Leadership and Technology LO21915

John P. Dentico (jdentico@adnc.com)
Tue, 15 Jun 1999 05:55:20 -0700

Replying to LO21467 --

On May 3, 1999, Steve Kelner sent a message to this list which was a
response to the Leadership and Technology thread started at the end of
April. It was a specific response to an list message which I had sent a
couple of days earlier. At the time I had wanted to respond to the
message and to the assertion that Peter Drucker's comments made in the
forward of the book "The Leader of the Future", 1995, Jossey-Bass were
wrong. A lot has happened in my life in the last month and a half,
including a move to a new house yet I didn't want Steve's message to go
unanswered. It has been on my mind since he sent it. It is now 4 am in
San Diego and I find myself awake and needing to write this message.
Steve's note is repeated below.

I apologize to those who were getting a kick out of our exchange, having
appeared to drop off the edge of a cliff. I assure you I am still here,
and more convinced than ever that Steve's comments require a response
because a new paradigm of leadership must be presented.

I realize that this could be a whopper of a message, including Steve's
comments and all but I think it will at least allow me to get some sleep
again when it is written.

I want to begin this message from a different place however.

First, let me ask a question.

Why is it important to discuss leadership and to have a clear
understanding of the concept and the practice of leadership? I mean why
all the consternation about leadership anyway I mean who cares?

Let me try to answer this. What is leadership all about, at least in my
opinion. I think one could reduce most of the discussions in leadership
and management to a simple premise. Leadership and management have a
parellel notion, for me that notion is " to mobilize people to do
something." (notice I did not use the work motivate, too value laden
here) What separates leadership from management is that leadership is
about the mobilization of people to do something difficult, hard,
significant, transforming, or substantive. Management is more about
incremental change, for example, whereas leadership is about transforming

In the April 8, 1996 Forbes Magazine there was an article entitled
"Leadership Can it Be Learned?" . The article said that in 1995 we spent
as a nation $15 billion dollars on leadership development. By the way
leadership development was about executive development, not about a
concept to mobilize lots of people. By the way $15 billion dollars is
about 14.5 tons of twenty dollar bills every week, that is right every
week, on leadership development. Ever wonder what the return on
investment is? I mean if we are spending freight cars full of money on
leadership development, where are all the leaders, where is the
leadership? Why is it that we still go to conferences and here about the
dearth of leaders and leadership in this country. Something or someone is
wrong and I don't think it is Peter Drucker. I mean really if leadership
development were a government program there would be two senate and three
house investigation committees trying to figure out where all the money

Why is that? Well let me try to provide a perspective. In an article in
Forbes in 1998, Called "The New Management Paradigm" Drucker made the
comment that the models are usually good for 30 years. The ones we now
use have been around for 50 years, and they have outlived their
usefulness." I am confident he is right.

The industrial models of leadership are incongruent with the needs and the
aspirations of a knowledge society. Drucker has stated this and so has
Senge and a host of organizational theorists who understand that
leadership is less about the leader's competencies and traits and much
more about creating a value based dynamic wherein people do leadership
together. You see Steve it is no longer adequate to assume that if the
people who are collaborators in the leadership dynamic (notice I do not
use the word followers) trust the leader that alone is enough. They must
trust each other, because it is not about the leader giving them
leadership, it is about them creating a leadership dynamic. Leadership is
not owned by the leader, as your comments indicate (i.e. leader
competencies alone matter, or his or her style is what motivates, or that
even there are different styles) but by those who, engaged together,
guided by a mutual purpose and shared vision choose to act to make
substantive change.

There can be no leadership style, because leadership is a relationship.
It is not one's interpretation of what is needed today, it is contained in
the collective dynamic. Leadership dances on the strings of social
capital. Trust, honesty, integrity are something no one person owns but
are shared by people. They are not what the leader alone gives to his or
her collaborators but what people must exemplify and practice together.
They remain the intrinsic motivators that result in high achievement.

