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The study and practice
While citing over 3,000 studies in the present
of leadership era's literature, Bass (1990) notes that the
discussion of leadership can be found in the
Victor Newman and Greek and Latin classics, the Old and New
Kazem Chaharbaghi Testaments of the Bible, the writings of the
ancient Chinese philosophers, and in the early
Icelandic sagas. Given that the subject of
leadership is as old as recorded history, the
exponential growth of leadership literature in
the twentieth century raises a number of
questions which include:
. Is the growth in the literature due to new
research that keeps identifying
fundamental flaws in previous research?
The authors . Do researchers hold the assumption that
Victor Newman is Director of Knowledge Development there may be a lost formula for leadership
Centre, Cranfield University, Cranfield, UK. and that the search for it should be
Kazem Chaharbaghi is Professor of Management and abetted, much as their forefathers
Head of Research, East London Business School, searched for the philosopher's stone that
University of East London, London, UK. in legend could transform base metal into
. Is leadership a perennial term which exists
in eternity and, because of its never-ending
Leadership, Technology
societal significance, should be continually
reinvented and modernised?
Abstract . Is literature on leadership about leadership?
The usefulness of the literature is questioned in terms of
For the sake of continuity, the last question is
influencing and transmitting leadership behaviour. The
addressed first but the remainder will be
limitations of literature as a literary form are exposed. It is
resolved through a logical sequence of
shown that leadership can only be experienced and not
arguments that follow. In addressing these
acted nor emulated in the form of an artificial behaviour.
questions it is necessary to consider the most
By examining the consumers of leadership literature, it is
basic definition of leadership that is rooted in
demonstrated that the providers are satisfying their
its logic i.e. for leaders to exist there must be
wants. Any weaknesses in the medium and the failure of
followers. In other words, without followers
developing a leadership technology are acceptable to the
there is no context for leadership. This basic
consumers. It is shown that identity, technology and
definition of leadership is significant as it
leadership are strongly interrelated and that the new form
explains the main problem of how leadership
of leadership which is evolving in the emerging era of
is sold as a product where the consumers are
discontinuous change emphasises identity creation.
not the emerging leaders but followers. The
issue of leadership for the followers is
Electronic access
complicated by two further problems. First,
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is no-one experiences the same event in the
available at same way (Weick, 1995). Second, the
http://www.emerald-library.com purpose of the observer can mean that the
consumer can learn more about the alienation
of the observer rather than the event or
behaviour observed.
The unstated assumption implicit within
literature is that by consuming leadership
doctrine and undergoing diagnoses,
consumers can develop a balanced model of
Journal of Knowledge Management
Volume 4 . Number 1 . 2000 . pp. 6473 behaviour. This model, however, can only
# MCB University Press . ISSN 1367-3270 have one validity which is that of ``content''
The study and practice of leadership Journal of Knowledge Management
Victor Newman and Kazem Chaharbaghi Volume 4 . Number 1 . 2000 . 6473

and ``past''. Ironically, leadership literature is gain entry to their environment? In addressing
therefore not about how to become leaders this question, a comparison of the study and
but rather how to be followers through practice of leadership provides a useful
knowing when to recognise leaders in order to platform.
follow their path. In the era of discontinuous
change, emerging leaders see their work as
freeing themselves from the dead content of 2. The study of leadership: creating
past. They are only interested in the ``future'' fantasy leaders
(i.e. where do we want to go next?) and
``process'' (i.e. how do we get there?). At the Leadership has become a consumable
moment, as in psychotherapy, it might be product and a form of literary entertainment
assumed that the more leadership literature is in which the readers are invited to glimpse a
consumed, either the greater number of fantasy world in which they cannot
leaders will emerge or the higher the general participate. The problem with leadership
level of leadership behaviour within the literature is that it is fiction and a passive form
population. The missing explanation is that of entertainment. As a medium it is inferior to
such a consumption can at best develop a television in that it does not invite physical
psychology of followers through providing the modelling of the behaviour observed. The
consumers with content in the form of an production of the literature takes perennial
existing technology with a track-record terms and reinvents them in a more up to date
demonstrating its successful application in the context. The literature of leadership
past. This is in contrast to the psychology of perpetuates a myth that by consuming this
leaders who approach leadership from an literature, the consumers can take on this
opposing dimension i.e. for something to have symbolic role. It represents a heavily weighted
leadership qualities, it should generate value world, a carrier of emotions and memories.
