when being followers, collaborators, team members, and even loners can be just
as constructive? (p. 156-157, author’s italics)
Kellerman asks hard questions about how the idea of leadership is employed, by both the
university and students, as a pathway to success in the job market. This leads me to ask:
which students and which jobs? There are competing forces at work in both the
university and in students’ lives, so simply including leadership classes seems a
superficial solution to understanding the role of leadership in the university. Is leadership
something we do to improve the communities we are involved in or is it a solution for
helping students to get good jobs or something else entirely? Kellerman continues “the
trend extends to undergraduates everywhere” (p. 158) showing students can learn to be
leaders or learn about leadership on any university campus. The desire to be a leader
itself is not a bad thing, but the desire for leadership credentials without an understanding
of social context is what Giroux (2002) calls, “Neoliberalism [that] taints any civic-
inspired notion of educational leadership because it represents a kind of market
fundamentalism based on the untrammeled pursuit of self interest” (p. 440).
I am interested in subjectivity and agency, ideas Kellerman never addresses in her
critique of leadership. She shows her worldview saying, “(i)n a perfect world we would
develop an overarching leadership theory with an overarching application to leadership
practice” (p. 195). This wish for a perfect theory, even with the concession that we live
in an imperfect world, demands a search for some ultimate truth that will allow for
leadership to fall neatly into its place. I do not think we will find that overarching theory
or that the search is even a fruitful one. As Richard Rorty (1999) stated, “Inquiry and
justification have lots of mutual aims, but they do not have an overarching aim called
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