Studies in Leadership: Leadership and Democratic Action

By Alvin W. Gouldner | Go to book overview

Some Strategic Considerations in Innovating Leadership1

BY LEWIS A. DEXTER

THE MOST important instrument with which the leader has to work is himself--his own personality and the impression which he creates on other people. Consciously or unconsciously, many politicians are aware of this, although generally speaking politicians are selected because they are by temperament already adapted to a situation and a social milieu; hence they do not have consciously to adapt themselves to the demands of the times. However, the innovator, the prophet, the reformer, the originator, are rarely essentially well- adapted to society. For people who think of new and different ideas are not likely to be people who conform readily, graciously, and with ease to the social pressures and directives upon them. Sociologists, for example, despite their wealth of propositional knowledge about society, are not usually distinguished for social "savoir-faire" at the inarticulate level of immediate response; any high school girl with a really good "line" is far more effective than most of them at making people feel at ease, and at making people "like" her.

For a professional sociologist, who is concerned with teaching students to get outside their own culture, to look at events free of the custom-based assumptions which ordinarily lead to misinterpretation and misevaluation, a general attitude of skepticism and criticism may be defensible and desirable. For the professional sociologist as such

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1
Reprinted with modifications and with a previously unpublished appendix from The Journal of Liberal Religion, 1944, by permission of the editors. Copyright, 1944, by The Journal of Liberal Religion.

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