What is it about?

This article reconsider leadership effectiveness as the concept is expressed through two gurus in the field of leadership studies, James MacGregor Burns and Joseph C. Rost. Our leadership effectiveness literature is dominated by an image of acting as making (homo-faber). This article raises another image of acting as initiating and considers its implications for leadership effectiveness.

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Why is it important?

Burns claims that "The ultimate test of practical leadership is the realization of intended real change that meets people's enduring needs." For Rost (1991), on the other hand, while he also saw leadership as an ‘influence relationship among leaders and followers who intend real change that reflect their mutual purposes . . .’ (p. 102), he claimed that ‘leadership may still be leadership when the relationship fails to produce (intended) results.’ So, which is it? Arguing that it is both, this article focuses on the implications of both images of action for the study of leadership effectiveness.

Perspectives

I sincerely hope that leadership educators will pay attention to the significance and implications of the concept and image of action as initiating. I believe that the results of acting as initiating is more true to life in that we do suffer the unintended and boundless consequences of our actions. It is not so very neatly "tied up" to the image of acting as making. Hope you have fun with acting as initiating as I had with playing with the concept of leadership effectiveness.

Stan Amaladas
University of Manitoba

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This page is a summary of: Leadership effectiveness and the problem of social action: Continuing the conversation between Burns and Rost, Leadership, July 2018, SAGE Publications, DOI: 10.1177/1742715018787909.
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