Why is this so important today? Because the diffusion of knowledge
throughout organizations held by so many who have been formally trained,
who seek autonomy in their work and who, also must be interdependent are
seeking an environment where they can work and seek intrinsic satisfaction
from the work they do. In this hyper-dynamic society the leader does not
have the answers, he or she must however, be able to find the answers to
issues everyday. The ability to develop the answers, at least for the
moment lie in the level of the collective relationship to develop the
answers. If the level of safety, trust, honesty and openness is high,
then I would say the ability to develop today's answers to issues would be
high. If the level of safety, trust, honesty, openness is low, I would
say it is going to be a long day.

Leadership in that regard needs to be viewed from a multidisciplinary and
interdisciplinary perspective, not alone from a psychological perspective.
The psychologists have done well in understanding individual pathologies,
and needs but as Peter Senge has stated "we know little about people
working in groups." What changes?

A couple of other things Steve, First if you are so convinced that styles
and competencies matter. Please state for all of us the complete
compendium of styles and competencies that assure me that if I find them
in someone, that person is a leader. Please leave nothing out or the
theory will not be a theory. I am curious to see if you can do this,
since no one else has been able to.

Second, consider taking the practice of leadership out of business and
putting it into a public or non-profit domain. I mean are there different
types of leadership, green or blue or yellow or red leadership so to
speak. One way I have thought of to test a theory of leadership, is to
put it in a public setting where the majority of the people in the dynamic
are not being paid for their loyalty. Then we can see what kind of
practical leadership application we have. You know that is another
mistake made, we think if we pay people we have their undying loyalty.
Never found that to be the case. Herzberg said that for 40 years. It is
not about money.

Lastly, Steve you know this discussion could go on for weeks. But in the
end you and I can say leadership is anything we think it to be. That is
of course, until we try to go do something with it. All I will say is
this, my simulations have acted as test beds and have proven, yes proven,
to the participants that collaborative leadership works. It is not about
traits, about styles, about how one manipulates a situation. It is about
dealing with people openly and honestly from all sides, not just what the
leader does.

So there is my answer, now maybe I can get some sleep.

My Best to all,

John P. Dentico, Ed. D.
Making the Leadership Experience Real
P.O. Box 6305
San Diego, CA 92166-0305
619-226-0547 Office
619-300-3080 Cell and Vm
619-523-3068 Fax

[Host's Note: Pleasant dreams, John! ..Rick]

----- Original Message -----
From: <Steve_Kelner@cqm.org>
To: <learning-org@world.std.com>
Sent: Monday, May 03, 1999 6:25 AM
Subject: Leadership and Technology LO21467

