A January 2017 Google search for the term ‘leadership’ yielded about 787,000,000 results. Even allowing for duplication, this reflects the enormous volume of material that has been written about leadership, including many bestselling leadership biographies and autobiographies by and of leaders that have been broadly perceived as successful at least at the time of publication. A sample of such “How I or, he did it” literature could include; Bill Gates, Henry Ford, Steven Spielberg, Sir Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Donald Trump, Sam Walton, Michael Dell, Andrew Carnegie, George Soros, Walt Disney and many others.
“Literally thousands of empirical investigations of leaders have been conducted in the last seventy-five years alone, but no clear and unequivocal understanding exists as to what distinguishes leaders from non-leaders, and perhaps more important, what distinguishes effective leaders from ineffective leaders.” In 2007 Vroom and Jago claimed that “Although this assertion is over 20 years old, our position is that any serious review of the more recent literature would reveal that the quote is as relevant today as it was then.”
As yet there is no generally accepted definition of leadership and only a wide variety of generic guidance as to appropriate leadership action therefore, each leadership practitioner must develop and continuously update a personal contingent view of what leadership means to them given their context. We propose a number of generic approches from which a starting point that might assist could be selected.
In complex dynamic environments, leadership will need to continuously re-assess the net value derived by each key stakeholder from the exchanging value with the organisation given the risks and costs borne by each party to the exchanges. In turbulent contexts this requires the support of automation and artificial intelligence and organisation are now emerging to provide such services.
“According to a recent Fortune survey, only 7 percent of CEOs believe their companies are building effective global leaders, and just 10 percent said that their leadership-development initiatives have a clear business impact. Our latest research has a similar message: only 11 percent of more than 500 executives we polled around the globe strongly agreed with the statement that their leadership-development interventions achieve and sustain the desired results.”