A Review of Barbara Kellerman, The End of Leadership

Book Reviews / August 2012

Kellerman, Barbara. The End of Leadership. (New York: Harper Business). 2012

Richard A. Couto

Richard A. Couto

Richard A. Couto

The End of Leadership“I think it’s the most important leadership book of the past decade.” With that, the editor handed off Barbara Kellerman’s latest book, The End of Leadership for me to review. I was already positively biased towards Kellerman’s work. She has been in the vanguard of leadership scholars since she began writing on the topic. She has pioneered in establishing the field as multidisciplinary[i] and setting out core readings in political leadership[ii]. She turned her attention to the study of presidential power and policy matters. She rose up the academic ranks at Fairleigh Dickenson and then moved on to administrative and research positions at the Burns Academy at the University of Maryland and the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard’s Kennedy School. She has been extensively involved in the organization of the field of leadership studies as well as a major contributor to its scholarly capital. She is a friend and has been kind enough to contribute to some of my efforts. Initially evocative of direction for the scholarship on leadership, her recent work has been provocative. In the past ten years, she has published extensively on women and leadership, bad leadership, and followership.[iii]

Obviously, The End of Leadership is a provocative title that suggests a thrown gauntlet. Still it allows for a bit of ambiguity. Is she invoking end as the purpose of leadership? No. Although far more than previously she allows that leadership should be ethical as well as effective.  She incorporates values into leadership both implicitly and explicitly a bit more than she has in earlier positions when she complained that the majority of leadership scholars were mesmerized by the ideal of moral leadership[iv]. She wrote Bad Leadership in part as an antidote to the positive assumptions about leadership. Although her focus is on what the leadership industry is doing wrong, she hopes to stimulate ideas “to develop leaders for the common good.”[v] Still this is a secondary purpose of her work.

The leadership that Kellerman sees coming to an end is a product of the leadership industry, which is “. . . the countless leadership centers, institutes, programs, courses, seminars, workshops, experiences, trainers, books, blogs, articles, websites, webinars, videos, conferences, consultants, and coaches claiming to teach people—usually for money—how to lead.”[vi] She deals with the gap between the huge sums of money spent on leadership teaching and development and the lack of evidence that they have improved the practice of leadership.

Like the child in the story of the emperor’s new clothes (a must read in any leadership curriculum), Kellerman tells us “the leadership industry is much less than meets the eye.”[vii] Despite the changes all around us, the leadership industry promotes leadership as more consequential than followership; as something that people can learn if they can afford the right workshops; as anything that suggests a shift from business as usual (which usually involves an adjective or acronym for leadership); as a solution to whatever the problem might be; and as an agreement among people involving different degrees and kinds of merit. After some 30 plus years of growth and despite endless examples of failed leadership, the curricula and workshops of the leadership industry continue with a set of faulty assumptions that:

  1. Leaders are where the leadership action is;
  2. The larger context matters only insofar as it pertains to a specific, narrower organizational context and purpose;
  3. Financial performance is the paramount criteria of the private sector;
  4. Professional education is optimal preparation for leadership in a profession;
  5. Leadership can be taught to virtually anyone and everyone even simultaneously to large numbers of people in very different situations;
  6. Leadership can be learned quickly and easily as opposed to slowly and carefully;
  7. Leadership should be taught in silos—for example in different professional schools for different professional audiences;
  8. Leadership can be codified and summarized and packaged;
  9. The only thing worth learning is that which obviously is applicable—that which is not applicable is not relevant;
  10. Leadership is all-important and followership is unimportant;
  11. Good leadership is-important and bad leadership is unimportant; and
  12. Patterns of dominance and deference, e.g. men and women or leadership and followership, change only slightly over time, and, at that, only over long periods of time.[viii]

This leadership product of the leadership industry “is in danger of becoming obsolete.”[ix] Let’s certainly hope so!

