Many leadership models use words like servant, authentic, transformational, and
strategic; in fact, by some estimations there are 1500 definitions and 40 theories of
leadership (Kellerman, 2012, p. xxi). Leadership is part of our collective psyche and
plays a role in the ways our society is organized. Leadership has changed over time, but
the organizing influence of the social contract- the idea that leaders lead and followers
follow- has been the assumed place for an organized collective life (Kellerman, 2012, p.
69). I found Barbara Kellerman’s (2012) The End of Leadership, to be a remarkable
critique of the leadership industry, but I will argue her critique does not go far enough
because it does not address the concepts of subjectivity and agency.
As an educator, I think understanding leadership in higher education is
particularly important. In 2001, Harvard University’s incoming president Lawrence
Summers declared, “nothing will matter more than the education of future leaders” which
is radically different from the seventeenth century mission statement of Harvard College
which was “to create knowledge [and] to open the minds of students to that knowledge”
(in Kellerman, 2012, p. 155). As leadership appears in the mission statement of almost
every department at Harvard, Kellerman (2012) questions the value of blind leadership
Among the implications of this leader-centrism is that those who are other than
leaders are nothing much…Why does Harvard School of Education prefer to
“prepare leaders,” as opposed to say, prepare teachers to shine in the classroom?
And, similarly, why are American students at both the graduate and
undergraduate levels pushed so hard by individuals and institutions to be leaders,