Wow. I just googled top leadership experts and got this link, Top Leadership Gurus. Do you notice any patterns in the list?
First, the list was predominantly US driven. Kind of ignoring the whole globalization thing. Second, there were two people of colour and one woman on the top 25 in the list. In other words, mostly old, American, white guys. Third, very few of these experts rely on solid research. If you rely on their advice, you are relying on opinion and beliefs that are based on personal experience. There’s nothing wrong with personal experience, but it can contain significant bias.
For example, many research “gurus” believe that courage is an important aspect of leadership. However, research suggests that at least some of the time, courage can lead to failed leadership, not successful leadership. We’d all like to think that it is important to have a courageous leader, but that is what we’d like, not necessarily the reality of organizational life.
The lack of women, visible minorities and cultures outside of the US on this list suggests to me a couple of things. First, that we’re still using old models of leader, white, male and hero driven. Second, that we still see these old white guys as having a monopoly on the discussion of leadership. In other words, we’re letting old white guys define what leadership is. I resent this as an old white girl.
We also need to push past the opinion based conversation we’ve been having into a more evidence based view of leadership. We make far too many assumptions about the nature of leadership that have not been tested.
Let’s stop listening to the so called gurus, and start asking for the evidence.