In class, leadership seems all so simple. It is in black and white. There are diagrams. One chapter seems to lead logically to another. Like any new practical skill, the theory is not the same as practice. Is leadership a science or is it an art?
Excluding the “mystic” part, I have come to realize that it is a bit of both science and art.
I have been studying leadership since I was 18. It was MS 101, an introduction to military science. My first professional career military preparation class as an Army cadet.
As I mentioned in an earlier article, one of the difficulties is the use of the word “leadership”. It is commonly used, but the context changes as it is used as a noun, verb, adverb, or adjective. The definition has to be inferred through context. That makes every article you read confusing and, at times, a seeming contradiction to other articles.
My own experience from the numerous classes, beginning with the first class, is that the instructor will emphasize every aspect of leadership on an equal basis. From an academic point of view it was because you had to be tested. The equivalency of everything made prioritizing action based on theory confusing. The history and theories are interesting, but hard to apply on a daily basis.
Over the years and other classes, I was always surprised to see that there was rarely an overlap from one leadership course to another. It was confusing because how was it possible for leadership traits and leadership principles to morph from year to year, source to source. The instructors taught from within their narrowed vision of experience or shared the latest article on “The 10 Secrets of Leadership” which also changed from author to author.
How do you know what to apply? Can you predict leadership success or failure?