision" course curriculum. So I would be expecting a lot of modification and development in this course to keep refreshing a real new area of growth and hence new leaders.
    If such a strategy is executed, I hope it will create new leaders and can fulfill the promise of the Leadership Industry.

    Kamal Hossain
    Lecturer of Business Studies
    London School of Commerce
    • Tom Dolembo
    • Founder, NewNorth Institute
    Recent studies of locusts, why they swarm, who leads the swarm, what motivates the swarm to follow are interesting. The leader locust is, in fact, escaping from following locusts, bent on cannibalism, who in turn are doing the same. The power of hunger drives the swarm, and they seek first to eat each other, then whatever they find, and they do both equally well. The leader is most successful in not being eaten. What we observe as directed heirarchy is in fact highly organized starvation.

    Ray Pitman, inventor of the utility derrick and old competitor and customer of mine, claimed to be a pioneer and leader in the crane industry because he had the most arrows in his behind. I would agree with Kellerman that leadership, perhaps can be taught. The real test comes when the whistle blows and one has to walk toward the enemy without looking back to see if anyone follows. The average life of a subaltern on the Western Front, in combat in WW! was less that twenty minutes. Very few actually lead, the casualty rate is high, and the reward is often survival, rarely financial security. I would seriously doubt that the CEO, Chairman etc. actually lead in most cases, that directive is most often held by one most expendable.
    • Dr.K.Prabhakar
    • Professor, SRM University
    I totally agree with the author. There is over emphasis on leadership and i strongly attribute it to the judo christian belief that a leader is needed for salvation. It need not be if there is a platform to share thoughts and act together. The movement Occupy is a standing example of leaderless organization. How do you explain the phenomena. The largest food supply by Dubbawallah has no identifiable leader; how do you explain these phenomena?
    • Charles Mwale MBA, MPA
    • CEO & Founder, Vision Leadership Institute International
    Yes, leadership can be taught. In the ancient Kingdom of Babylon, King Nebuchadnezzar gave instructions to one one his leaders to find hebrew young men who could be trained for leadership in his kingdom. These young men would have to be without blemish, good looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge, and quick to understand..whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans. (Daniel 1:3-4). Those being taught leadership skills must however have the ability to be taught. We see the same approach in England's Royal family-they teach the heirs how to be leaders.
    • Bill Shirley
    • CEO, In Search of Eagles, Inc
    In my experience, beginning from the time I was a Midshipman, the principles of leadership can be taught but we can't become a good leader in a class room or by reading a book.
    Also unguided, on-the-job experience generally does not work much better. I'm not persuaded leadership skills can be taught but they can be coached if the leader-in-development is an emotionally aware, curious follower and a good listener working in a "safe" environment.
    As Executive Leadership Coaches, we view leadership as more about our Being than our Doing. The bedrock of our Authentic Leadership Model is "All Leadership is example, anything else is coercion." It follows from this that the essence of leadership is the ability to gain buy-in to the leader's vision, values, purpose and priorities.
    Emerging Authentic Leaders must find their own voice, their own unique way of courageously standing apart from the crowd. This requires expensive risk-taking and painful experimentation. Both the expense and pain can be reduced with a relationship with a skilled coach.
    All the best leaders I've ever known have the healed wounds of their learning experience.
    • Anju Kotwani
    Leadership can be taught or not is a person-specific situation. There are some individuals who read leadership books as they do read a manual for a machinery and follow each and every instruction to the core. Then, there are other people who just bring their own intrinsic value on the table and are successful. So, there is no definite answer to this question.
    • David Physick
    • Consultant, Glowinkowski International
    Whatever has been taught as leadership for the past few decades hasn't been effective. Look at the mess our leaders has got us into. Something different is now needed. Some comments have pointed to the necessity to act with values in mind. Values based leadership is what now needs to be taught and practised with the utmost vigour - walking the talking, matching deeds to words, when accepting accountability and responsibility being prepared to act accordingly. In this 3D high-definition 24/7 connected world the measure of success cannot and must not be limited to a linear dimension calibrated in some financial currency. Success is measured in an and, and, and, and multi-dimensional way - financial, people (staff, customers, suppliers, community), environment. We need a new approach to be taught!
    • Charles H. Green
    • CEO, Trusted Advisor Associates
    There is one simple explanation for the conundrum you raise of increasing expenditures on leadership education, coupled with declining performance of leaders.

    The explanation is that the nature of leadership has changed, and the leadership industry has failed to recognize it. The result is an industrywide continuation of "doing what we've always done, while expecting different results."

    The nature of the change is so obvious we forget to notice it: the world has become flat, horizontal, interconnected, porous, and continuously unstable. The nature of leadership, of course, has changed as well.

    The Old Paradigm of leader was one of powerful personalities, honed in narrowly cultivated cadres of "high potential" candidates to master the skills required to effectively marshall a variety of resources under control.

    The New Paradigm is that, increasingly, no one person is in charge of anything. There are no vertical bosses with absolute control; instead, there are infinite variations of nexuses of influence, markets for resources and talent.

    The management model is one of projects; all business is becoming like the movie industry, gathering together to make a Big Something, then vaporizing and re-emerging, re-constituted, to do the Next Big thing.

    In such an environment, the effective leader is the one who can Influence People Not Under Her Direct Control to Join in a Common Cause. It's a horizontal skill, not a vertical skill. It amounts to playing nicely in the sandbox, and being able to subordinate one's ego to the greater good rather than to exert it.

    It's not hard to see what this says about leadership. It CAN be taught, but it resembles soft skill training and emotional intelligence. It generally favors women, whereas the Old Model favored men. It requires less inspiration, and more helping others achieve what is important to them.

