Article: How Can We Train Leaders If We Don't Know What Leadership Is? Literature Review

Topics: Leadership, Sociology, Servant leadership Pages: 8 (2623 words) Published: September 15, 2010
Article: How can we train leaders if we don't know what leadership is? Literature Review

Critical paper analysis



CONTENT: 1. summary of the article difference between leader and leadership definitions of leadership different leadership concepts / paradigms difference between leadership and management leadership and leadership training – different ideas 2. Critical discussion Problem of leadership definitions Lack of illustrations Concepts of bureaucracy and adhocracy Problem of ‘leader’ and ‘follower’ Leadership training A manager is not always a leader


1. HOW CAN WE TRAIN LEADERS OF WE DO NOT KNOW WHAT LEADERSHIP IS ? BY RICHARD A. BARKER (summary of the article) The article defines leadership and gives examples of many different definitions, past and recent ones, and shows that there is no single generalized leadership concept. BARKER clearly separates the three terms, leader, leadership and management by explaining and criticizing the old feudal paradigm 1 and the new one which are the basis of conceptualisation of leadership. BARKER points out that there is a difference between being a leader (which is defined by BURNS as leader traits and behaviours ) and the term “leadership”. According to BURNS, leadership consists of goals that must be related towards an end value and represents a reciprocal process within a context of competition and conflict. Since Burns, the study of leadership has taken many differe nt forms which had a narrower focus on the term, however today there is very little known about leadership. There are very few recent definitions of leadership, although those that exist focus on the leader’s knowledge, traits, skills and abilities and the process of influencing. Contrary to many other authors, BARKER does not make the assumption that people know what leadership is. The responses from various studies which were done with leadership students have shown that there is very little consistency when it comes to the definition of leadership. Often these definitions are contradictory, discrepant and the content and nature of leadership are confused. However, even though there is little tendency in the definition of leadership, scholars have tried to produce a generally accepted perspective of leadership, a paradigm as the base for leadership. 1

Paradigm = a generally accepted perspective of a particular discipline at a given time; "he framed the problem within the psychoanalytic paradigm- dictionary


This paradigm is a feudal one, where there is a ruler (masculine), within a hierarchical system, who directs and controls the activities of their subjects towards the achievement of the leader’s goals. This is usually in the form of defence and acquisition of land, i.e. war. The feudal system has been adapted slightly to form the Industrial paradigm, with economic warfare. Both paradigms have been used time and time again so that almost all existing theories and concepts of leadership today, rely on this paradigm of ‘one man at the top’. BARKER says that now there has been however a tendency towards circular or horizontal social structures of society so that the old paradigm is no longer very relevant for all organizations. According to ROST and BURNS it focuses on the leader abilities rather than on the process of leadership. Considering the word leadership itself, it can be broken down into 2 different types; abilities and skills or relationships. BARKER detailed that if leadership is focused on behaviours, skills, traits and abilities, the term has two social functions: the hope for salvation and the blame of failure. There is a lot of training for leadership abilities using this old model however it is very difficult for those being trained to put the theory into practice since they are taught simplistic models that must be applied to complex social and organizational processes....
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