I just typed “leadership” into amazon.com and came up with over 200,000 books! Leadership is a hot topic these days and everyone seems to have something to say about it. Having read (or skimmed) my fair share of the leadership literature, and even dabbled in taking some leadership courses myself, I can safely say that for the most part, the courses, consulting and writing are concerned with descriptions, instructions, principles, steps, styles, techniques, strategies, experiences, and examples-to-emulate.
If you pick up the newspaper as I do each day, after having gotten over the enormous disturbance from what I read (usually requiring something like a strong cup of coffee), I always come away thinking that leadership is unquestionably lacking in our world. And moreover, I think to myself, if it were present, many of the problems and dilemmas that we face would be resolved—and that wholly new possibilities would arise for humanity that are currently, at best, only dreamed of.
I suggest that there is a strong relationship between these two observations: the problematic condition of the world with its lack of leadership—and how we understand, learn, and develop leadership.
Descriptions, instructions, principles, steps, styles, techniques, strategies, experiences, and even examples of effective leaders, do not make someone into a leader. They don’t yield the being and actions of a leader. Our understanding, our educating, and our developing of leaders is lacking in a profound way. We’re going in the wrong direction. To paraphrase what has been attributed to the American writer, Rita Mae Brown: insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result.
What is missing is an approach that deals with the being and actions of effective leadership. Ontology is such an access. The word comes from the Greek: “ontos” = to exist or be, and “logos” = the logic or knowledge of. What is needed now is an approach to developing leadership that yields the existence or being of a leader, and then in following, the appropriate actions of leadership. What is needed is an ontological approach. Such an approach could provide a breakthrough in humanity’s quest to create a world that works for us all.
We have such an approach.