    It's still leadership, and it can and should still be measured by financial and operational results. Just don't expect to find those results being delivered by the Next Incarnation of Jack Welch.
    • Matthews Daniel Kapito
    • Director, Notebook Solutions mw
    Leadership is critical to success of an enterprise , profit making or otherwise. Government, Institutios and Individuals have changed leadership and mostly confuse it with management.
    I oten say, Leadership is an art but manytimes i read about it and get leadership training. What then shall i say? Was i born a leader? or I was taught to lead. I assure you that it must be taught. I have always found myself leading even before i learned anything about leadership,in school, church, sports and other activiies, people often say im a natural. However, I have become a better leader after getting training. Leadership must be taught and the leadership industry must fulill the promise as thy are the model. If the industry dont fulfil the promise then be assured that Leaership will die.
    Our financil success must match the enthusiasm, commitment and satisfaction of our clients.
    • Ravindra Edirisooriya
    • Accountant 05/03/12, Midwestern Small Business
    Leader and leadership naturally entail followership. Hence, it is necessary for a leader to know who his/her followers are and how they measure the success of the leader or his/her leadership. For example, if one is the leader of a gang of thieves, now what would ones followers want from the leader as a charismatic and successful (top notch) leader? Certainly it would be the opposite measure of success of the followers (members of the free society) of the top Cop, the leader of law and order of the free society. Assuming socially acceptable ethical behavior for leaders and followers (yes, followers too!), one cannot be a leader of a gang of thieves and a top Cop at the same time (or can it be?!). What would be the ethical responsibility of the leader of a gang of thieves? What would be the ethical responsibility of the top Cop? It is not sufficient for a charismatic and successful leader to know his/her followers and his/her ethica
    l responsibility. The leader must think in long-term success (what is success?), sustainability and survival of his/her followers, do the right thing (what is the right thing? could it be sometimes unpopular?) with foresight (what is foresight? think Gandhi, Lincoln, MLK), have enough abdominal fortitude to do admit a mistake(s) and reverse course, and know when to handover the leadership to the next best leader (it does not have to be to a buddy or next of kin), and have a few other finer qualities (no time to pen it, I need to make a living!).

    Given my thoughts above, the leadership industry has not quite earned its big bucks looking at the quality of leaders and leadership in the society today (or has it?). Leadership can be taught if the instructor understands it!
    • Balaji
    • CEO, Ankur Learning Solutions
    Leadership is an attitude. One may not necessarily be born leader. However, he can develop the same. This is best learnt by focusing within.
    If one can look within and understand himself, he can properly understand anyone. Understand - Empathise - Influence Positively... this is the journey into the minds of people (followers) and being leaders... One may observe this in any successful leader...
    • Ninie
    • Executive Director, Edmunds
    Indeed leadership can be taught! the important thing is that it is not a purely "technical" subject, and therefore should be linked with personal traits/abilities/ etc. Not everyone can be a leader, otherwise we would not have so many men who fail to be husbands and partners, women who cannot be mothers etc

    I do agree that some sort of indicators should be established to measure success in leadership, based on the triple bottom line principle!

    The challenge I've seen is that leaders are simply "plugged"on top off the hieracchy and heve have to deal with all these followers who have served a company for twenty years! and are expected to implement effective turnaround strategies, using the same outdated/unchangable resources. If only leaders had an opportunity to arm themselves with deputies with proven track records. In short, if leaders had a way of choosing followes!!
    • OSD, Worlds Window Group
    Leadership cannot be taught. For an individual or a corporate or a country, a leader could be a person who can lead the particular entity from current position to an entirely new future which is not only exciting but also progressive for people . A person who has not experienced some of the problems within the set up himself/ herself,can hardly empathise with the problems people struggle all the time. There are no compelling reasons for such a person to have a vision for a new reality or fulfilling onto that reality. Why would people look forward to such a person to be led anywhere?

    Leadership success measure could only be one - Have people shifted to a better future than was possible in the leader (in question)'s absence.

    Financial success of the leadership industry is a reflection on the current world scenario - The corporates have grown larger than the governments and in majority of places impact policy decision making. The government enterprise nexus has led to monopolisation of resources all over the world in few hands and peoples interests are in general nobody's concern. Yet people have one utility - they create markets and they are needed for something to be sold to. Money is the sole criteria of judging progress, success even if people experience a degrading and stressful quality of life or world is dumped into a financial crisis time and again. In such a scenario there is only one skill that works - manage money. That's where lies the success of leadership industry. The question is how many true leaders world has seen out of the leadership indusrty?? There may be people who have improved toplines for various organisations , but that can hardly be synonymous with leadership.
    Leadership industry may fulfil its promise only in limited confinement of defined objectives but surely not on delivering true leaders e.g. Gandhi, Steve Jobs
    • natrajh Ramakrishna
    • Counrty Head Audit, KPMG India
    Leadership has to do with several complex sociological, cultural and psycological factors including value systems taught and experienced by people. To provide a context, people who occupy leadership positions are invariably, not fully convinced that they should actually lead. Due to cultural influences and upbringing, they believe it could violate "human dignity" or people need to possess adequate "freedom" to express themselves effectively and generally perform better when leaders do not do not "violate" their "space. In the Indian context, it has to do with the general belief that leadership is at the most "facilitative" and not direct in terms of control etc. Leaders are influenced by the teachings in the great indian epics, particularly, The Mahabharata, where Krishna the Teacher leads Arjuna to victory by only facilitating Arjuna to achieve his goals and asks Arjuna also to follow
    the principle of "non doership" that is, leaders should not start believing that they are the "doers"; they are only "trustees" or "agents" who facilitate others to excel and so on. Leadership literature and teachings today do not, in my belief, capture these cultural nuances and howsoever we may try to inculcate new theories into our curriculums, cultural and sociological factors pervade and supercede management theory.
    • Ira Rahmawati
    You can 'transform' an orange into a mango via mutation process.

    But why bother? The cost of doing that is prohibitively expensive and the outcome will never be half as good as the real mango and will always have its inherent orange qualities.

    So don't waste your time. What you need is (1) identify those who are born with leadership qualities, and (2) nurture them so that the qualities florish. (3) Put them in the environment where they can practice and learn and be their best.
    • Wendy-Anne Naidoo
    • Momentum
    I believe Leadership principles can be learnt. Unlike management training whereby a practice is learnt and applied, leadership growth involves a journey of a deeper awareness of self and others and impact of self on others. The benefits of leadership training unfolds over a prolonged period of time as the journey of self awareness evolves.
    • mike bebb
    • creator, cvl
    We need to differentiate between teaching and learning. We can assist leaders to develop but we cannot grow leaders like vegetables.A valuable assist is to get leaders to rate their leadership strengths and weaknesses, get feedback from those who are both close and frank and explore these perception gaps and the idea that leadership is constantly growing and shrinking as we respond to opportunities and challenges.To lead is to learn - an ongoing process of do, reflect ,learn and commit .Failing is a valuable aspect of growth.
    • Pete DeLisi
    • President, Organizational Synergies
    Of course leadership can be taught. Commenting as a former military officer, and as some have already commented, the principles of military leadership have been taught for thousands of years. The business community has invented their version of them over the past several decades.

