The Leadership Question


Peter Block’s article, The Leadership Question, is an insightful look at the relationship between stewardship practices in organizations and the role of leadership in effectively implementing them. As Peter point out, our language and intention about how to create needed change in organizations is correct, but the path most often chosen to make that occur is misdirected.

Instead of a collaborative approach involving all those affected, people often look to leadership to determine what’s best for the whole and direct and control the process. Peter is quick to assert that it is not the fault of leadership. It’s what’s expected and even desired. “Of course there is value in the initiative and accountability and vision of the leadership idea. But the partnership idea is also powerful.”

The problem is leadership is incapable of making the kind of fundamental adjustments to create and sustain lasting organizational change. The leadership solution to initiate and sustain change is our wish for someone else to be accountable for the whole. The result is to limit partnership, collaboration, ownership and the distribution of reward.

Peter says that HR must take the lead in redefining the leadership role. “HR is a major player as an advocate for partnership. For stewardship to thrive, HR needs to define the way.”