This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
The Western Leadership Model
A Foundational Report of Findings and Observations from an Exploratory Assessment of the History and Evolution of the Concept of Leadership with Reference to the Development of an African Leadership Approach
1. Brief Overview
It has become customary for studies about traditional concepts and ideas, which are as old as humankind, to invoke established clichés that warn the reader that they are about to embark on an intellectual journey into well-known but little understood territory. It is in place to state that the ideas and ideals surrounding the concept of leadership are as many and as different as there are people willing to define them. The central concept of leadership is one of the most observed and least understood traditions of human society. Man's fascination with the qualities and deeds of effective leaders has nourished an undying quest to discover both the shorthand and the shortcut to leadership. (9) Not a science but more of an ancient art form, the study reveals that mentions of leadership will be found not only in Plato, Caesar, and Plutarch but also in biblical texts e.g. the Pentateuch or the first five books of Moses.
The current study on the identification of suitable and relevant ingredients for the development of an African Leadership Model has been motivated by a widely shared belief among contemporary black leaders that it is time for Africa to produce leaders with the requisite capacity for high performance and moral impact to ensure that the people of the continent secure their fair share of opportunities in the twenty-first century. For decades black leaders have watched leaders of rival communities transform their people and record achievements that relieved their communities of underdog status and all the complexes that undermine capacity for high performance. While black people did not sit on their hands, whatever actions they took to ameliorate their predicament were never enough to keep pace with the progress of rival communities.
The case is illustrated by the relative progress made by Jewish, Indian and Portuguese communities whose first generation immigrants started life in South Africa as poor and unsophisticated working class labourers. Besides the protection and privileges that came with the awarding of a 'white' status especially to Jews and Portuguese in this example, black South Africans find themselves at a loss to explain why these erstwhile underdog communities streaked ahead while the indigenous people remained mired in ignorance, poverty and helplessness. Thus began the search for the first unknown factor or factors behind the successes and achievements of South Africa's ethnic groups.
Since the days of colonial and apartheid rule, black South Africans have cursed their gods for not endowing them with the factor or factors that determine which, how and why particular individuals are blessed with an abundance of 'king-making' virtues* as well as the attributes of high performance and effectiveness. Simultaneously, humankind also wants to understand the circumstances which condemn the many among us who have the blessing of Sisyphus* i.e. to work very hard and diligently without much to show for it. Research has to date failed to reveal the 'x-factor' that lies hidden in the Pandora's box of our communities. This failure has largely been responsible for many flawed scientific and quasi-scientific or 'flavour of the decade' leadership theories that sought to quench our thirst for leadership knowledge and wisdom. Each year, institutions spend or make fortunes over these failed leadership theories or so-called breakthroughs in leadership knowledge or development.
As in many areas of human endeavour, whenever everything else fails, the last resort is basic personal instinct or our rich store of superstition. Throughout history, man has always relied on his superstition capital to explain out of the ordinary occurrences. Such explanations cannot fail because they are attributed and justified on the basis of divine intervention. Even, here, at the level of divine or supernatural intervention, the problem has always been: how and why certain individuals have reaped disproportionately more benefits while others' efforts have been dismal in spite of the fact that they all relied on the aid of the supernatural. To illustrate with a more familiar contemporary example: the issue is why one shopkeeper is able to attract more and profitable custom while another dismally failed to generate enough traffic from the same community with identical merchandise and service – regardless of supernatural aid.
It is this failure of the rich and famous to explain how they made their fortunes that sets our tongues wagging. We become suspicious and even resentful when the recipes offered by our high performers fail to advance us one bit. For this reason, society has over the years had mixed feelings towards high achievers who fail to give convincing accounts of how they succeeded. Many a reputation, property or life has been lost largely because the community's serial high performers eclipse us ordinary mortals with superior business or trading outputs, artistic products or productions, livestock or produce from their fields. In practice our ambivalence makes us switch from admiration to envy, jealousy, the ejection of the offending high performer from the community of under-achievers and lacklustre leadership. By the same token high performing members of the community were also blamed for natural disasters that befell the communities in which they lived. As the expression goes, the effective individuals discovered to their sorrow that the journey 'from hero to zero' depended on the speed of rumour spread by rivals who failed in the game of life and work.
In their sojourn along the route to enlightenment, communities and societies have had to graduate from a way of life and work dominated by knowledge based predominately on belief in the power of supernatural forces and superstition. Those who have failed or are yet to move out of the realm of superstition to embrace ways of life and work determined by science-based knowledge continue to treat their leaders and high performers indifferently. It is not surprising that many ordinary men and women will decline leadership or supervisory positions for fear of having their lives extinguished both literally and figuratively.
To the extent that many African communities remain trapped in the realm of 'primitive' superstition, it is to be expected that school children from such communities will continue to play the role of self-appointed police against members of the community who resort to supernatural forces (witchcraft) to enhance their lives, businesses, property etc. Our country's urban and rural (black) areas will continue to endure their seasonal 'witch-bashing'. In its proper context the campaign to rid the community of witches and other miscreants is about the persecution of high performers and serial over-achievers whose only crime is failure to curb their industrious spirit or competitiveness.
At another level, the foregoing behaviour has left our leadership wondering whether or not contemporary African communities have fully escaped the pull of the superstition-based culture. The leadership and social commentators have been at pains to explain this society's habit of destroying its heroes. Many in the African community are now convinced that the self-destructive behaviour is more a product of unrestrained envy and jealousy. Envy and jealousy have spawned a pervasive syndrome commonly known, among the African-American community, as the 'PHD' syndrome or 'pull-him-down' behaviour of captive crabs in a barrel. This behaviour can only be explained in terms of the prolonged and pervasive culture of deprivation and dysfunctionality that has not lost its grip on contemporary black society both in the continent and the diaspora.
As Huggins points out, the habit of envy and resentment towards the successful sections of the black community accounts, in part, for its inability to compete or with the non-African elements of whatever society black people find themselves operating in. Therefore, the black community's inability to share and celebrate the achievements of individual members continues to destroy many an illustrious career or reputation while the leadership looks on powerlessly.
In its transition from chronic deprivation to a world characterised by an abundance of opportunity, post-apartheid black South African society continues to be frustrated and embarrassed by a spate of endless incidents of impropriety, including acts - real and imagined - of corruption, neglect or abuse of power and authority. True, the sudden release of abundant opportunities without proper internal discipline and controls has placed many inexperienced men and women in situations where temptation is never far away. Yet, there are also stories about men and women who have and are making progress on the ladder of leadership success. The heavy cloud of corruption and impropriety surrounding the insurgent black leadership/managerial class comes like manna to those within and beyond the black community who, for different reasons, revel in sustaining the belief that Africans are genetically incapable of rising above centuries of bad press. The sad irony within both the South African and black-American communities is that the modern peddlers of African incompetence and corruption are, in the main, black people themselves.
The hatchet of the destruction of African success and achievement lies firmly in the hands of a category of black men and women who, themselves, suffer from serial under-achievement. This is simply a case of those sinking to the bottom being resentful of those who escaped a similar fate. And there is very little else to it. Yet, hiding behind the noble duty of protecting and promoting our rainbow democracy and the leadership, some African commentators have tried to demolish the reputations and integrity of some of Africa's most revered leaders - Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu included. Coming as they do from the supposedly enlightened sections of the black community, their mudslinging tactics have been a growing cause is concern of among the remaining black leaders and managers who go about their business with the proverbial sword ever coming closer each day. The interim study has established, inter alia, that large sections of the black community are beginning to see through the hidden motive of the African self-demolition brigade.
While many concerned black leaders had initially dismissed the African character assassination phenomenon as entirely the work of so-called third-force of the disgruntled white right, the leadership has been forced to revise its position somewhat. Findings from the interim research suggest that many of these activities are fabricated and promoted by well-placed members of the black elite. Acting under the guise of concerned employees or committed members of society, they cover their reprehensible actions under the guise of blowing the whistle against corrupt colleagues. Some of the black leaders and managers have gone as far as to suggest that instead of heaping all blame on the mass media, corrective action should be taken against the true culprits, namely, disgruntled or undisciplined members and/or employees within organizations. This does not let off the hook some black journalists whose hobby and business is to publish unsubstantiated allegations against innocent members of the black elite in general and black leaders in particular. Looked at from this point, there is little to separate unschooled, superstitious youths from their modern-day African scribes. As will become evident, the behaviour under discussion has roots which are deeply imbedded both in the soul and the underdog history of the black community. Amongst the Jewish ghettos of Nazi Europe, this behaviour was known as selb-haste (self-hatred).
In terms of the foregoing, it is not surprising that elements within our society have succeeded in dissuading our high performers/achievers and leaders from playing their role models. Consequently many black leaders and achievers turn their backs on leadership roles in whatever form they may come. It is safe to say, therefore, that as long as ordinary men and women remain ignorant about the 'X-factor'(s) behind the effective behaviour of colleagues and associates, they will remain reluctant to embrace the high achievers as useful path-finders. They would rather make do with external or foreign role models that, historically, have been associated with high performance. Foreign high achievers are seldom begrudged their achievements for the simple reason that the 'x-factor'(s) of their successes remains unknown. For similar reasons, traditional Africans will prefer to consult a spiritual diviner who is either a foreigner or lives in foreign or remote places because such a diviner is associated with extraordinary powers and insights. Locals are more interested in obtaining the assistance of the 'foreign' spiritual guide rather than finding out why he is so good.
The foregoing also explains, in part, black South Africans' misperceptions that members of the white ethnic groups are generally more effective than their indigenous counterparts. Many aspirant black managers are routinely frustrated by those of their colleagues who, on making it into the top executive clubs, elect to surround themselves with an exclusive set of white advisors and specialists. The common explanation is that these white advisors and specialists are prepared to work harder than the newly arrived aspirant black managers. This position holds throughout both the public and the private sectors: the practice is more pronounced the higher one goes up in the management/leadership echelons. In short, the first generation of black leaders and managers who are breaking through the remaining complex maze of unwritten practices that were meant to keep the indigenous majority on the outer reaches of white boardrooms and management teams are learning the aphorism 'please, close the door behind you'. This effectively shuts off hordes of black aspirant brothers and sisters who 'could not crack it'. They are said not to possess the 'Effectiveness DNA' of their white counterparts.
For this and other reasons, the study is required to answer the question: how does one go about encouraging white ethnic groups to share the secrets of their success with the insurgent black management/leadership cadres without resorting to punitive measures such as Affirmative Action? At the same time, we are required to establish whether or not the African component of the 'rainbow'* democracy possesses anything that resembles the leadership 'x-factor' of highly effective ethnic groups that have operated within our society for decades or centuries. What is it that the African element of post-apartheid South Africa needs to retain or let go as he or she borrows the effectiveness code from white ethnic groups or individuals who have amassed reputations for high performance and high leadership effectiveness?
The findings of the interim study indicate that the search for a single answer about the effectiveness of one race or ethnic group is less likely to produce the desired results. Faced with this question, a section of the Jewish community proceeded to lecture the black researchers about the danger of providing short and over-simplified answers to situations that require detailed, complex explanations. Without any hint of discourtesy, the Jewish leaders graciously told the non-Jewish researchers a little story about an encounter between one of Jewry's most revered sages, Hillel, and a keen student of the Jewish Bible. The sage advised the proselyte to pay attention to the item relating to neighbourly love. But the real sting in this story is the advice to the student to study, study, and study the rest of the biblical text in order to acquire the requisite wisdom. By the same token, the Jewish leaders were telling the non-Jewish researchers that there are no short cuts to the question: what makes the Jews behave differently than other groups inside or outside business? Yes, they pay attention to the survival interests of the group but, in addition, they take great pains to work harder and smarter than the other guy.
In the context of the search for the most effective and suitable leadership effectiveness model, Hillel's wise counsel is that we should not go for the short and simple answers – what is commonly known in leadership/management circles as 'one or two' answers. In truth, there is no such thing as a single-cell summary or x-factor of leadership. As the saying goes, the devil lies in the detail. It is the lazy man or woman's lot to be content with the over-digested regurgitations of others. Contemporary writers and researchers on the topic of leadership effectiveness warn against the human propensity for the passepartout – the panacea or silver bullet that saves us from digging through mounds of detail before we get to the enlightening truth. In essence, the fact that real solutions have the knack of appearing too simple does not mean that the processes used to discover them are equally simple. Our science does not as yet possess the requisite capacity to produce single simple solutions.
2. Trends In Western Leadership Research
Most people would agree that Napoleon, Elizabeth I, and Ghandi, for example, had an important influence on events and on those around them. Both history and the personal experience of individuals in organisations suggest that leaders play a key role in helping groups, societies and organisations achieve their goals. So it seems sensible to assume that understanding leadership qualities and behaviours would contribute to improving organisational performance. Identifying the qualities associated with leadership would increase our ability to select effective leaders, while identifying effective leadership behaviours and techniques would make it possible to train for these behaviours. It is for this reason that leadership has been a central part of management and organisational behaviour literature for several decades.