and should not be in the public domain The sheer emotional response to the term
(Chaharbaghi and Newman, 1998). Viewed leadership can be so strong that it overwhelms
in this light, leadership does not consider old any rational discussion of the term. The
content in the form of existing technologies literature assumes that:
but instead focuses on changing the context in (1) Those leaders who are the subject of the
a way that creates new trends through altering literature, in the form of post-rational
expectation patterns markedly. The pursuit of observations, were aware of what they
leadership through a concentration on a were doing and understood and were
specific context may therefore be a curse in skilled in managing the risk and delivery
itself because it takes a pattern of behaviour of their performance.
that is rooted within a specific context and (2) A formula for leadership can be
isolates it within that context. In other words, discerned, acquired and applied by
it does not create what might be called strangers and hence the consumers.
``generative'' behaviour that is capable of (3) It helps the consumers to understand
being moved to another, novel context. their own failure and why they are not a
From the above it becomes apparent that
leadership can either be learned through
experience by recognising and working with In a fast-emerging era of discontinuous
emerging leaders or be fantasised about by change, the fatal attraction with the term
studying what observers say about leadership. ``leadership'' is because most find their
The former emphasises the importance of identity and survival at risk. Identity
learning with the body as well as the mind encompasses self-image, structure and the
while the latter highlights an identity crisis relationships of the key symbols, answering
that cannot be simply overcome by emulating the questions of who am I, where do I come
someone else's identity. In other words, from, where am I going, what do I do next?
leadership is the product of thinking like Survival can be considered as the conditions
leaders and participating in their world as for existence in an existing format with an
opposed to thinking like victims and dressing individual's identity intact. When individuals
like the past leaders. If leadership is to be find that their existing identity has led to a
experienced, then the key question becomes crisis which is threatening their survival they
how can we identify emerging leaders and call for leadership or ask the question why am
The study and practice of leadership Journal of Knowledge Management
Victor Newman and Kazem Chaharbaghi Volume 4 . Number 1 . 2000 . 6473

I not a leader? As the majority have not come police and its priesthood run the moral risk of
into direct contact with those who are in acting like madams.
leadership situations, they assume that The key question is therefore why the
leadership is like another country where consumers of the leadership literature treat
things are done differently. In the absence of a leadership as a ``word'' and do not understand
new identity, individuals resort to the only that in reality it only represents an
viable alternative which is fantasy, where they increasingly abstract fantasy? The Milgram
personify abstract qualities. Jean Genet's play, experiment (Milgram, 1974) helps to explain
``The Balcony'' (Genet, 1991) is useful for the artificial economy of the leadership
illustrating the concept of fantasy leader while literature and is a useful illustration of how
demonstrating its validity. Set in a brothel the producers manage to sell their products
where the madam services both the local chief that claim to sanction new behaviours in
of police and the local terrorist leader, the individuals in existing situations, so that they
chief of police asks the madam whether can assume a new identity. In this
anyone is having a sexual fantasy involving his experiment, an artificial experimental learning
role? The point of this question is the chief of situation/environment was created in which a
police's realisation that unless someone has a room was divided by a glass screen. On one
symbolic fantasy involving his role he does not side was a ``student'' who appeared to be the
exist i.e. for him to have an identity, others subject of a learning experiment. On the other
have to dream about him. In other words, the side, the true subjects of the experiment were
fantasies of how the chief of police conducts individually invited to administer punishment
in the form of electric shocks to the ``student''
sex is not the issue. What matters is that
behind the glass screen whenever the
unless someone is aroused by assuming his
``student'' failed a learning test. As the
role through personification then he is not
experiment progressed, the learning task
important. The irony is that the terrorist
became more complex and the voltage went
leader turns out to be the only person to
up. Very few of the experimental subjects
develop a fantasy about the chief of police.
