According to Ronald Heifetz, Founding Director of the Center for Public Leadership at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, and co-founder of Cambridge Leadership Associates, leadership is not necessarily related to a position, but related to the practice. The Maxwell Leadership Institute is leading a paradigm shift in the leadership space with leadership’s grand theory, which agrees with Heifetz’s assertion. One important reason for the agreement is because the assertion is supported by theory – leadership’s grand theory (LGT).
Leadership becomes confusing for some because of the many definitions. Many of the definitions come into existence before the completion of a study. Heifetz is right that people can argue about definitions because there was no central theory for leadership until leadership’s grand theory. The most common word in most definitions is the word influence. It has to be more than influence since there is right and wrong influence. Husbands and wives influence each other. How can leadership as an art or science include something that destroys what it claims to be? There are many appropriate descriptors for presidents, kings, CEOs, executives, heads of state, and others who do not practice leadership. Their titles relate to their positions, but the same may be tyrants, authoritarians, deceivers, mob bosses, but not leaders. There is a new definition supported by leadership grand theory:
Leadership: “A multiple-triadic relationship of right-influence and or right-inspiration toward purposes and transcendence.”
Nevertheless, there are essentials for leadership to take place as a relational practice. There are 18 vs. the 101 or more must-haves postulated by some in the development industry. A moral virtue with 18 elements to its construct help make leadership work best. Recent findings and literature across 3,000 years align with leadership’s grand theory, which emerged from a 3-year exploratory sequential mixed-method study. James MacGregor Burns who stated that leadership is a moral undertaking in his 1978 seminal writing. The recent study supports Burns’ assertion. Leadership in absence of moral values is unsustainable – it is not leadership.