Read the working paper
INSEAD Working Paper 2015/18/OBH
This article examines how and why business schools might be complicit in a growing disconnect between leaders, people supposed to follow them, and the institutions they are meant to serve. We contend that business schools sustain this disconnect through a dehumanization of leadership that is manifested in the reduction of leadership to a set of skills and its elevation to a personal virtue. The dehumanization of leadership, we suggest, serves as a valuable defense against, but as poor preparation for, the ambiguity and precariousness of leadership in contemporary workplaces. This article proposes ways to humanize leadership by putting questions about the meaning of leadership—about its nature, function, and development—at the center of scholarly and pedagogical efforts. Reflecting on our attempts to do so, we argue that it involves revisiting not just theories and teaching methods but also our identities as scholars and instructors.