Here on our website, we've listed the chapter synopsis from the book's expanded Table of Contents. Thesis statements are then provided for the main source(s) discussed in each section of the chapter, along with a list of additional readings discussed in the section. Where possible, we've provided links to publicly available sources. To read our detailed synopsis, discussion, and thoughts about the practical application of the ideas presented in the sources listed below, buy the chapter by clicking on the cover image (or buy the entire book).

Chapter 3: Leadership

Leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal. We look at competing views of what leaders should do, what they actually do, how leaders establish organizational culture, and what are the elements of constructive leadership.

Leadership Classics

Leadership has been practiced and studied for millenia. Research does not have to be new and quantitative to provide useful insights. We explore two classics of leadership thought.

ThesisNICCOLO MACHIAVELLI. 1513. The Prince. Translated by Robert Adams [1992]. New York, Norton.

Thesis: Machiavelli provides an objective description of how leaders can and do achieve their own ends by manipulating their followers.

ThesisCHESTER BARNARD. 1938. The Functions of the Executive, Chapters 15–18. Cambridge, Harvard University Press.

Thesis: The primary responsibility of an executive is to define the organization's purpose. The executive must demonstrate and instill loyalty so that managers put aside their personal interests and cooperate for the benefit of the larger organization. This in turn requires executives to satisfy their employees rather than view them as production inputs.


What Leaders Actually Do

Several studies forego a stylized discussion of models of leadership, to examine how leaders actually spend their daily time. This analysis yields actionable insights on how to take charge of one's activities.

ThesisHENRY MINTZBERG. 1975. “The Manager's Job: Folklore and Fact." In R. Vecchio (editor), Leadership: Understanding the Dynamics of Power and Influence in Organizations, 2nd edition [2007]. Notre Dame, University of Notre Dame Press. pp. 23–32.

Thesis: Managers do not engage in systematically planning or organizing their activities. In fact, they tend to take on too many projects, encourage interruption and abrupt changes in activity, and respond quickly to any stimulus. They also seek the tangible while avoiding abstract thinking, and make decisions gradually in small increments.

ThesisWARREN BENNIS. 1989. Why Leaders Can't Lead. New York, Jossey-Bass.

Thesis: Routine work will drive out all time for strategic thinking, unless leaders engage in a conscious and disciplined effort to (a) empower employees to make decisions, and (b) create time for the leader to attend to the big picture.

ThesisJOHN KOTTER. 1990. “What Leaders Really Do.” In R. Vecchio (editor), Leadership: Understanding the Dynamics of Power and Influence in Organizations, 2nd edition [2007]. Notre Dame, University of Notre Dame Press. pp. 23–32.

Thesis: Leadership and management are two distinctive and complementary systems of action. Management is about coping with complexity, while leadership is about coping with change.

Additional Readings:

  • Bandiera, Oriana, Andrea Prat, Raffaella Sadun, and Julie Wulf. 2012. “Span of Control and Span of Activity.” Harvard Business School Working Paper.
  • Kotterman, James. 2006. “Leadership vs. Management: What's the Difference?” Journal for Quality and Participation 29(2), 13–17.
  • Yukl, Gary. 1989. “Managerial Leadership: A Review of Theory and Research.” Journal of Management 15(2), 251–289.
  • Zaleznik, Abraham. 1992. “Managers and Leaders: Are They Different?Harvard Business Review 70(March–April), 126–35 [1977].

Leadership and Organizational Culture

Often the most important elements of an organization are things that go without saying. Leaders play a critical role in establishing the personality of any organization.

ThesisEDGAR SCHEIN. 2010. Organizational Culture and Leadership, 4th edition, Chapters 12–21. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass.

Thesis: The first task of a leader is to create and sustain the organization's culture. Culture is the deeper level of assumptions shared by members of the organization, and is critical to its success.

Additional Readings:


Constructive and Destructive Leadership

Leaders can create circumstances resulting in their own failure, and can deliberately work to employ a broader range of styles to increase their own success.

ThesisMANFRED KETS DE VRIES. 1989. “Leaders Who Self-Destruct: The Causes and Cures.” In R. Vecchio (editor), Leadership: Understanding the Dynamics of Power and Influence in Organizations, 2nd edition [2007]. Notre Dame, University of Notre Dame Press. pp. 216–227.

Thesis: Leadership in an organization is isolating, employees tend to have overly high expectations of their leaders, and some leaders create their own failure from guilt or fear.

ThesisJEAN LIPMAN-BLUMEN. 1996, The Connective Edge. New York, Oxford University Press.

Thesis: Organizations today have shorter timeframes for decision-making and tighter connections, and such organizations require more speed and agility. Therefore, leaders must adopt a broader set of implementation strategies than was required in the past. Empirical work on leadership styles can show individuals how to employ a style appropriate to a particular context; this research also reveals differences between upper- and mid-level managers, and between men and women, in terms of how they lead.

Additional Readings:

  • Conger, Jay. 1990. “The Dark Side of Leadership.” In R. Vecchio (editor), Leadership: Understanding the Dynamics of Power and Influence in Organizations, 2nd edition [2007]. Notre Dame, University of Notre Dame Press. pp. 199–215.
  • Kets de Vries, Manfred and Danny Miller. 1985. “Narcissism and Leadership: An Object Relations Perspective.” In R. Vecchio (editor), Leadership: Understanding the Dynamics of Power and Influence in Organizations, [1997]. Notre Dame, University of Notre Dame Press. pp. 194–214.

Leadership Research Findings

Recent leadership findings provide concrete advice to leaders in demonstrating what works. We review a conference and book on current topics in leadership research.

ThesisRONALD RIGGIO and JAY CONGER. 2006. “Getting It Right: The Practice of Leadership.” In J. Conger and R. Riggio (editors), The Practice of Leadership. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass. pp. 331–344.

Thesis: Leaders need to engage their followers. They need to monitor, measure, and adapt. Leaders need to model the way forward, and proactively address challenges before they become crises. Effective leadership is a long-term developmental process.