failed to continue punishments even when the
While Genet's ``Balcony'' is considered as a
``student'' appeared to beg for mercy under
form of entertainment, the providers of
intolerable pain. At all times the punishment
leadership literature sell the idea that it is
was legitimised by a white-coated figure of
possible to swim against the flow, break the
authority. Although Milgram was trying to
pattern, to rebel against all the models of
prove that symbols of authority can legitimise
behaviour that reinforce stability. However,
behaviour that on abstract reflection would be
the literature of leadership can only represent
seen as immoral, the real mystery of the
a fantasy because for it to have any effect it
Milgram experiment lies in its deeper
has to legitimise behaviour that the meaning. If only Milgram had actually asked
environment has not sanctioned. The the participants for the meaning of their
literature is an attempt to unpack that fantasy behaviour instead of supplying his own
and translate it into something that is answers, the resulting questions might have
meaningful to its audience. It has been a included the following:
disguise for a form of self-ordinating (1) If the administrators of the learning
priesthood. The literature is created by these situation (the authority figures) were
self-ordained priests, they define who is a confronted with the question ``what does
prophet and who is not, and those who read this experiment demonstrate?'' their
the literature must be the laity. The responses might have included:
interesting point is those who are creating the (a) Everyone likes to punish students.
literature can never themselves be the leader, (b) On the surface, it suggests that any
only priests. They never get promoted. All kind of behaviour can be sanctioned
their literature does is to acknowledge that by an authoritative source.
leaders exist, are important and that it is (c) Students deserve to be punished by
extremely difficult if not impossible to model accepting to be part of the experiment
their behaviour. All the readers of leadership they deserve what they get.
literature, are indulging in a fantasy which is (2) If the student, who was an acting
the moral equivalent of Genet's terrorist participant in an artificial game as there
leader wanting to impersonate the chief of was no real current, was confronted with
The study and practice of leadership Journal of Knowledge Management
Victor Newman and Kazem Chaharbaghi Volume 4 . Number 1 . 2000 . 6473

the question ``what does this experiment manipulating them as opposed to following
demonstrate?'' their responses might have them. The real possibility exists that those who
included: can, are doing and those who cannot will never
(a) There are a lot of immoral, vindictive learn. In the era of discontinuous change,
people around. fantasy leadership will not work because the
(b) Symbolic clothing can legitimise aim is not to replace but to hide the old
atrocities. identity, which is not viable, using different
(c) The subjects of the experiments are clothes. This will eventually become the
easily led. They can be made to do emperor's new clothes where not only the
anything like monkeys in the circus. leader becomes naked but also all the
(d) Milgram himself is immoral in setting followers. This is because those who focus on
up such an experiment which in fantasy leadership will create a state of double
reality was only a game, where he alienation where the followers have been
anticipated the results and chose to persuaded to give up their old identity in the
ignore its greater ambiguity. pursuit of modernity while the new clothes
(e) Milgram assumed that he himself was they are wearing do not get them anywhere
not the true subject of his own and also are not viable. The followers
experiment. therefore, end up with having no identity. At
the moment, to question a fantasy leader's
If the above is true then the same is also true
pursuit of a modernity that is already obsolete
with leadership literature. The consumers
generates the risk of being considered a
deserve what they get as they accept any madman and hence must not be publicly
weaknesses in the medium, including the failure discussed. The private assumption is possible
of developing a leadership technology that to choose and that that leadership can be a
transcends its original context. In this economy, rational process and involves rational choices.
the suppliers will naturally meet the demand However, in the emerging era of discontinuous
which is infinite and eternal. The consumers of change, the leader's pursuit of modernity will
leadership literature are like the experimental expose rhetoric and contradictions.
subjects of the Milgram experiment. While real
leaders set the experiment, the students are the
suppliers of leadership literature.