Somewhat surprisingly however, what seems intuitively obvious has not been supported by research evidence. In spite of an intensive research effort conducted by social scientists throughout most of the twentieth century, our knowledge of why one president, executive, manager or administrator is more successful than another remains limited. As Bennis and Nanus (3) (1985:4) remark, thousands of empirical investigations of leadership have been conducted in the last seventy-five years alone, but no clear and unequivocal understanding exists as to what distinguishes leaders from non-leaders.
Leadership remains one of the most observed and least understood phenomena on earth (31). It has been commonplace for reviews of the field to begin with an observation along these lines for some decades now (Bennis (3) 1959, Stogdill (1) 1974, Yukl (1)1989a; 1989b, Bass (1). Nevertheless, it would be misleading to imply that we still have no understanding of leadership and that there are no theories of leadership. In spite of the field's lack of general conceptual framework and integrated findings, there are at least four well-accepted models, each providing insight into different elements of the leadership task.
In addition, research has often clarified what leadership is not. Although it is an overstatement, Bennis and Nanus' (3) (1985: 20) view that books on leadership are often as majestically useless as they are wrong conveys a salutary warning. Being aware of the distinction between what is known in the sense of empirically established, and what is simply believed or hoped for, is central to developing effective leadership in organisations.
Thus this section of the African Leadership Interim Report summarises the knowledge that has emerged to date from research into leadership. It presents the main groups of findings in leadership research, and identifies significant issues and controversies that remain unresolved in each area. Although the field generally lacks broad theories that integrate findings from different approaches, our knowledge of leadership has advanced over the course of the past century. Most of the research since World War I falls into four broad groupings, pursued more or less sequentially, as each in turn failed to provide coherent insights, and researchers moved on to a new orientation in the hope that it might be more fruitful.
It was initially believed that effective leaders could be identified on the basis of their traits, such as personality or intelligence. The next phase of research activity, after World War II, focused on identifying the behaviours that made leaders effective. Both these implicitly endorsed the "great man" notion of leadership.
In the late sixties and early seventies, researchers moved to more complex contingency models that suggested the appropriateness, and thus effectiveness, of different behaviours varied according to a range of other factors, such as task characteristics, or the ability and skills of subordinates. More recently, charismatic and transformational leadership approaches, which emphasise influencing followers and turning poor organisational performance around, have become predominant. To an extent these reflect a partial return to the trait approaches.
3. Trait Approaches
As World War I laid to rest the notion of individuals being born to rule, researchers began to ask whether personality and other individual traits could provide a more reliable mechanism for selecting leaders than heredity. The research in this tradition that prevailed through to the 1940s implicitly assumed that differences in individual performance resulted from pre-existing trait differences, and emphasised particular personal characteristics as the basis for leadership effectiveness.
Success was attributed to the possession of extraordinary abilities such as penetrating intuition, irresistible persuasive powers, boundless energy and uncanny foresight. Hundreds of studies in the 1930s and 1940s searched for evidence of traits such as intelligence, need for power, need for security, need for achievement, dependability, sense of responsibility, self-assurance and decisiveness. Two questions were asked – what traits distinguish leaders from others, and what is the extent of those differences? It is the number of these studies, rather than the consistency of their findings that is impressive (1).
Factors which discriminated between leaders and followers in one study, typically failed to replicate in subsequent research. Intelligence was the only trait for which there is strong evidence of a link to leadership effectiveness and managerial success.
There also appeared to be general agreement only that effective managers have above average scores on self-confidence, need for job success and initiative. However, it is not clear that these dimensions are independent. Self-confidence and initiative may be as much outcomes of past successes as they are independent predictors of future success. The lack of findings in this early research effort suggested that personality does not dominate managerial performance, freeing researchers to look elsewhere for determinants of effective managerial behaviour.
In spite of this however, there has recently been a resurgence of interest in the relationship between leaders' traits and their behaviour and effectiveness. Whereas the earlier research concentrated on personality traits and general intelligence, this recent work focuses on managerial motivation and specific skills. One set of studies, by Boyatzis (7), and McCall & Lombard (26) infers traits and skills from descriptions of behaviour provided by managers. These find that several traits relate consistently to managerial effectiveness or advancement: initiative, high self-confidence, energy, emotional maturity, stress tolerance and belief in internal locus of control.
In addition, in terms of values and interests, successful managers tend to be results orientated and pragmatic, and to enjoy activities that call for challenge and initiative (Bass (2), Yukl (1)). As with the earlier trait studies however, a number of these "traits" may be learned behaviours and the outcome of past success and achievement, rather than attributes. It is also problematic to infer personality and other traits from observed behaviours.
Managerial motivation is considered by others (Yukl (1) 1989b) to be one of the most promising predictors of effectiveness. A research programme by Milner and associates (Berman and Miner (5); Miner (1) found that desire for power, desire to compete with peers, and a positive attitude toward authority figures were the most relevant components of managerial motivation.
There is also some evidence that effective leaders in large, hierarchical organisations tend to have a strong need for power, moderately strong need for achievement and a relatively weaker need for affiliation. High emotional maturity led to a socialised power orientation in effective managers, who were more interested in empowering others and in building up the organisation than in domination of others or personal aggrandisement. Effective entrepreneurs on the other hand tend to have a dominant need for achievement and a strong need for independence (e.g. McClelland and Boyatzis (27), McClelland and Burnham (28), and Stahl 1983).
The current trait approach also advocates balance in terms of a moderate amount of traits such as need for affiliation, need for achievement, decisiveness, etc, rather than a very high or low amount of the trait. Alternatively, balance may involve tempering one trait with another. For example, a high need for power should be tempered with emotional maturity in order that subordinates are empowered rather than dominated. Or balance may involve different leaders in a management team who have complementary attributes, which compensate for each other's weaknesses and enhance each other's strengths. (8)
Yet another stream of more recent trait research investigates the link between technical skills, conceptual skills and interpersonal skills and effective performance in most leadership roles (Bass (2), Hosking and Morley (20), Katz (24), Mann (29)). However, the findings indicate that the optimal levels and combination are strongly dependent on the situation, the type of organization (Boyatzis (7), Kotter (25), Shetty and Perry (1) and even for the same type of organisation, on the prevailing business strategy (Gupta and Govindarajan (19), Szilagyi and Schweiger (1) ).
Considerable research on gender differences in leadership style has also yielded similarly conflicting and inconclusive results. A number of scholars assert that men and women have markedly different leadership styles, and in their whole approach to the tasks of leadership, arising from the sharply differing characters of their life experiences (Ruddick (1) 1983; Chodrow (10).
On the other hand, after reviewing the literature and conducting some research of their own, researchers at the Centre for Creative Leadership in America found little evidence of substantial differences. This applied to dominance, confidence or sense of security, or in terms of capacity to lead, influence or motivate, as well as differences in humanitarian approach, understanding or capacity to reduce interpersonal friction (Morrison, White and Volsor (1), ). Gardener (17) argues that although the matter remains unsettled and requires further research, the issue is not critical: "Women have diverse leadership styles, as do men, and in the judgement there are plenty of women capable of filling leadership roles in whatever style the culture requires. There is a problem not of performance but of opportunity."
Overall then, the considerable trait research has failed to establish any clear link between personality or other individual characteristics, and leadership.
4. Behavioural Models
After the Second World War leadership research focus shifted from personality to behavioural differences, in line with the emergence of the human relations school of management. As Bass (1) points out, the human relations theories that arose at this time were grounded in American ideals of democracy and individual freedoms. The function of leaders was considered to be modifying organisations, which are by nature structured and controlled, in order to provide freedom for individuals to realise their motivational potential for fulfilling their needs and contributing to meeting organisational goals.
The leadership approaches of this era asserted that increased participation leads to increased morale, which then generates high performance. After all, had not the forces of democracy been shown to triumph over the autocratic forces of fascism? These themes are familiar from the stories of leadership portrayed in the cinema, whether it is John Wayne winning the war single-handed or Luke Skywalker defeating the Empire. The leader of the good guys is usually inexperienced, his or her troops are out-gunned and outnumbered, and they begin by losing. Finally, as their very survival is threatened, the leader takes advice from an experienced NCO or other mentor, and begins to treat the troops as individuals. The unit develops tremendous morale, and defeats the enemy whose defeat occurs mainly because they act rigidly and stupidly.
Given the social acceptability of this form of leadership, it was rational for researchers to set out to prove scientifically that effective leaders participated with and were considerate of their subordinates/followers. Research in this mould consistently reports positive correlation between participative styles of decision taking and subordinates' satisfaction (see review by House and Baetz (21). However, while the relationship between satisfaction and participation are consistently strong, the relationship with performance is both variable and weak. It would therefore be a poor guide to managerial behaviour and/or training.
Two other major research themes were also pursued in behavioural literature. One group of researchers, at Ohio State University, began by attempting to identify the major elements of leader behaviour, while another, at Michigan, classified managers as either effective or ineffective and focussed on isolating the behaviours that differentiate between them. The Michigan teams found that effective managers are concerned about subordinates and provide general supervision, while ineffective managers tend to be task focused and provide close supervision.
However, these findings do not present the basis for an adequate theory. Because the Michigan research classification was derived from in-depth interviews, lack of comparability between variables across studies is likely, and few studies could be and were replicated. As such the consistency of their results is more apparent than real.
Based on an analysis of over 1,500 items of managerial behaviour, the Ohio study identified two factors that accounted for most of the explained variance – consideration and initiating structure. "Consideration" is the term used to describe the empathy a manager shows for subordinates' emotional needs and the warmth, support and respect s/he shows for them. For example, the shift from low to high consideration in John Wayne films is always very obvious, and is immediately followed by a rise in morale.
By contrast, "initiating structure," reflects the degree to which the manager organises and structures subordinates' actions. The shift in the typical film from low to high initiating structure is less obvious and the research findings less consistent than for the low/high consideration shift (Stogdill (1). Blake and Mouton (6) summarised these findings in their Managerial Grid (1) (Figure 1), which is still widely favoured for managerial and leadership training, both in the US and in Australia. They argue that effective managers are high on both initiating structure and consideration. Although hundreds of studies have examined the correlation between initiating structure and consideration, and subordinate satisfaction and performance, findings in this line of research have been inconclusive and contradictory.
The one exception is a generally positive relationship between consideration and subordinate satisfaction. Some relatively recent research in Japan has provided consistent evidence that leader effectiveness requires significant amounts of both task- and relationship-orientated behaviour (Misumi 1985; Misumi and Peterson, 1985). However this research also emphasises that the relevance of behaviour varies across situations, as opposed to a simplistic interpretation that more is always better. It is also important to note that the considerable literature on participation has not established any clear link between satisfaction and performance (Cotton, Vollrath, Froggatt, Lengneck-Hall, & Jennings (13), 1988; Miller and Monge (1), Schweiger and Leana (1), Wagner and Gooding (1) ).
Indeed, most of the evidence suggests causality flows in the opposite direction – high performance results in high satisfaction, but high levels of satisfaction rarely generate higher performance. However, these research findings, based on both laboratory and field experiments and on correlational field stories, are in sharp contrast to the findings from descriptive case stories of effective managers. In that research, participation and empowerment of subordinates are found to be characteristic of effective managers.
More recent research examining the relationship between managerial behaviours and leader effectiveness has focussed on more specific behaviours than the broad and ill-defined consideration and initiating structure categories. The largest number of case studies deals with positive reward behaviour, finding that praise and contingent rewards typically increase subordinate satisfaction and performance. Considerable attention has also been paid to clarifying roles and objectives, which is an element of initiating structure. There is some evidence that managerial effectiveness is related to clarifying task requirements. In addition, setting high but achievable goals, which is also a component of initiating structure, is well established as resulting in better subordinate performance than no goals or 'do your best' instructions.
Overall, then, behavioural theories suggest that managers differ in the degree to which they use either or both employee-oriented and task-oriented behaviours, and typically that effective leaders demonstrate a high use of both these behaviours. Despite a great deal of research, however, evidence for these propositions remains weak.
Just as the behavioural models questioned the link between personality and behaviour, the next generation of theories challenged the assumption that an individual has a single dominant leadership style. By relaxing different assumptions, each of these theories attempts to resolve inconsistent findings apparent in the simple personality and behavioural main effect models.
5. Contingency Theories
The human relations school of management was finally buried by the management community with Richard Nixon and the Vietnam War. The general belief in the obvious rightness of being considerate to subordinates and others engendered by the Second World War had been dissipated. The shift in both the management and academic community was towards contingent models, in which the situational context both does and should influence both behaviour and its outcomes. This next generation of models is significantly more complex than the earlier ones. There is no single, all embracing contingency model. These perspectives on leadership identify different factors, such as task requirements or the characteristics, expectations and behaviour of subordinates that can influence leadership behaviour. They focus on determining which factors are most important under a given set of circumstances, and predicting the leadership style that will be most effective.
Different assumptions are relaxed in each of the four main contingency models. Fiedler argues that the leader who has a fixed style is fitted to the situation. House and Mitchell (22) propose that leaders fit their style to the situation. Vroom and Yetton also fit the manager's style to the situation, but distinguish between problems within the manager's role. They define situations in terms of the characteristics of problems that the manager confronts. Green also disaggregates an individual manager's style across different subordinates rather than across problems. These models are often presented not only as competing, but also as mutually exclusive, in that if one is validated, the others must be wrong. Because most researchers defend one model at the expense of the others, the relative importance of the phenomena they address is adequately discussed in the literature. In fact however, they attempt to explain different phenomena, and as such, can be treated as complementary.
6. Fiedler's LPC Model
Fiedler's LPC (1) model deals with the effect of three situational factors, namely leader-member relations, task structure and leader position power, on the relationship between a leader trait termed LPC and leader effectiveness. LPC measures how favourably or unfavourably leaders describe the person with whom they could work least well – their least preferred co-worker (LPC). The model specifies that high LPC leaders perform best in some situations, and low LPC leaders in others. Fiedler treats LPC as an indicator of whether a leader is primarily concerned with affiliation (high LPC) or task-achievement (low LPC). Thus this is a trait contingency model with an initial emphasis on the selection of managers to match the situation, followed by some situation engineering and manager training to correct mismatches.
Extensive testing of the model has resulted in mixed findings. Research tends to support the model, but not for all situations and not as strongly in the field as in the lab. It is also subject to methodological problems, and there is continuing ambiguity about what the LPC scale really measures. Nor has it been demonstrated that the LPC trait determines a leader's style of behaviour, though that is the rationale for the model.
Selection and placement are obvious options for using the theory, assuming it is valid. However, there are two major difficulties. One is that managers may fake their LPC score. The other is that leader member relations need to be predicted before a manager is appointed. For internal promotion under relatively stable conditions this might be possible. However, if the situation is one of poor leader member relations due to the previous manager's behaviour, the new high LPC (person centred) manager might improve the situation and thereby create a situation in which they have now become a mismatch. If the future situational favourability is a function of present leader behaviour, there is a major validity threat to the theory.
If an error in selection is made and a mismatch is appointed, Fiedler initially favoured engineering the situation to fit the person. The practical options for this may be limited though. For example, an increase in position power may be unacceptable to the manager's colleagues and within the overall power structure of the organisation. It is also possible that the manager would not accept a decrease in position power. Further, any change in the level of task structure may require major alterations in responsibilities and other decision-making and implementing technologies. In turn, these could result in mismatches elsewhere.
Subsequently, Fiedler advocated training to resolve mismatches. Typically, this is in reference to a mismatch due to the presence of low task structure. It is resolved by training the manager in the skills necessary to get on top of the problems and structure up his or her situation. This moves us in a direction in which the contingency conditions are themselves a function of managerial behaviour. Not surprisingly, controversy continues about the Leader Match Training Program based on the model.
7. Path-Goal Theory
While Fiedler's theory is a trait-contingency model in which the situation determines the effectiveness of the trait, the Path-Goal model (1) is a behavioural – contingency one. It assumes that the inconsistencies in the behavioural models discussed earlier are a function of the situation, and argues that both high and low initiating structure and consideration can be appropriate, depending on the situation. The underlying theory is an expectancy model. The leader satisfies her or his subordinates to the extent that they find their work experience intrinsically or extrinsically rewarding. The leader's behaviour is motivating in the degree to which they make those rewards contingent on task performance. Effective leadership involves the joint event of anticipated satisfactions by subordinates perceived by them as contingent on organisational performance. This entails taking account of aspects of the situation such as employee attributes, the nature of the task, and the work environment. This is the basic structure of any expectancy model.
While the above statement appears simple, its operationalisation has led to many very complex models. Both subordinates' utility and the risk preferences and other determinants of subjective probabilities are complex issues. These are likely to be sensitive not only to personality and other individual differences among subordinates, but also to management team dynamics and organisations' structural characteristics.
A leadership theory in which the moderators for secondary hypotheses span personality and organisation theory suffers from a lack of specification. The problem with the Path-Goal model is that it is simply too general. Rather than being a theory about leadership, it is the application of the general expectancy model to the area of leadership. All the problems experienced with expectancy models elsewhere are then encountered in the context of leadership. Reviews of this research find that some aspects of the theory are supported by some studies. In addition, like many of the leader behaviour theories developed in the 1970s the initial propositions were formulated in terms of broad behaviour categories, which reduces the chance of finding any strong relationships. Some studies now use narrower task-oriented behaviours such as clarifying roles, giving contingent rewards, monitoring, problem solving, and planning the work.
Both Fiedler's theory and House's path-goal model thus average across leader behaviours in a particular role. The different styles a leader uses on different problems and in their interactions with different subordinates are ignored. By contrast, the other two main contingency models, developed by Vroom and Yetton, and Green disaggregate manager behaviour.
Vroom and Yetton (1) show that variation in style for an individual manager is greater than the difference between managers. They identify seven situational dimensions, which both should and do influence the level of subordinate participation in decision-making. Green differentiates between subordinates instead of problems, showing that managers act differently towards different subordinates; members of the 'in-group' are consulted like colleagues, whereas members of the 'out-group' are treated as hired workers and told what to do.
8. Vroom-Yetton Model
Like Fiedler's theory, the Vroom-Yetton model is essentially diagnostic, but unlike Fiedler, Vroom and Yetton assume leaders can vary their style from situation to situation. The model identifies the decision procedures most likely to result in effective decisions for a particular problem. Thus the model is different from Fiedler's in two major ways. First, the situational characteristics are properties of specific decisions confronting the manager, rather than being general characteristics of the manager's position or role. Second, the leader is assumed to have a flexible style. It could be appropriate for a manager to be autocratic on Monday morning and participative in the afternoon, because the problems they face at those times have different characteristics that call for different behaviours.
Vroom and Yetton identify five different leadership styles which span a continuum from autocratic to participative and seven problem characteristics that define the situation, such as relating to whether quality or acceptance is critical and/or likely. A problem's situational characteristics define a feasible set of styles, which is used to generate a solution that meets the necessary acceptance and quality constraints.
The normative model is presented in a decision tree. To apply it, the leader begins at the left hand side and asks him/herself the first question: "Is there a quality requirement such that one solution is likely to be more rational that another?" If the answer is "No", he or she follows the upper route, if the answer is "Yes", he or she follows the lower route. Whenever a box is encountered the corresponding question above is asked. This is repeated until a terminal node is reached. Each node is labelled with the styles that satisfy that type of problem. The structure of the decision tree incorporates seven rules. Three protect the quality of the decision and four protect its acceptance by subordinates. Any particular rule states that under given circumstances, one or some of the five styles should be eliminated from the set of styles considered feasible. These are avoided because they involve a potential risk to quality and/or acceptance.
Vroom-Yetton model: decision process flow chart for group problems (feasible set).
a.. Is there a quality requirement such that one solution is likely to be more rational than another?
b.. Do I have sufficient information to make a high quality decision?
c.. Is the problem structured?
d.. Is acceptance of the decision by subordinates critical to effective implementation?
e.. If I were to make the decision by myself, is it reasonably certain that it would be accepted by our subordinates?
f.. Do subordinates share the organisational goals to be attained in solving this problem?
g.. Is conflict among subordinates likely in the preferred solutions? (This question is irrelevant to individual problems.)
h.. Do subordinates have sufficient information to make a high quality decision?
The decision tree format makes two features very obvious. First, there is not necessarily a single best style for a problem. In some instances any of the five styles would do while in others the model recommends a single best decision method. Where more than one style is feasible, additional criteria for restricting the choice are suggested. These include, for example, minimising the managerial resources involved in the decision or developing the subordinate's understanding of the problem. Second, it is also immediately apparent from the tree that if a manager makes incorrect judgements about the answers to any of the seven situational questions, then the style recommended by the model may be very inappropriate. For example, an incorrect judgement as to the likelihood that your subordinates would accept and be committed to your decision could lead to the model prescribing an autocratic process rather than a participative style.
As well as proposing a normative model describing how managers should act, Vroom and Yetton investigated how they do in fact behave. They found that managers were more participative on problems with a quality requirement, for which they lack some of the relevant information or expertise, or which are unstructured, than on problems without one or more of those characteristics. Managers are also more participative if acceptance of the decision by subordinates is important and when acceptance is unlikely to exist for an autocratic decision taken by themselves. If acceptance is important, and the subordinates share the manager's goals, and there is no conflict among subordinates, managers are again more participative than if any or all of these conditions are not satisfied.
Research on the model has generally supported it, although some limiting conditions have been found. The fact that some decision rules were better supported than others has suggested that the model is the best of the situational theories, because it focuses on specific aspects of behaviour rather than broad behaviours, because it includes meaningful intervening variables, and because it identifies important moderator variables. It does however, deal with only a small part of leadership. Indeed, in some respects it is less a theory of leadership than a theory of problem solving. It also assumes that managers have the skills to use each decision procedure. While Vroom & Jago have proposed a revised version of the model, many consider the added complexity makes it difficult to understand and use, especially since the original model was considered in some quarters to be unnecessarily complex for daily use.
In general, whereas application is problematic with both Fiedler's and the Path-goal theory this is not so for the Vroom-Yetton model. The five styles are already in most managers' repertoires and upgrading their skills in this area simply requires the application of existing training technologies. In addition, managers can make judgements about problem characteristics. So, improving a manager's choice of style is only a matter of learning to apply the rules, combined with training in group dynamics and problem solving, with an emphasis on coping with conflict.
9. Graen's Dyad Model
Whereas Vroom and Yetton disaggregate across problem situations, Graen's dyad theory (1) disaggregates across subordinates. It explicitly assumes managers do not act in the same undifferentiated way towards all subordinates. In particular, subordinates are divided into In- and Out-group members. The In-group members are allowed access to more information, given more discretion and have more influence, than members of the Out-group. The supervisor gives members of her In-group information on a "want to know" basis, influence through participative decision-making, and task support. The manager's relations with these favoured subordinates depends little on the formal authority portrayed in an organisation chart. Rather than subordinates, they are "trusted assistants" or colleagues. These subordinates reciprocate with greater expenditure of time and effort than formally required.
Conversely, other subordinates are treated as "ordinary workers". For them, communication is formal, access to information is restricted to a "need to know" basis, and they carry out their manager's instructions. They experience a formal contractual relationship with their manager. The theory has been extended to include a manager's upward relationships. A leader who is a member of his/her manager's In-group has more potential for establishing a special exchange relationship with subordinates.
The basic dyad model has also been elabourated to include social relationships. Crouch and Yetton (14) argue that work group members who have more frequent task contact from social relationships, and over time, developed stable cliques develop. These results challenge two basic assumptions central to current leadership theories. These are social/task independence and subordinate homogeneity. Instead, the levels of manager-subordinate tasks and social contact, manager warmth and subordinate performance are found to be highly interdependent. The theory remains descriptive rather than normative – while it describes a typical process of role making by leaders, it does not specify which patterns of exchange with subordinates are optimal. Further work is needed to refine the measures of leader member exchange, particularly to distinguish clearly between measures of the quality of the relationship, of specific leader behaviour and measures of outcomes.
Heresy and Blanchard's "lifecycle theory" of leadership, (1) which builds on Blake and Mouton's managerial grid (6), is also a contingency model. It suggests that leadership style effectiveness is influenced by the subordinate's desire for achievement, willingness to accept responsibility, and task related ability and experience. Specifically, the model identifies four phases, each involving a different leadership style that a manager-subordinate relationship moves through as subordinates develop and "mature". Although the theory has been popular at managerial workshops, it has not been well received by scholars. The few studies testing the theory find only partial and weak support for it, while a number of researchers have pointed to conceptual weaknesses in the theory.
The most recent theory in this contingency stream is Fiedler's Cognitive Resources Theory, (15) which examines the conditions under which a leader's cognitive resources, such as intelligence, experience and expertise are related to group performance. Stress, group support and task complexity are the situational variables that will affect whether the leader's intelligence or his/her experience will contribute most to enhancing group performance. According to the theory, leader intelligence will only be related to group effectiveness when stress is low, since high stress interferes with the use of intelligence to solve problems and make decisions. In turn, leader experience will be related to group performance under high stress. Fiedler (151) argues that there is reason to believe stress and uncertainty cause leaders to fall back on practical knowledge, skills and behaviours when the situation is stressful, and that they shift to problem solving based on logical and analytical thought processes in stress free situations. It is acknowledged that although the findings are promising, they can only be regarded as preliminary at this stage.