Readers of this journal and academics will most likely join Kellerman in hoping for the demise of this portion of the leadership industry seen in its most popular versions on the book racks in airports. Yet there is the matter of the baby and the bath water. Upon joining the industry myself, as a founding member of the Jepson School of Leadership Studies at the University of Richmond, and engaged in developing an undergraduate leadership curriculum, I became more aware of the “literature” of leadership. Irreverently, I joked that half of it seemed intended to be read in airports and the other half seemed to have been written in airports.

That line generally got a laugh but did an egregious disservice to the serious efforts to understand leadership, the third-half of the field; where Kellerman has spent most of her time. There is a similar risk of hyperbolic straw persons if we broaden Kellerman’s critique as inclusive of all efforts to teach for and about leadership. Indeed, Kellerman points out some promising work of relevance and importance in the leadership field: works by John Kotter, Bill George, Robert Greenleaf, and James MacGregor Burns.[x] One can discuss Kellerman’s entire book in Ronald Heifetz’s terms, which she also mentions, of the adaptive work of critically assessing the juxtaposition between “the continuing centrality of the leader in our collective consciousness and the mounting evidence that in the real world leaders matter less now, not more.”[xi] This list may be a good start but the third-half of leadership studies, aimed at the serious air traveler at the very least, extends much further. It includes the work on chaos and complexity theory started by Margaret Wheatley and continued by Mary Uhl-Bien; to the readers and contributors to this journal involved with an integral theory of leadership; and to efforts to relate human development and leadership.[xii]

Thus, it is best to take Kellerman’s work as she intends it—a wake-up call to the leadership industry. “Humankind writ large is suffering from a crisis of confidence in those who are charged with leading wisely and well, and from a surfeit of mostly well-intentioned but finally false promises made by those supposed to make things better.”[xiii] She suggests four minimal steps that the leadership industry must take to become relevant to the learning needed for leadership in the 21st century.

  • Subject itself to critical analysis;
  • Reflect the changes that have occurred;
  • Transcend the situation specifics that make it so myopic; and
  •  End its leader-centrism.[xiv]

This essay will take up her invitation for a critical analysis of the leadership studies profession, including of course her book, using the last three suggested prescriptions. Thus this essay deals with the research and scholarly efforts to understand leadership.

Reflect the Changes that Have Occurred.

First, let’s put her criticism in context to reflect the changes that have occurred in the leadership studies profession. Others have criticized leadership studies before Kellerman. Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus looked over the studies of leadership and its various definitions and famously observed, “Never have so many labored so long to say so little.”[xv] They were criticizing the study of leadership, what the leadership industry up to that point had learned about leadership. James MacGregor Burns’s epic Leadership also criticized what we knew about leadership as part of his effort to remedy the mediocrity of leadership that he observed in the 1970s. “The fundamental crisis underlying mediocrity [or irresponsibility of some many of the men and women in power] is intellectual. If we know all too much about our leaders, we know far too little about leadership. We fail to grasp the essence of leadership that is relevant to the modern age and hence we cannot agree even on the standards by which to measure, recruit, and reject it.”[xvi] Burns clearly intended a purpose for leadership: “the satisfaction of human needs and expectations” and reaffirming “the possibilities of human volition and of common standards of justice in the conduct of peoples’ affairs.”[xvii] Robert Greenleaf[xviii] also changed the direction of leadership studies with a value-laden concept of servant leadership that lamented the mediocrity of institutions and urged people within them to serve as the trustees of highest institutional purposes.

