Leadership: More Doing Than Dash

LEADERSHIP IS ALL the rage just now. “We’d want you to run a seminar for us on how one acquires charisma,” the human-resources VP of a big bank said to me on the telephone—in dead earnest. Books, articles, and conferences on leadership and on the “qualities” of the leader abound. Every CEO, it seems, has to be made to look like a dashing Confederate cavalry general or a boardroom Elvis Presley.

Leadership does matter, of course. But, alas, it is something different from what is now touted under this label. It has little to do with “leadership qualities” and even less to do with “charisma.” It is ...

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