    I think the big difference between leadership development in business and leadership development in the military is the use of leadership laboratories in the military. Military leaders learn leadership by doing it and are evaluated on their ability to perform it. I have yet to see a leadership development program in business that does this effectively.
    • shadreck saili
    • UCT
    Interesting discussion.
    It is certainly academic that leadership is taught. It is also true that financial success of leadership industry is not 100% as a result of taught leadership. In my view what matters are experiences one or an institution goes through, repeated trails, failures and the individual zeal to overcome. Whether one is academically taught or not , without the attributes of shrewdness, die hard attitude very little success is achieved.

    In this light, it is a challenge to measure success arising from taught leadership. To this effect, I align myself to believe that financial success in leadership industry is more inclined a product of
    - repeated failure
    - repeated trails
    - repeated disappointments
    and the drive to swallow the pain from such and yet find a way forward and move on.

    It is my considered view that there is always a turning point of the financial success of the leadership industry and certainly that is not taught leadership, but either a series of disappointing experiences or a thrilling event that wakes up someone's mind and decide "never again"
    • Adriano Pianesi
    • Leadership Adjunct Instructor, JHU
    Thanks for your piece, Dr.Heskett.

    I will definitely check on the article you reference here.
    As an instructor, I do feel often that leadership industry is failing its students. And that - more importantly - leadership instructors often do not model the leadership thay are teaching. (Interesting that this piece is not part of Kellerman's ideas). For me the quest has been - ultimately a quest for integrity. In that path I have been searching for not just a leadership theory but also for a leadership development methodology attached to it that would bring congruence to the work.

    Tired of the usual 5-step leadership recipes taught with powerpoint, I have had some successes taking inspiration from two bold leadership frameworks, which I have used in conjunction in my classess with great results.

    The first is the ADAPTIVE LEADERSHIP framework based on R. Heifetz work and on its description in "Leadership Can Be taught" of Sharon Daloz Parks, the second is ACTION LEARNING framework a' la M. Marquardt.

    I confess that my attempt to bring relevance and vividness to the work has also been influenced by the class I took form you on Case Teaching in 2006.
    Again thanks for your piece!
    • Sylvester A-Mawuena
    • New graduate
    For a straight forward answer I belong to the school of thought the believe that leadership can be taught. It is difficult to answer how success must be measured. Because this brings several more questions. For instance, success in terms of what? This can be properly answered only by taking into consideration what the target setters consider as success. Coming back to leadership education, it is my personal perception that the teaching of leadership must take the culture of the followers in to consideration. This will then lead to the big question as to whether leadership is a science or an art. Moreover, in today's world the culture issue is becoming more dynamic due to the internet and more especially social media (networking). Among other things, these are the very factors that call for more leadership training.
    • Jessica Cruickshank
    • Vice President, Knowa Inc.
    I have been teaching leadership to young adults for almost ten years and I do think it can be taught. But the problem it two-fold. First, leadership is often mistaken for good project management. Second most leadership training is sit-and-get, making it quite ineffective. Good leadership training includes practice in real-life scenarios with the opportunity for feedback. I teach leadership from a neuroscience and cognitive psychology perspective, which also treats generational differences as cultural differences. It is the practice, more than the theories, that makes it an effective experience.

    When it comes to measuring good leadership, one can look at the attitudes and productivity of those following. After all, can you really call someone a leader if no one is following them? Leadership is always rooted in relationship, making it a dynamic (not static) skill. One can evaluate leadership by looking at a person's results, both in meeting goals and in the development of those for whom they are responsible.
    • Ricardo Santana
    • Lean Manager
    As with any other ability, there is either a natural disposition to exercise leadership or not. Leadership principles can be taught, yet putting them into effective use requires of practice and effort, just like becoming a reknowned athlete requires of practice and effort. Teaching leadership principles is necessary for both those who lead organizations and to the individual contributors who through their careers attempt to steer the direction and actions of local or remote teams. However measuring it needs to be a cautious activity. Just like we cannot tell if a person is healthy by just monitoring their heart rate, it would be a stretch to consider there is such a thing as a discrete indicator of leadership. We must consider the measurement of a myriad of interdependent indicators; from the ability to deliver tangible results, to the ability to successfully apply soft skills --influence, emotional intelligence, navigation of
    the environment, business acumen, etc. Specific to the financial success of the leadership industry, perhaps we should consider it only an indicator of the need the industry has to see their leaders become 'well-rounded' and not as a reflection of the leadership industry's ability to deliver leaders themselves. To much extent, believing the leadership industry will deliver it's promise is as much an ideal state as believing the private education system will deliver a generation of well-rounded citizens. The natural ability to lead cannot be discarded, and the sooner we start aligning with consistency people's strengths to their roles and responsibilities, not only will we see positive trends on the capable becoming more capable, but also the leaders under development, developing faster.
    • David Lapin
    • CEO, Lapin International, Inc.
    All semi-competent parents are born and develop some level of leadership capability. Like muscle training, we can't all be champions but we can all get better. We have seen remarkable results in folowship and fininacial performance measurements. However we need to refocus away from managerial skills (important, but entry-level requirements,) to the honing of character, the ability to become comfortable with vulnerability so as to build tust, and how to become more inspirational and to project personal stature rather than positional status.
    David Lapin
    Author: LEad By Greatness
    • Sharath K
    • Should it Matter?
    Leadership is a quality that needs to be learned by experimentation over a life time. In very rare cases it can be a innate quality of a person. But otherwise it is a lifes journey. In the end, Leader is called a "Leader" after he/she demonstrated core values/qualities consistent with human value system / Nature over a long period of time over his/her life. No body tutored Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Lincoln to be Leaders. They followed a path consistent with Human Value System / Nature (these are qualities required most in a Business Leader as well) and demonstrated that is the right path. World did not call them Leaders just after one incidence in which they acted. World judged them till the end and then accepted them as Leaders. So, Leadership is a quality that can not be taught/tutored. What can be taught to a person who in a long run may/may-not become a leader are:
    1) values he/she should possess and demonstrate but he/she has to practice it over a long period
    2) qualities which made the earlier leaders "Leaders"

    In the last decade we have seen many people who have held degree from Business Schools/Universities/Forums demonstrated their inadequecies in the face of adversity or when confronted by a chance to make huge financial gains at the expense of others. They forgot about human value system, ethicality etc., and later failed badly. They were all found to be naked when tide went away.