These critics are familiar and stalwarts of the industry. There are other very insightful critics who have embraced the changes that have occurred and suggest that the end of leadership that Kellerman anticipates is well underway. They explicitly address the audience of serious air travelers who “may be getting more than a little tired and somewhat disenchanted with the same old ghost-written ‘I did it my way’ biographies of business leaders or the ‘Eleven leadership secrets book-sized business cards written by faceless consultants.” In a densely-packed short book on the study of leadership, Brad Jackson and Ken Parry summarize the arguments that they use “to convince our colleagues from other disciplines such as anthropology, classics, history and political science that leadership search is (a) a legitimate academic pursuit and (b) what they might already be doing themselves but are not explicitly aware of this.”[xix]

Other scholars look within the field of leadership studies and find not only the paradigms that Kellerman criticizes but emerging paradigms that are replacing them.  Susan Komives and John Dugan[xx] brought together several works to suggest a contemporary view that anticipates the direction to which Kellerman points.

Conventional and Contemporary Views

Conventional and Contemporary Views


To borrow from Mark Twain, evidence abounds within the third half of the leadership field of studies that the reports of the demise of the leadership that Kellerman writes about are not exaggerated. Her book reflects the changes in the practice of leadership that make null and void the conventional assumptions about leadership. Some in the field have already changed them.

Transcend the situation specifics that make the leadership industry so myopic.

An air of acute disappointment accompanies Kellerman’s assessment that despite its burgeoning development since the time of Bennis and Nanus, Burns, and Greenleaf, the leadership industry “has not [at least at the macro level] in any major, meaningful, measureable way improved the human condition.” We are not much, if any, further along in providing ideas of how to develop good leaders or to stop or slow bad ones.[xxi] Kellerman offers a litany of laments about the recent failures of leaders but unlike earlier critics attributes them, in part, to the leadership industry and its failure to teach well about or for leadership. “Bottom line: while the leadership industry has been thriving—growing and prospering beyond anyone’s early imaginings—leaders by and large are performing poorly, worse in many ways than before, miserably disappointing in any case to those among us who once believed that experts held the keys to the kingdom.”[xxii]

Setting aside the troubling assertion that experts hold the keys to any kingdom other than the realm of technical problems, Kellerman points to the shortcomings of situation specifics of some leadership development programs. For example, despite its extensive commitment to leadership development Goldman Sachs got into serious trouble along with other mega-financial institutions in the recent banking failure. “How could it not?” Kellerman replies. “How, given its limited purpose, maximizing profit, can any in-house leadership program provide its participants with the broadly based, objectively grounded learning experience that is required for leadership writ large, as opposed to leadership writ small?”[xxiii] (186). Kellerman argues, correctly, I believe, that this investment in leadership development and the continuing faulty assumptions of the leadership industry are in a reflexive relationship. Clients are looking for an anachronistic version of leadership that attributes wonderful outcomes to leaders, who are people in positions of authority, and the industry delivers it.

There may be other issues of myopia, however, that suggest a problem writ large rather than small and comparable to other fields of inquiry. Kellerman and I are both political scientists and thus aware that our disciplinary field can make few claims to have made a positive difference about or for politics over a much longer period of time than the leadership studies profession. Likewise, despite the examples of brilliant, insightful work in the fields of economics, history, philosophy, literary criticism, languages, religious studies, etc., it would be hard to claim an uncontestable contribution that any of these fields have made to improve the human condition.

The significant problem of specific insularity and myopia facing the leadership studies profession touches on larger issues of scholarship, generally. These give rise to differences in the methods of examining phenomena and reflect distinct epistemological and ontological assumptions about the phenomena of leadership.[xxiv] For example, the research canons of most disciplines prescribe a value neutrality. This neutrality explains, in part, why political science, for example, has given political leadership, a realm of competing values, so little attention.[xxv] Some scholars of leadership share this concern for value neutrality and these “epistemological limitations felt by researchers” give rise to inattention to justice and the common good (the latter is a central concern of Kellerman’s) in leadership theory. Like Bennis, Komives and Dugan argue this is a value-laden “critical and problematic oversight.”[xxvi] On the other hand, the leadership studies profession is ahead of other fields of inquiry in including values as its concern. Komives and Dugan point out, correctly I believe, “Nearly all contemporary theories suggest or assert that leadership is tied to social responsibility. How they define this, though, and the degree of its emphasis in particular models represent points of departure.”[xxvii]

Let us consider two points of departure in the leadership studies profession, the conceptual and the empirical, as two branches of leadership studies that differ in kind and degree. The conceptual continues a tradition that extends to beyond written records and asks primary questions about the appropriate roles and purposes of authority primarily in the social and political realm: what is the right thing to do? The empirical portion of the leadership studies profession, which is larger than the conceptual and has the most links to the other two halves of the leadership industry, is much more focused on formal organizational contexts, especially if not exclusively business: how do we do things right?

The dominance of the empirical portion leads to a conflation of terms and a reductionism of big ideas to operational terms: see faulty assumptions 2, 3, 6, 8, and 9. Perhaps Bernard Bass’s use, empirical, of Burns’s work, conceptual, best illustrates this. Burns’s “transforming leadership” became Bass’s “transformational leadership.” I seldom correct people now when they explain that Burns’s distinguished transactional and transformational leadership. Burns seldom uses the term transformational and almost always uses transforming, but Bass used these terms and their parallel structure proved much easier to remember. Semantics aside, however important, the larger point apropos Kellerman’s argument is that transforming leadership morphed from a process- and values-centric engagement of leaders and followers that lifted both to higher levels of motivation to morality into a leader-centric model (see faulty assumptions 1, 5, 8, and 10) that promised a path to extraordinary efforts of followers and improved organizational effectiveness.[xxviii] The dominance of organizational studies in the field of leadership studies reduced centuries-old question into an emphasis on the bottom line in the here and now. Burns opened Kellerman’s prescient collection on multidisciplinary perspectives on leadership with the caution that “no field of study calls for a more difficult and daring crossing of disciplinary borders than does the study of leadership, and no field suffers more from narrow specialization.”[xxix]

Kellerman correctly states that academia generally holds the study of leadership at arm’s length precisely because it does not seem to fit the phenomenological categories for rigorous, replicable and hence “suitable subject for serious study” (160).  Of course, we have academically prestigious research: for example, the GLOBE Study and Bass and Stogdill’s Handbook of Leadership.[xxx] The irony is that this portion of the leadership studies profession that is more likely to be value-neutral and highly specialized has more academic status than the conceptual. Generally, interdisciplinary work is less valued than specialized work within an academic discipline and its subdisciplines, including leadership studies. There is a catch-22 here. The leadership studies profession can enhance its academic status by more myopia to the purposes of leadership and more attention to the situational specificity that mark the rigorous, quantitative methods of other fields.

The point is that leadership studies have an empirical social and organizational psychology component with methodological underpinnings akin to other fields of study. The situational specificity of leadership studies that Kellerman gives attention to in the leadership industry has a parallel to the reductionism and operationalization of concepts that are part and parcel of methodologies of the leadership studies profession as well as of other fields.

End Leadership’s Leader-Centrism.

Kellerman traces several developments that have changed the context of leadership. She describes a historical trajectory that has lessened the power and status of those in positions of authority. This trajectory extends from leaders as heroic figures to leaders as bound by a social contract with their followers. For some followers, this social contract entails higher purposes, such as human rights, that authorize them to confront political authority with a new set of demands for social and political change, as demonstrated by the movements in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s; Tiananmen Square; the devolution of the Soviet Union; and the Arab Spring. Whether successful or not in their demands, some followers have demonstrated a willingness to go faster than those in authority to bring on change. Historically, heroic status and traditional social arrangements, although still very much a part of leadership, no longer provide sufficient legitimacy for the authority of those in power. Despite these changes, the leadership industry, which claims to train people to manage and conduct change, continues with leader-centric, follower-subordinate assumptions.

Cultural constraints have reduced hierarchies, another contextual change in leadership. We are less inclined to think of leadership as a solo act and more as a team effort. Similarly, we are less inclined to assume that the person in charge has all the requisite knowledge to handle every task and challenge facing a group. Moreover, the internet and interactive television– think American Idol–have given voice to fans rather than experts to decide winners and losers. Likewise, subordinates in the work place, the polling place, and the classroom evaluate those people who have had authority and seek to continue to have authority over them. Kellerman suggests that the leadership industry embrace this change rather than continue on the assumptions of 10 and 12.

In addition, Kellerman gives attention to new technologies that disperse democratic infrastructures and make elite control much more difficult. Social media have reduced the transactional costs of disseminating information, coordinating the actions of others, and trying to influence others. In addition, she suggests that a new social contract means a new understanding between leaders and followers with leaders losing prestige in American experience and followers gaining importance in global experience.

Despite this pretty clear-eyes assessment, Kellerman seems to display how deeply rooted faulty assumptions 10 and 12 are. She conflates terms by which leadership and leader are used interchangeably and implies a continuing hierarchy within leadership. Page after page we find leadership exemplified by leaders who are then contextualized in terms of “executives,” “the top,” “patterns of dominance and deference,” “cadres,” “elites,” “superiors,” “control,” “positions of power and authority,” “mid- and senior-level managers,” and the actions of a person in charge, i.e. a formal position of authority. Leaders, followers, and context form an equilateral triangle, she posits, but followers are defined by rank. They are “subordinates who have less power, authority and influence that do their superiors,” i.e. leaders.[xxxi]

The leader/follower duality of our leadership parlance today will someday be as antiquated as the ruler/subject duality that marked our thinking of leadership up until the 20th century. If Kellerman is right, and I think she is, we may not survive the 21st century if that duality of thought continues. My own work has involved close looks at community leadership especially in low-income areas of the rural South and Appalachia. These are people without positions of formal authority and coercive power and certainly absent of subordinated “followers.” Heifetz explains the inadequacy of the term followership in those instances where leadership inspires the agency of others and the power within to find power with others.

The black and white people mobilized by the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s felt mobilized to exercise leadership themselves; and most became engaged citizens. Few, if any, had an experience of ‘followership.’ In short, the term inaccurately describes a leadership that mobilizes responsibility-taking and generates more leadership.[xxxii]

Jackie Reed, a community organizer in the Westside of Chicago was one of those whom King inspired in the 1960s when she lived in Mississippi. After 40 years of her own efforts at social change, she told me, “Leadership sets up an opportunity for others to give their gifts, for others to contribute to community.”[xxxiii] The critical task for the serious study of leadership is to separate the concept leadership from leader as a noun denoting a person in charge with formal authority and to attach it to the verb to lead. The leadership of a leader is in leading.

I was tested on this approach to leadership when I consulted with a small liberal arts college in the Midwest on the formation of a leadership program for undergraduates. The president took the measure of the consultant his staff had just brought on, me, and only half-jokingly dismissed his notion that a program for leadership should be for everyone. He clearly had ingested many of the staple and faulty assumptions of the leadership industry and proposed a small program for a select few. I explained to him that he had a serious problem if he did that. Puzzled he asked what problem? I explained to him that the mission statement of his school spoke of providing an experience to prepare its students for a life of leadership. It did not claim to do that for some and to prepare others for a life of followership. He adeptly rebutted, “What is leadership?” Ah, the definitional moment! How to meet it as a sequitur to my point about the mission statement and leadership preparation for all? From somewhere, I heard a voice similar to mine say, “Leadership is taking initiative on behalf of shared values and for the benefit of others.”

I have come to like that definition quite a bit. Leadership is an action that the president of the college clearly has responsibility to take. The most interesting conversation I had on campus however was with the housekeeping staff to examine its leadership role. They knew before others on campus those students who were depressed, those who had too much to drink, and who in other ways might have risks to their academic and personal development. I also had success with the faculty by relating the extensive research on leadership competencies of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management–work that deserves much more attention[xxxiv]–with the outcomes that we hold near and dear for the liberal arts. In other words, those in formal positions of authority, and there are many, and those without it have equal responsibility for taking initiative on behalf of the values of the group and its benefit.

