Teaching Leadership LO7110

Christian Giroux (lmccgir@LMC.Ericsson.SE)
Wed, 1 May 1996 16:32:50 -0400

Replying to LO7075 --

> Replying to Christian Giroux in Teaching Leadership LO7047:
> >A lot of people in Germany would not have chosen Hitler as a leader if they
> >had known...

Dave Birren answered (with what I perceive, a lot of passion):

> With this background I must say, with a great deal of chagrin, that the German
> people knew exactly what they were getting when they let Hindenburg go and
> chose Hitler.


> They got what they wanted, but like most nations -
> and organizations - they didn't realize the full impact of their decision.
> (Lest I be accused of gross generalization, that's exactly what I'm doing;
> I'm aware there were many who saw what was coming and fought against the
> rise of fascism.)

Dave, that's what I meant...Had they known the full impact of their decision.

However, your following comments are very insightful.

> What I'm getting at (and more passionately than I expected) is this:
> (1) Every leader is right for the moment, however brief that moment might
> be. Failures of leadership are the greatest teachers in the lives of
> nations and organizations because they offer us deep insights into our
> characters and desires. I'm skeptical about whether and what we learn
> from these moments.
> (2) We must respect our ignorance and build into all of our systems
> mechanisms to compensate for that ignorance. When we realize we've chosen
> an ineffective leader, let's not just sack him, or bear with a bad
> situation; let's examine our values, our selection processes, and his
> ability to learn, and do our best to help him improve.

Let me argue, though, that merely improving a leader that we today might
think of sacking can be a very difficult task. One is usually blinded by
his own previous success, and this leader is most likely not ready to
dramatically change (amn't I linking to another thread, here :-) ). You
may have hit one of the most important issues in (1), but isn't leadership
failure also a lot due to the fact that the moment changes much faster
than anyone in a leadership position can cope with ?

I've just recently finished reading a book on leadership called Artists,
Artisans and Technocrats (free translation from french, but I'm told it's
the title in english) by P. Pritcher. The thesis exposed in the book adds
a third category to the classical dichotomy MANAGER (bad boy,
command-and-control, technocrat) - LEADER (good guy, visionary, artist)
that we most often see in current leadership literature. That third
category is artisan (a vast majority of the people) which is not quite at
the center between the other two (and I don't want to summarize the book
here, so I won't explain what the author means by artisan in this
context). The author also stresses the fact that selection process is the
critical factor in leadership building as people virtually cannot change
from a category to another.

Note: In the authors mind only the technocrats are bad boy and she also
claims we must do anything in our power to avoid having them in power
positions...they would slowly but surely kill any organization...




Christian Giroux <lmccgir@LMC.Ericsson.SE>

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>