The Leadership Industry – Fiddling While Rome Burns

If the Leadership Industry has a purpose, it is, ostensibly, to improve leadership. To develop leaders in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors who are ethical and effective.

Leadership has been a growth business primarily in the West, in liberal democracies in which countless groups and organizations have poured countless sums into countless other groups and organization that profess to teach how to lead.

But,  on this particular morning, the morning of January 16, 2019, the evidence that the Leadership Industry has succeeded at its primary task – improving leadership in countries such as the United States and Great Britain – is woefully lacking. The fabled Anglo-American alliance is nowhere so apparent at this moment as in the crisis of governance that is traumatizing them both.

It is easy enough to blame others – the Russians, to take the most obvious example – for the mess in which we find ourselves. It is similarly easy to blame single individuals such as Donald Trump for his corruption and ineptitude, and Theresa May for her cluelessness and clumsiness.

But the crisis of democratic governance is primarily internal not external. And it is systemic – that is, it is about leaders, and about followers, and about the contexts within which leaders and followers are situated in the first quarter of the 21st century.

The Leadership Industry has, so far, been demonstrably unable and, or, unwilling, to address the complexities to which I allude. It has continued to skim the surface. It has continued to avoid the hard work that is necessary if ever it is to make a significant difference. And it has continued to suffer standards that are far, far, lower than they should be.  Until these things change, the Industry has no hope of contributing in a meaningful way to stilling the waters that roil many if not most Western democracies.




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