This definition begs important questions about leadership: what makes for effective initiative; what values good and bad (Did Hitler exercise leadership in these terms?); and shared with whom—a majority, minority, living, dead? Nevertheless, it permits more people to take responsibility for their groups, organizations, and nations and certainly resonates with several elements of the leadership studies profession. For example, Greenleaf’s servant leadership, although implicitly hierarchical, emphasizes leadership as distributed trusteeship for our institutions. He rested his hope for organizational and individual renewal that promote social purpose and benefit on organizations that serve and lead and assist individuals within them to do the same. This is the core meaning of his oft-cited point that the desire to serve must precede the ambition to achieve positions of authority.  It also goes to the heart of Kellerman’s insistence on more emphasis on followership but leaves its hierarchical assumptions aside. People with and without authority in groups, organizations, families, and nations have a shared leadership responsibility to take initiative on behalf of the shared values of the group and on its behalf. Authority, formal and informal, invests some people with roles for leading that may differ in degree but not in kind.

In order to break from leader-centric assumptions in the leadership studies profession, develop a more critical leadership studies profession, and establish learning for 21st century leadership, we may need to talk about “authority” rather than leadership when we refer to people in formal and informal positions of authority.[xxxv] This may mean, contrary to Kellerman’s assertion, that the assumption, “Leadership can be taught to virtually anyone and everyone even simultaneously to large numbers of people in very different situations” is not a faulty one. It may apply to authority, as in not everyone can be taught to handle authority well, much better than it applies to leadership, as in taking initiative on behalf of shared values and common benefit.

We began by invoking the leadership of a child, and let’s close that way. Kellerman suggests that the emperor of the leadership industry has no clothes. I think that she would also extol the legendary Dutch boy as a good follower. Sidney Hook perpetuated the leader as hero paradigm and its restricted perspective on leadership. He staked out the distinction of “eventful” and “event-making” leaders. The mythical Dutch boy whose action of plugging a leak in a dike with his finger saves the whole town from calamity portrays eventful leadership for Hook. “Almost anybody in the situation could have done it. . . . All that was required was a boy, a finger, and the lucky chance of passing by… The qualities required to cope with the situation were of a fairly common distribution.”[xxxvi] Heifetz concludes a story of two women who stepped up to plug the dike of alcohol addiction in the First Nation Tribe of which they were members. It is a paean to Dutch boys: “the world is full of people like Maggie and Lois… who have exercised leadership sometimes only at key moments, and sometimes in sustained efforts, but quietly without notice… So to equate leadership with authority not only ignores a widespread and critically important social phenomenon, but also does injustice to all of these heroic people practicing necessary everyday leadership.”[xxxvii] Kellerman leaves us with a call for new paradigms. I took away the continued awareness of the importance of the initiative of people within the leadership studies profession with qualities “of a fairly common distribution”—to say what they see and to do what they can—on behalf of shared values and common benefit. Without it our ideas on leadership won’t hold water despite their appearance.


[i] Kellerman, B. (Ed.), (1983). Leadership: Multidisciplinary perspectives.  New York: Prentice Hall.

[ii] Kellerman, B. (1986). Political leadership: A source book. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press.

Kellerman, B. (Ed.). (2010). Leadership: Essential selections on power, authority, and influence. New York: McGraw-Hill.

[iii] Kellerman, B., & Rhode, D. L. (Eds.). (2007). Women and leadership: The state of play and strategies for change. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Kellerman, B. (2008). Followership: How followers are creating change and changing leaders. Boston: Harvard Business School Press. Kellerman, B. (2004). Bad leadership: What it is, how it happens, why it matters. Boston: Harvard Business Press.

