New Horizons in Leadership Studies series
Edited by Stephen P. Banks
Chapter 13: Afterword: The Promise of Dissent for Leaders
Stephen P. Banks INTRODUCTION This volume began with a quote from Lee Iacocca about the absence of leaders in contemporary politics and corporations. His observation seconds Margaret Wheatley’s question: ‘Where have all the leaders gone?’ (Wheatley, 2005: 164; Warren Bennis asked the same question over a quarter century ago – see Bennis, 1973; 2001: 11). Both Iacocca and Wheatley stress the urgent need for new leadership, but they see diﬀerent routes to ‘ﬁnding our way’, as Wheatley characterizes the quest for more humane and eﬀective group processes. Iacocca looks to greater citizen participation in public life, more accountability among legislators, improved character among leaders and less passivity among followers. Wheatley breaks away from traditional concepts of the individual leader and envisions new processes and forms of organizing that embrace connectivity, sharing, apprenticing and transforming aggression into creativity. The dissent-focused essays in this volume may be thought to mark a midpoint between the ambitions of changing the motives and morals of leaders and followers, as Iacocca would have us do, and changing human nature and forms of sociation, as Wheatley advocates. As such, learning to embrace dissent might be a transitional step toward realizing the kind of world Wheatley envisions and observes being practiced in limited instances, a necessary phase of improved interacting that ultimately makes the current concepts of leadership and followership obsolete. WHAT DISSENT BRINGS TO LEADERS It might take many generations to overcome cultural resistance to Wheatley’s ideas of ﬂattened hierarchies and leading by community. She...
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