Study bad leaders, too, says American expert

South Africa and Africa have been blessed with good leaders, such as Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, but bad leadership is also a local, regional and continental reality, says American leadership expert Prof Al Gini.

Prof Gini, a professor in business ethics at Loyola University Chicago in the USA, delivered a Leader’s Angle presentation on “Bad leaders / Misleaders” at the University of Stellenbosch Business School in Bellville on Tuesday night.

According to him the reason why thousands of books on leadership have already been, and are continuing to be, written and published is because it is such a “fascinating topic”. His own latest book also deals with the subject, titled “10 Virtues of Outstanding Leaders” (co-authored with Ronald M. Green).

Research for the book concluded “that there is no one definition of leadership, and that there is no one specific list of attributes, virtues or skills that all leaders must and do possess”. Rather, leadership is a lived process affected by chance, time, place, and specific circumstances, as well as the unique personality of the leader involved.

Prof Gini believes successful as well as failed leaders earn their reputations and their niche in history by how well their personal attributes and abilities matched the demands and challenges of their time on the job.

While the focus is normally on how to be a good leader, it is equally important to pay attention to bad leaders and how they have become that, he said during his talk. Bad leaders offer valuable lessons on how not to do it. It might be an aberration, but it is also a regular occurrence.

All leaders achieve power through the support of followers. “Followers who commit themselves to bad leaders are therefore bad themselves,” he said.

Prof Al Gini (centre) pictured with Prof Basil Leonard (left), head of USB’s Centre for Leadership Studies, and attendee Yolandi Janse van Rensburg (right). Picture: Heindrich Wyngaard


Source: University of Stellenbosch Business School

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