    This demonstrates that a person whose has internalized qualities consistent with Nature / Human values will be a "Leader" and mere tutoring does not guaratee status of "Leader"
    • Kapil Kumar Sopory
    • Company Secretary, SMEC(India) Private Limited
    It is ironical that great leaders across the globe can be placed in a not very long list. Inspite of so many educational instituitions imparting leadership training as well as organisations subjecting their people to short/long-term in-house/external leadership programmes, the results are dismal.
    No doubt, leadership can be taught but it is up to the learner to acquire the skills provided. Leadership is a hard as well as a soft skill for which theoretical learning is not at all sufficient. It is more important to have positive attitudes, humility, ethics and morality to become worthy of being followed. A leader exists only if he is able to have well intentioned and sincere followers. He shows the path by first traversing it
    himself. He has to shoulder full responsibility for all
    his actions. in short, he has to be an example for others. Self-centred and selfish people do not make great leaders.
    As morals these days are low priority and achievement of results by hook or by crook is a common scenario, leadership industry is showing cracks. It is high time our basic teaching includes some sort of spiritual lessons also so that future generations are worthy of becoming good human beings and eventually good leaders too.
    • Bruno Coelho
    • Entrepreneur, The Rabbit Way
    According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, leadership means "to guide on a way, especially by going in advance". The words 'lead,' 'leader,' and 'leadership' share a common root the word 'to go'.
    If you combine both concepts you get that a leader is someone that is going somewhere (vision) through a way (their guiding principles) as an example for others.

    "Going in advance" means that a leader needs to lead himself first, on the way to fulfill his Vision of what it's the meaning of Life.
    This means that anyone that is engaging in this kind of quest is a leader. Discovering what's the meaning of Life is a process and, just like any process, can be taught. That's also what I call Personal Success - knowing, living and making meaning in Life.
    Remembering and doing these things are a habit of successful leaders.

    Another habit of successful leaders is following and learning from leaders that represent what they want to become and are where they want to be. This is means that a great leader must be a follower of greatness. While this is a skill that can be taught it requires:
    1) having the humility to realize that one doesn't know it all
    2) having the courage to face the unknown
    3) having the ambition to become more

    William James once said that "the great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it".
    That's not only something that great leaders take to heart but that's also what inspires people to follow them. That's why great leaders aren't self-serving leaders with a never-ending need to serve their EGO.

    Jim Collins wrote about this, on "Good to Great", describing that Level 5 Leaders "channel their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company. It's not that Level 5 leaders have no ego or self-interest. Indeed, they are incredibly ambitious--but their ambition is first and foremost for the institution and its greatness, not for themselves".

    Can this be taught? Lectures about this can teach leaders about the EGO and how to control it. However, if they don't have it in their Heart, they will crumble in moments of stress or great adversity.

    Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges, wrote a book together called "Lead like Jesus", describing the 4 domains of a Leader:
    1) Heart: who are you and whom are you
    2) Head: what your leadership beliefs
    3) Hands: your behaviour as a leader
    4) Habits: what are the activities that you constantly commit to doing

    You can teach the Head what to know and the Hands what to do. The Habits take self-discipline to do but you can train yourself on that skill too.

    The Heart is the root of it all and the only way to teach it... is by example. That's the reason why most people answer that the greastest leaders they know are their fathers, mothers and people really close to them.

    Ken Blanchard's wife, Margie, has the best definition of leadership of all times. When somebody asked her "what is leadership?" she answered:

    "Leadership is not about Love. Leadership IS Love! Is loving your mission. Is loving your costumers. Is loving your employees. And get this... is loving yourself enough to get yourself out of the way so other people can become magnificient.
    • Mike Flanagan
    • Corp Purch Manager
    Leadership can be taught, but the real question is whether or not if the student can learn and apply what is in the lesson plan. Leadership ability is the quality to have other people see where you are and where you are going and desire to go and be with you. You need to understand the confines of face to face contact and interaction. The student must first put down his PDA and turn it off. Feel and interact with what they see, hear, and feel from others and their environment.

    Leadership is not something that has success, it supports others to assist in success. Just as one might be an excellent leader, it does not follow that all of the leaders endeavors will be successful. Success is reaching the goals. One can obtain a goal while not being a good leader but just a good worker.

    To the assumptions:

    2) Financial success is not the only guide nor most important for grading leadership,
    4&5) Not sure if leadership can learned quickly by all and codified. Can it be possible
    based on the diversity of people in general that would be exposed to it.
    7) Leadership is not a profession, it is a trait or quality of a person who can be held in high esteem and honor.
    • Scott Spreier
    • Leadership and Talent Practice leader, Western Region, Hay Group
    Kellerman makes some valid points. Despite the hype of many profitable leadership mills out there - from training firms that offer simplistic, "sheep-dip" approaches for turning out executives to more than a few well known universities- becoming a leader is not a simple, rote exercise. As years of history and much good research has shown, leadership development is a complex, difficult, messy process. Yes, leaders can be developed, but not unless they are willing to question their values, manage their motivation, modify their behavior, and challenge and change their very identities. It's a arduous, highly individualistic journey, and many who set out with the best of intentions never reach their destination. Realistically, those of us who purport to be "experts" in this so-called industry can offer little more to improve their odds of success than providing a clear mirror in which would-be leaders can examine the
    mselves, and some guidance on how to reshape the individual they see reflected back.
    • Lindiwe Nkosi
    • Momentum
    I believe that leadership is a choice and its development is a journey that requires commitment to grow the knowledge, values and behaviours required for success. Einstein makes the challenge clear: "The significant problems we face cannot be solved from the same level of consciousness that created them". Something in our consciousness must shift in order for us to be able to see how to act in a way that can address the leadership challenges of our times. Leadership requires wisdom, self knowledge and the development of our character at psychological and spiritual levels because it is connected with the deepest parts of ourselves. Leadership is a way of being.
    • Anonymous
    Leadership can be taught. Perhaps the opportunity is to spend more time teaching how to be an effective follower too. We are each faced with constant opportunities to be an effective leader and an effective follower. We need both skills in equal abundance.
    • Allan Cohen
    • Professor, Babson College
    Good points, but heroic ideas die hard; most are still presuming that leadership all resides in the formally designated person on top of a hierarchy. yet many acts of leadership come from "below" or from almost anywhere. Anyone who takes initiative, influences colleagues or formal bosses to change behavior (or opinions) is exercising leadership. Having the good idea can't be taught; how to increase the likelihood of getting the desired responses can be. But way too much of the leadership industry is perpetuating heroic, unitary ideas of leadership. Even some of the stress on listening to those below still assumes control exclusively from the top.
    • Nick Rutsis
    • Medical Industry Consultant, Rutsis & Associates
    In 32 years of sales management with the two largest medical device companies in the world, I found the leadership programs offered in-house and outside to be three, four or five day motivational programs with very little corporate follow-up to test the efficacy of those programs. It seemed as if HR had a requirement for a certain number of programs, and once they were completed, HR and the training department were effectively out of it, as they had provided the required number of training hours. I am sure it is against conventional thinking, but I always believed and operated on the premise that my employees were my number one customers. I was still the manager and that was never in dispute, however, I feel that when people know they are appreciated, they will more easily buy into your mission and support you.
    • Pete Ciekurs
    We need to differentiate between a leader and a manager - a manager can be a leader, but not all managers are leaders and not all leaders are managers.

