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The End of Leadershipby Barbara Kellerman
Synopses & Reviews
One of our foremost leadership experts dismantles obsolete assumptions and stimulates a new conversation about leadership in the twenty-first century.
Becoming a leader has become a mantra. The explosive growth of the "leadership industry" is based on the belief that leading is a path to power and money, a medium for achievement, and a mechanism for creating change. But there are other, parallel truths: that leaders of every stripe are in disrepute; that the tireless and often superficial teaching of leadership has brought us no closer to nirvana; and that followers nearly everywhere have become, on the one hand, disappointed and disillusioned, and, on the other, entitled and emboldened.
The End of Leadership tells two tales. The first is about change—about how and why leadership and followership have changed over time, especially in the last forty years. As a result of cultural evolution and technological revolution, the balance of power between leaders and followers has shifted—with leaders becoming weaker and followers stronger.
The second narrative is about the leadership industry itself. In this provocative and critical volume, Barbara Kellerman raises questions about leadership as both a scholarly pursuit and a set of practical skills: Does the industry do what it claims to do—grow leaders? Does the research justify the undertaking? Do we adequately measure the results of our efforts? Are leaders as all-important as we think they are? What about followers? Isn't teaching good followership as important now as teaching good leadership? Finally, Kellerman asks: Given the precipitous decline of leaders in the estimation of their followers, are there alternatives to the existing models—ways of teaching leadership that take into account the vicissitudes of the twenty-first century?
The End of Leadership takes on all these questions and then some—making it necessary reading for business, political, and community leaders alike.
"According to Kellerman (Bad Leadership), lecturer in public leadership at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, the 'leadership industry' (her term for purported 'schools of leadership' run by governments, educational institutions, and private businesses) continues to flourish, but with no apparent increase in the quality or quantity of leadership. In a response that seems geared toward her industry colleagues, Kellerman argues that the leadership industry must make four changes: end 'leader-centrism'; transcend the situational specifics that lead to myopia; subject itself to critical analysis; and change with changing times. This vague prescription concludes 200 pages that detail the increasing loss of centralized power in governments, business, and institutions and the corresponding decline in people's respect for and deference to leaders. The author argues that power has shifted from leaders to followers, and social media and the information age require more transparency and accountability from leaders. Kellerman also questions whether leadership can be taught, and, if so, whether corporate 'leadership training' is what Plato or Machiavelli had in mind when envisioning the 'Philosopher King' or 'The Prince.' What type of leader the modern age requires is an interesting question that Kellerman flirts with, but never directly addresses, almost as if the book itself were subject to the directionless malaise it describes." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From one of the pioneers in the field of leadership studies comes a provocative reassessment of how people lead in the digital age: in The End of Leadership, Barbara Kellerman reveals a new way of thinking about leadership—and followership—in the twenty-first century. Building off of the strengths and insights of her work as a scholar and a teacher, Kellerman critically reexamines our most strongly-held assumptions about the role of leadership in driving success. Revealing which of our beliefs have become dangerously out-of-date thanks to advances in social media culture, she also calls into question the value of the so-called “leadership industry” itself. Asking whether leadership can truly be taught, Kellerman forces us to think critically and expansively about how to thrive as leaders in a global information age.
About the Author
Barbara Kellerman is the James MacGregor Burns Lecturer in Public Leadership at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. She was the founding executive director of the Kennedy School's Center for Public Leadership and served as its research director. She was ranked by Forbes.com among the Top 50 Business Thinkers in 2009 and by Leadership Excellence in the top 15 of the 100 "best minds on leadership" in 2008 and 2009. In 2010 she was given the Wilbur M. McFeeley Award for her pioneering work on leadership and followership. She is author and editor of many books, including, most recently, Bad Leadership, Followership, and Leadership: Essential Selections on Power, Authority, and Influence.
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