3. The practice of leadership: creating,
While the above considerations describe the
replacing and protecting identity
context and futility of leadership literature, its
artificial economy thrives on obsolescence. The common element unifying the study and
This is because writers are continuously practice of leadership is the issue of identity.
distracted by the footprints and clothing Whilst the study of leadership focuses on
leaders leave behind and ignore the emerging establishing a post-rational, content-based
leaders whose new fashion and dance-routines dimension of identity, the practice of
are unpredictable and totally different from leadership is concerned with the process of
their predecessors. Similarly, in principle creating, replacing and protecting identity.
no-one puts anything valuable into the public Identity is a tool that is developed and
domain, since it would degrade its value. exploited by all leaders. Stereotypical identity
Leaders who are leading to do new things do whilst crude, provides a locus, direction and a
not have a discrete, deterministic process and repertoire of choices that leaders make in order
behaviour which they could share with others. to lead. Identity, while denoting self-
The production management, formula-driven, identification, conveys distinctive character in
continuous improvement epoch is coming to practice where individuals within a group or
an end. We are entering an era of organisation distinguish themselves from
discontinuous change. The form of leadership others and justify why they should exist and
literature that will evolve under these the reason for belonging to that identity. It is a
conditions will be dramatically different. The bonding agent, developing a sense of common
requirement will be for unstable formulas with interests and common destiny. Without
which new identities are created, sold and identity, individuals do not know what they are
destroyed on a continuous basis. In other and what they stand for, feeling as strangers,
words, a primary theme will be one of rendering their social experience illegitimate in
understanding patterns and deliberately their own eyes and those of others. Individuals
The study and practice of leadership Journal of Knowledge Management
Victor Newman and Kazem Chaharbaghi Volume 4 . Number 1 . 2000 . 6473

with strong identity, on the other hand, feel appropriateness and timing is right but are not
that they belong with a strong sense of viable otherwise. For example, leadership for
direction. Leadership has to place identity creating identity takes an issue with credibility
definition at the top of its agenda as without it particularly where there is no shared crisis;
there cannot be any common cause or leadership for protecting existing identity when
common allegiance. Without these there will there is an obvious crisis; and leadership for
be no followers and without followers there replacing identity with maintaining stability.
can be no context for leadership. But for those who wish to become leaders
Within the context of the practice of through demonstrating their worth to their
leadership, the key questions with respect to followers, any of the above might help. The
identity are: who am I? What do I want? Can I problems for those who wish to become
survive with being who I am? Is my identity leaders or maintain their leadership cannot be
sustainable? In addressing these questions a underestimated. This was eloquently
number of leadership patterns emerge: illustrated by Soviet and later Russian
. Leadership for protecting an existing identity, academic historians who in the old USSR used
the primary purpose of which is to to joke that: ``we have a glorious future, a
maintain stability. This form of difficult present and uncertain past''. This joke
leadership involves leaders who are not implied that the past was continuously
interested in any other identity as the cost reinvented in order to justify the decisions that
of losing the existing identity is too high. were made today and at the same time it was
These leaders are often considered to be clear that the promised glorious future was
heroes by their followers who court self- becoming more and more obscure as the route
destruction in protecting identity. to the workers' paradise was becoming
Examples of this form of leadership are impossible to discern to negotiate. Hence, the
not only found in various religions which workers lived in two worlds. They lived in a
are protected by their religious leaders world where their existing identity was not
but also in many organisations where any viable and not working. They also lived in the
departure from the tradition is resisted world of increasingly delayed gratification of
with change treated as a threat. where they were going to be tomorrow (i.e. the
. Leadership for creating identity which is based workers' paradise), the path to which was
on the promise of a better future. Leaders that deteriorating year on year. As a result, the
create identity are not interested in an future is glorious but increasingly distant whilst
existing, stable identity. They are the past seems to get closer and closer because
constantly in search of new identities it is repeatedly analysed for the sources of
because of the belief that change, whether current failure with the present becoming an
social, economic, technological, political unbridged gap where there is no continuity
and demographic, is inevitable. They also between past and future. This is how an
consider that there are no best but only unsustainable identity is destroyed by such
tensions leading to inertia and then final
better practices and that we are all the
collapse where the gap to the future cannot be
children of our time.
