An ecological perspective on leadership theory, research, and practice

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Current theories of leadership are based mainly on the industrial paradigm emphasizing the preeminence of positional leaders and the machine-like qualities of organizations. Evolutionary and attributional biases tend to reinforce the industrial paradigm. The authors propose an ecological theory of leadership that makes 4 important assertions: (a) Effective leadership processes involve temporary resolutions of a tension between the traditional industrial approach and the neglected ecological approach; (b) specific leaders are less important than they appear because the ecological context is more important than what leaders decide to do; (c) organizations are more adaptive when there is a diversity of genuine input into decision-making processes; and (d) leadership itself is an emergent process arising from the human interactions that make up the organization.