> I originally sent this just to John, but I notice at least one of my
> points
> (diffusion of responsibility) has already arisen in the thread--so what
> the
> hey.
> Steve
> Steve Kelner
> 04/30/99 04:22 PM
> To: "John P. Dentico" <jdentico@adnc.com>
> > JC was a very smart guy. He knew leadership was all about building
> > relationships. He also knew how to use symbolism. Before battle he
> > would
> > put on a scarlet cloak and walk the front lines with his men pumping
> > them up
> > for the next day. His message to me, Hey guys we are in this together.
> Exactly. One of the best examples of a leadership speech I have ever
> found is the St. Crispin's day speech in Shakespeare's Henry V. It fits
> the idea of collaborative leadership, I think, too. Kenneth Brannaugh's
> delivery is worth the cost of the video. It covers many of the same
> themes, and speaks to "this band of brothers...for any man who fights with
> me this day is my brother, be he ever so vile..." Pretty impressive for a
> period of monarchy.
> >Drucker says
> >"The lessons are unambiguous. The first is that there may be "born
> >leaders" but there are surely far too few to depend on them. Leadership
> >must be learned and can be learned--and this, of course, is what this
> >book was written for and should be used for. But the second major lesson
> >is that "leadership personality", "leadership style", and "leadership
> >traits" do not exist.
> First point: I agree. Leadership can, should, must be taught (indeed, I
> have done so). That doesn't mean you can't be born with a predilection
> for it.
> Second point: he is 100% flat wrong. I don't know what he is looking at,
> but there are many reliable studies of leadership characteristics (see the
> HBS reprint "Power Is the Great Motivator" by McClelland & Burnham for an
> early take of one kind of leadership). I am astonished to hear Drucker
> say such a thing. I will note, however, that there is certainly more than
> one kind of leader, and we found that competencies varied with the needs
> of the organizational type, context, etc. The fundamental issue was as I
> said it, but the motives that empowered it (and of course the styles
> required) sometimes varied.
> We used to teach at Hay/McBer that leaders used whatever style was
> appropriate for the individuals and the situation (behavior is a function
> of the person interacting with the situation), therefore leaders are
> distinguished by competencies that make the task of reading people and
> situations, and applying broad ranges of behavior to situations easier.
> So if Drucker is referring to one leadership personality, one leadership
> style, etc., then I agree.
> >He goes on to say that the one personality trait the effective ones did
> >share in common was something that they did not have, they had little or
> >no charisma.
> This may have more to do with the organizations he studied than the
> fundamental issue. I don't think you need stand-up dramatic charisma to
> lead a group (e.g., Julius, JFK, whatever), but I think there is quiet
> charisma as well, and I have seen that a good deal--not a fiery speaker,
> but a compelling individual who knows how to maximize their impact and
> influence.
> >I too would question competency based coding in connection with
> >leadership development, if that is what I understand you are asserting.
> >I may have this wrong. Competency based coding sounds too close to the
> >trait theory of leadership. Stodgill debunked the trait theory in 1947.
> >While corporations do have a list of competencies which they consider
> >important, this does not mean that they are in any way sound and reliable
> >indicators of leadership.
> >In fact, in all the leadership work that has been done, a set of traits
> >or competencies which are directly associated with great leadership has
> >never been established. If it were we would not be having this
> >conversation, the point would be moot.
> Again, not true. I think you are reading a different literature than I
> am. There are certain competencies which occur over and over again in
> senior leadership, and the combination of competencies (not the individual
> competencies) are reliable enough indicators of business leadership, at
> least, that companies use it every day to select those leaders. Good
> competency research begins with differentiating the outstanding from the
> average by clear and objective measures of performance (not merely
> opinions) and then studying those two groups in detail to identify
> contrasts. In other words, study the outstanding leaders and study the
> mediocre leaders (not bad--lots of ways to be bad) and see what is
> different.
> Now there is a fundamental issue we have not even discussed here, which is
> the definition of a leader--and frankly I don't even want to get into
> that. It is a garbage can word. But for the definition I use--being able
> to engage a group to work together toward a goal, sometimes modified by
> "to create change" to distinguish from simple management--there are
> certain competencies I commonly see. Here are a few:
> >Conceptual thinking--being able to make a simple big picture (rather than
> >being lost in details) from component parts. Essential for vision, too.
> >Impact and Influence--of course
> >Interpersonal Awareness--knowing what people are thinking and feeling
