Leadership Without Easy Answers By ROnald a. heifetz

"Today we face a crisis in leadership in many areas of public and private life. Yet we misconceive the nature of theses leadership crises. We attribute our problems to readily to our politicians and executives, as if they were the cause of them. We frequently use them as scapegoats. Although people in authority may not be a ready source of answers, rarely are they the source of our pains." (2)

In the case of Americans, we often find ourselves blaming someone for something we think we have no control over. We look to others for decisions and answers, and we barely look within ourselves for solutions. The problem is not the "other", but the "self". Once the "self" aspect has done their duty, then can the blame be put on the "other". Regarding politics and leadership in America, we complain about the things being done in our country, but many of us do nothing about it. For example, if there was an election for your state governor, and one of the candidates was ignorant to the true issues, many people would complain and not vote against that candidate, rather than voting for the other candidate and losing their voices. We have to think carefully about what truly matters, and how important our opinions and actions really are in order to make a difference. We must place value in our voices.

"The exercise and even the study of leadership stirs feeling because leadership engages or values.---The term leadership involves our self images and moral codes." (13)

Leadership is used in a plethora of different ways, and can mean different people. The word leadership means "value-laden", and so it can be interpreted that whatever one values is what they look for or strive to be as a leader. For example, as given in the text, Nelson Mandela was a leader because of his fight for the rights of others and justice, but Pablo Escobar, the "leader" of a drug cartel, can be viewed as a leader because he was able to attract a high volume of people that shared his values. This is where the term leadership can be blurred and become a double-standard. With the blurred lines of leadership, there are also theories. The great-man theory (leader=man) and the trait theory (there are specific set traits a leader must have). While these theories are non-inclusive, they also have no specification on which influence these "leaders" will have. The conversation of leadership and what defines it continues to be discussed.

" First, the definition must sufficiently resemble current cultural assumptions so that, when feasible, one's normal understanding of what it means to lead will apply."

There is a misconception that the term leadership means authority. It is also a misconception that those in authority are always "leaders." Authority is often associated with power. Leadership does not necessarily associate with power. It is often the power-less that are the best leaders.

"Living systems seek equilibrium. Knocked out of equilibrium, living systems summon a set of restorative responses." (28)

Organizations, like people, drive toward stability.There is nothing ideal or good about stability per se.Without a climate of urgency, the feeling that something must change, the organization may do nothing until it is too late. The current problem may present no new challenge so one of the ‘fixes’ from the past may be sufficient, most of the time this is not the case. Disequilibrium should be met with urgency, but is not always considered urgent, especially when previous "solutions" have been used.

"Social living depends on authority. Indeed, our capacity to form authority relationships lies at the base of our organizations, from the family to the nation." (49)

In order for society to function, there must be authority. Authority and dominance is taught from a very young age. There are grades, the opportunity of promotion, and even assessments that determine the ability to be authoritative. The surface of the dominant is built in to our society. You are either the cat or the mouse; There is no in between. The roots of authority started with primitive animals, and will continue throughout history.

All of these topics are involved in adaptive work. This book discusses adaptive work as one of it's main points. Adaptive work is defined as leading change in a situation where both the problem and the solution are unclear and new learning is required by all the participants. In this instance adaptive work is one way to define leadership.

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