I just finished reading over another journal article on "leadership." It doesn't really matter which one. The author and the editor of the top tier periodical had performed their tasks sufficiently well to attract and keep my attention through most of the article's 28 .pdf pages. I had not read the article before, but I could have. Similar to many other articles that have previously passed before my eyes, this one discussed how achieving business success in the 21st century will require leaders in those endeavors to develop and employ laundry lists of specifically required attitudes (read values) and behaviors. The author prescribed the adoption of particular, but not-so-new factors like authenticity, integrity, and creativity. He also discussed the importance for leaders and would-be leaders to integrate these learned concepts into every aspect of their lives. However, at the end, I found myself asking the same tired question that I have asked so many times before: "How does what he wrote uniquely apply to leadership?"
Don't get me wrong. I'm as big a fan as anybody of authenticity, integrity, and creativity. I like it when people I work for tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I also generally enjoy it when those I follow explore new and different ways to do things better. In fact, I'll concede that almost everyone, everywhere would likely consider these good values for leaders to possess and good types of behaviors for leaders to exhibit; and in all areas of their lives. However, therein lies the rub. I not only like it when my leaders tell the truth; I like it when my peers and my followers tell the truth too. I like it when everyone, regardless of position or level of authority, employs accountability and integrity as lifestyles. For some reason, many authors in both scholarly journals and in the popular press seem to have concluded that these noble constructs implicitly and uniquely describe, define, or otherwise explain leadership. Some of these constructs may indeed relate to our ideals of the nature of what good leaders do, but they totally fail to identify the actual nature of leadership -- especially regarding the natures of management and other possible forms of providing direction to accomplish desired outcomes.