Leadership & Dark Matter

Leadership-like Outcomes:

Before focusing more specifically
on outcomes, I raise a cautionary flag here about the perspective of Williams
(2005) who suggested that leadership may be wholly irresponsible if its effect
is to damage the long-term viability and well-being of the organization, even
when the exercise of leadership grows from sincere moral or ethical
considerations. My point is that leadership, the organizational dark matter, is
neither responsible nor irresponsible, neither good nor bad, but is instead,
value free. By this I mean that it has no value position what so ever. Values
are associated with the consequences and outcomes of leadership but not with leadership
itself.

Expanding the point some, outcomes
may be expected or not expected, positive or negative, good or evil, but leadership
is value free. Thus, the attributes of good and bad may appropriately be
attributed to leaders, as judged in relation to the outcomes they achieve. Good
leaders get good outcomes and bad leaders get bad outcomes. Highly skilled leaders
generally get better outcomes than less skilled leaders. Even so, the quality
of an outcome is only partially attributable to the leader. Thus, good leaders
sometimes get bad outcomes and skilled leaders sometimes get outcomes less
positive than they hoped.

Consider this assertion suggested
by Walshe, Harvey, & Jas (2010, p. 167): Leadership mobilizes the search
for new ways of looking at problems and new ways of harnessing the efforts of
colleagues concerned with a problem, and reinforces the search for new
knowledge, new perspectives and new learning so that innovative ways of
addressing the problem can be found. What is the "leadership" they
posit? Mobilizing and reinforcing imply action — "A" acting on
"b." I presume the intent is to posit that the actions and behavior
(leadership) of some people (leaders) mobilize and reinforce the actions and
behavior of colleagues in specific and intended ways. Here is the take home
point: The leadership event includes the actions and behavior of the leaders and
the actions and behavior of colleagues. The leadership event then results in
the hoped for outcome, if all goes as intended.

Bolman & Deal (2008, p. 345) make
the point concisely when they point out that leadership produces cooperative
effort in the service of purposes embraced by both leader and led. Gardner (1993, p. 1) makes the point from a slightly different perspective, asserting that
leadership induces colleagues to pursue objectives held by the leader or shared
by the leader and his or her colleagues. From either perspective, leadership actualization
requires shared action from both leader and led; it requires the complete
leadership event.

I think the point is fairly
concluded by positing that, although leadership is itself the dark matter of
organizational life, leadership-like outcomes require
successful conclusion of leadership events
. In other words, leadership actualizes
as a transactional event that occurs between the leader and his or her
colleagues. (Northouse, 2004, p. 3)