A Very Short, Fairly Interesting and Reasonably Cheap Book About Studying Leadership

Book by Brad Jackson and Ken Parry, Sage Publications; 2008.

Hats off to Jackson and Parry for a book that exceeds the expectations set by its cover. This somewhat short, quite relevant, and loaned book came from a colleague who just finished his PhD in the field of leadership studies. Written by two professors of leadership studies – Jackson is a professor of leadership at Auckland Business School and Parry is a professor of leadership at Bond University in Australia – this book reviews leadership theories and trends.

The authors supplement their academic review with helpful anecdotes. They trace the roots of terms such as transformational leadership, charismatic leadership, visionary leadership, level five leaders, and sense-makers. According to Jackson and Parry, leaders typically have to address three unmet needs in their followers:

1. Need for clarity: where are we going?
2. Need for meaning: what are we doing this for?
3. Need for safety: will we be OK if we do this?

To do this effectively, there is no one mode of leadership. The leadership style that will be most effective depends upon the followers.

Chapter three reexamines leadership from the perspective of followership. Virtually no one aspires to be a responsible follower even though that will be the reality for most people, most of the time. In fact, most leaders spend a good portion of their time following other people, systems, or advice. Followers construct leadership. Followers credential leaders. Followers moderate and modulate leadership. Yet followership is simply not sexy.

Belittling followership for leadership may be unwise. To date, there has been relatively lacklustre scrutiny about the effects of a top-heavy model. Could a wave of small, isolated efforts battling for resources like money and mind-space erode the efforts of the whole? What might this mean for the rapidly proliferating and sometimes duplicative leadership efforts in the social sector?

Perhaps the fragmented field might need to re-examine the possibility of aggregating efforts and reconsider followership.

To get your hands on a copy of this zesty read, see: www.sagepub.com/booksProdDesc.nav?prodId=Book229753

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