When the idea of convening a group of scholars to formulate a general theory of leadership was first proposed, one of those who eventually became a key member remarked that the idea of such a project was 'quixotic'. Professor Joanne Ciulla used the term exactly as it is defined - as the American Heritage Dictionary (2009) has it, 'idealistic or romantic without regard to practicality.' What a charming, silly idea. And in the end, the quest and idealism endures but the goal of a general theory remains elusive. However, as Ciulla herself documents, we went far, and learned a great deal along the way.
Copyright © 2011 SAGE Publications, Inc. This book chapter first appeared in The SAGE Handbook of Leadership.
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Sorenson, George, George R. Goethals, and Paige Haber. "The Enduring and Elusive Quest for a General Theory of Leadership: Initial Efforts and New Horizons." In The SAGE Handbook of Leadership, edited by Alan Bryman, 29-36. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2011.