[iv] Kellerman, B. (2007) James MacGregor Burns: Leo as Leader. In R. Couto (Ed.) Reflections on leadership (pp. 9-18). Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, Inc.

[v] Kellerman, B. 2012. The End of Leadership. New York: Harper Business, p. 190.

[vi] Kellerman, The end of leadership, p. xiii.

[vii] Kellerman, The end of leadership, p. xiv.

[viii] Kellerman, The end of leadership, pp. 190-95.

[ix] Kellerman, The end of leadership, p. 200.

[x] Kellerman, The end of leadership, pp. 181-82.

[xi] Kellerman, The end of leadership, p. 155.

[xii] Wheatley, M. J. (1992). Leadership and the new science:Learning about organization from an orderly universe. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.

Uhl-Bien, M., & R. Marion. 2007. Complexity leadership: Part 1. Conceptual             foundations. Charlotte, NC:             Information Age. Volckmann, R. (2010). Integral Leadership Theory. In. R. A. Couto (Ed.) Political and Civic             Leadership: A Reference Handbook (pp. 121-27). Thousand Oaks, Ca.: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Helsing, D. (2010). Human development. In. R. A. Couto (Ed.) Political and Civic Leadership: A Reference             Handbook (pp. 678-89). Thousand Oaks, Ca.: SAGE Publications, Inc.  For an excellent and early discussion of             leader attribution error see Meindl, J. R., S. B. Ehrlich and J. M. Dukerich. 1985. The Romance of Leadership.              Administrative Science Quarterly. Vol. 30, No. 1 (Mar.), pp. 78-102.

[xiii] Kellerman, The end of leadership, p. xiv.

[xiv] Kellerman, The end of leadership, p. 200.

[xv] Bennis, W., & Nanus, B. (1985). Leaders: Strategies for taking charge. New York: Harper & Row, p. 4.

[xvi] Burns, J. M. 1978. Leadership. New York: Harper & Row, pp. 1-2.

[xvii] Burns, J. M. 1978. Leadership. New York: Harper & Row, pp. 3-4.

[xviii] Greenleaf, R. K. (1977). Servant leadership: A journey into the nature of legitimate power and greatness. New York: Paulist Press.

[xix] Jackson, B. and Parry, K. (2008).  A Very Short, Fairly Interesting and Reasonably Cheap Book about Studying Leadership.  SAGE Publications: Thousand Oaks, Ca., pp. 1-2. Note the ironic title for a book about the serious and rigorous study of a topic. Bowing to the conventions of the leadership industry, they suggest that the book can be read in a four hour plane or train ride, p. 1.

[xx] Komives, S. R. and Dugan, J. P. (2010). Contemporary leadership theories. In. R. A. Couto (Ed.) Political and Civic Leadership: A Reference Handbook (pp. 111-120). Thousand Oaks, Ca.: SAGE Publications, Inc.

[xxi] Kellerman, The end of leadership, p. xiv.

[xxii] Kellerman, The end of leadership, p. xv.

[xxiii] Kellerman, The end of leadership, p. 186.

[xxiv] Guba, E. G., & Lincoln, Y. S. (2000). Paradigmatic controversies, contradictions, and emerging confluences.Competing paradigms. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research 2nd ed. (pp. 163-88). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

[xxv] Doig, J. W., & E. C. Hargrove. (Eds.). 1987. Leadership and innovation: A biographical perspective on entrepreneurs in government. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

[xxvi] Komives, S. R. and Dugan, J. P. (2010). Contemporary leadership theories. In. R. A. Couto (Ed.) Political and Civic Leadership: A Reference Handbook (p. 117). Thousand Oaks, Ca.: SAGE Publications, Inc.

[xxvii] Komives, S. R. and Dugan, J. P. (2010). Contemporary leadership theories. In. R. A. Couto (Ed.) Political and Civic Leadership: A Reference Handbook (p. 117). Thousand Oaks, Ca.: SAGE Publications, Inc.