> >even if not stated--required to do Impact and Influence
> >Analytical thinking--not at the highest levels, but several steps of
> >cause-and-effect
> >Proactivity/Initiative--thinking into the future--seeing longer-term
> >implications and acting on them
> >Integrity--walking the talk: willing to take risks to stay consistent
> >with
> >beliefs and values (e.g., firing your top performer because he was
> >slightly
> >sleazy in approach)
> >Group leadership--that is, the ability to influence a group, not just
> >individuals. A related, but different, competency.
> Sometimes there are variants or extended version of these competencies
>such as:
> Finding meaning--sort of advanced Conceptual Thinking in terms of
>finding a
> higher meaning to daily tasks.
> I think you'd have a hard time finding an effective leader who did not
> these things.
> >I appreciate your agreement that leadership resides in the collective
> >dynamic is true and obvious. While it may be true, it is not obvious.
> >plethora of writing and seminars which still seek to assert that
> >leadership
> >resides in one person, the leader is still the dominant message being
> > sent
> >by the majority of people who give these seminars. I am, by the way, not
> >saying you are one of these but my experience in reviewing the leadership
> >messages of many of these people tells me that they are still selling
> >this type of snake oil.
> Fair enough. It is certainly easier to lead (not necessarily better) from
> a central source. I think too many of our ideas of leadership do come
> from the military ("West Point trains leaders"--no, West Points trains
> Army leaders.)
> >You also wrote:
> >But it is very rare to see genuine leadership come out of a committee. It
> >happens, but I can think of only once or twice out of hundreds of
> >firms I have seen.
> >This is a very interesting point. I have lots of ideas why this may be
> >so.
> >Let me loosely state some of them. Perhaps people have been empowered to
> >act, then to find themselves disempowered when the going gets tough. Only
> >to be reempowered some time after. This is what I meant by
> >inconsistency.
> >Does the organization owe to a philosophy or subsidiariy? What about the
> >industrial mindset of compliance? After all that is the pervading idea
> >behind Fayol's, Taylor's and Weber's Ideas. The industrial models demand
> >compliance, as opposed to creativity.
> Or, if you prefer the psychological, Stanley Milgram's theory of obedience
> (see Obedience to Authority) and Latane & Darley's "diffusion of
> responsibility" theory from The Unresponsive Bystander: Why Doesn't He
> Help?, both classics of social psychology and rather readable as a bonus.
> By the way, McClelland's book The Achieving Society attempts to treat
> Weber's theory of the Protestant Reformation leading to the Industrial
> Revolution as a testable hypothesis. It is a fascinating attempt to make
> history into science.
> I think Latane & Darley's point may be the simplest and best reason for
> the dearth of committee leadership: the larger the group, the more
> diffuse responsibility becomes unless someone chooses to take action.
> This is the "well, there are so many people here--someone must have done
> it" idea. All it takes is one person to choose to take the initiative in
> order for a group to be galvanized into action in crisis. Adding to this
> the factor that not everyone has a lot of Power motive, and people who do
> like to have an influence on others, means that someone will step forward.
> Also, to be picky, if an old theory requires the leader to be all-knowing,
> a committee leading requires multiple people to be all-knowing or at least
> to be communicating with each other perfectly!
> >And that Steve, is where I think the difference lies in the society of
> >today. Now more than ever we need effective and creative approaches to
> >issues that pervade our corporations, our communities, our clubs and
> >associations, our SCHOOLS, etc. Leadership to me, is about creating a
> >collective dynamic whereby the creative processes are put to work and
> >effective (not necessarily efficient) solutions can be discovered and
> >learned. In the days of Caesar the ruling elite made the decisions, in
> >essence, the elite were the only ones who has access to leadership.
> >Today,
> >more and more people must understand that they do have access to doing
> >leadership, all they need to is choose to act.
> But note that all male Roman nobility went through a progression of
> official positions in the government and military, so that by the time
> they were eligible for consul (the highest rank until the Caesars messed
> things up) they were extraordinarily well versed in all aspects of the
> government of the Republic. This remained even into the Imperial period,
> though in reduced form as the bureaucracy flourished. While I am an
> amateur of history, I know of nothing remotely similar practiced
> since--certainly not in the US since the days of the Founding Fathers.
> >We need thousands of leaders and collaborators in thousands of places in
> >America, if we have a hope of dealing with the future in any effective
> >way.
> I agree completely.
> Best,
> Steve Kelner
> --
> Steve_Kelner@cqm.org


"John P. Dentico" <jdentico@adnc.com>

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