By William “Bill” Brashers, Ph.D.
You’re watching the news. You’re reading business and trade journals. You’re staying current with newly published business books. Have you noticed the recurring theme everywhere you look?
In the mid-1990’s, we saw a huge pivot toward the topic of Leadership. We found that the 1940’s model of governance that had served us so well e traditional “command and control” model of management obsolete.Leadership. It’s everywhere. It wasn’t always. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, even the early 1990’s (for those of us shameless enough to admit we were around then), publishers were focused on strategic planning, swimming with “predatory fish,” “winning through scaring the heck out of the other guy,” and, “getting the most for number one,” (titles paraphrased, but we all know what they were).
The “big trigger” was the governance crisis of the 1990’s. Major companies everywhere were exclaiming that the best and most experienced of their managers were soon to retire, and there was no one coming behind them to take their places (we had stripped our succession ladders out with “right sizing” in the 1980’s).
Our attention then returned to the one thing that has caused organizations to flourish throughout history: Leadership. Psychology had tried to tell us that “Leadership” was just a pre-scientific word for behavioral control. We have fallen out of love with psychology.
Leadership is back with a vengeance. Since the mid-1990’s, lots of books on Leadership have been published, Leadership courses have sprung up like mushrooms, and many companies now title their management personnel, “Leaders,” (often a case of wishful thinking).
Leadership has not changed its DNA since people first started working together, but these days we need to learn old lessons afresh. For example, to become a leader, you must win followers. This is not a requirement to be a mere manager. Leadership: our workforces are hungry for it, our industries are starving for it, and our nation’s future depends on it. Welcome to the Leadership Renaissance of the 21st Century.
Published in The Fabricator, April 2013