CriticalReflection on the End of Leadership
TheEnd of Leadershipby Barbara Kellerman is an interesting book that talks about changeand the leadership industry. According to Kellerman (2012), in thelast forty years, leadership and followership have undergone rapidchanges owing to technological and Cultural Revolution. The authorstates that the balancing power between the followers and theirleaders has tremendously shifted, with the followers becomingstronger compared to their leaders who turn out to be becomingweaker. As a result, Kellerman has further criticized the21st-century leaders who need to adapt to changes and incorporatesignificant views and ideas of followers. In the author’sperspective, the leader-centric model should be changed to cope withleadership in this era of global information (Kellerman, 2012).
Accordingto Kellerman, regarding leadership, power has shifted from the handsof leaders to their followers. Without a doubt, the traditionalleaders were hero-leaders, autocrats and role models worth to beemulated. However, as time changes, followers no longer believe intheir leaders. Technology advancements have further amplified thepower shift because it makes communication and self-expressioneasier. Noticeably, sites such as Facebook and YouTube provideemployees with a suitable platform to post their comments, videos andpictures about their leaders and organizations. In return, theinnovation has increased employees` expectations of transparency,accountability and influence. Consequently, technological advanceshave further leveled the playing field for both leaders and theirfollowers.
Asa result of technological changes, information is shared at anunthinkable speed. The technology advancement has enabled enforcementof transparency and accountability of leaders. In fact, it is noweasy to know about leaders` insights, actions and non-actions, aswell as, their tools (Kellerman, 2012).
Inher book, Kellerman argues that there exists a gap between teachingand practicing leadership in the world. Indeed, the social contracthas changed. For example, the problem of a broken social contractbetween politicians and American citizens can be recognized in mostcompanies globally. First, many employees feel disappointed anddistrust their leaders. The unrealistic differences in compensationand high unemployment are some of the reasons that have changed thetraditional social contract and connection between leaders andfollowers. Secondly, most individuals in high management positionslack character, moral and courage. This moral quagmire can be seenfrom well-known scandals in American and other parts of the globe.Many leaders have failed when it comes to acting ethically andefficiency. In the book, Kellerman (2012), the author further statesthat the broken social contract has led to the easy distinction offollowers as, participants, isolates, bystanders and activists.Therefore, time has come when everyone should take responsibility andact in an ethical manner. There is a need for a broader and moreparticipatory style of leadership where the intellectual and emotionsof the followers are included for a change. Organizations should layemphasis on the significance of followers in addition to spendingtheir resources in increasing good followership (Kellerman, 2012).
Inthe contemporary world, followers are more powerful than they were inthe some decades ago. According to Kellerman, today’s leaderssuffer from a crisis of confidence and false promises. She asserts,"Forwhatever the industry`s small, generally narrow successes, humankindwrit large is suffering from a crisis of confidence in those who arecharged with leading wisely and from a surfeit of mostlywell-intentioned but finally false promises made by those supposed tomake things better"(Kellerman, 2012). She argues that the immense societal changes andthe multimedia politics have resulted in the downgrade of leaders,while their followers are upgraded. Indeed, leadership has reduced toanother kind of entertainment and personality that is significantenough to keep the audience engaged. With the twenty-first-centurytechnology, it is not easy to tame individuals from speaking aboutthe master. The internet culture has altered the context ofexercising leadership. Both the French and the American revolutionsare examples of ways the powerless can impose on the powerfulleaders.
Accordingto Kellerman (2012), the trend of followers is on the rise.Unfortunately, the trend of the leaders is declining. Also, thepatterns of dominance have changed with time. Clearly, the nature ofconversation, as a result of technology, has changed leadership andfollowership from a top-down conversation to a bottom –up approach.Historically, most organizations were structured in a way that thechief information officers were responsible to report to ChiefFinancial Officer. However, this is no longer the case. The CEOrequires the information to be sent to him or her directly since theinception of technological advancement power. It is evident that thebalance shift of those who had power, influence and authority, aswell as, those who do not possess it could never be undone.Consequently, leaders are not taken in high regard as they used tobe. This is because there is plenty of information about them that isavailable to everyone, and thus, holds them to impossible standards. It has become easy to chase leaders using social media to the extentthat they have no chance to maneuver any longer. For this reason,teaching leadership has become obsolete because leaders arepowerless, and the crowd is what matters. Thus, there is a need torethink the aim of leadership (Kellerman, 2012).
Inher book, Kellerman thinks that the leadership industry in Americahas a deficit. As the industry continues to thrive, there is noobvious development in the quality of leadership. The leaders are indisrepute while followers are disenchanted, as well as, disappointed. In her argument, she thinks that four changes that should be madeinclude ending leader-centrism, change with changing times andsubject leadership to a critical scrutiny. In short, she believesthat leaders should be more democratic, and at the same time, lessautocratic. She further suggests that equity in the workplace shouldbe improved. In her book, Kellerman points out that America shouldincrease the civic engagement of citizens in order to help leadershipindustry to flourish again (Kellerman, 2012).
Inconclusion, Kellerman predicts a breakdown of leadership systems inthe future, if the changing conditions are not adopted.Traditionally, leaders were powerful compared to what they are today. In her observation, leadership power and influence continue todiminish, and a new paradigm is needed. A critical review of thisbook, TheEnd of Leadership,demonstrates how technological changes and Cultural Revolution haveaffected the leadership industry. According to Kellerman,21st-century leaders should adapt to the changes to cope withleadership in this era of global information. The traditional socialcontract and connection between leaders and followers should beamended by enhancing equality in the workplace. Therefore, bothleaders and followers should be responsible for their actions at theworkplace.
Kellerman,B. (2012). The end of leadership. New York, NY: Harper Business.
Northouse,P. G. (2010). Leadership:Theory and practice.Thousand Oaks, NJ: Sage Publications.