bridged by the existing identity that is trying to
. Leadership for replacing identity which
connect past and future. In such a situation, no
involves engineering and managing change.
leaders with any connection to the uncertain
Leaders who replace identity understand
past and the glorious future can emerge and
the benefits of an alternative identity and
operate successfully because the tensions are
that the costs of defending an existing
too great, discrediting any leadership quality
identity are too high. In the time of crisis,
that they may think they actually have. New,
they buy time through protecting old
unknown leaders can only emerge where they
identity and kill this identity as soon as a
can develop a new identity which creates a new
viable, working identity becomes
myth of the future and a new myth of the past
available which can be replaced.
with a line of progression connecting the two
In reality, very few of the above forms of which make sense through locating the present
leadership occur in isolation. But they do have in that continuum with which the followers can
different basic assumptions about who to identify. Through a staged process the
influence, how to influence and what to focus contradictions contained within the future
on. Each tends to be effective when its myth need to be realised and gradually
The study and practice of leadership Journal of Knowledge Management
Victor Newman and Kazem Chaharbaghi Volume 4 . Number 1 . 2000 . 6473

replaced by a real future that is coherent with Figure 1 The leadership triangle model
the official identity that the leader can define
and exploit. The leader has to also reinvent the
past that never existed through a fantasy world
in order to justify the new, official identity.
In changing and managing identity, the
leadership triangle model shown in Figure 1
explains three points of measurement that
leaders need to consider. Initially, there is an
assumed personal, private identity which the
leader wears like a mask in order to
understand how the followers can be
manipulated, and like the evil stepmother in
the Cinderella story, sees in the mirror every
morning. This answers the questions: who am
I really, what do I know that no one else manage all three dimensions of the leadership
knows and am I still beautiful? These triangle model. This involves creating and
questions enable the leader to reflect on what replacing identity so that the followers are
unrealised potential value this identity can continuously provided with an identity with
generate. Such a reflection will entail which they can relate to their present position
creativity, strategy, anticipation and morality, on the route to the glorious future. The other
allowing the leader to direct and channel the alternative is to protect an existing identity
emotions of their followers. While the identity against threats from competing identity by
leaders want to create is initially private to ensuring that the followers refuse to
them, image and reputation are public. These participate through creating strong myths
two dimensions protect the leader's private about the alternative and to sabotage the
identity by acting as a disguise for what the contexts for projecting identity.
leader is actually doing. Image is what the
followers assume the identity projected by the
leader to be. It can be considered as the level 4. The leader's new work: knowledge
of the current account of identity. It engineering and implementing
represents the value projected by the leader's discontinuous change
identity at present and the measure through
which the followers judge the viability of that It is only relatively recently that Drucker's
identity. This measure provides an indication post-capitalism thinking has begun to assume
of coherence and answers the question: are we a substantive shape (Drucker, 1987, 1991). A
still on the route to a glorious future? key gap in his thinking, however, has been the
Reputation can be considered as a deposit failure to see that the global knowledge
account where the current account associated economy is now better described as post-
with image is considered over a longer period commodity rather than post-capitalism. In
of time and averaged out to create brand- essence, his writing on the evolving global
association for the leader. Using the knowledge economy has underlined an
leadership triangle model (see Figure 1), emerging truth: that the era of optimising
leaders who are losing their leadership products and processes is coming to an end
qualities through the diminishing relevance of and is being replaced with an era of
their identity, are confronted with two discontinuity (Chaharbaghi and Newman,
choices. They either say: forward to the 1997). The symptoms of this shift were
glorious future or backward to the glorious reinforced by Steven Roach's public recanting
past with the added irony that any future of lean production and down-sizing strategies,
created out of the past will be a selective redefining lean strategies as recipes for
idealisation. Both of these choices involve industrial extinction (Roach, 1996). This
myth-making that transforms a victim's reinforces the futility of the optimisation
present-state by legitimising terrorist activity model, directly connecting the loss of the
that destroys someone else's competing ability to innovate with the adoption of a
identity and reinforces the terrorist to take primary strategy of optimising existing
them in either direction. Enduring leaders products or processes. The implicit and now,
The study and practice of leadership Journal of Knowledge Management
Victor Newman and Kazem Chaharbaghi Volume 4 . Number 1 . 2000 . 6473

explicit danger of focusing on product and new opportunity. It should be highlighted that
process optimisation has been one of identity and technology are co-dependent in
becoming trapped into competing on price the sense that it is not possible to have a
and not on generating value-leadership. Only successful technology without a successful
now has it become obvious that the Japanese identity and vice versa. The corollary of this is
lean approach cannot deliver genuinely new that a new identity cannot be created without
products, and that their explicit technology of a sustainable new technology to support it.
