Press Release

July 12, 2021

A Quest for a General Theory for Leadership Realized

According to the Maxwell Leadership Institute leadership team, a quest for a general theory for leadership is complete. Leadership’s grand theory (LGT) emerged from a 3-year exploratory sequential mixed methods inquiry. Firstly, there was an implementation of a grounded theory approach in the initial phase, from which the theory emerged. Secondly, after the coding of over 2,000 global cases, the theory underwent statistical tests. Due to the study’s statistical and social significance, a paradigm shift in leadership is imminent.

To help drive the paradigm shift are the various crises challenging the world. There is the need to work across borders on interrelated issues further induced by globalization. Leadership as it is commonly understood is at the center of all the crises. If there was ever a need for a general theory for leadership, the time is now. Trust and confidence in many called leaders are low in most global polls, including a recent Odgers Berndtson Confidence Index. There is a common conflation of leadership with position and authority, which can be the case in some contexts, but not always. Also, there are too many definitions. Some definitions have no scientific support but sound good. A general theory for leadership should provide a definition, which encompasses the practice of leadership in any context. Thus, a definition should help to explain how leadership works, not simply how it appears.

General Theories and the Quest

Newton’s laws and Einstein’s theory of general relativity (GR) are theories that come to mind, when one considers general theories. These general theories power innovation globally. The field of leadership has mid-range and local theories to help explain how leadership works in various contexts. Some scholars co-opted social learning theories to help explain the phenomena. The Kellogg Leadership Studies Project (KLSP), was a 4-year initiative, that convened over 20 scholars in the early stages. The group was multidisciplinary in its formation. The group led by James MacGregor Burns, a leadership scholar, presidential biographer, and Pulitzer Prize winner, contributed much, but admittedly did not attain that goal. Although there was much learned along the way, the quest for a general theory for leadership a general theory for leadership was an intellectual challenge passed to another generation by the group.

So, another generation picked up the intellectual challenge. The generation led by Kenneth-Maxwell Nance, a leadership scholar-practitioner (scientist) took up the challenge with a team of researchers and met it. The theory emerged from the study after all global participants from six of seven continents of the world voiced themes of degradation, harm, and failure in the absence of moral leader action. The themes were later categorized as unsustainable leadership actions, which contributed to unsustainable leadership outcomes for the people and their organizations. The operationalized categories became part of several statistical tests, which resulted in statistical significance with effect size.

Study and Literature Release

A significant portion of the key study underpinning the grand theory for leadership scheduled for publishing in a peer-reviewed journal this summer provides four major constructs for leadership. One of the constructs contains 15 dimensions. This is a big difference from the 101 or more must-haves postulated by the development industry. Several top scholars who understand the nature of leadership called the industry itself a failure, supported by evidence that shows confidence and or trust decreased as expenditures in the billions increased. Leadership Holy Grail, Leadership’s Grand Theory scheduled for release in the fall season, will include chapters such as the introduction, story, the questions and answers, the problems, the key, the theory, and the research. The key research underpinning LGT is approximately 100 pages in length. In addition, the book will include a section for personal reflections and progress. In the meantime, the author provides crises consultation.

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