Some Things Don’t Change

Today’s businesses, communities and leaders are all about change. The business media, the popular press and even many recent issues of Leading Effectively have focused on the fast pace of change, the need to adapt and the challenges of leading in times of great uncertainty. All the talk about change might have you believe that leadership itself has completely transformed, too. David Campbell begs to differ.

Campbell, whose groundbreaking work on career development made him renowned in the field of industrial and organizational psychology, is a CCL Honorary Senior Fellow.

Reflecting on a long career working with leaders from around the world, Campbell shared 21 observations of leadership with readers of his publication. His comments include:

  1. Leadership can be taught, or at least learned. I am also fairly certain that it can be stomped on fatally.
  2. A definition of leadership that makes sense to me is, “Actions that focus resources to create desirable opportunities.” I have been using this definition for years, but no one else seems to be impressed by it.
  3. The world will inevitably focus on the frailty of the leader. If a leader scores a 9 on a 10-point scale, the 10 percent gap between reality and perfection will be what draws public attention — but, as the English say, better a diamond with a single flaw than a perfect pebble.
  4. Creative leadership is distasteful to most organizations; it almost always creates unwelcome turbulence. The status quo will usually reign or, perhaps, suffocate. Leaders who attempt to be creative either have to be brilliant or be completely in control. It helps if they are both.
  5. People in charge will hang on too long.
  6. Two basic dimensions of leadership — task orientation and relationship orientation — have constantly appeared and reappeared in the leadership research literature. Both people and productivity are important.
  7. Sooner or later, and it is often sooner, almost all organizations will demonstrate dysfunctionality. Even the simplest organizational tasks escalate in complexity over time, creating either bad feelings or poor performance. Simply assigning parking places or getting the coffee pot cleaned daily will eventually lead to friction.
  8. Poor leadership is far more visible from below than from above, which means that in most organizations, those responsible for evaluating leaders — usually their superiors — are poorly positioned to do so.

Printed with permission of Center for Creative Leadership. Adapted with permission from Leadership in Action, Volume 28, Issue 4, 2008; Copyright (c) 2008 Jossey-Bass Publishers/A Wiley Imprint

Explore posts in the same categories: Management, Training, Workforce

Tags: , , ,

You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

One Comment on “Some Things Don’t Change”

  1. Hi!

    Congratulations! Your readers have submitted and voted for your blog at The Daily Reviewer. We compiled an exclusive list of the Top 100 Psychology Blogs, and we are glad to let you know that your blog was included! You can see it at

    You can claim your Top 100 Blogs Award here :

    P.S. This is a one-time notice to let you know your blog was included in one of our Top 100 Blog categories. You might get notices if you are listed in two or more categories.

    P.P.S. If for some reason you want your blog removed from our list, just send an email to with the subject line “REMOVE” and the link to your blog in the body of the message.


    Angelina Mizaki
    Selection Committee President
    The Daily Reviewer

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: