Teaching Leadership LO6737

Tue, 16 Apr 1996 18:49:57 -0400

Teaching leadership has always seemed to me to be not just a futile but
also a misdirected exercise.

I believe leadership can be modeled, that is, an example can be set. I
believe studies of leaders, reflections by leaders, and analyses of
situations in which leadership has been displayed can be communicated. I
even believe leadership can be learned. But I do not believe leadership
can be taught.

The reason, or so I think, is that leaders do not set out to lead; they
set out to do something else instead, and only afterward do we say that
they led. It is in the course of making something else happen that
leadership does or doesn't occur. Can we look across many such situations
and find patterns and principles? Of course we can, that's what
generalization is about. But, can we divorce these principles from
concrete situations in such a way that they can be applied independently
of the specific situation? I think not. Why? Because "the fire in the
belly" that drives all "monomaniacs with missions" would be missing. That
spark comes from the heart or the gut, not the head.

Said a little differently, leadership begins with caring, and that can't
be taught.


Fred Nickols



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