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The End of Leadership
Harper Collins Publishers
James McGregor Burns Lecturer in Leadership
Center for Public Leadership
“Becoming a leader” has become a mantra. The explosive growth of the “leadership industry” is based on the belief that leading is a path to power and money, a medium for achievement,and a mechanism for creating change. But there are other, parallel truths: that leaders of every stripe are in disrepute; that the tireless and often superficial teaching of leadership has brought us no closer to nirvana; and that followers nearly everywhere have become, on the one hand, disappointed and disillusioned,and, on the other, entitled and emboldened.
The End of Leadership tells two tales. The first is about change—about how and why leadership and followership have changed over time, especially in the last forty years. As a result of cultural evolution and technological revolution, the balance of power between leaders and followers has shifted—with leaders becoming weaker and followers stronger.
The second narrative is about the leadership industry itself. In this provocative and critical volume, Barbara Kellerman raises questions about leadership as both a scholarly pursuit and a set of practical skills: Does the industry do what it claims to do—grow leaders? Does the research justify the undertaking? Do we adequately measure the results of our efforts? Are leaders as all-important as we think they are? What about followers? Isn't teaching good followership as important now as teaching good leadership? Finally, Kellerman asks: Given the precipitous decline of leaders in the estimation of their followers, are there alternatives to the existing models—ways of teaching leadership that take into account the vicissitudes of the twenty-first century?
The End of Leadership takes on all these questions and then some—making it necessary reading for business, political, and community leaders alike.
“After pioneering work on followership and bad leadership, now Kellerman provocatively dissects what she calls the leadership industry. She offers suggestions on how to think far bigger and more expansively if we are to cope with leading in a global information age.”
— Joseph S. Nye, Jr., University Distinguished Service Professor at Harvard and author of The Future of Power
“Barbara Kellerman does not play nicely with the other boys and girls-and we are all the better for it. Anyone interested in a penetrating critique of the leadership industry should read this provocative new book from our foremost leadership contrarian.”
— Robert Kegan, Meehan Professor of Adult Learning and Professional Development, Harvard University Graduate School of Education
“In this wide-ranging critique, Kellerman enumerates the numerous contradictions, inconsistencies, and irrelevance of what passes for leadership thought and training today. Before you purchase or attend any of what the multi-billion dollar leadership industry is selling, read this book!”
— Jeffrey Pfeffer, Thomas D. Dee II Professor, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, and author of Power: Why Some People Have It-and Others Don't