Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
This essay has sought to expand the perspective of leadership studies by incorporating the general theory of evolution from the discipline of biology. Evolution has been compared to leadership by other researchers but they have limited themselves to a metaphorical comparison. The primary purpose of this paper was to show that such a distinction was inaccurate when we have a full understanding of general evolutionary theory. Once this connection was established in Part II, we turned to examine some of the implications for leadership studies in particular. While a new theory was not presented, a foundation for such a theory was laid by examining the evolutionary implications for Heifetz's consideration of adaptation and conflict. An effort to construct a more comprehensive theory would greatly benefit from further research integrating communication, anthropology, economics, politics, physics, and theology. The challenge is daunting but at a minimum it promises to expose a rich new understanding of leadership. At most, it may revolutionize (or should I say evolutionize) the way we see our world.
The preliminary lessons that we have learned are exciting. We have found that we should not look to Nature to justify what we are doing or to tell us what we should be doing. Instead, we should be looking to Nature to ]earn about how we came to be doing what we are doing. When we do that, I believe that we wiH start evaluating our actions by their own merits. Instead of looking for the answers "out there," we'll start thinking about what affect our own actions will have in the system. We will be free to create our own answers for ourselves. We won't feel so pressured by conflict. We will appreciate change as the surest sign of the vitality of life. We will look within ourselves to ask four important questions: where are we, how has what we have done lead us to where we are. where do we need to be, and how can we get there?
I opened the paper with a quote from Hermann Hesse. Leadership is like trying to fly. Many people are afraid to even try. Many who do take the plunge soar off as madmen. The evolutionary perspective promises to enable those people-who in the past have stayed on the ground because they thought leadership was an activity only for authority figures-to jump into the air and enjoy the exhilaration of flight. It also promises to give those who are swept away by power a greater ability to focus their energy towards good ends. Evolution has been here all along, Creatively churning out Excellence for billions of years. Isn't it time that we started tapping into the wisdom of the world around us?
Scott, Lee A., "Leadership: a cultural manifestation of evolution" (1998). Honors Theses. 1178.