This book was the result of 6 years of teaching leadership development in China. As a Norwegian professor using American textbooks in an international business community in China, I became acutely aware of one thing: No-one really uses the word “leadership” in the same way. And whereas Americans seem to take the idea of “leadership behaviors” for granted, my Chinese managers-turned-students were inherently skeptical about the same idea, and the occasional British visitor saw this as a management fad idea.
For my part, I just wanted to take my international students along a 4-day trip to understand why the idea of “leadership” emerged as so important after the event of the shareholding company around 1850. And so I made my course in China into an attempt to explain why “leadership” emerged as an important, but abstract and almost empty construct. I tried to explain its relationships to organizational performance, recruitment and selection, and the development of people who try to survive in leadership roles. And I tried to explain the cultural biases and research shortcomings pestering this field
This book is a very short essence of the course I constructed, and it has become the essential course reading of the same course, in the eight years after it was published. Explaining the mysterious idea of “leadership” to Norwegians also turned out to be a good idea, and so this book is actually identical to the Norwegian version titled “Hva er ledelse”, also featured on my webpage here. The photo below is from the launching of the book as an event in our program on a roof in Nanjing Road, during a warm August night in 2014. The book itself is available for sale at amazon.com and of course from my publisher Universitetsforlaget.