Forty years ago, the questions most discussed among those who cared about leadership were “is leadership possible among those who don't have titles and positions?”; “what are the characteristics possessed by effective leaders?”; and “how do we find the people who are the best leaders and help them prepare for positions that will allow them to have an impact?” After many conversations, conferences, research studies, and books, the terrain has shifted among scholars. Now the conversations focus on questions such as “If leadership is a shared responsibility among members of groups, how can the full leadership potential of all be cultivated?”; “What role do collaborators play in empowering positive leadership and defending against those who misuse it?”; and “How can organizations cultivate cultures that support and encourage visionary leadership dedicated to benefitting all?”
The shift in the questions that leadership educators now explore, coupled with the breadth and variety of the initiatives dedicated to nurturing it, demonstrate that leadership can be taught. More importantly, the practice of leadership demonstrates that many can pursue leadership and that they must if the opportunities of the 21st century are to be fulfilled. The conversations and the needs for leadership have both shifted and it is now incumbent on those who value leadership most to agree to unifying perspectives that can draw us together in common purpose. From your vantage point, what are the crucial conversations, next steps, and/or thoughts for consideration as we enter the second decade of the 21st century?