supply-chain management, means lean Such a technology can be social as well as
production acts as a brake on the potential physical. The culture that emerges from
rate of innovation by forcing its prisoners to having and using such a technology is linked
compete on price and not on value. to that technology via identity. Identity
In this emerging era, leadership will not be therefore sustains the social process that
able to count on technologies of optimisation, enables the technology to deliver leadership.
nor fall back on approaches based on To achieve leadership there are two parallel
production management, but learn to competitive strategies. The first competitive
immerse themselves and learn to surf in the strategy entails destroying a competitor by
cold, frothy waves of discontinuity within a attacking and discrediting the identity
global knowledge economy. Survival in this generated by its technology. The result of this
arena requires the ability to learn fast, to competitive strategy is that the use of such a
create new patterns of discontinuity; of technology becomes ridiculous because its
deliberately not following available leadership associations are no longer viable. The
models within the public or academic alternative competitive strategy is to develop
domain; of not being interested in adopting an overwhelming technology that generates
other people's technologies but daring to such a powerful identity that even its outward
create their own. The competitive nature of cues have a powerful resonance creating
knowledge within a global knowledge doubt in maintaining any other identity. The
economy in terms of value and time shows first competitive strategy therefore employs
that knowledge is not a static commodity. Its identity to discredit an existing technology
value lies in its exploitation to deliver new while the second uses technology to destroy
market values or expectations that destabilise an existing identity.
existing positions of competitive products in At this point it is important to consider that
terms of entry to market and relative value. If in a global knowledge economy, the
the only true competitive advantage lies in the commodity nature of products together with
ability to learn faster than the competition, their underlying stabilised technologies means
then the nature and relationship of certain key that virtual products are becoming the most
words including knowledge, technology, data powerful. While leading niche car
and information needs to be understood and manufacturers such as Ferrari focused on
clarified. This can best be described in terms using advanced physical technology to enable
of the data-information-knowledge- the acquisition of a differentiated identity for
technology (DIKT) transformation process their consumers, the phenomenon of Nike's
(Chaharbaghi and Newman, 1997). This success has been to understand that it was in
process considers that data exists in an infinite the identity business, that making sports
volume and variety and represents that which shoes was not a core activity, but that the
is given but has no meaning in isolation. The ``swoosh'' on the product acts as a trigger or
recognition or creation of patterns, trends or carrier for a series of emotions about identity.