    Leadership is all about unleashing the talents and capabilities of followers in order to achieve strategic and tactical objectives in such a way that they are intrinsically motivated to perform. Leaders create an environment where performance can thrive.

    Leadership techniques can be taught but not everyone is cut out to be a leader; just because someone is in a leadership position doesn't neccesarily mean they are a leader. Leadership requires certain talents which cannot be taught such as high emotional stability and empathy.

    The measure of a leaders success should be based on both the results achieved and a rating from the followers.
    • Anonymous
    After reading the posts and some comments, I am struck by the fact that we equate leadership with success. Pardon me, but you can lead in the wrong direction. Adolf Hitler. Jim Jones. GM. There is no doubt that they had followers. The problem was that they were going in the wrong direction.

    Leadership can be good. Leadership can be ugly. Leadership can take you to some fantastic places. Leadership can take you to some scary places. I don't believe there is a failure in leadership. I believe there is a failure in leaders who take the courage to make a stand and lead in the right direction.

    I can get anybody to follow me as long as I speak what they want to hear. It is more of a challenge to get people to follow you when they don't know what to think about what they are hearing, or worse, you are saying what they do not want to hear. People who can motivate followers to the right action in uncertainty have real leadership ability.
    • Illysa Izenberg
    • Instructor, Strategy & Training Partners, LLC and several Universities
    response to Gerald Nanninga:
    (I like your company name)

    I agree that if we taught followership -- how to be a team citizen, how to coach your peers, how to be a direct report, how to coach your boss, how to support your boss, how to influence without authority -- leadership would be far more productive.

    While one reason that we don't teach followership may be that leaders make more money, I think it is more likely caused by the lack of demand for a followership class.

    When my university changed my course title from "management & communication" to "leadership, management & communication", enrollment grew dramatically.

    Everyone wants a leadership course; few people want a management course. And corporate clients want leadership courses too.

    The lack of demand for followership training may result from the (over-)promotion of the idea that "managers do things right and leaders do the right things."--Warren Bennis

    Bennis, who provides us excellent information on leadership, unfortunately implies that managers don't have any imagination, don't have any vision, don't make ethical decisions without their leader's direction.

    In truth, managers prevent chaos. Managers bring tasks and projects to completion through the active involvement of other people.

    When managers and teammembers, the followers, are honored and respected as much as leaders, then we'll see people seeking to learn how to be great managers and teammembers. Leaders should model this behavior.
    • M. Stewart-Pellegrini
    • Associate Graduate Professor, IUN
    Skills that could increase the effectiveness of those in leadership positions can certainly be taught. Whether or not a specific organization's culture will support the application of those learnings is a different matter. All too often, in my experience, participants receive a check for having learned the skill but may likely receive a penalty for applying the skill when that application threatens the status quo. Success could be measured by evaluating the agreed upon outcomes, if there are any, associated with conducting the training in the first place. The impact of the leader on followers' performance should also be examined. I agree with Kellerman that a 'buyer beware' strategy is best for those considering leadership curricula that do not consider the organizational context for the training or the impact on follower. The leadership industry thrives because we operate in a fast pace, quick fix business environment where
    training without follow-up and appropriate measurement is convenient and is accepted. Change is tough. But, I still have hope because followers are 'rocking the boat'!
    • Anonymous
    Leadership as a subject can be taught. But learning to lead requires personal transformation, which depends on how much a person willing to sacrifice and serve. And change himself / herself in the process. All that Leadership coaches and books teach is like chemically blending something that has to happen naturally. What one thinks in his / her mind and decides to do, that is to become a leader, is not a laboratory process. It is very personal process. Though these inputs help one to learn in advance what it takes to becoming a leader. Knowing that does not guarantee that one will become a leader. This has to happen like in the 'Wild' naturally. Often with very little incentive. To plant oneself in the Wild is the individual's choice. It is not only sufficient, if one makes that 'choice' but also the person must have the volition to 'lead'. Of course a coach or book can trigger the first thought, as also a real life encounter.
    • Steve
    • Owner, Q9C Quality Consulting
    Kellerman is right about several things; most notably, the complexity of the task of preparing leaders. Too often, we seek the quickest resolution to such problems, being unmindful of the price we eventually pay for our impatience.
    • Pankaj Sahai
    • Enterprise Consultant & Coach, Author: Smooth Ride To Venture Capital
    Leadership is a "soft skill" and can be learnt and taught. There is also an "in-born" component...some people are naturals at being at the forefront, creating a vision, generating resources, clarifying objectives, monitoring progress and guiding their flock towards the goals. In today's flat world, though, it is also Ok to not be a leader. Or be a follower , for that matter. Just be an expert (thought leader?) in your field and satisfy your customers.