[xxviii] Bass, B. M. (1985). Leadership and performance beyond expectations. New York: Free Press.

Bass, B. M., & Avolio, B. J. (1994). Improving organizational effectiveness through transformational leadership. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Bass, B. M., & Riggio, R. E. (2006). Transformational leadership. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum             Associates.

[xxix] Kellerman, B. (1984) (Ed.) Leadership: Multidisciplinary perspectives. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., p. vii.

[xxx] House, R. J., Hanges, P. J., Javidan, M., Dorfman, P., & Gupta, V. (2004). Culture, leadership, and organizations: The GLOBE study of 62 societies. Thousand Oaks,CA: SAGE Publications. Bass, B. M. (1990). Bass & Stogdill’s handbook of leadership: Theory, research, and managerial applications (3rd ed.). New York: Macmillan.

[xxxi] Kellerman, The end of leadership, p. xx.

[xxxii] Heifetz, R. A. (2007).  The scholarly/practical challenge of leadership” In R. A. Couto (Ed.), Reflections on Leadership (pp. 41-2). Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

[xxxiii] Couto, R. A. 2002. To give their gifts: Health, community, and democracy. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press, p. xvii.

[xxxiv] Joyce, M. E. and Adams, W. C. (2010). Leadership competencies. In. R. A. Couto (Ed.) Political and Civic Leadership: A Reference Handbook, II (pp. 875-885). Thousand Oaks, Ca.: SAGE Publications, Inc.

[xxxv] For an introduction to some of this literature see Harter, N. W. (2010). The social origins of authority and Christiano, T. (2010) Authority. In. R. A. Couto (Ed.) Political and Civic Leadership: A Reference Handbook  (pp. 60-68 and 79-87). Thousand Oaks, Ca.: SAGE Publications, Inc.

[xxxvi] Hook, S. (1992). The hero in history: A study in limitation and possibility. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishing, p. 99.

[xxxvii] Heifetz, R. A. (2007).  The scholarly/practical challenge of leadership” In R. A. Couto (Ed.), Reflections on Leadership (pp. 36-7). Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

 About the Author

Richard A. Couto, PhD, is Distinguished Senior Scholar, Union Institute & University> He has a long and distinguished career in leadership studies and has published numerous books and articles in professional journals.

One thought on “A Review of Barbara Kellerman, The End of Leadership

  1. Pierre Gauthier

    Excellent review! One aspect of I find missing from this analysis, however, is the integral view. “The End of Leadership” sounds to me rather more like “the end of First Tier Leadership”. As an Integral Executive Coach, I find that many of the leaders I work are operating at Orange or Green. They are also fairly typical of leaders in most organizations today. The problems they face, and their solutions to those problems (which typically create other problems) are all rooted in First Tier thinking, processes and values. I would contend that most, if not all, of the crises of leadership we see today are the simple and expected result of our societal center of gravity being at Orange/Green. We have reached the limits of what First Tier thinking is capable of doing. Our leaders are First Tier thinkers with First Tier values, and this is reflected in the choices they make and the messes they create. I also observe that many leadership theorists (Greenleaf included) seem to be longing for the leaders of yesteryear, who were Red/Amber, because those leaders were far more interested in the welfare of the collective than are the leaders produced by an Orange culture (where the individual is of paramount importance). Your definition of leadership as “taking initiative on behalf of shared values and for the benefit of others” is very RED/Amber. An Orange definition would be more like “mobilizing and motivating others to bring about the realization of the leader’s vision”. Much of Western society, including our institutions and their leaders, is running headlong into the limits of First Tier perspectives, and only wide-scale transformation to Second Tier levels will make those problems go away. First Tier problems cannot be solved by First Tier thinking, First Tier institutions, or First Tier leaders. That is why it is time for the end of First Tier leadership.

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