The Dialogue of Disciplines
New Horizons in Leadership Studies series
Edited by Michael Harvey and Ronald E. Riggio
Chapter 1: Introduction: The Dialogue of Disciplines
Ronald E. Riggio The discussion and study of leadership is old – stretching back to the earliest of written texts. As Bernard Bass (Bass and Bass, 2008) notes in The Bass Handbook of Leadership, “Myths and legends about great leaders were important in the development of civilized societies” (p. 4). Leaders and leadership are important themes in the ancient Greek and Latin classics, in the Old Testament of the Bible, in the Hindu religious texts, and in the Canons of Confucianism. Bass also notes that Egyptian hieroglyphs for leader, leadership and follower were written over 5000 years ago. So leadership is woven into the very fabric of civilization. Taken further, the roots of leadership are likely “hard-wired” into the DNA of humans, and of all social animals. Dominance hierarchies are critical to the structure of social groups, and the higher that animals go in the evolutionary chain, the more the behavior of dominant “alpha” males or females begins to look like the evolutionary roots of leadership. These social animal packs look to the alpha “leader” for direction, for protection, and the pack leader plays a critical role in keeping the social order. For instance, in wolves, the pack’s dominant male plays a critical role in hunting activities and initiating travel, while the dominant female takes the lead in protecting the pack and in nurturing pups (Mech, 2000). Indeed, scholars in animal behavior have recently begun to explore parallels between pack animals’ dominance behavior and leadership (for example, Bonanni et al., 2010)...