chapter  13
30 Pages

A Cultural Theory of Leadership

ByAaron Wildavsky

Despite the claim that leadership is a dead issue for scholarship, the topic continues to spawn extensive studies. If leadership is an endangered species, it is not extinction that threatens it. Rather, the tendency of the concept to engulf the very factors that are supposed to distinguish it is what makes it an amorphous, indefinable subject. Desiring to distinguish between small, repetitive choices that reinforce existing institutions, on the one hand, and large, unusual ones that create new designs, on the other hand, Max Weber classified political systems by the kinds of authority that legitimate leadership. He saw traditional authority repeating itself, rational-legal authority making minor adjustments, and charismatic authority introducing new patterns of action, new values, and new institutions. In socializing and democratizing leadership, leaders have ceased being all-powerful; they merge imperceptibly with the crowd of jostling humanity from which they came.