The Trump era has given the field of Leadership its most perfect paradox. His plan was not to become President, but to dramatically boost the value of his ailing commercial brand. The result was the destruction of his brand and reputation, while triggering an international re-evaluation of the importance of democracy and the critical role of Leadership.
The deadly polarity he fomented to try and deter voting paradoxically resulted in boosting democracy and voter participation to levels never before known in the US.
On another level, another paradox: The global polity, currently sliding towards authoritarianism, is now realising that democracy is the only survival mechanism the world has for the rapidly increasing chaos of uncertainty that climate change and Covid-19 is forcing on every nation.
Professor Barbara Kellerman, founding executive director of the Harvard-Kennedy School’s Centre for Public Leadership, writes in ‘The End of Leadership’ that despite 40 plus years growth of the multi-billion ‘Leadership Industry’, paradoxically leaders worldwide have never been held in such low repute, the leadership industry has not improved the human condition, and we still don’t know how to grow good leaders. Her ‘End of Leadership’ is where my Doctoral research began.
Leadership – good or appallingly bad - holds the key to our world’s survival. Paradoxically, survivability in any enterprise at any level, no matter how complex or multifaceted, boils down to Leadership, and historically that devolves to one individual and one unique Leadership challenge.