Most of these behavioural models deal more with managerial skills than with those that might apply specifically to those leading an organisation rather than a work group. By the 1980s however, many US companies faced increasingly global, unstable and threatening competitive environments, and began to recognise the need to make major changes in the way they operated. In order to survive, management researchers became extremely interested in charismatic leadership and the transformation and revitalisation of organisations.
10. Charismatic or Transformational Leadership
This group of theories extends Weber's (1) theory of charisma and Burns' (31) conceptualisation of transformational leadership. It focuses on individuals who have a major impact on their organisations and takes into account the ideological and motivational elements of their roles. In contrast with the preceding theories of leadership, which have focused primarily on the performance and/or satisfaction of subordinates, charismatic and transformational theories deal with the motivation of followers to perform above and beyond the "call of duty". Leaders are described in terms of articulating a mission or vision, ensuring that their behaviour reinforces that mission and vision, building and maintaining a strong positive image in the followers' minds, and demonstrating respect for and confidence in subordinates.
There is an implicit or explicit assumption that individual charismatic or transformational leaders have different traits from non-leaders and non-charismatics. In that sense, these theories represent a return to the trait approaches that dominated in the early decades of the century. They also represent a return to the "great man" view of leadership, in which the contribution of one individual outweighs that of all others. This stands in sharp contrast to approaches to organisational effectiveness such as TQM which emphasise the contribution that work processes and systems for monitoring and continually improving performance and developing and strengthening mastery and competence, make to outcomes.
This stream of research is relatively new. James McGregor Burns (31) (1978) initiated renewed interest in charismatic leadership by contrasting transformational with transactional leadership, building mainly on descriptive research on political leaders. He argued that transactional leadership is based on a bargain made between leader and follower(s), which leads followers to act in the way the leader wants, in exchange for something they value. By contrast, transformational leadership involves an interaction between leaders and followers that raises the motivational levels of followers to more general and higher levels, representing the more essential and enduring elements of their needs.
The transformational leadership process is recognised mainly by such outcomes as major changes in the culture and strategies of a social system or an organisation. It is also usually seen as a shared process that involves the actions of leaders at different levels of an organisation, rather that just those of the chief executive. Bass (2) built on Burns' (31) work to develop a more detailed theory that aimed to distinguish between transformational, charismatic and transactional leadership. He argued that while transactional and transformational leadership are distinct processes, they are not mutually exclusive – the same leader may use both, depending on the situation. He also argued that charisma is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition for transformational leadership. In particular, while transformational leaders focus on empowering and elevating followers, some charismatic leaders seek to keep followers dependant and weak, and to develop personal loyalty instead of commitment to ideals.
Charismatic leadership is generally defined more narrowly, and focuses on an individual leader, rather than a process that many leaders within an organisation can share. The concept of a leader possessing a divinely inspired gift and somehow being larger than life and unique originated with Weber (1) (1974), and was built on first by House (23) in the managerial context. According to House, charismatic leadership is characterised by followers' trust in the correctness of the leader's beliefs, affection for the leader, unquestioning acceptance of the leader and willing obedience. Thus followers not only respect and trust the leader, as they would with a transformational one, but they also worship or idolise the leader as a spiritual or superhuman figure. A recent study of all selected American presidents showed that both motivational and behavioural charisma are related to presidential performance.
Research to test this theory is still in the earliest stages, and has not made it possible to draw any firm conclusions. It has mainly been descriptive and qualitative. The usual approach is to analyse descriptions to identify common themes and characteristic traits, behaviours and influence processes for effective leaders. Because it is relatively imprecise this descriptive research does not allow researchers to reach firm conclusions about specific relationships. All these theories make the distinction between transactional and transformational leadership, between charismatic and non-charismatic leadership and between leadership and management.
They explicitly suggest that something more than normal management or leadership, usually abilities or skills such as visioning and building corporate culture, is needed for effective performance. Some researchers have argued that this concern with charismatic leadership reflects deeply held values and wishes rather than any reality. For example, recently Meindl has speculated that it is just part of the romance of leadership. A series of studies reported by Meindl, Ehrlich and Dukerich (1) found that as organisational performance moved to extremes, whether good or bad, the interest in leadership became increasingly strong.
They argue this suggests that leadership is a term used to explain performances that were sharply different from the usual results. Using this framework, leadership is then currently being seen as both the cause and the answer for the problem of the US failure to compete effectively with Japan in the global marketplace. It is important to note that Japanese companies place very little emphasis on the heroic role of the leader and far more on developing skills throughout the organisation and total quality management, as the basis for effective strategic positioning.
Major Japanese companies tend to recruit part of a cohort from, for example, the Tokyo University engineering class, and that group has typically moved up as a cohort without differentiation. Through the ringi system, contributions are written and circulated through the organisation, with readers marking the document with their chop to indicate they have seen it. In this way, the focus is on circulating the idea and using it, rather than promoting an individual's reputation. If individuals do good work, they become know for it over a period of time, without facing downside risks for being associated with a bad idea.
So successful people emerged over time as a result of a successful track record. And because the organisation has recruited all bright clever people to start with, they have strong resources to draw on. But this is a human resources model of developing a pool of resources over time rather than a leader model. It is worth noting however that many of the large Japanese companies are still run by the people who established them after World War II, so to an extent, they have faced no real leadership transitions to date. Perhaps the issue of leadership simply hasn't caught up with them.
11. Continuing Debates
In addition to these main approaches to leadership over the decades, a number of themes or issues that remain unresolved have threaded their way through the leadership research, and continue as unresolved controversies, and illustrate even further the lack of consistent and strong facilities in the field in general. Perhaps the most obvious is the range of definitions for leadership, which is investigated in terms of individual traits, leader behaviour, interaction patterns, role relationships, follower perceptions, influence over followers, influence on task goals, and influence on organisational culture. As Stogdill (1) concluded in his comprehensive review of the literature "there are almost as many definitions of leadership as there are persons who have attempted to define the concept." The definitions have little in common, apart from involving an influence process.
These differences between researchers over what constitutes leadership in turn spill over into differences about the choice of phenomena to investigate and to differences in interpreting results. One of the continuing controversies revolves around limiting the definition of leadership to exercising influence where it results in enthusiastic commitment by followers, as opposed to indifferent compliance or reluctant obedience.
Those advocating the former view argue that someone who uses control rewards and punishments or authority to coerce or manipulate followers is not really "leading" them. Proponents of the opposite view argue that this definition is too restrictive, because it excludes the influence processes that are important for understanding why a manager is effective or ineffective in a particular situation. They argue that the answer to the research question of what makes a leader effective or ineffective should not be predetermined by the initial definition of leadership.
The difference between leadership and management is another controversy that continues unabated. While no-one contends that they are identical, there is disagreement about the degree of overlap. Some writers argue that the two are quite different, and even mutually exclusive. Bennis and Nanus (3), for example, suggest "managers are people who do things right and leaders are people who do the right thing." Although many writers on leadership make considerable effort to distinguish between leaders and managers, the sharp distinction appears more contrived than real. As Gardener (17) comments "in the process, leaders usually end up looking like a cross between Napoleon and the Pied Piper and managers like unimaginative clods."
The issue recurs in different guises. In earlier times, the distinction was between administration and management. The general research conclusion is that most managers show some leadership skills, while most leaders find themselves managing at times. Yukl (1) concluded that the main distinction seems to be that leaders influence commitment whereas managers simply carry out position responsibilities and exercise authority.
Others propose that there is a considerable degree of overlap and that there are no benefits from assuming it is impossible to be both a leader and a manager at the same time. Yukl also contended that there was no gain to be had from attempting to resolve the controversy. He suggests, and we have adopted here, a broad definition of leadership to include influencing task objectives and strategies, group maintenance and identification, and influencing the culture of an organisation.
Other issues that yield similarly inconclusive results include: the nature of managerial work and systems for classifying it; the relationship between leader power and influence; the existence of substitutes for leadership, or neutralisers of its effects; the influence of role expectations on leaders' behaviour, and even whether leaders have a measurable effect on firm or organisational performance.
12. Leadership Training
In spite of the lack of conclusive research evidence that leadership is a phenomenon that can be predicted or measured, or even what it constitutes, there is no lack of leadership training programmes.
If traits such as personality, intelligence or charisma are the primary determinants of effective leadership, then training can have no effect. If situation determines the effectiveness of particular behaviours, then it would be possible to train individuals to diagnose situations accurately, and to ensure that they have the full range of skills, such as communication, conflict handling etc, to act appropriately in the situation. A number of training programmes or specific tools have been developed around each of the contingency theories described above, and as discussed in that context, research indicates that their effectiveness is varied.
The distinction between leadership and management training is sometimes claimed, but not well established. Here we treat them as interchangeable. In a recent review of management development, Tannenbaum and Yukl (1) noted that the complexity of managerial work makes the assessment of training needs for managers more difficult than for most jobs. They advocate that it should be based on needs assessments tied to the existing research on managerial skills activities and behaviour – as reviewed in leadership books such as those by Bass (1) and Yukl (1) (1989). However, given the inconclusive nature of such findings, developing training programmes becomes problematic. Nevertheless, a range of instruments for undertaking needs assessment to measure managerial behaviour and skills are available.
In a recent book that reviews six major US training programmes for leaders, Conger (11) argues that there are four objectives for leadership training programmes: to develop and refine certain teachable skills; to improve the conceptual abilities of managers; to tap individuals' personal needs and self-esteem; and to help managers see and move beyond their interpersonal blocks.
Thus training in leadership typically includes a review of the latest perspectives and techniques in one's field. However, several of these objectives typically draw on understanding from areas of research other than leadership, including goal setting, self-efficacy, feedback and behaviour modelling. So, for example, an increasing number of researchers and training organisations advocate self-knowledge as a central tool for effective leaders. As David D. Vries (1) of the Centre for Creative Leadership put it, you cannot manage others until you can manage yourself. Although people accumulate a lot of understanding of the impact others have on them from their earliest days, individuals are usually well into adulthood before they begin to understand the impact they have on others. Thus a considerable amount of leadership training focuses on this self-development aspect. Other programmes provide intellectual refreshment and a chance to view the world more broadly and deeply than is possible in the face of the pressures of daily work.
Others, such as Gardener (17), advocate that leadership training should be a lifelong activity, carefully managed by the organisation, with repeated assessments and opportunities for training. These include re-assignment within the organisation with the aim of posing new challenges, testing new skills and introducing potential young leaders to new constituencies. Cross-boundary experiences are also recommended as a means to developing the capacity to mediate disputes among subcultures, build coalitions and negotiate. Gardener (17) also warns that conventional selection processes tend to screen for other kinds of talent than leadership, and cautions that unseen selection processes at work in the organisation may prevent able leaders from reaching the top.
The chairman of a large and famous corporation once said: "We recruit young people fresh out of college, and for thirty years we reward them for keeping their noses to the grindstone, doing their narrow jobs unquestioningly. Then when a top post opens up, we look around in frustration and say 'Where are the statesmen (sic)'. No-one consciously intended to eliminate the statesmen; but the organizational culture produced that result".
13. Concluding Note – Key Learnings
After a continuous search, since 1900, for what makes a good leader, there is still no comprehensive theory of leadership, no clear knowledge about what good leaders do that is unique, or understanding of how to select leaders. Research falls into one of three very different worlds, each with a distinct orientation around the type of question investigated.
The first set of questions, which was asked after World War I when it became clear that heredity was no basis for selecting leaders, assumed that personality matters. This stream of research investigated the link between traits – such as intelligence, energy, decisiveness etc, and performance. This approach predominated through the twenties and thirties, and has recently been returned to with the emphasis on transformational and charismatic leaders. These individuals are believed to have special visionary and motivational qualities which allow them to inspire their followers to greater efforts, often resulting in remarkable performance turnarounds. The research emphasis is consistent with a 'great man' (sic) view of leadership in which 'never was so much owed to so few by so many'.
Overall, the trait and charismatic/transformational leadership research approaches have not yielded any consistent findings, in spite of hundreds of studies. In one sense, this finding shouldn't be a surprise. In addition, however attractive it is to a society especially an American one, to look for strong leaders with all the socially acceptable characteristics, traits would never make it possible to select 'the leader' from a short list of reasonable candidates.
Even intelligence, which was the only trait to emerge clearly from the research as a predictor of leader effectiveness, would not allow you to choose between such a group of candidates. Knowing that a trait matters does not let you discriminate among credible candidates, only between those who obviously couldn't and those who might, be leaders. Further, if charisma were necessary to be US President, then Carter, for example, would never have been elected. And if charisma were critical to business success, then why did Raymond Burr's People's Express airline in the US; and Jahn Carlson's SAS airline not succeeds against serious competitive threat? In general, this research, which attempts to identify the things successful (charismatic) leaders have in common faces all the difficulties raised by success studies. It is difficult to identify the key factors that are relevant to a particular situation, and even if that judgement could be made, the factors or mechanisms themselves are usually so little understood that it is not clear how to manage them.