    The leadership industry is helping people to understand themselves and improve the quality of their interactions with the outside world. It is helping people to live empowered and happier shoudl continue with the good work.
    • Jack Slavinski
    • SVP SE Region, HMI
    Good perspectives! Leadership skills can be learned without questions. Since we are the sum total of our experiences, both positive and negative, the opportunities to grow in new roles provided (or not) and what we make of it will often define us. As leaders, we all need to take the time to coach and mentor others and emphasize the need to practice self-awareness. Something I continue to see being overlooked frequently. I have had some wonderful coaches through my career which I am thankful for.
    • Nosap Ience
    • Resourcerer, NHS
    I once saw an anonymous comment that "leadership is just a load of sudo intellectual middle class gobshite". The author went to great lengths in response to correctly spell "pseudo". Mr Anonymous then pointed out that 'sudo' is a software mechanism that allows a small number of privileged users to gain greater access to a system's resources.

    In one swish of intellect the founding failure of leadership was eloquently exposed. You work it out. In my own experience, Leadership development is used as a form of therapy for people who have ended up in jobs they can't do, in the belief that being a slightly more smashing person will somehow make up for an inherent lack of talent.

    Leadership has more in common with religious cults that any other social construction that I can find. Apart from of course, kareoke, the other social construction that helps you stand up in front of people and pretend to be something you're not. Don't get me wrong kareoke is fun ... For a while.

    Therefore despite the overwhelming rhetoric I have to occasionally stand up in a room full of people who have learned the words and the moves and embarrassingly raise my hand and point out that only Bono can be Bono.

    In my 20 years in development activities, I have never met someone who was brilliant at something constructive and a numptie. Some numpties have pretended to be good, but they really weren't when you look hard enough.

    Can we now start to concentrate our efforts back on being really good at something useful?
    • Peter Lee
    • Lead Consultant, CultureLink International
    The answers to your questions probably depend on how you define "leadership." If it's an individual's skill set, then perhaps it can be taught to individuals. If it's a process in or a capacity of an organization, then it's not as simple as teaching it. A lot more is required to develop leadership then.

    I believe the leadership industry is growing not because of the results it delivers but the perceived needs it's meeting - the stress and loneliness of leaders and aspiring leaders in the current rapid-change, complex organizational world.
    • Philippe Gouamba
    • Vice President of Human Resources, Skyline Windows, LLC
    Leadership can be taught. The leadership industry is selling a very desirable product and buyers are lined up to purchase it. Just like "true love", world peace, and tennis, to name just a few desirable pursuits. We all want to excel in one pursuit or another. In order to be better at tennis we seek out institutions such as the Nick Bolliteri Academy in Florida which trains the best tennis players in the world. In order to negotiate world peace agreements, we engage in "peace studies" at prestigious universities. Those that are looking for true love may take a self-help seminar from an expert on the topic. The point is that these pursuits are important. The experts teach us from experience gained over the ages; they teach us good habits, proper technique, and ways to build on the basics that they have shared with us.
    What we do with the leadership skills we have acquired is up to us. HITLER was a very capable leader with lots of followers. Jim Jones was equally "gifted" as a leader. Both of these men were charismatic, effective, convincing but their agendas did not benefit mankind. Leadership in and of itself is one thing to explore. The end results of an individual's leadership are a whole different matter. Is a leader someone who has a stronger and a more manipulative will than the rest of us? Is our "leader" leading us to green pastures or is he leading us over a cliff. As effective as HITLER's and Jim Jones' leadership were, they were sorely misguided, as were their followers.
    Objective success in leadership is measured by how many followers a leader has; that is easily quantifiable. The leadership industry will fulfill its promise; it will train people and it will make money for its backers. Leadership can certainly be taught. The heavier ethical question is: can leaders be taught to lead for the greater good of mankind? How can a leadership institute teach future leaders to not just lead, but to do GOOD so that good effective leaders do not use their newly acquired skills to become the next Hitler?
    • Marla Solomon
    • Professor, SIT Graduate Institute
    I would go one step beyond Kellerman's astute critiques, and say that by dichotomizing "leaders" and "followers" we are misunderstanding leadership as a process centering on an individual leader. Looking at how we operate collectively in organizations and social movements to bring about change is a much-needed next step. I think the "leadership industry" makes money because we tend to look for the quick fix, but I agree wholeheartedly with Kellerman in questioning the assumption about the "quick and easy" part of leadership learning. Mostly, leadership is learned through experience.
    • Raja Shaifulbaharin
    Bees' organization is most perfect example of succecful leadership. Perfect structure of reward and punishment in place s well as perfect balance of policy, open and exclusive and perpetual reinforcement of policy. Also, and eventually the end result is,well, honey.
    On the other hand, flies are group of the failure. No vision as well as mission. Aimless and seems vulnrable.Absence of leadership in their organization. Perhaps we should learn from them.
    Loved the provocative title.No leadership never ends it only changes.At certain times in our shared history their seems to be a shortage of quality leaders willing to pay the price.Be strong as you persuade and infuence the people you work with.Greetings from Australia.
    • Maria Dolores Delacruz
    • Department Head, Centro Escolar University
    Leadership is tied to followership. Both are tied to organizations and/or to objectives pursued. Thus, to be an effective leader one must be capable of achieving objectives.
    The leadership core issue though is, not the function of leadership, but the discernment of which objectives to pursue.
    Leadership training must develop a sensitivity to societal needs and the passion to respond in an effective way. The metrics of leadership is the amount of "common good" achieved.
    • Ravindra Edirisooriya
    • Accountant 05/22/12, Midwestern Small Business
    The biggest handicap of the leadership industry is not bridging the gap between the "theoretical" leadership skills taught by the leadership industry and the "practical" leadership skills needed by the future leaders who pass through their hands. When future leaders are uninformed that they lack the practical component in some of the tutorials provide by their leadership instructors or when the leadership instructors assume that their leadership prot?g?s come with built in "practical" leadership skills, it is providing less than the full value for the leadership training dollar. Some leadership prot?g?s may need more time to master the "practical" leadership skills and others may never master them (it may not become second nature) but still pass out as "future leaders!" Hence, a reliable training model (is it generic or customized based on the industry?) that can test the leadership
    prot?g?s' "practical" leadership skills (inner strengths: can they be taught? can they be measured?) may weed out some of the fake (the kind that fall in disgrace with time) future leaders!

