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‘Ladies and gentlemen: leadership has left the building’

Jon Aarum Andersen

Keywords: leadership definitions; managerial leadership; political leadership; followers; subordinates; tasks; philosophy


Leadership scholars tend to conflate managerial leadership with leadership of political, humanitarian or religious movements. Thus, definitions of formal leadership (management) versus political leadership are called for. For theoretical development and empirical research, it is imperative to distinguish managerial leadership from political leadership. What properties must exist for leadership to exist and to be what it is? The argument here is that leader, subordinates and tasks are the properties that must exist for managerial leadership to exist. Political leadership, however, contains the properties of leader, leader's goals and followers. The political leadership concept does not specify any tasks assigned to the followers. Additionally, some leadership researchers argue that we need to rethink leadership by making or changing leadership into a question of the science of philosophy, as though questions of ontology and epistemology were especially imperative or crucial for leadership research. Some argue that leadership scholars should be philosophers and supreme experts on scientific methods. Finally, an answer is given to those few researchers who have questioned the very existence of leadership.

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