The second stream of leadership research, that was widespread in the fifties and sixties, focussed on how leaders behave. In asking what are the things a leader should do, it usually assumed that these were ensuring participation, being concerned with people, and structuring up tasks. Again, the kinds of behaviours being investigated were very socially acceptable. The experiences of World War II made it hard to believe that leaders never listened to any of their people, were indifferent to the needs of others, and couldn't organise their way out of a hayloft. Once more, hundreds of studies found very little. The only consistent finding was a strong relationship between employee-centred behaviours (participation and consideration) and satisfaction. However, satisfaction was not shown to increase performance.
On the contrary, research in other areas suggests that successful performance is followed by high morale rather than vice versa. This may be the result of feeling good about succeeding, or because success gives leaders more time for their staff and more time to be sensitive to them. In other words, structuring tasks and ensuring the team has the right skills to perform them have more influence on performance, and are most likely to guarantee satisfaction and high morale as outcomes. However, the evidence even for this is not very strong.
More recently, researchers turned to more complex models of leadership that recommend horses for courses. These theorists argue that not only do the behaviours required vary from situation to situation, but also that one person in a particular managerial role will vary his/her behaviour from situation to situation, often many times within the course of a day. These models deal with quite specific behaviours in specific settings. And at this very particular, focussed level of analysis, some of the research appears more reliable and useful than the broad behaviour or trait approaches.
There is ample evidence that suggest that if people are set high but achievable goals, and they are given the skills needed, then performance improves. There is a similar effect if work is done within a framework where people get immediate feedback so they can monitor and adjust their own performance, rather than this information going to a boss who reviews their behaviour. So if it is routine to set high but achievable goals, measure performance, and reward and promote what has been achieved, then the organisation will usually get somewhere.
Indeed the success stories around the world appear to be built around doing a lot of things right – having competencies, mastery and good systems, not picking a few leaders. For instance, Wal-Mart Stores grew steadily through the 1970s and 1980s from a tiny beginning, to become one of the largest general merchandise retailers in the United States. But there is no single explanation for its success, even though different people have argued that the success can be explained by high market power, time-based competition, organisation form attuned to the distinctive requirements of running a multi-site service operation, commitment to total customer satisfaction, learning, empowerment or, of course, leadership. It is more likely that WalMart has a unique operating configuration with tight fit and coherence around its key activities, than that any one of the success factors people like to point to, and particularly, a single individual, explains its success. Most of the desire for strong leaders is based not on outcomes, but on social desirability.
For most people, that is not an attractive proposition, and we acknowledge that this overview is in sharp contrast to the popular image that leadership makes the difference. But when you actually examine the hard data, the different trait, charismatic and behavioural models people talk about simply aren't supported.
There have been over 5,000 studies on leadership since the early 1900s. If some of our simple notions of leadership were true, it would stand out like a sore thumb in the research evidence. As the review presented here shows, it doesn't. The likelihood that all those studies have missed anything, let alone something that is very straightforward and obvious is extremely low. Further, if leadership could be simply understood, and recognised, picking leaders would be easy, and selection mistakes would rarely be made. There would be few failures.
Leadership is a powerful concept, particularly in America, and increasingly in South Africa. We all come across people who 'produce leadership', and it is hard not to think they had made a difference. But there is never an opportunity to see what would have happened if someone else had been at the corporate or national helm at the time. There is considerable evidence that success depends on a complex array of organisational and environmental factors. But they are often attributed to the leader because that is what our society looks for and wants to see. Alternatively, if there is a leadership factor operating here, it is not one that researcher has been able to find any empirical evidence for, just as there has been no evidence turned up for the popular trait, charismatic and behavioural models. At this stage, it appears that the only thing successful leaders share is success.
It is now important to review the concept of leadership paradoxes within the context of modern or contemporary Western political economies. The analysis is built around Cronin and Genovese's book The Paradoxes of the American Presidency (30). The analysis attempts to identify and relate the applicability of broad leadership principles and dynamics to organizational life. By replacing phrases such as 'the American President', and 'the American public' with words like 'leadership', leaders', society', the organization and/or the 'public', we have attempted to draw lessons and parallels that render our analysis more meaningful and relevant to the issue of African leadership.
II. LEADERSHIP PARADOXES IN WESTERN SOCIETY
1. Lessons from the American Presidency
Cronin and Gonevese (30) assert that the mind searches for answers to the complexities of life. The public often gravitates toward simple explanations for the world's mysteries. This is a natural way to try and make sense of a world that seems to defy understand-ing. The public is uncomfortable with contradictions so society reduces reality to un-derstandable simplifications. And yet, contradictions and clashing expecta-tions are part of life. "No aspect of society, no habit, custom, movement, development, is without cross-currents," according to historian Barbara Tuchman (30). "Starving peasants in hovels live alongside prosperous landlords in feath-erbeds. Children are neglected and children are loved." In life, societies or the public are confronted with paradoxes for which society seek meaning. The same is true for the American leadership. The public admires leadership power, yet fears it. The public yearns for the heroic, yet is also inherently suspicious of it. The public demands dynamic leadership, yet grants only limited powers to the leader. The public wants leaders to be dispassionate analysts and listeners, yet society must also be decisive. The public is impressed with leaders who have great self-confidence, yet society dislikes arrogance and respects those who express reasonable self-doubt (30).
How then is society to make sense of leadership? The circumstances seem to con-strain one leader and liberate another. What proves successful in one, leads to failure in another. Rather than seeking one unifying theory of leadership that answers all their questions, leadership is better understood as a series of specific paradoxes, clashing expectations and contradictions. Leaders live with contradictions. Leaders, more than most people, learn to take advantage of contrary or divergent forces. Leadership situations commonly require successive displays of contrasting characteristics. Living with, even embracing, contradictions are a sign of societal, organizational and personal maturity. The effective leader understands the presence of opposites. The aware leader, much like a first-rate conductor, knows when to bring in various sections, knows when and how to turn the volume up and down, and learns how to balance opposing sections to achieve desired results. Effec-tive leaders learn how to manage these contradictions and give mean-ing and purpose to confusing and often clashing expectations.
The novelist, F. Scott Fitzgerald (30), once suggested that the test of a first-rate intelli-gence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in the mind at the same time. People's expectations of and demands on the leader are frequently so contradictory as to invite two-faced behaviour by their leaders. Leadership powers are often not as great as many of us believe, and the leader gets unjustly condemned as ineffective. Or a leader will overreach or resort to unfair play while trying to live up to the people's demands. Leadership powers expand and contract in response to varying situational and technological changes. In some ways the contemporary leadership seems to have unlimited authority for almost anything the leader chooses to do with it. In other ways, a leader seems hopelessly ensnared in a web of checks and balances.
Leaders and leadership candidates must constantly balance con-flicting demands, cross pressures, and contradictions. It is characteristic of the public to hold contradictory ideas without bothering to resolve the conflicts between them. Perhaps some contradictions are best left unresolved, especially as ours is an imperfect world, held together by countless compromises. The public may not be able to resolve many of these clashing expectations. Some of the inconsistencies in the judgements of leaders doubtless stem from the many ironies and paradoxes of the human condition. While diffi-cult, at the least society should develop a better understanding of what it is asking of its leaders, thereby increasing its sensitivity to the limits and possibilities of what a leader can achieve. This might free leaders to lead and manage more effectively in those critical times when the nation or the organization has no choice but to turn to them. Whether society likes it or not, the vitality of its institutions depends in large measure on the sensitive interaction of leadership with an understanding public to listen and willing to provide support. Carefully planned innovation is nearly impossible without the kind of leadership a competent and fair-minded leader can provide (30).
2. Summary of Important Paradoxes
The following summary of leadership paradoxes has been borrowed – with paraphrases - from Cronin and Genovese (30). These authors maintain that some of the paradoxes are the result of confused expectations on the part of society or the public. Some are cases of wanting one kind of leadership behaviour at one time and another kind later. Still others stem from the contradiction inherent in the concept of democratic leadership, which on the surface at least, appears to set up "democratic" and "leader-ship" as warring concepts. Whatever the source, each has implications for leadership performance and for how the public judges leadership suc-cess and failure.
Paradox #1. The public demands powerful, popular leadership that solves the problems of the nation or organization. Yet the public is inherently suspicious of strong centralised leadership and the abuse of power. Thus the public places significant limits on the leader's powers.
Paradox #2. The public yearns for the democratic "common person" and simul-taneously a leader who is uncommon, charismatic, heroic, and visionary.
Paradox #3. The public wants a decent, just, caring, and compassionate leader, yet the public also admires a cunning, guileful, and, on occasions that war-rant it, even a ruthless, manipulative leader.
Paradox #4. The public admires the "above politics" non-partisan or bipartisan approach, and yet leadership is perhaps the most political office in the American system, which requires a creative entrepreneurial master politician.
Paradox #5. The public wants a leader who can unify diverse people and interests; however, the job requires taking firm stands, making unpopular or controversial decisions that necessarily upset and divide.
Paradox #6. The public expects leaders to provide bold, visionary, inno-vative, programmatic leadership, and at the same time to respond pragmat-ically to the will of public opinion majorities. That is to say, the public expects leaders to lead and to follow, to exercise "democratic leadership."
Paradox #7. The public wants powerful, self-confident leadership. Yet the public is inherently suspicious of leaders who view themselves as infallible and above criticism.
Paradox #8. What it takes to become a leader may not be what is needed to govern the nation.
Paradox #9. Leadership is sometimes too strong yet at other times too weak.
To lead successfully, leaders must manage these paradoxes effectively and consistently, and must balance a variety of competing demands and expectations.
3. Brief Discussion of Key Leadership Paradoxes
Paradox #1. In terms of this paradox, the public demands powerful, popular leadership that solves the nation's problems. Yet society is inherently suspicious of strong centralised leadership and especially the abuse of power and therefore the public places significant limits on the leader's powers. The public admires power but fears it. The public loves to unload responsibilities on their leaders, yet the public intensely dislikes being bossed around. The public expects im-pressive leadership from leaders, and simultaneously imposes consti-tutional, cultural, and political restrictions on them. These restrictions of-ten prevent leaders from living up to its expectations.
The demand for a responsive leader often conflicts with the de-mand for an informed, judicious leader. As leadership has become the lightning rod for nearly all of society's discontents, so also have leaders sometimes sought to be all things to all people. Still, while looking for strong, popular leadership, the public also remains profoundly cautious about concentrating power in any one person's hands.
Leaders are supposed to follow the laws and respect procedures that were designed to restrict their power, yet still the public must be powerful and effective when action is needed. The public is, however, unwilling to allow leaders to infringe on its rights in any significant way. It is also true that while the public wants strong leadership, if such leadership comes in the wrong form, the public diminishes its enthusiasm for it. This results in a dramatic roller coaster ride of strong support for the heroic leadership model fol-lowed by equally strong condemnations of leadership power.
Paradox #2: the public yearns for the 'common person and also for the uncommon, charismatic, heroic, visionary performance. The public wants its leaders to be like them but better than them, i.e. king and commoner. The public yearns for and demands both. The human heart, secretly and ceaselessly reinvents royalty and quests for the heroic. At the same time, the public is told the hero is whom the individual society must guard itself against. "Pity the nation that needs heroes," goes an old proverb. Strong leaders, it is believed, can sap, diminish, and possibly even destroy the very wellsprings of self-government. Hence the old saying – 'strong leaders make for a weak people' (30).
Cronin (30) states that Cicero wasn't sure whether great oratory was a national asset or a national peril. Society believes leaders have to be persuasive, however, it also believes that if they are too con-vincing they may con us. Sometimes the public is so mesmerised by the effec-tive communicator that it fails to object, criticise, or resist. The public fails to main-tain the healthy scepticism so necessary in a political democracy. Honesty and trust-worthiness as well as plain and simple tastes are key leadership qualities identified by an American public opinion organisation - Field Research Corporation. An old Greek saying describes two leadership "types": hedgehogs and foxes. The hedgehog knows only one or two things but is dogged in pur-suit of these goals. Foxes, on the other hand, know very many things and the public goes about pursuing these multiple goals. Leaders must be hedgehogs and foxes. The public must have macro and micro agendas. The public should be willing and able to dramatise their missions, but the public also must know that per-sonal heroics need to be counterbalanced by reflective leadership.
