Don't read this!

The secret of leadership cannot be found in an article.

Johan Schaberg | November 2007 issue
A search for the term “leadership” in any online book source will yield scores of hits for authentic leaders, service-oriented leaders, effective leaders, inspiring leaders, coaching leaders and so on. What does that say about us: that we fritter away our time, en masse, reading other people’s stories about their leadership abilities? The writers or ghost writers of these books closely examine how Jack Welch or Donald Trump do what they did. These books distill the story of these leaders into a couple of nice lessons or a general theory that point the way to how a
savvy person can attain a prominent position in the world of business or society.
It is never the leaders themselves who write the books; they have neither the time nor the patience. More to the point, why would they? Leaders don’t spend their time thinking up theories or models, let alone writing about them. They are initiators and doers, a little like top athletes. If a high jumper focusses on his exact technique during the approach because he plans to write a book about it, he won’t clear the bar. Nor do leaders buy these books. Leaders already know all about how to lead, which they usually learned very early on.
The people who buy leadership books think there is a secret somewhere out there that will unlock the door to success. I think that these readers are not what they want to be. This makes them unhappy and they’re trying to change things by adjusting their behaviour. But it is precisely this tendency to think too much about making changes that stands in their way.
Once upon a time we had heroes. We used to hear tales about greats such as Odysseus and King David. We read books about the Three Musketeers, Joan of Arc or the Jewish poet Etty Hillesum. It wasn’t that we wanted to be these heroes, but we were aware that sometime, somewhere, strong and noble people worked to make the world better. They were a little like family, so we shared in their fame. We didn’t have to do the things they did; we could continue working the field and raising our children, which was also important, and just happened to be the work that needed to be done where we lived.
The heroes of yesteryear have faded into the twilight and the honour of belonging somewhere has largely disappeared. So we now feel a need to become what we are not, and we buy self-help books to learn to be leaders. Later we’ll figure out in which direction we are actually leading; surely there are books on that too.
Above this article, it states, “Don’t read this!” Those who read it anyway are either leaders who won’t be told what to do or non-leaders who are happy to follow. Neither would buy books on leadership. Bravo!
Johan Schaberg is an author and leadership consultant in the Netherlands. And, yes, he has written a book on leadership.
 

Solution News Source

Don't read this!

The secret of leadership cannot be found in an article.

Johan Schaberg | November 2007 issue
A search for the term “leadership” in any online book source will yield scores of hits for authentic leaders, service-oriented leaders, effective leaders, inspiring leaders, coaching leaders and so on. What does that say about us: that we fritter away our time, en masse, reading other people’s stories about their leadership abilities? The writers or ghost writers of these books closely examine how Jack Welch or Donald Trump do what they did. These books distill the story of these leaders into a couple of nice lessons or a general theory that point the way to how a
savvy person can attain a prominent position in the world of business or society.
It is never the leaders themselves who write the books; they have neither the time nor the patience. More to the point, why would they? Leaders don’t spend their time thinking up theories or models, let alone writing about them. They are initiators and doers, a little like top athletes. If a high jumper focusses on his exact technique during the approach because he plans to write a book about it, he won’t clear the bar. Nor do leaders buy these books. Leaders already know all about how to lead, which they usually learned very early on.
The people who buy leadership books think there is a secret somewhere out there that will unlock the door to success. I think that these readers are not what they want to be. This makes them unhappy and they’re trying to change things by adjusting their behaviour. But it is precisely this tendency to think too much about making changes that stands in their way.
Once upon a time we had heroes. We used to hear tales about greats such as Odysseus and King David. We read books about the Three Musketeers, Joan of Arc or the Jewish poet Etty Hillesum. It wasn’t that we wanted to be these heroes, but we were aware that sometime, somewhere, strong and noble people worked to make the world better. They were a little like family, so we shared in their fame. We didn’t have to do the things they did; we could continue working the field and raising our children, which was also important, and just happened to be the work that needed to be done where we lived.
The heroes of yesteryear have faded into the twilight and the honour of belonging somewhere has largely disappeared. So we now feel a need to become what we are not, and we buy self-help books to learn to be leaders. Later we’ll figure out in which direction we are actually leading; surely there are books on that too.
Above this article, it states, “Don’t read this!” Those who read it anyway are either leaders who won’t be told what to do or non-leaders who are happy to follow. Neither would buy books on leadership. Bravo!
Johan Schaberg is an author and leadership consultant in the Netherlands. And, yes, he has written a book on leadership.
 

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