Fact and Fantasy about Leadership

Fact and Fantasy about Leadership

New Horizons in Leadership Studies series

Micha Popper

This inspiring book posits that followers are the key to understanding the leadership phenomenon. It analyses leader–follower dynamics in social and organizational settings and in politics which will strongly appeal to students of social psychology, sociology, management and political sciences. The book provides examples and in-depth analyses of ‘the psychology of followership in everyday life’ and will therefore prove invaluable for managers. A special emphasis is given to leader–follower dynamics at various levels of organizational life.

Chapter 4: The Big Picture

Micha Popper

Subjects: business and management, business leadership, organisational behaviour, politics and public policy, leadership


A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral. (Antoine de St. Exupery) LEADERSHIP – BETWEEN THE LOCAL AND THE UNIVERSAL Two children who felt ill were taken to hospital. After they were examined the father of one of the children was told that his son had been diagnosed with a severe disease that might prove fatal. The only thing that could save his life was orange peel. The father of the other child was also told that his son had a severe disease (a different one) and the only thing that could save him was the flesh of an orange. This was the background story given to two participants who were about to engage in a role-playing exercise that is often used in workshops on interpersonal communications. The story was told to each participant separately without their knowing of each other. During the role-playing the two participants ‘find’ an orange at the same moment (handed to them by the facilitator) and from then on, through their interactions, they are expected to decide what to do. The situation is characterized by the fact that the orange has crucial meaning for both sides. Each one feels that their child’s life depends on the orange, and each feels that the orange is theirs. In most cases the participants regard this exercise as a kind of Judgment of Solomon story, a zero-sum game. The people observing the role-playing are...

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