    It is one year since a category EF-5 tornado with over 200 mph winds hit Joplin, Missouri. After the tornado (which destroyed JHS, St. John's Regional Medical Center and one third of Joplin), citizens, high school students, the school faculty and city administration assumed "no excuses" attitude (life is not fair but we will march on with the assistance of the neighbors, corporate citizens, city, state and federal governments and the world at large) and 2012 graduating class of JHS specially has achieved great success compared to previous school years. President Obama gave an inspirational speech to the graduating class of 2012 in JHS! Hope the graduates (future leaders of USA and the world) will analyze the speech and try to understand every word of it and ponder, absorb and incorporate what they can agree upon to their future practice (not just let it pass through their ears and be uninspired) while the world awaits them!

    One important (civic) leadership event no American (or a world citizen) can afford to ignore is the American presidential elections coming this November. We Americans know that we cannot base our vote on the audio and video bites we hear and see on radio, TV, internet, social networks, twitter and all the new age mass media because it is mostly driven by hidden agendas of interested parties wanting to curry favors (trying to buy the election) from the next president. Hence, we the people need a model to objectively evaluate the leadership potential of the incumbent and the challenger to the presidency. One model is to compare and contrast President Obama's (incumbent's) current record (2009-2012) to his proposed leadership actions in the coming four years (2013-2016), compare and contrast Governor Romney's proposed leadership actions in the coming four years (2013-2016) to the last Republican president's (President Bush') leadership actions (2004-2008) since he wants to follo
    w the same, and compare and contrast President Obama's and Governor Romney's proposed leadership actions in the coming four years (2013-2016) with respect to each other. It is not possible to ignore any of the three components if objectivity is desired in the national dialogue and debates!
    • Bill Flynn
    • CEO, Paeon Partners
    Sounds like Ms. (Dr.?) Kellerman and I are on at least similar pages. THe idea that leadership is a very specific thing is probably not helpful. I think leadership is situational and no one is the best leader for all situations. Actually, we at Paeon believe leadership is not a matter of personal competency, but rather a group competency. This acknowledges the need for followership, as you term it.
    We think the primary requirements for leadership to be successful are effective communication and trust within the group. The solution is to be the kind of person who facilitates communication and trust.
    • Tan Chin Thuan
    • Director, Prudential Assurance Malaysia Berhad
    Simply put, a true leader is someone whom people will follow willingly (whether rightly or wrongly). The irony yet sobering measurement of leadership could well be, "the number of people who willingly attend a leaders' funeral".
    • Maria Rosa Serra
    • Manager, aHbrentus
    Leadership can be taught however, most of the time what I find is that I am teaching it to the wrong people. I will explain myself, high management hires a professional to teach their middle management leadership skills meanwhile, they are the first ones that do not follow what they preach at all therefore there is no coherence in the message and no credibility. See what is going on almost everywhere...

    The financial success of the leadership industry is very easy to understand, since there isn't much leadership going around companies are desperate to get someone that can be a leader and provide answers and a path to follow. In the present economic situation it is very difficult and you need a leader with courage, knowledge, experience, vision, there aren't that many around.

    How do you measure it? Results but not only "monetary", are stakeholders satisfied? are employees committed? are clients happy? If it is only a question of "making money", well, we do not need to go very far away, just read the last two or three years newspapers and you can see what happenned.

    Take a pick at companies that are doing it all right (IDEO, ZAPPOS) and copy or at least use them as role models to plan your company's strategy.

    Please excuse my English. I'm from Barcelona, Spain and do not use this language everyday.
    • Raji Gogulapati
    Leadership is about authenticity and flexibility in everything we do. It is about the business of the higher self with higher awareness. It requires repeated emphasis to most people to rise above the ordinary to become extra ordinary leaders. Yes, education has a definite role to play. Key area where it is displayed the most is decision making.
    Practicing critical thinking, collaboration, communicating and acting on issues that matter, problem solving, clarity of thought, word and deed are necessary to bring out the leader in everyone.
    A true leader's visibility diminishes over time and shines through his/ her followers. When followers are many, it means it is time for facilitation to bring out the leaders from the many. The leader in the role of a facilitator is on the side, enabling leadership and is not on the center stage. There is mutual respect and trust in the execution of the process of the new kind of leadership.
    • Rebecca
    • Project Manager
    Leadership is a multi-faceted task. It is embodied in the character and actions of a person as well as the effect of a person on a group. Leadership is actuated by the thought process of the individual leading. So, yes, there are some aspects of leadership that can be taught because it is possible to learn new ways of processing information. Although I believe it is possible to take a follower and turn them into a leader, I don't believe that this process can take place solely in a classroom. It takes real application; consistent and persistent pursuit of the art of influence through a process of learning, applying, evaluating, and changing.
    • Edward Hare
    • Retired Director...Strategy and Planning, Fortune 250 Manufacturer
    I'm not at all sure what "the promise" of the Leadership Industry is. I am sure one of its primary objectives is to keep its own cash register ringing. I suppose the allure is that we think the term leader is synonymous with wisdom, power, authority, financial success, status. And who doesn't crave those things? And if someone promises to tell me how to be a leader, I'm buying!!

    I think the Weight Loss Industry is an analogous phenomenon. The basic engineering formula applies there....Input minus Output= Accumulation. So simple.....and so, I'd argue, are the core principles of leadership that are offered up in a thousand different ways.

    What's really difficult is to practice any simple truths in real time when confronted with a wide range of choices....and temptations. For Christians....think, The Ten Commandments. Pretty straightforward stuff. Want to get into heaven? Adhere to them.

    Real leaders, at every level, make what people perceive to be the best, or undeniably sensible, choices.....for more than themselves. And those are the people we'll follow.
    • Jackie Le Fevre
    • Magma Effect
    Raji (no 63) opens with "Leadership is about authenticity and flexibility in everything we do".

    I completely agree with that. Leadership is something that is situated in a place at a time involving a number of people. I do believe and have observed that the individuals others are prepared to follow willingly are those who clearly respond to the circumstances and do so in ways that fit with who they are (which is the authenticity and flexibility in Raji's answer.)

    So what can be learned? We can learn to become consciously connected with our own values, we can learn how the things we believe and the experiences we have had prompt us to make sense of the world in certain ways and how we succeed or fail in communicating that sense to others.

