fbpx The Leadership System: Leaders, Followers, Contexts | Harvard Kennedy School
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Barbara Kellerman

James McGregor Burns Lecturer in Public Leadership

This course looks at leadership in a distinctly different way. Instead of focusing primarily or even exclusively on the leader, it is more inclusive, integrative, holistic. It is based on the assumption that leadership is, in effect, a system consisting of three moving parts, each of which is equally important, and each of which impinges equally on the other two.  The first is the leader. The second are the followers – the others. And the third are the contexts, both proximate and distant.  In keeping with this systemic approach, the course will be divided into three parts, with each of the three components getting equal time. The section on the leader will be based primarily on readings considered classics. The section on followers will consist of coming to understand how important is everyone else – “followers” – in the leadership system. And the section on contexts will be constructed by the students, each of whom will decide on which proximate or distant contexts they wish to focus. This is not in any conventional sense a “how to” course. Rather it is an intellectual journey into the heart of leadership in the third decade of the twenty-first century.