Noel Pearse, of the Rhodes Business School, Grahamstown, South Africa, presented the next chapter in what is rapidly becoming his magnum opus. I first met Noel twelve months ago, in Vienna, when he presented a paper on servant leadership. This year, he spoke on service as a specific leadership competency.
Thinking of leaders and followers, most people understand that an important role of the follower is to serve. In a business context, that means to serve other colleagues; managers; and, customers. The same people would probably suggest that leaders are to be followed and, by implication, to be served. However, emerging leadership trends provide an interesting juxtaposition, whereby leadership responsibility is being distributed; so-called celebrity leadership status is being rejected; and, ethical leadership is becoming increasingly valued. Further, servant leadership is quite common in high-performance organisations.
With this background, Pearse posed an interesting question: whether service is actually a required leadership competency. Building on the seminal work of Boyatzis (1982) which identified attributes and competencies of effective leaders, he asked whether certain underlying attributes (my phrase, not Pearse's) are necessary. I was fascinated by Pearse's work—still at a theoretical stage—because it appears to bisect my work on underlying personal qualities of effective effective directors as they seek to exert influence in the boardroom. We plan to stay on stay in touch.
Thoughts on corporate governance, strategy and effective board practice; our place in the world; and, other things that catch my attention.