Heroic leadership is rarely mentioned in textbooks. In a 2013 article in Organizational Dynamics, Bill Cohen reviewed criticisms of heroic leadership, discussed his research, and concluded with principles of heroic leadership. I found his article to be thought-provoking.
Cohen argues heroic leadership is transformational leadership, “not transactional leadership.” It may involve followers participating in decision-making or not. It can be found across organizational structures from hierarchies to organic. The degree of “direct control” will vary with the situation.
What are heroic leaders? Here in Cohen's words are principles that mark heroic leaders:
- Maintain absolute integrity.
- Know your stuff.
- Declare your expectations.
- Show uncommon commitment.
- Expect positive results.
- Take care of your people.
- Put duty before self.
- Get out in front.
Cohen, W. A. (2013). Peter Drucker wants you to be a heroic leader. Organizational Dynamics, 42, 70-80.
Image of statue of Washington by Peter Kaminski. Used with permission. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en
© John Ballard, PhD, 2019. All rights reserved. Modified from earlier blog, January 2014.
Decoding the Workplace “deals with principles and practices that are timeless . . . Is this a must-have for managers and would-be managers? Yes.” Academy of Management Learning & Education, June, 2018.