Dissent and the Failure of Leadership

Dissent and the Failure of Leadership

New Horizons in Leadership Studies series

Edited by Stephen P. Banks

A timely discussion of dissent as a critical factor that differentiates leadership failures and successes. This book explores the vital but largely unrecognized connections between leadership and dissent. From interdisciplinary perspectives the author demonstrates dissent as a critical factor that differentiates leadership failures and successes and examines how dissent is implicated in problems plaguing theory development in leadership studies. By way of conclusion new proposals for legitimating dissent as a unique instrument for advancing social development and avoiding failures of leadership are presented.

Chapter 10: The Sanctity of Dissent

Paul Toscano

Subjects: politics and public policy, leadership


Paul Toscano INTRODUCTION This chapter originally appeared in a book that justified dissent within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Toscano, 1995). My arguments, however, apply not only to ecclesiastical settings but to institutions and organizations of the academy, of industry, of commerce and finance, and of the military (except, perhaps, when in actual combat). I have made some minor editorial changes to the original chapter to give my arguments a more general scope and application. However, for the most part I continue to illustrate my points with references to LDS Church doctrine, history and practice, leaving the generalization of specific examples to the reader. My purpose was to explain to the LDS community why dissent should be embraced as holy – that is, as inspired and ordained of God and necessary to the spiritual well being of the church and its members. Here, I expand that purpose to include the broader contexts just described. To dissent is to differ in sentiment or opinion, to disagree with the philosophy, methods or goals of others, especially the majority. It is to withhold one’s assent. Dissent is almost always disruptive. It can be dangerous, even violent. There exist forms of dissent as acceptable as casting a ballot, as provocative as crossing a boundary, as intolerable as terrorism or hate crimes. Moreover, the purposes of dissent may range from the sublimely noble to the utterly contemptible. Clearly, a community need not endure every manifestation of dissent. Nevertheless, dissent in...

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