People crave to be led by a leader who is greater than anyone else yet not better than themselves. The public is inconsis-tent; the public wants their leader to be one of the folks yet also something special. If leaders get too special, however, they get criticized and roasted. If leaders try to be too folksy, people get bored. Contemporary society cherishes the myth that anyone can grow up to be leader that there are no barriers and no elite qualifications, but society does not want someone who is too ordinary. Would-be leaders have to prove their special qualifications - their excellence, their stamina, and their capacity for uncommon leadership.
A leader or would-be leader must be bright but not too bright, warm and accessible but not too folksy, down to earth but not pedestrian. The "catch 22" here is that an un-common performance puts distance between a leader and the truly common man. The public persists, however, in wanting an uncommon individual as leader. The public is often torn between demanding dynamic, charismatic leader-ship from their leaders and wanting leaders to heed their views. The pre-eminently successful leaders radiated courage and hope and stirred the hearts and minds of the public with an almost demagogic ability to simplify and convince.
There is another related problem with the notion of heroic leadership. Most of the time those who wait around for heroic leaders are disappointed because most of the time leaders do not provide galvanising, brilliant policy leadership. In practice, the people make policy more often than leaders do; solutions percolate up rather than are imposed from the top down. Indeed, on many of the more im-portant issues the people generally have to wait for leaders to catch up. Thus the old question about who leads whom needs to be addressed. Leaders, much of the time, are shrewd followers; the public is not allowed to be heroic, pace setting, or in-advance-of-their-times leaders.
Paradox #3: according to Cronin (30), the public wants a decent, just, caring, and compassionate leader, yet the public admires a cunning, guileful, and, on occasions that warrant it, even a ruthless, manipulative leader. There is always a fine line between boldness and recklessness, be-tween strong self-confidence and what the Greeks called "hubris," be-tween dogged determination and pigheaded stubbornness. Opinion polls indicate people want a just, decent, and intellectually honest individual as their chief executive. Almost as strongly, however, the public also demands the quality of toughness. The public may admire modesty, humility, and a sense of proportion, but most of their great leaders have been vain and crafty.
Cronin (30) notes that Franklin Roosevelt's biographers, while emphasising his compassion for the average American, also agree he was vain, devious, and manipula-tive and had a passion for secrecy. These are often the stan-dard weaknesses of great leaders. Significant advances are made by those with drive, ambition, and a certain amount of brash, irrational self-confidence. Would-be leaders simultaneously have to win their trust by displays of integrity while possessing the calculation, single-mindedness, and prag-matism of a jungle fighter. While the public wants a leader who is somewhat religious, the public are wary of one who is too much so. Political leaders often go out of their way to be photographed going to church or in the presence of noted religious leaders.
Cronin (30) maintains that, in evaluating a leader, the key question about his/her behavioural traits is not whether the public is attractive or unattractive, but whether the public is useful. Guile, vanity, dissembling - in other circumstances these might be unat-tractive habits, but to the leader the public can be essential. He needs guile in order to hold together the shifting coalitions of often bitterly opposed interest groups that governing requires. He needs a certain measure of vanity in order to create the right kind of public impression. He some-times has to dissemble in order to prevail on crucial issues.
Cronin (30) asserts that ambition is essential if a leader is to make a major difference. And, to gain power and retain it, one must have a love of power, and this love is often incompatible with moral goodness. Leaders are never supposed to act with their eyes on the renewal of their term of office, yet the politics of their position demands they must. Instead, a leader is supposed to be "leader of all the people," above narrow political interest. Michael Mac-coby (30) noted that a person who permits a cynical shell to harden around the heart will not long be able to exercise creative leadership. The exercise of the heart is that of experiencing, thinking critically, willing, and acting, so as to overcome egocentrism and to share passion with other people, and to respond to their needs with the help one can give.
Leaders who are hell bent on success rarely ponder whether the ends justify their means. Yet the public asks that the public raise questions of integ-rity and motivation with themselves. Abraham Lincoln said that few things are wholly good or wholly evil. Most public policies or ideological choices are an indivisible compound of the two. Thus their best judgement of the balance between them is continu-ally demanded. The best of leaders are balanced individuals; the public is sure of themselves, not dogmatic; the public are self-confident, yet always will-ing to learn from their mistakes.
Paradox #4: The public admires the "above politics" non-partisan or bipartisan approach. The public yearns for statesman leadership. For this reason, the job of leader demands that the officeholder be a gifted political broker, ever attentive to changing political moods and coalitions. In their attempts to be unifying leaders, leaders often avoid polarising conflicts. One of the lessons of history, however, is that early confron-tation of controversial and divisive issues may avoid later violence. Fur-ther, sharpening conflict is often an important leadership responsibility.
Cronin (30) adds that if past is prologue, leaders will go to considerable lengths to por-tray themselves as unconcerned with their own political future. The public will do so in large part because the public applauds a divorce between leadership and politics. People naively think that the public can somehow turn the job of leader into that of a managerial or strictly executive post. Leadership is a highly political office, and it cannot be otherwise. More-over, its political character is for the most part desirable. A leader sepa-rated from, or somehow above, politics might easily become a leader who doesn't listen to the people, doesn't respond to majority sentiment or pay attention to views that may be diverse, intense, and at odds with his own. Leaders may not always wish to obey the will of the majority - in fact, leadership sometimes requires them to publicly argue against major-ity sentiment - but the public cannot be unmindful of the will of the people. A leader immunised to politics would be a leader who would become too easily isolated from the processes of government and from the thoughts and aspirations of the people.
Paradox #5: The public wants a leader who can unify them, yet the job re-quires taking firm stands, making unpopular or controversial decisions that necessarily upset and divides us. Closely related to the foregoing two paradoxes (4 and 5), the public requires a leader to be a unifier and a harmoniser while at the same time the job requires priority setting and advocacy leadership. The tasks are near opposites. It is widely held that leaders must pull us together. Leaders must build coalitions and seek consensus. Leaders must not be too far ahead of their times if the public are to be successful. The leader must see what he sees with the eyes of the multitude on whose shoulders he stands. To get anywhere he must win understanding; to win it, he must formulate policy which must never be so remote from the view about him that he cannot get that understanding. At bottom, his real power is in the popular support he can rally.
The leader is sometimes seen as the great defender of the people, the ombudsman or advocate general of public interests. But this should be viewed as merely a claim, for many leaders have acted otherwise, even antagonistically, to mass or popular preferences. Hence, the public alternately wants its leaders to stir things up or calm things down, to inject conflict or to lessen conflict. Much depends, too, on how you define leadership. And only the narrowest conception of leader-ship would call solely for the avoidance of conflict.
Cronin (30) asserts that the public demands results, yet often judges leaders on the basis of means. Whereas the public will usually approve of the ends of certain policies, the public may disapprove of the means. Means often require sacrifice, and this can turn the public against a leader. Leaders, moreover, have to decide how much harmony or stirring up is needed to achieve objectives. All organizations need action and deci-siveness, but the public also needs shared values, community, and integration. The truly effective leader understands how to use selective conflict for revitalisation.
According to Cronin (30), George Bernard Shaw and others have observed that reasonable people adjust to reality and cope with what the public finds. Unreasonable people dream of a different, better world and try to adapt the world to themselves. This discontent or unreasonableness is often the first step in the progress of an organization or a nation-state. But everyone has to be aware that stirrer-uppers and conflict -polarisers are threatening people. In the kingdom of the blind, the one -eyed man is king. This may be as the proverb has it, but in the kingdom of the one-eyed person, the two-eyed person is looked on with profound suspicion and is commonly feared. Leaders are often those two-eyed, or 'twice-born types' who have different ideas about what should be.
Paradox #6: The public expects its leaders to provide bold, visionary, inno-vative, programmatic leadership and at the same time to pragmatically re-spond to the will of public opinion majorities; that is to say, the public expects leaders to lead and to follow, to exercise "democratic leadership." The public wants both pragmatic and programmatic leadership. The public wants prin-cipled leadership and flexible, adaptable leaders. Lead us, but also listen to us. Most people can be led only where the public wants to go. Burns (31) wrote that authentic leader-ship is a collective process. It emerges from a sensitivity or appreciation of the motives and goals of both follow-ers and leaders. The test of leadership is the realisation of intended, real change that meets people's enduring needs. Thus a key function of leadership is to engage followers, not merely to activate them, to commingle needs and aspirations and goals in a common enter-prise, and in the process to make better citizens of both leaders and fol-lowers.
The public wants its leaders to offer leadership, to be architects of the future and to offer visions, plans, and goals. At the same time the public wants them to stay in close touch with the sentiments of the people. The public wants a certain amount of innovation, but the public resists being led too far in any one direction. The public expects vigorous, innovative leadership when crises occur. Once a crisis is past, however, the public frequently treats leaders as if the public did not need or want them around. The public does expect leaders to provide us with bold, creative, and forceful initiatives 'to move us ahead,' but the public resists radical new ideas and changes and usually embraces "new" initiatives only after the public has achieved some consensus. John F. Kennedy, the pragmatist, shied away from unpragmatic un-dertakings. Leadership requires radiating hope, grounded in reality. Be dedicated to "visions" and be passionately committed to carrying them out. Be flexi-ble enough to change direction quickly. This is just one of the many para-doxical demands the public places on modern leaders. The art of the possi-ble is called for, the challenges of bringing about the doable and the desirable, yet creative dreaming also is required. A constant balance, rec-onciling dreams and reality, intuition and logic, is needed. (30)
Occasionally, the public looks to idealists and prophets because it knows that major breakthroughs and reforms often come only from the principled few, not the conventional leaders. This is true, in part, because majority opinion often stifles new approaches. As every leader knows, by opposing one's constituents too directly on an issue too close to their hearts, one risks premature career demises. Leaders can get caught coming and going. The public wants them to be both leaders of the country or organization and representatives of the people or stakeholders. The public wants leaders to be decisive and to exercise their own judgement; the public wants them to be responsive to public opinion, especially to the common sense of their opinions. It was perhaps with this in mind that many have de-fined the ideal democratic leader as an 'uncommon man of common opin-ions'. .
The public may admire consistency in the abstract, but in reality con-sistency has its costs. Cronin (30) cites the example of an American politician who professed to be a 'man of fixed and unbending princi-ple - but my first fixed and unbending principle is to be flexible at all times'. Another proclaimed that leadership is pre-eminently a place for moral leadership. Political leaders pay attention to the maxim: 'a little vagueness goes a long way in this business'. These leaders knew that, in politics, leadership responsibilities meant that the leader was sometimes, detached, vague, and uncommitted, while at other times taking a stand and being passionately committed. Timing often de-termines their success or failure. But perhaps more important, the lesson for those who desire power is that the public must narrow its range of ideas and ideals to conform to the prevailing political and economic climate of opinion.
Its paradoxical desire for programmatic but pragmatic leadership is compounded by the fact that what society finds desirable in one leader it condemns in another. This factor often renders the lessons of history im-material and makes such a thing as standard pragmatic or programmatic leadership difficult, if not impossible. A leader who becomes too committed risks being called rigid; a leader who becomes too pragmatic risks being called wishy-washy. The more a leader tries to please everyone and re-spond only to immediate pressures, the more that leader is likely to be drawn away from the more significant problems of the day. The more pragmatic leaders become, the more the public is shaped by events rather than being shapers of them.
The public demands, from its leaders, idealism and realism, optimism and level headedness. Be in-spirational, the public tell the leader, but also be realistic and do not promise more than you can deliver. Too much inspiration will invariably lead to dashed hopes, disillusionment, and cyni-cism. The best leaders often suffer from an instinctive tendency to raise aspirations. These promises often backfire. As aspirant leaders promise too much and build expectations too high, society is disappointed when reality fails to match promise. Leaders who do not raise hopes are criticized for letting events shape their leadership rather than making things happen. As Charlie Brown (30) says: "I have very strong opinions, but the public's does not last long." So also public opinion shifts - sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. There are times when society wants leaders to be engaged actively as innovators, and on other occa-sions the public would like to see them sit back and let things run their course.
Paradox #7: The public wants powerful, self-confident leadership. Yet the public is also inherently suspicious of leaders who are arrogant, infal-lible, and above criticism. But society also yearns for dynamic, aggressive leaders - even if the leaders do cut some corners. There is, of course, a fine line between confidence and arrogance, between firmness and inflexibility. The public wants leaders who are not afraid to exert their will but at what point does this become antidemocratic, even authoritarian? The public wants leaders to consult widely and use the advice of wisdom-keeper, greybeards or advisers. The public likes the idea of collective leadership and shared responsibility.
Another aspect of this dilemma is that the public wants to be reassured, but the public rallies to and admires crisis leadership. Although a leader is expected to exude hope, reassurance, and a sense of confi-dence, society nevertheless likes to see leaders visibly wrestling with crises. The public admire the solitary executive embattled in conflict sitting alone, making the tough decision, and exerting will. The danger of falling under the "leadership" of one who lacks will or confidence to lead persists. Humility is admirable, while excessive humil-ity paralyses. Confident innovators have often made significant advances in the world.
