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Producing Leaders


“The function of leadership is to
produce more leaders, not more followers.” — Ralph Nadar


This is like arguing that the function of summer is to produce
more daylight, not less darkness. The key is that the function of leadership is
neither to produce more leaders nor more followers. Sure, the goal of a
specific person, group, or organization may be to produce more leaders, more
followers, or both but the function of leadership is to lead.


As an organization successfully matures, it tends to attract
more qualified people. Those associated with it tend to develop more related
knowledge, their skills improve, and their effectiveness increases. Some of
them may assume or be given more authority and more responsibility. A few may
be seen as leaders and even fewer may move into leadership roles. Through this
process, leaders emerge.


In other organizations, those in charge completely retain their
authority and responsibility. The organization attracts more qualified people.
Those associated with it develop more related knowledge, their skills improve,
and their effectiveness increases. A few may be seen as leaders but none move
into leadership roles. Those roles are filled and no new leadership roles are
to be created.


The goal of some people, groups, or organizations may be to
increase the number of people associated with the enterprise. More typically,
the goal is to attract and retain the optimal number of people required to
assure the success of the enterprise, and no more. The point is that the people
are needed to enable the enterprise’s success. They aren’t needed to “follow”
anyone. The idea of attracting “followers” is a non-sequitur.


The conclusion is that the activities of a leader may or may not
“produce” more leaders. Whether the outcome is an increase in the number of
leaders is only important if producing leaders is the goal of the enterprise.
Otherwise, it is unrelated to leadership or to the effectiveness of the
leaders. Nadar may have simply posited producing followers as a straw man in
the interest of asserting that leadership produces leaders but whatever the
reason, the assertion fails. Leadership produces leaders no more than summer
increases daylight. Conditions that merely co-exist should not be confused with
cause and effect.





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