considered a core leadership program” (p. 174). If you want university-sponsored
leadership training, it is widely available, but many programs are “overwhelmingly the
preserve of those in the private sector who, driven to make a profit, are particularly
preoccupied with the performance of leaders and managers” (p. 164). Giroux (2002)
counters, “Matters of leadership and accountability within neoliberalism and corporate
culture in general rarely include broader considerations of ethics, equity, and
justice…and seldom provides a self-critical inventory about its own ideology and its
effects on society” (p. 440). Giroux’s argument is supported by leadership professionals
Warren Bennis and James O’Toole, who argue the “root cause of today’s crisis in
management education is that business schools have adopted inappropriate and
ultimately self-defeating— models of academic excellence” (in Kellerman, 2012, p. 174).
The argument against this model of excellence is an appropriate link to Bill
Readings’ (1996) assertion that the concept of “excellence has the singular advantage of
being entirely meaningless, or to put it more precisely, non-referential” (p. 22). When we
begin to question what excellence is and how we apply it to leadership, the university,
and our leaders, we begin to see how “(e)xcellence appears here as contestable ground,
the rhetorical arm most likely to gain general assent” (p. 23). Giroux and Readings’
arguments converge around the idea that the university becomes not just like a
corporation but is a corporation, students are not just like customers but are customers,
and the “notion of excellence develops within the University, as the idea around which
the University centers itself and through which it becomes comprehensible to the outside
world” (Readings, 1996, p. 22, author’s italics). Leadership has become central to how
the university constructs itself and how many students are measuring their higher
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