It is time to think again about leadership. In this series of blog posts, we’re going to dig a little deeper into what leadership really is, whether it matters, what leaders are like and how to develop leadership.

For
all of our fascination with leadership, the TED talks, the
conferences, the money spent on leadership development, there has
been little gained. There are hundreds of books and tens of thousands
of papers describing what leaders are like, what they do, how to
assess their potential, how to develop them. Pay rates for senior
leaders over recent years have shifted from a multiple of 30 times
that of the lowest paid worker to 300 times: the market thinks that
leaders are either far more valuable than they used to be or are a
far scarcer resource. Yet in a recent definitive guide to academic
research and writing about leadership, Richard Nohria and his
colleague at Harvard concluded that there was little serious research
and scholarship into leadership.

Meanwhile,
businesses spend significantly on developing leaders, often choosing
to send them to the same business schools that Nohria has pointed out
don’t really believe in leadership as a proper field of study. It
is hard to avoid the conclusion that leadership is seen as a money
spinner rather than a serious subject. But given the expense,
businesses increasingly treat leadership development as the province
of the elite, an exclusive grouping, the high-potentials, those with
talent.

The
impact is profound. We live in a time when many institutions, from
political parties to governments to banks and corporates, believe
that a there is a deficit in leadership. We live in a society where
many people feel let-down by their leaders, doubting whether they
care about the society they are creating, a scepticism souring to
cynicism. Too many senior leaders seem primarily concerned with
themselves or their immediate circle rather than shaping a society
and wider world of equity and meaning.

Put
starkly: there are too few good leaders.

Yet
the established leadership industry carries on with practices that
evidently are not producing positive outcomes. How can it be that
graduates from the prestigious business schools know so much about
financial structuring yet remain clueless as to why someone might be
prepared to follow them. How can it be that our prevailing way of
talking about people, society and organisations continues to rest on
market-place assumptions rather than an understanding of how people
make meaning, lead fulfilling lives, create happiness? Why is it that
for most people leadership development is reserved until they are at
a stage in their lives when they feel fully formed and their hunger
for learning is dimmed? How is it that leadership is often one of the
last things that people learn in the world of work?

It does not have to be this way. Our aim at Jyre is to encourage everyone to think about themselves as a leader, to find and value that part of their identity that does leadership. For some this may feel an alien notion, for others a familiar one. But we believe the world will be a better place if everyone takes the time to understand and develop their leadership.

In the next blog post we’ll go a little deeper into what leadership is really about, and how established ways of approaching this important topic all too often fail, leaving people thinking that leadership is something for other people, not for them.

? Go to Part 2

But let us leave you with some things to think about between now and the next post: why would someone be prepared to follow you? And why are you prepared to follow others? And finally: what would happen if we didn’t have leadership?