    For me those are the elements at the heart of effective practice of leadership.
    • Anonymous
    There is great emphasis on leadership and developing leaders, but one early statement deserves greater emphasis. Focusing on followership could benefit companies, culture, and life in general. As "followers" have greater and greater input and influence, without the full understanding of what comes with being the actual leader. The motivation to work hard and educate yourself to qualify to hold the leadership position is gone. More and more followers have greater allowances to behave as armchair quarterbacks and rabble rousers to make demands without the understanding of how those demands affect the organization as a whole. As the Occupy Movement has shown, there is little desire to work hard and gain the experience to grow into a leadership position and little desire to be accountable for the decisions they make for themselves, much less for an organization.
    • David Lindsay
    • Tutor/Lecturer, Edinburgh Napier Business School
    Are we moving away from the "leaders are born, not made" school of thinking? Talking of the "leadership industry" is very much like saying that everyone could be an entrepreneur - if they so wished . We seem to be omitting one area of research here , and that is Personality Psychology . The paths of history are strewn with "leaders" , some whose "good is oft interred with their bones" and others "whose evil lives after them" as Shakespeare suggested .From Ceasar to Machiavelli to Pol Pot to Hitler to Muggabe -leaders are ALWAYS only as powerful and influential as their followers will allow. Charismatic leaders such as Ghandi require a followership that not only shares the philosophy but are willing to mimic the actions of the leader. This is NOT how business leaders are perceived however, as most business leaders today merely paraphrase the "best of" outcomes from their he
    roes but add little in the way of "strength of character" or a personality predisposed to seeking the best for their followers . Henri Fayol described the 4 key foundations of management activities as "Organising, Controling, Leading and Planning" but said little about "How" a manager is meant to become a "Leader" . Further, in recruitment and selection processes, there are job descriptions and specifications galore for managers but very few, if any, for a true Leader . Business Schools can only discuss the historic importance of Leadership with examples circumstantial ,situational and theoretical but cannot forecast nor specify HOW students will perform as leaders in the workplace nor spend time assessing their Personality traits [MMPI/Myers-Briggs et al] in order to point them in the right direction . A good leader [Winston Churchill] will lead his followers to a logical objective to the greater good of the followers and be de-select
    ed as leader when the circumstances change .
    • Ajay Kumar Gupta
    • Faculty, TAPMI (
    I think leadership can be taught. Creating environment, understanding organizational need and inspiring people to align with organizational need is the first step. I believe leadership intention has made leadership role more complex. Today, it seems that Leaders learn skill more to achieve individual success than organizational success. They avoid and skip many important responsibilities to achieve individual goals. Looking at past trends, we can obviously analyze why organizations look for outside leader to steer the organization when previous one leaves/resign/removed etc. This is one and perhaps the best way to measure leadership success. The other way to measure leadership is to address questions- Do leaders create platform for horizontal growth where everyone succeeds? Do they create more leaders to lead the organizations in case of exigency/needs? The other factor that makes leadership role more complex is the organizational
    culture. Successful and effective leaders create culture that reward merit, performance and authenticity. Unsuccessful and manipulative leaders create culture that discourage honesty, ethics and talent, and reward inauthentic people, superficial appearance and unfair practices.
    I think fulfilling promise has itself become great challenge for leaders. There are leaders who often make promise to deliver result and hence create good impression. Before people come to know reality, leaders get promotion. This is prevalent practices in the Public sector organizations where seniority supersedes performance and merit. Today, leaders need to show integrity. Leadership Integrity seems to be cascading. Financial success based on numbers has become performance indicators but there are non- financial efforts that lead to financial success. Financial success cannot justify efforts and means. So, effort and means that justify financial success is the real success. Leaders should ensure to see both side of financial and non-financial measure to appraise success. Leaders need to create and integrate feelings towards organizational dream. When they are able to do that, even impossible goal becomes easy.
    I would like to quote examples of two companies to understand success. Satyam computers and Citi bank: Satyam was one of the most successful companies, because truth came to light. Similarly Citi bank is termed as a successful company; whereas it is known for maximum number of employees lay off. Looking at the practices of both companies, we can say that they are financially successful but it is clear that their means and effort to achieve that not been right fair and people centric. Had its practices been employee, social and organizational centric, it would have been more sustainable, respected and reputed ones.
    • Clifford Francis Baker
    • Chair, Neffel Corp
    I believe leadership is a learned process; given a bevy of basic inherent abilities in the learner. I question whether or not the learning process exists in a class room setting.

    The financial success of the leadership industry, given no empirical proof of success, could perhaps be the industry's ability to present to current business leaders, boards, and shareholders what is in reality a perceived benefit; a wishing desire for such training to be a benefit. Could the phenomenon be a proof of George Soros' notion of reflexivity?
    • Prof. Subrata Chakraborty
    • Retired Professor
    To me, leadership is about "being", not about 'becoming". Today, there are many who tend to ignore their "being", instead want to "become" somebody. I doubt if training is of any help for them. "Being" comes from inner realization of one's own self, and is thus difficult to teach. But, for those, who are conscious of their "being", some training may be of help to make them more aware of their"being".
    • Phil Clark
    • Clark & Associates
    Leadership education is useful to make people aware of what leadership is and what it requires of you as an idividual to be a leader. Unfortunately, training most likely will not make a leader. The corporate world eats leaders alive. Their measure has nothing to do with leadership...usually only profits. In fact, if you hire a "leader" and it requires high salaries or exhorbitant "contract buyouts" to aquire do not have a leader. Why would a leader need such benefits if they were concerned with leadership? I have a formula I pass on to those I have mentored for many years. L=WD. (L)eadership is enhancing the (W)orth of others so they can make sound (D)ecisions. Has your "leader" ehnanced your worth lately? Or have you been derided, threatened, faced unfair demands, or even given up time with the family to please your "leader"? So what does your leader really think abo
    ut you? Is that person really enhancing your worth and life? Leaders care about people first, things second. Why? Because they know if they are real leaders, they will not have to demand will be willing to follow them because you know in the end it will benefit all.

    I have seen all varieties of training and the bottom line always remains...jerks usually stay jerks and clothe their behavior as some form of leadership. Good managers usually stay managers but have difficulty dealing with people. Natural leaders develop into better leaders if given the opportunity. If not, they usually move on.