To whatever extent the dark matter
metaphor has conceptual value, it is meaningless in and of itself. As with the
hypothetical dark matter of astronomy and cosmology and its relationship to
gravity, leadership as organizational dark matter only suggests itself through
the actions and activities of people, within an organizational context. In
other words, the metaphysical nature of leadership can only be observed and
potentially understood as it actualizes in the actions and interactions of
participants in the group or more generally in the organization or community.
We observe and experience the effects and outcomes of leadership, but merely
infer leadership itself.
Bass & Bass (2008, p. 25-26)
help us grasp the actualization of leadership within the organizational
context. They report that leadership has been conceived as the focus of group
processes, as a personality attribute, as the art of inducing compliance, as an
exercise of influence, as a particular kind of activity, as a form of
persuasion, as a power relation, as an instrument in the attainment of goals,
as an effect of interaction, as a differentiated role, and as the initiation of
structure. These all represent aspects of organizational life most everyone has
observed and experienced.
Note that Bass & Bass are not
suggesting that leadership is alone associated with these organizational
aspects. For example, leadership is not the only personality attribute or the
only exercise of influence within the organization. Bass & Bass are
suggesting where we might look for leadership, but not what is leadership-like
about any specific aspect. To pick one aspect as another example, some forms of
persuasion are certainly associated with leadership, but others are clearly not.
They are instead associated with phenomena such as peer pressure, harassment,
financial inducement, and so on. How can we differentiate between leadership
and non-leadership within the various aspects of organizational life where
leadership sometimes actualizes?