images within data transforms that data into It can therefore be argued that Nike's success
information, which when located within a has been the transfer of identity
context for application acquires new meaning, differentiation borrowed from niche car
at which point it becomes knowledge in the manufacturers in a form of a social technology
form of a new opportunity. This definition of applied to a commodity product. The
knowledge as something that describes an terrifying thing is that the future lies with
opportunity and not as something that can be ``virtual'' products based on exploiting, killing
remembered, is deliberate. It is the systematic and creating identities through social
and consistent application of knowledge in technologies it is as much about how people
the form of a technology that creates the same feel about consuming the product as about
effect thereby enabling the exploitation of the the function the product ostensibly serves
The study and practice of leadership Journal of Knowledge Management
Victor Newman and Kazem Chaharbaghi Volume 4 . Number 1 . 2000 . 6473

through what is generally considered as potential identity it generates. The new

technology. In other words, Nike is a state of identity offers the promise to its followers that
mind, it is a country. And it is this form of they feel better about themselves by using that
leadership that is emerging in a global technology at which point they begin to
knowledge economy where most products are identify with cues embedded within the new
just commodities, whose commodity-nature technology. In this way the new technology is
can only be disguised through branding, new purchased and the identity it generates is
configurations and combinations. The new worn. This implies that the application of the
reality of corporate empires replicates the DIKT process requires the destruction of a
approaches of the Roman and Venetian key saying: namely that knowledge itself is
empires, where identity was more important definitely not power. Knowing something
than physical location, and determined entry does not confer power, but in combination
and participation in wealth creation and with directive behaviour positioning,
simultaneously what other identities were preparation and timing around and
permissible. Phil Knight of Nike among supporting that knowledge have the potential
others like Steve Jobs and Richard Branson to deliver control of a situation and thus,
realised that the real product was the emotion create the power to implement a strategy. The
that could be triggered by visual and verbal following explanation is very much in the
cues embedded within the product. All these context of Sun Tzu and is partially derived
leaders have demonstrated an awareness of from his teaching (Clavell, 1981):
the leadership triangle of identity-image- Implementation power K P2 t
reputation and the need to consistently
reinforce these emotional cues and destroy where K is knowledge (knowledge of the
their competitors by making competition potential opportunity within the DIKT
through alternative identities, impossible. The process). The first P in P2 is preparation i.e.
technology of leadership is unlike other the planning and sequencing of the activities
technologies in that it is virtual in at least two that take the potential leaders to the
senses. Leadership is a virtual technology in battlefield to win, what must be done to get
that it cannot be touched, is visible only in them there and sustain them throughout the
retrospect and it determines how individuals process of battle. It has two forms:
feel about themselves, it structures their (1) Destroying the route for the retreat of the
potential emotions just like modern virtual followers so that they can only go
products where brand is the product and the forward, and ensuring that the enemy
key asset. The only way to avoid the identity (i.e. the competing identity) has a bolt-
technology of corporate empires such as Nike hole to escape through but without their
is simply to refuse to participate. assets.
Fundamentalists and environmentalists make (2) Purposeful rehearsal to anticipate and
a virtue of this non-participation but even eliminate potential risks, and enable
they are trapped in a variation of the old soviet leaders to identify those key variables that
historian's dilemma: the future they sell is must be managed with deep attention.
uncertain, the present is always awful and the Modern equivalents include learning
past in comparison, must be glorious. from scenario planning exercises.
While knowledge as defined within the
The second P in the above formula is for
DIKT process presents an opportunity for
positioning which involves creating and laying
creating a new technology and its associated
out the battle ground in a way that channels
identity via leadership within a turbulent
and exposes the enemy while, t is for timing
knowledge economy, strategy is the process of
which is about:
translating this knowledge into a technology
. when to begin the battle;
that attracts, influences and enables the
. ensuring that the leader's decisions
intended followers to purchase the technology
anticipate the enemy's response so there
and wear the identity. This involves the
is always the initiative even in retreat;
followers recognising the crisis in continuing
. closure where leaders decide when this
to invest in an existing technology and its
battle has to end, and the next must begin.
