In this UTAS Open Day public lecture, Professor Jeff Malpas argues that the prevalent idea of leadership in Australian society involves a problematic conception equating leadership with the exercise of power. This form of leadership is shown to be antithetical to genuine ethical conduct and also to the real essence of leadership when properly understood.
Text from slideshow:
What is politics if not the practice of negotiation in the face of a multiplicity of interests and opinions concerning the public ordering of our lives? Thus minority government merely brings to the fore the essentially negotiatory character of politics as such.
So why the concern over minority government?
Because politics is increasingly seen not as a practice of negotiation but as the operation of control or the attempt to gain control – politics as negotiation, with the power sharing that it requires, has become something to be avoided and even feared.
Fear of minority government is connected with a conception of leadership that has become dominant in contemporary organisations
Leadership is understood as:
Contemporary leadership is also closely tied to an increasing individualisation in contemporary culture.
Conclusion from a 2010 study of UK supermarket management and organisational practices:
Leadership appeared to be a euphemism for the demand that managers mobilise their personal physical, emotional and social resources to make up for the discrepancies between targets and resources and be ardent pursuers of the employer’s end of the wage-effort bargain – Irena Grugulis, Ödül Bozkurt and Jeremy Clegg, “‘No place to hide’? The realities of leadership in UK supermarkets”, SKOPE Research Paper No. 91 May 2010.
Henry Mintzberg, Financial Times, October 2006:
We have this obsession with ‘leadership’. Its intention may to be to empower people, but its effect is often to disempower them. By focusing on the single person, even in the context of others, leadership becomes part of the syndrome of individuality that is sweeping the world and undermining organisations in particular and communities in general.
Isn’t it time to think of our organisations as communities of cooperation, and in so doing put leadership in its place: not gone, but alongside other important social processes … This obsession with leadership is the cause of many of the world’s problems. And with this, let us get rid of the cult of leadership, striking at least one blow at our increasing obsession with individuality.
Leadership tied to a culture of control and compliance:
Working through a range of mechanisms:
Authorised by the Director of Marketing
27 October, 2011