Leadership without Easy Answers Part I Robin Ryce

Values in Leadership

People evaluate leadership by one's "values, courage, commitment, and skill." However, on the other hand, leadership is also evaluated in value free circumstances, such as one's authority and following.

Leadership is centered around one's influence, where the leader is at fault for problems, and one's ability to mobilize people to attack an issue, where the leader and community is at fault for problems.

Hidden Values in Theories of Leadership

"History is the story of great men and their impact on society," which leads to the trait approach where leaders possess "heroic" characteristics.

On the other hand situationalists argue that leaders and their style of leadership are evoked by time and the situation.

The contingency theory states that the "appropriate style of leadership is contingent on the requirements of a specific situation."

Leaders interact with followers through transactions, which is the amount of influence gained over time.

The conflict with the modern model for leadership is the call for authority and influence without regards to values.

Toward a Prescriptive Concept of Leadership

Transformational Leadership: Leadership wherein the goal of society is not only to meet the needs of followers but also elevate followers to a higher moral level.

Social progress may require that someone push the system to the limit.

Adaptive work allows people to assess one's leadership through one's ability to "address conflicts in the values people hold, or to diminish the gap between the values people stand for and the reality they face. "

To Lead or Mislead?

Living systems seek equilibrium, and when in disequilibrium, life works to restore equilibrium which is a skill attained through evolutionary adaptions.

As a society we are able to reflect on our problems and change our responses, which is not easy.

Adaptive work involves not only the assessment of reality but also the clarification of values.

Adaptive work requires leadership that allows and contains invention and change and pushes society to the next step.

Disequilibrium Dynamics

Equilibrium: the stability in which the levels of stress within the political, social, and economic areas of the society are not increasing.

Three forms of Disequilibrium:

1) The problem introduces no new challenge, and therefore a a response form the current repertoire may restore equilibrium.

2) When no ready solution is presented to the problem, and so short term equilibrium is established with long term consequences.

3) Society may learn to meet new challenge.

Patterns of responses that fail to adapt to challenges and avoid distress are called work avoidance mechanisms.

The Strategic Defense Initiative

The Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) was an initiative by former president Ronald Reagan that was supposed to make nuclear weapons "impotent."

Although viewed as a bold move of leadership, it was also seen as deception.

Deception in leadership is generally used to:

1) Bring people slowly to face tough realities

2) To disarm the public

3) To satisfy the public's desire for good news

The Roots of Authority

Leadership = Authority

Authority cause serious constraints on the exercise of leadership .

The Function of Dominance in Primate Societies

Dominance serves similar functions across species, although social arrangements vary in primate societies from fluid to rigidly hierarchical.

Within both the chimpanzees and gorilla packs, there existed an alpha or leader that was at the center of attention at the pack for guidance and protection.

Dominant members across all species perform these 5 functions:

1) Choose the direction of group movement

2) Protect the group from predators/enemies

3) Orient members of their status and place

4) Control conflict

5) Maintain norms

Authority provides orientation, which diminishes stress and provides cohesive bonding, and also provides direction.

From Dominance to Authority

Authority, according to Heifetz: the power to perform a serivce

Dominance relationships are based on coercion or habitual deference

Authority relationships are voluntary and conscious.

Stress and Charismatic Authority

Both the traditional and bureaucratic forms of authority suffice in helping to hold the community together and solve routine problems.

The importance of leaders is that people are willing to give up their free will and freedom with the expectation and trust of their leader to solve the problem.

Charisma in a leader is viewed as an element that fulfill promises and alleviate pain.


Heifetz, Ronald A. Leadership Without Easy Answers. 1st ed. Cambridge, Mass. [u.a.]: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2001. Print.

Created By
Robin Ryce

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