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Forceful Leadership and Enabling Leadership: You Can Do Both by Robert Kaplan

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The Tension Between Forceful and Enabling

In the past, when executives and students of management made the distinction between a forceful and an enabling approach to leadership, their tendency was to oppose the two or to place one at a disadvantage. The widely used terms autocratic and participative, for example, leave no doubt which is the more desirable.

The same is true of “Theory X” and “Theory Y,” as conceptualized by Douglas McGregor (1960). This highly normative dichotomy captured the imagination of academics and practicing managers alike and has had great staying power in the field. What McGregor did brilliantly was expose the fallacious thinking behind heavy-handed leadership. Theory X is a set of assumptions about human nature that ...

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