Summary of Rost’s Leadership Development Proposals (1993)

Book Reviews / July 2005

The material that follows suggests some considerations for Integral Leadership development. Some of the ideas are immediately actionable, others may take a while. Rost distinguishes between leader development and leadership development:

Leader development promotes the “Lone Ranger” or “John Wayne” view of leadership, variants on the great man/woman theory of leadership that has regained a lot of popularity in the 1980s. Leadership development promotes a view of leadership that proclaims: “We are all in this together as these changes are our mutual purposes,” a completely new understanding of leadership that is emerging as the new definition of leadership…as we approach the new millennium. Training and development programs based on the new paradigm are much more difficult to design and execute that those popular for the last 50 years in which the objective was to train a leader to be a good manager. [Emphasis in the original.]

Here is a summary of Rost’s proposals:

(1) Stop concentrating on the leader.

  • Get rid of the emphasis on leader traits and personality characteristics.
  • Get rid of the lists of leader behaviors.
  • Get rid of all tests or inventories for leaders.
  • Get rid of the notion that we have to develop leaders.

(2) Conceive of leadership as an episodic affair. Here are some suggestions.

  • Don’t train people to think of leadership as good management so that everything a good manager does is leadership.
  • Get rid of the notion that leadership is only what works, that leadership is always a successful process, that leadership is high performance…
  • Train people to think about the process that leadership is.
  • Train people to think of leadership as a specific relationship of people planning a mutually agreeable, real change.
  • Have people list the leadership relationships in which they have been participating during a 12 or 24-month period.

(3) Train people to use influence.

(4) Develop people to work within noncoercive relationships. “Noncoercive means that the people in the relationship are able to respond yes or no to an attempt to influence them.” [Emphasis in the original.]

  • Train people to base the leadership relationship on mutual influence, not authority or power.
  • Help people build relationships around a sense of purpose instead of other more utilitarian objectives.
  • Train people to create relationships by having them help people…
  • Help people understand the nature of real—that is, transformative—change.
  • Real Change is almost always political.
  • Real change is long term.
  • Real change has tremendous symbolic implications, both positive and negative.
  • Real change takes place, for the most part, among large groups of people.

(5) Reconstruct people’s basic worldview toward a collaborative orientation.

Joseph C. Rost, “Leadership Development in the New Millennium.” The Journal of Leadership Studies“, 1993, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 92-110.

Thi Leadership Commitment,” in Outcalt, C.L., Faris, S.K., and McMahon, K.N., Developing Non-hierarchical Leadership on Campus: Case Studies and Best Practices in Higher Education. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.