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The Best Model of Leadership

One challenging thing about the topic of leadership is that there are so many perspectives – of course this is also the beauty of it. After all, if we new exactly what “it” was, many of us would be out of a job and miss out on a cool opportunity to explore. In his groundbreaking book Leadership I think James MacGregor Burns said it best – “Leadership is one of the most observed and least understood phenomena on earth.” Of course this creates space for a number of different perspectives and lenses through which to view the concept.

Which leads to a question I hear quite a bit – “which is the best model of leadership?”  More often than not, my reaction is…”it depends.”

I think any number of models (or parts of models) provide an interesting view on the topic. For instance, Fiedler’s Contingency Theory, (widely studied in the 70s) does a nice job of making the point that leadership is a relationship between the leader, the followers and the context. In fact, in her book, Bad Leadership: What It Is, How It Happens, Why It Matters (Leadership for the Common Good), Barbara Kellerman organizes each case in this format. However, beyond the one point mentioned above, I personally find little value in Contingency Theory. Then there is a book like " target="_blank">Now Discover Your Strengths, which I think does a nice job of highlighting a side of us that does not receive the time it deserves. Our strengths. Is it the “end all, be all”? No.

So my point is this. I think part of the challenge of leadership is that each of us needs to make sense of the phenomenon in our own way. Hopefully, each of us make more sense of what leadership means with each new book, leader, learning experience, theory or model we encounter. Whether it is written by an academic who has studied her theory for years or simply an individual telling his or her story – all have some value – if we can incorporate it into our own personal approach to leadership.

Which leadership model is best? Hopefully, yours.

About the author

Scott J. Allen Ph.D.

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Posted in Books, General Leadership, Learning, Opinion.

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