associated identity, abandoning this
technology and identity, making new Within the context of the directed behaviour
associations with a new technology and the model that delivers implementation power,
The study and practice of leadership Journal of Knowledge Management
Victor Newman and Kazem Chaharbaghi Volume 4 . Number 1 . 2000 . 6473

leaders have to be able to deliver three visible sense of leadership products in their literary
and one invisible strategy. The visible form and that the literary nature of the
strategies are: medium can blind its consumers to a new or
(1) Attack, which is about how to do changing context. The majority are very good
something new that the leader has never at operating within the context they are
done before. Using this strategy, the accustomed to, but very poor at recognising
resulting knowledge of opportunity when the information or pattern within that
within the DIKT process derives from context is changing through emergent
shifting patterns from their original discontinuities. The implications are that
context to a new one, and their reversal leaders need to be professional outsiders who,
leads to the creation of a leading whilst they look for and understand repetitive
technology with its associated identity. patterns, are not emotionally-committed to a
(2) Copy, which is about how to emulate and past identity and technology. Any study of
integrate someone else's successful leadership will always be historical and
leadership strategy. DIKT within the literary. The success of leadership literature as
copy strategy involves emulating a a genre means that its consumers are being
competitor's technology realising their satisfied. An examination of the literature may
knowledge becomes a viable option, in turn say more about the needs of its
creating an experience of reconfiguring purchasers than provide useful answers to
and reinvention through reverse- basic questions. In other words, it may be no
engineering and optimising. more than a form of literature, closer to
(3) Protect/defend, which is about how to fiction than objective knowledge. Whilst those
exclude and disguise the asset and confuse who write about leadership share a need to
the enemy through misdirection. DIKT in destroy the identity of other competing
the protect strategy involves leaders writers, their purpose is not to become leaders
disguising and optimising their existing themselves.
technology in order to develop the other This work has shown that identity,
two strategies. Alternatively they prepare technology and leadership are strongly
for the fourth strategy which is invisible. interrelated and cannot be usefully considered
in isolation. The underlying metaphor in the
The fourth invisible leadership strategy which issue of identity is that of modernity being the
is always ignored is that of closing down or means of survival within a competitive
withdrawing from the failed strategy of (1) to environment. In other words, identity is
(3) listed above. basically about winning or losing. Identity
In summary, the technology of leadership answers the question of who am I, where do I
combines these four strategies, DIKT and come from, where am I going, and what do I
Directed Behaviour model in three steps: do next? Identity also determines
(1) Recognition (data to information with opportunity: how we see and feel about events
information as vision). (these are a threat to, or a reinforcement of
(2) Opportunity (information to knowledge existing identity), identity enables us to shift
with knowledge as opportunity). from victim to terrorist. Identity is a virtual
(3) Implementation through Directed product, in an increasingly virtual
Behaviour (knowledge to technology with broadcasting economy. It is connected to
technology in the form of crafting the myths of causality. Identity becomes a
power to implement). convenient fiction for telling a story of
causality that may be mythical (i.e. ``we are
successful because . . . or we failed because
5. Conclusions, implications and they cheated). The idea of Cartesian anxiety
opportunities is itself interesting: where either we have a
fixed and stable foundation for what is
Leadership is usually fixated around known, a point where knowledge is grounded
individuals and very little has been done to or we stand on the edge of oblivion,
identify the patterns underlying the effects of meaningless chaos, and confusion. Either
leadership being achieved. This paper has there is an absolute ground or foundation or
demonstrated that it is first necessary to everything falls apart. In this situation,
understand the consumers in order to make identity is a substitute for understanding how
The study and practice of leadership Journal of Knowledge Management
Victor Newman and Kazem Chaharbaghi Volume 4 . Number 1 . 2000 . 6473

things work. Even so, these integrative myths the by-product of delivering a stable
can themselves be dangerous. Identity either technology. The flexible mask of identity exists
reinforces old rules, or justifies breaking to make action seem consistent. Identity is the
them. We are either rule-keepers or breakers. mask and tool of leadership, the beginning and
Identity carries a repertoire of recognition: the end of meaning and action. In other words
this is winning behaviour, that is losing we believe and literature reinforces: I act,
behaviour. This means that sometimes the
therefore I am; in reality however, I believe I
only thing a leader can do is either to pretend
am, and therefore I can act.
that the old identity held the required
behaviour and reinforce it or to symbolically
kill the old identity and anyone wearing it by
suggesting that it is the cause for a failure to References
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