Leadership has two different meanings. First of all, it means to be at the first position in a competition, and at last but least, it is related to the trust that a head produces in a group. Both senses are very different, the former is related to overcome rivals in some kind of fight and the latter is related to get that people trust in us in order to accept our ideas and proposals.
For the business world, leadership has those both faces; however, if we are talking about management we are usually talking about command abilities when we are using the word leadership.
In management, it is not very polite to analyze leadership from a fighting viewpoint; however, reality shows that leadership usually is permanently questioned, and there are always some people interested in reaching the leadership of any group displacing the current leader.
The competences of a leader are not only those ones required to provide trust to the group, but those ones required to reach and preserve the command of the group. Trust is only one of them. In the current real world, leadership can be more related to competitiveness than trusting.
Leadership is a matter of trust when the knowledge and the information of the leaders are greater than the knowledge and the information of the group members. This was a way for tribal chiefs and priest to preserve their leadership of the tribe. The elders of the tribe had more acquired knowledge than the younger people, and nobody questioned their leadership, and the priests had a supposed direct connection with the divinity that provides him with special knowledge about the future.
Nowadays, knowledge and information are more widely spread for any organization than in the previous times. Experience can continue being a valuable asset, and the additional knowledge about the future is provided by the science instead of the divinity. The only people that can get the required trust to reclaim an unquestioned leadership of a group are the scientists, because science is acting as the new religion with much more credit than the magic of the shaman to give information about the future to us.
The Chinese emperors protected Jesuits from their people due to their ability to predict eclipses instead of their religion. The “magic” of the Jesuits was better than the magic of their priests, and then, they were more useful to show the ruler’s power to the people.
Leadership is not mainly a matter of membership or a matter of communication. It is mainly a matter of being able to understand the future better. In our current societies it is possible to convince the illiterate that some people have an unquestionable right to be the leaders of a group, however, it is very difficult to convince people with a university degree of that assumption.
Today, the leaders of the organizations are much related to business strategy. Leaders are required to provide coordination of the activities, but coordination can be provided by different methods, for instance, bureaucracy that avoids the need of human coordinators, however, organizations must be adaptable to the environment, and people expect that the decisions made to change the course of the organization drive it to the best future. As the Jesuits in the ancient China, science-based decisions of “foreign” people can provide better “magic” to support the senior managers than the local priests when people and markets track the elders of the tribe instead of trust in them. Unfortunately economic evolution is always less clear than the movement of Earth. An advance of the science can involve simply understanding better when we can make predictions and when our forecasts are similar to a conversation between the shaman and his divinity. This fact would have an extremely high value in an uncertain environment like the current one.