What constitutes leadership and why it can’t be taught

Russell L. Ackoff (Ackoff is Anheuser‐Busch Professor Emeritus of the Management Science in The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He can be reached at e‐mail address: rlackoff@aol.com)

Handbook of Business Strategy

ISSN: 1077-5730

Publication date: 1 December 2005


Leadership is an art and, as such, requires talent. Talent can be enhanced but not taught. Leaders must be able to formulate inspiring visions and strategies for approaching them. Idealized design can be used for this purpose. In addition, leaders must understand the nature of social systems and what this implies, and the nature of the transformations occurring in our way of thinking. In this article the author explains how leaders, like artists, can be made more effective by learning about the relevant materials available and how to use them. Knowledge of the same tools and techniques may also improve managers, but it cannot make leaders of them.



Ackoff, R. (2005), "What constitutes leadership and why it can’t be taught", Handbook of Business Strategy, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 193-196. https://doi.org/10.1108/08944310510557459

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