Leadership fanatasies: decontextualised idealism

INN331 – Management Issues for Information Professionals

WEEK NINE: Chasing elusive leadership qualities.


It is unfortunate that academically acceptable treatments of qualitative considerations often need to be masked in a faux neutrality about contexts we all know to be material, if not vital, but that is the state of play.

In that setting, discussions of human attributes or qualities are particularly suspect when they ignore the precise circumstances in which these are observed, and to which an interpretation is linked, which may not be the same circumstances.

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Forward to the past with Bass on leadership


WEEK TWO: Reading notes on transformational leadership.

Not all academic papers lose value with age, but Bass (1990) on transformational leadership certainly has. Mostly because it would be hard to find anyone with eyes and ears these days who doesn’t know that a large component of contemporary business works on institutionalised dishonesty about ends, about care for employees, about paying taxes, and about exploitive practices. Maybe Bass genuinely didn’t know about these trends, which emerged in the 1980s with Thatcherism and Reaganomics, but it is now too late to pretend such things aren’t built into many organisations.

The same applies to public sector organisations, where the senior executives are demonstrably more interested in a career-neutral inertia than is necessary to allow less senior leaders to actually transform moribund structures.

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