Leaders must face all the complexities of the situation but the public must also act. Leaders are conscious of the flaws in their own organization, yet minimise the risks. The public knows their followers often want and need relent-less optimism about impending battles. Rare is the great commander, the truly successful executive, or the politician who is not self-centred and conceited. Similarly, the politician who does not exude the desire for leadership is not likely to be effective or remembered. A leader must be conceited enough to believe that he is indispensable. Untempered confidence, however, is dangerous. Hitler oozed it. So did Melville's mad Captain Ahab. Both had vision, purpose, and enormous drive. The question always is whether these large egos are subject to rea-sonable self-control. Self-discipline is key. An unrestrained, ego that con-stantly needs to be fed and isn't placed in disciplined service to worthy ends is an ego that invariably corrupts. (30)
Leaders must believe in themselves, but society cannot afford to discredit the ideas, plans, counsel, or criticism of others. Leaders who encourage thoughtful dissent in their organizations are, according to sev-eral studies, likely to produce better organizational decision-making. Effec-tive leaders encourage and reward criticism without retaliating against the critics. Hitler eliminated his critics. Ahab ignored his. In Antigone, Sophocles' King Creon listened almost entirely to himself, which proved fatal. His son, Haemon, chided him in vain, saying, "Let not your first thought be your only thought. Think if there cannot be some other way. Surely, to think you own the only wisdom and yours the only word, the only will, betrays a shallow spirit, an empty heart." But Creon dismisses his son's advice, saying, "Indeed, am I to take lessons at my time of life from a fellow of his age?" He ignores everyone else as well until it is too late. Leaders are all a little like Creon. A fine line separates self-confidence from pigheaded pride, boldness from recklessness, mindless adherence to the course from re-evaluation and redirection. The challenge is how to blend the competing impulses and combine them effectively in particular situations. (30)
Paradox #8: What it takes to become leader may not be what is needed to govern a nation or run an organization. To govern a democracy or manage an organization requires much more. It requires the formation of a governing or managing coalition, and the ability to compromise and bar-gain. Ambition (in heavy doses) and stiff-necked determination are essential for a leadership or aspirant leader, yet too much of either can be dangerous. An aspirant leader must be bold and energetic, but in excess these characteristics can produce a cold, frenetic leadership. To win stakeholder support requires a single-mindedness, yet their leaders must also have a sense of proportion, be well-rounded, have a sense of humour, be able to take a joke, and have hobbies and interests outside the realm of politics. .
To win, many of the aspirant leaders have to pose as being more progressive or even populist than society actually felt; to be effective in the job society are com-pelled to appear more cautious and conservative than society often want to be. The aspirant leader must put together a coalition involving a majority of supporters advantageously distrib-uted across the organization or country. He or she must thus appeal to all interest groups and cultivate the appearance of honesty, sincerity, and experience. Thus what it takes to become leader may differ from what it takes to be leader. To become leader takes a determined, and even a driven, person, a person who is glib, dynamic, charm-ing and so forth. But once leader, the person must be well rounded, careful in reasoning, clear and specific in communi-cations, and not excessively ambitious.
Paradox #9: Leadership is sometimes too strong, yet other times too weak. A clashing expectation is built into leadership when strength in some areas is matched with weakness in other areas. Leadership is considered too strong when society dislikes the incumbent. Its limitations are bemoaned, however, when society believes the incumbent is striving valiantly to serve the public interest as society defines it.
Like everyone else, leaders have their good days and their bad days, their creative periods and their periods of isolation, their times of imperiousness and of ineptitude. On their good days society wants leadership to be stronger. On their bad days it wants all the checks and balances that can be mustered. The dilemma of leadership today is that society cannot have it both ways. But if leadership is to be given more power, should it not also be subject to more controls? But what controls will curb the power of a leader who abuses society's trust and at the same time not undermine the capacity of a fair-minded leader to serve the public inter-est? The riddle here arises because society sometimes disagrees over which days are good and which are bad. .
The foregoing analyses have demonstrated, inter alia, that leaders and leadership institutions do not concern themselves exclusively with the positive aspects or "good' attributes that are readily associated with leadership e.g. charisma, charm, popularity or cult figures. If anything, leaders and leadership are, intractably, linked with positive and negative values, actions and consequences. By their very dualistic nature, leadership principles, values or action require leaders to manage both the positive and negative elements present in each and every challenge they have to face.
It is interesting to note that leadership paradoxes are neither new nor a creation of contemporary, science- and technology-based society. The foregoing analyses have demonstrated that leadership paradoxes, contradictions and dilemmas are an integral part of human society. Traditional or pre-colonial African societies were replete with paradoxical challenges similar to those that face contemporary leaders. Anthropologists, historiographers, historians and other forms of commentators have testified to the leadership prowess of many African traditional leaders especially during their struggles against the scourge of colonial subjugation.
III. LEADERSHIP PARADOXES IN CONTEMPORARY SOCIETY
As Paul A. L. Evans (31) notes, leadership has become the task of creatively harnessing the tension between opposite forces. This is already apparent, and as we move into the new millennium the implications of leaning and living in a world of duality, dilemma and paradoxes will become more obvious. Students of organizational effectiveness, according to Robert Quinn (31) have come to the conclusion that effectiveness is difficult to understand because it is inherently paradoxical. To be effective, an organisation must possess attributes that are contradictory, even mutually exclusive. Quinn called these attributes competing values – control and flexibility, internal and external focus, means and ends orientation. Today they are becoming institutionalised in the shape of balanced scorecards for measuring performance which portend the shape of twenty first century management. Most senior executives today recognise these dualities when they talk about the difficult balancing acts in their roles.
According to Evans research has established most of the problems and frustrations that people experience are the consequence of such dualities. Opposite forces create paradoxes, seemingly contradictory statements that are more or less true. You cannot make these paradoxes disappear, you cannot resolve them or solve them, they do not go away. In the past, they have expressed themselves as leisurely swings of the pendulum, cycles of evolution and revolution that the academics called "punctuated equilibrium." One of the laws of duality is that taking things to their extreme creates pathology.
Evans says that, in recent decades, we have seen waves of business solutions, swinging the pendulum from soft profit-through-people to hard re-engineering, from bottom-line restructuring to competing for the future. Today those pendulums are swinging so fast that the rebound can catch one while one is still in the same job. People get impatient with the transparently short-term careerist leader, the person who starts off a new strategy, begins to get visible short-term results, and then rides the acclaim to another site, leaving a successor to take the firm in a different direction. They are equally impatient with the J-curve promises of leaders with grandiose but hollow visions because they cannot manage the today that is so different from their appealing tomorrow. Leaders like Jack Welch (GE) and Percy Barnevik (ABB) are admired because they seem to be able to steer constructively to the long term via the short term.
Evans adds that navigating between short-term imperatives and long-term goals, between functional excellence and inter-functional co-ordination, between low cost and high quality, is the skill of leadership. Some firms focus on a timely strategy but get fixated. For example, they align the firm around the development of functional excellence, leading to initial success. But when that success is threatened by opposing pressures (slow decision-making due to lack of co-ordination), the leaders respond by reinforcing what led them to be successful in the first place (heightened pressure for functional excellence). This leads to a vicious circle of threat, reinforced efforts, and further threat, culminating in crisis. A saviour is recruited whose strategy is teamwork, and the fixated cycle may begin again in the opposite direction.
In contrast, the leaders of other firms can anticipate the needed change in course', gently steering specialised functions toward greater teamwork before the problems of slow decision-making show up. Alternating between one course and the other, they steer toward their aims of higher profits and better return on investments in a virtuous spiral of increasing capabilities in both functional excellence and integrated teamwork. Opposing forces such as differentiation and integration, external and internal orientation, hierarchy and network, short term and long term, change and continuity can never be reconciled once and for all. They create tensions. Richard Pascale (31) observes that there are many tensions in organisations that should never be resolved, i.e. the tension between cost control and quality, or between manufacturing efficiency and customer service, or local and global orientation.
Mobility is the vehicle for developing the perspective needed to lead effectively in this world of paradox. But again it is a two-edged sword, as one duality leads to another. A generation of leaders was mismanaged under a perversion of this logic taken to the extreme, and they in turn mismanaged their own firms. In the seventies and eighties many leading companies believed that future top managers had to have experience in the mother company and international operations, in different strategic functions, in staff roles as well as line roles.
The challenge today is not change but continuity, or rather continuity in change. It is an age-old problem. In AD 66, Gaius Petronius (31) remarked: "We trained hard…every time we began forming up into teams, we would be re-organised. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by re-organising…and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing inefficiency and demoralisation".
Evans has great admiration for the constructive tension found in the value systems of certain firms. Some common value system is certainly necessary to provide the glue for a complex organization. But all too often those value systems are trite clichés that do not energise anything. Contrast these lists with the credo of L'Oreal, where the value system is to try to combine the qualities of the poet and the cautious peasant, the long-term focus on innovation with the short-term focus on profits. Look at Welch's value system that emerged from his years with GE Plastics: practice planful opportunism wallow in information until you find the simple solution test ideas through constructive conflict to treat all subordinates as equals, but reward each one strictly according to merit.
As one of the companies which tops Evans' list of admired firms, AP Moller, is associated with 'the corporate glue' in the form of an unwritten code of values that emerged out of the experience of the company's founders. The code of values is inculcated into every aspiring manager who joins the firm. Evans maintains that 'most of the values express the tensions of dualities. The company's leader strongly believes in hiring and developing people for the long term rather than according to short-term budgetary constraints. But this implies paying meticulous attention to hiring and development practices, and he personally still keeps an eye on them -otherwise such hiring would lead to a vicious circle. He strongly believes that one's word is one's bond, that a promise must always be delivered. However, managers learn the implication -before committing oneself, such decisions should be carefully debated and exposed to criticism. Managers are obviously accountable for their own businesses, but not at the expense of the whole. They are expected to uphold the heritage of the group and its Danish roots, but also to build strong independent organizations in Asia and abroad. The hierarchic power of leadership should never become excessive; it is vital to treat others below with respect, to be accessible, and never to kill dissent.
As Evans points out, James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras found these dualistic values in their study of corporations that are "built to last." They studied enduring companies like Citibank, 3M, Sony and Hewlett-Packard, firms that are more than 50 years old and have survived changes in product technologies and chief executives; gold medal companies with premier reputations which have outperformed solid but bronze medal competitors. The distinguishing quality characterising these firms was their dualistic cultures and value systems. They had some purpose that went beyond profit, but they pragmatically pursued profit goals. Clear vision and sense of direction went hand in hand with constant experimentation and superb execution of the everyday workload.
Regarding the type of advice one would provide to the current or aspiring leader about how to survive, and indeed thrive, in a world of tension and paradox, Evans asserts that the leader's assets are his or her your potential liabilities. The respect and authority of others has to be earned. A track record of successful accomplishment (together with the capacity to learn from failures) builds up the credibility that encourages a following. This in turn reinforces the self-confidence that is the hallmark of leadership. Evans further states that if the leader is not totally confident in his or her own visions, he or she cannot expect others to believe in him or her. The trap, as Evans points out lies in the fact that very self-confidence when combined with the authority of leadership can create a pendulum swing toward failure. Manfred Kets de Vries and Danny Miller have called this the neurotic or dark side of leadership. Confidence can so easily become arrogance. When that success is challenged, the qualities that led to success are accentuated, and the stress tips the behavior toward the obsessive. The capacity of a Francois Mitterrand for detached analysis becomes isolation, the ability of a Clinton to argue oneself out of difficult corners becomes the grounds for potential impeachment.
Evans observes that leadership demands dedicated, indeed single-minded, pursuit of a goal at the expense of others. The paradoxical act of leadership is to believe in oneself and yet still to maintain that element of doubt so that one will not lose contact with reality. It means tuning into what Carl Jung called the shadow self. Success may foster the ruthless, masculine, driving side of the self, but true leadership development means recognizing and allowing the softer, caring, feminine side to express itself as well. Any human quality taken to the extreme becomes pathological. Decisiveness is a virtue. But if it is not balanced with a measure of reflection, it leads to impulsiveness that can herald disaster. This is summed up by the 11 paradoxes of leadership that hang on the wall of every Lego manager's office (see table below).
