Leadership is a personal claim.

Leadership Thought 10Leadership starts with the personal choice for making change happen, not only change in others, but also change in one’s own self. Leadership is making a personal stand. Some people stick to their comfort zones, avoid risks, change only if they have to and don’t cross the borders of risk and uncertainty. Other people leave their comfort zones and strive for continuous adaptation and growth. These people are on the personal leadership journey.

While a transactional leadership style is dominant in many of today’s organizations, there’s more and more need for a different kind of leadership. “The traditional sources of organizational cohesion have become weaker,” say Goffee and Jones, “organizations become flatter, structure more fluid and the context more ambigu.”[i] Lynda Gratton comes to the same conclusion analysing the future of work[ii].

Transformational leadership [iii] is personal: the “idealized influence” comes from within, not from a corporate cascaded objective or rule. It’s leading by being, in an authentic way. Because leadership is personal, it is dangerous for one’s own health and wellbeing. There’s no place to hide. That’s why personal care and strength are critical to make the needed effort sustainable. “Positive psychological capital” is one of the common elements in all positive leadership theories as authentic, servant, charismatic, transformational leadership[iv]. Heifetz calls it ‘staying alive’ [v].


[i] GOFFEE, R. & JONES G. (2006). Why should anyone be led by you? Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing, p. 5-6.
[ii] GRATTON, L. (2011). The Shift. The future of work already is here. London: HarperCollins, 374 p.
[iii]BASS, B. & RIGGIO, R. (2006). Transformational Leadership. London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 282 p.
[iv] AVOLIO, B. & GARDNER, W.L. (2006). Authentic leadership development: getting to the roots of positive forms of leadership. The leadership Quarterly, 16, p. 315-338.
[v] HEIFETZ, R. (1994). Leadership without easy answers. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 348 p.

About Koen Marichal

Director Future Leadership Initiative at Antwerp Management School
This entry was posted in 10. Freedom & choice, 19 leadership thoughts, Academic insights & evidence, English and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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