The 11 paradoxes of leadership that hang on the wall of every Lego manager's office
•. to be able to build a close relationship with one's staff and to keep a suitable distance
•. to be able to lead and to hold oneself in the background
•. to trust one's staff and to keep an eye on what is happening
•. to be tolerant and to know how you want things to function
•. to keep the goals of one's own department in mind and at the same time to be loyal to the whole firm
•. to do a good job of planning your own time and to be flexible with your schedule
•. to freely express your own views and to be diplomatic
•. to be a visionary and to keep one's feet on the ground
•. to try to win consensus and to be able to cut through
•. to be dynamic and to be reflective
•. to be sure of yourself and to be humble
Manfred Kets de Vries asked ABB's Percy Barnevik to talk about his strengths and weaknesses. Most people would single out his fast-thinking, analytical mind combined with his stupendous overview of ABB and the details of its operations. Yet he picks this out as his biggest weakness. The problem in being quick-thinking and fast-reacting, combined with the authority that goes with his role, is that people are intimidated and do not speak their minds. Often people say something that he clearly believes to be stupid. He has to discipline himself, smile and nod his head so as not to kill the expression of facts and dissent that is vital for sound decision making.
Evans maintains that leaders should not be afraid of contradictions in themselves. Studies of leaders show that they cope well with, indeed thrive on, their own contradictions. They learn over the course of life to express and develop their shadow selves. Often this expresses itself as an oxymoron -the practical visionariness of Bill Gates, the ruthless charm and the planned opportunism of Jack Welch, the quick carefulness of Percy Barnevik. The visionary ability of Bill Gates is legend; his capacity to foresee where technology is heading and to make abrupt changes in direction when he is mistaken, as when he recognized having missed the importance of the Internet. But the executives and technicians who work at Microsoft also comment on his command of financial and technical detail. What strikes those who know Jack Welch are the same paradoxical qualities. Evans observes that Welch's personality integrates many seeming contradictions. He has firm convictions about everything from corporate management to matters of right and wrong, yet he loves to listen and readily changes his mind. He is searingly analytical and intuitive at once. ..Unabashedly emotional, he can be enormously engaging in person, yet this warm and empathetic fellow has made decisions that caused enormous pain. During his years as CEO, Welch has evolved from a demanding boss to a helpful coach, from a man who seems hard, to one who allows his softness to show. That is part of what enabled him, long after he had gotten GE's businesses into shape, to win over GE's alienated employees.
Evans cites the founder of Garantia, a diversified Brazilian group built around an investment bank that, prior to the stock market crash, who contends that he had learned at an early age what others never learn or learn too late. He credits this to his 'good nose for opportunities. This leader also said that ordinarily many people indiscriminately exploit whatever opportunities come their way. He stated that he had learned early to resist that temptation though it was sometimes a struggle against himself. What he had learned was to try to find the best person to take advantage of that opportunity so as to free himself to look for the next opportunity. Further, he stated that it was lonely being one of those entrepreneurs he had hired. They had, for instance, to be confident and yet confront their doubts. Therefore, his role had been to act as the sparring partner to his entrepreneurs - never taking decisions for them but helping them to work out their decisions - and thereby maintaining subtle but deep control over his expanding operations. Evans describes this behaviour as channelling contradiction into progress.
Evans advises current and prospective leaders to team up with others who are different from themselves. This requires that one does not jump to the wrong conclusion, however. The price of trying to resolve and channel all of one's inner contradictions would probably be loss of personality. As Anthony Jay once put it, nobody is perfect but a team can be. Evans states that as we move into the twenty first century, leadership is becoming less an issue of the heroic person and more a question of teamwork. He professes to having been struck by the number of organizations where if one looks at the leadership structure one finds not one person as the leader but a duo, a trio, or a team at the top. Evans contends that Hewlett-Packard would not exist today without the complementary leadership qualities of two very different people, the engineer's engineer and the manager's manager. The same applies to the founder of the Japanese Honda corporation. Those familiar with the Honda story know that it was his partnership with Fujisawa, the hard-headed pragmatist, that explained how Honda successfully went against the might of the Japanese establishment. Sir David Scholey, former chairman of Warburg, freely concedes that the magic of the days when Warburg revolutionised the European investment banking establishment stemmed from the complementary leadership qualities of Warburg and Grunefeld.
Evans notes that Accor is the world's largest hotel company, run until recently by two-headed management, the founders Dubrule and Pelisson. The former is a strategy/marketing expert, the latter comes from administration/finance. But they complement each other in temperament. As Pelisson commented that the combination works because Dubrule and Pelisson do not see everything through the
same set of spectacles. When both agree on something, they have nine chances out of ten to be right. When they disagree, then they know they have to proceed carefully and take our time. Thus, having a partner gives a certain balance. When only one person has all the power, he's tempted to use it.
Evans says that when he scrapes below the surface of some heroic success within a corporation, he typically find not a hero or heroine but a sparring partner relationship between very different people. Led by the Intel trio, Intel institutionalized this in a principle called "two-in-the-box," staffing key leadership positions where possible with a complementary duo. The company has abandoned this formal practice because while it may he great when it works, sometimes the chemistry is not there. And open hostility or a vacuum in a shared leadership structure can be disastrous.
Evans also encourages current and prospective leaders to tune into the leadership dualities.
He believes that most problems and challenges in management and organization are the expression of duality. To test the assertion, Evans developed a methodology called "tension analysis." The test involved two such assessments, one with a European biotechnology company and the other with a division of a major Scandinavian corporation. With the help of top management, Evans identified a small diagonal slice of 20 people in each firm. He interviewed them, with one simple request: 'Tell us about all the problems, difficulties and frustrations that you experience in your work.' From these interviews he was able to identify about 30 tension points arising from dualities. Some were easy to identify, such as the frustration of slow decision making in a consensus-oriented culture; in other words, the tension between speed versus commitment in decision making. Others emerged from probing. For example, a manager might complain about the frustrations of working with an unreasonable boss whose only concern is measurable results. On further investigation, reinforced by other interviews, an underlying duality concerning performance evaluation emerged -emphasis on quantitative results versus the qualitative way in which those results were achieved.
Evans worked through the results with the management teams, thus, with the result that new product development emerged in the biotechnology firm as an organizational capability to be carefully nurtured, a hard-to-imitate intangible asset. People had understood that collaboration between marketing and research was necessary for successful product development, sometimes favouring the market and sometimes the laboratory. On the other hand, the quality management issue was a divisive tension point that demanded attention. While a majority felt that the staff function should be responsible for quality, a significant minority felt this would create more staff bureaucracy and that quality should be the responsibility of every manager. The tension was eventually constructively resolved by continuing with the QM (quality management) staff, but giving them a self-destruct assignment: "Your task within five years is to make sure that every manager is so competent in quality assurance that your function is no longer needed."
From the foregoing assignment, Evans concluded the point is not that one needs researchers to understand the organi-zational tension points, constructive and non-constructive. One simply needs to listen to people with the perspective of duality in mind. In that way, one learns the helmsperson's craft of managing paradox rather than falling unwittingly into the pendulum traps.
Another of Evans' approach to managing paradoxical situations is to organize one way and manage the other way. Evans contends that one cannot avoid pendulums, but the key is to avoid the pendulum swinging too far. When a leader introduces a decentralised structure, what has to be in the back of the his or her mind is the opposite: How can I prevent duplication, reinventing the wheel, and all the losses of economies of scale and scope to which decentralisation can lead? In other words, organize one way but manage the other way. When organizing the firm around product lines, what may have to be managed are the required relationships in particular countries or regions. When introducing change, the deeper challenge is how to ensure the continuity that this change will need. Evans cites the example of a French change agent who tackled this well. Deep culture change in his firm was needed though it was controversial, and he would be subject to mandatory retirement as chief executive four years after initiating the change -not long enough for it to take root. He carefully recruited a vanguard of 20 key lieutenants at different levels of responsibility, indoctrinated them through personalised coaching, and gave them challenges so they could prove their credibility in the firm. Five years after he left, 15 of those individuals were continuing what he had started from key positions in the corporation.
Nurturing constructive tension is crucial to effective management of leadership dualities or ambiguities.
Evans says that virtually all the leaders he admires are people who nurture constructive tension, the sparring partner quality that is at the heart of those leadership duos. They pay great attention to orchestrating this in their organizations, and the structure of reporting lines, internal boards and councils creates a debating platform. This capacity to elicit constructive debate is a quality of Jack Welch, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Nelson Mandela, Percy Barnevik, and the millions of effective leaders at different levels of responsibility around the globe. However, there are leaders he admires less. These are undeniably successful (for the time being) but they are not admired by their followers, they cut off dialog and debate, and foster, perhaps unintentionally, a yes-man culture around them. Their leadership is built on fragile foundations.
At the heart of leadership is the ability to set goals and direction. If there is one thing that is clear from a century of leadership research it is this: leaders have a clear and often obsessive sense of what they want to achieve. And yet it is extraordinarily difficult to create a vision and set simple goals for a complex organization in a shifting, turbulent environment, and to instil a simple sense of direction out of all that complexity. Jack Welch's sense of direction for GE was not created in a day; it evolved over many years. How do such leaders do it? Analysis plays a role that is important but exaggerated. There is growing evidence that the core of the process is constructive debate.
A study undertaken by the oil company Exxon some decades ago is a good illustration. Exxon was breaking up its centralised bureaucracy so as to push responsibility down to business units, and top management knew that this required heightened leadership ability in the middle of the organization, not just at the top. An internal research team identified a group of excellent leaders in terms of their reputations, track records of results, and their ability to manage people. They put them under the microscope to find the common denominator. After batteries of psychological tests and 360° interviews with people who had worked with them, they found nothing ill common. The person responsible for the study remarked to Evans that they looked for a common leadership style. But for every consultative person, they found someone for whom the name Attila the Hun would have been too kind a description of their leadership style. They looked deeper and eventually they could find only one common and distinguishing pattern: the process of goal-setting that these people went through when they moved into a new job. The first "l00 days" in the new job consisted of three stages. The first was one of going around to talk with subordinates, clients, suppliers, superiors, officials 'Let's get acquainted, and tell me how you see the problems and challenges.' The dominant behavior on the part of the new leaders was active listening. What they were doing was building relationships and assessing people, as well as collecting information and undertaking the analysis. Toward the end of this stage, a sense of what were the challenges and what should be the goals was starting to develop.
Evans points out that whereas many people turn then to developing the action plan, these lead-ers went through a second stage characterized by active debate and discussion of this analysis. The dominant tone was constructive argument (constructive in the sense of being guided by facts), exposing the analysis to critique and debate. This is the critical stage that well known leaders such as Welch practice so well. They look for critique and then debate it back and forth. What happens is that the analysis is being worked through, adapted and changed. The process is one of simulation; simulating through debate the likely implications and knock-on effects at a time when plans can still be changed -once one moves to implementation, the leader can no longer afford to listen, and communication necessarily becomes one way. Typically the result is one of simplification, working out the essentials and finding the images that convey them to others.
From Evans' point of view, what is also happening in parallel is the building of necessary commitment. Many people confuse knowledge, understanding and commitment. There is a big difference between knowledge ("I've heard the words, I've seen the figures, but I don't understand what they mean"), understanding ("Yes, at last I begin to understand, though I don't necessarily agree") and commitment ("Yes, I begin to feel that this is indeed the right direction"). The only way to work knowledge through into understanding and then into commitment fast is through open two-way dialog -two-way so that people can argue.
Leadership involves harnessing the tension of opposites at three levels –within oneself, through teamwork, and in the organizational structure. And all three at the same time. The failure to cope with the shadow side of oneself will block leadership. The absence of constructive debate in teamwork will block leadership. And that debate needs to be structured properly in any complex organization. But let me leave you with a final paradox. There is no doubt that leadership means being dedicated to a job and having passion for it, and for what one is trying to achieve. But what happens if that passion blinds the individual to other more personal aspects of life? asks Evans.
The answer emerged from an assignment wherein Evans investigated the relationship between the profes-sional and private lives of 14600 executives. He found that 46 percent of these executives were dissatisfied, feeling that their lifestyles were unbalanced. Evans found two major explanations for the situation just uncovered. The first was the wrong person in the wrong job. People did not do their work well, did not enjoy it, and/or did not feel proud of what they were doing. Tensions spilled over into private life, compromising psychological availability and the quality of family and leisure time. Many companies do not manage human resources well in the sense of getting the right person into the right place. Everyone suffers. Evans maintains that had he not understood duality, he could have been tempted to conclude that enjoying a job would guarantee a well-functioning private life. Not so. The other people who were dissatisfied were those he called "prisoners of their success" - people who did their jobs superbly and loved them, and were loved by their companies. Absorbed by their work, they typically felt their real dilemmas lay in the private life arena. Evans had no doubt many people fall into this category.
According to Evans, it is necessary to navigate between these two extremes. But some individual always steer close to the professional shore. At the age of 60 they are still passionately absorbed by their work and loved by their organizations -and in their third marriage. Home is simply a haven to recharge batteries. And what happens then? An analysis of pension statistics on companies renowned for their quality of management, notably in human resources and found that the divorce rate for staff in one of the highly rated IT companies, especially at senior levels, was higher than the national average.
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