Leadership In Historical Context
Of the myriad forms of human and social capital, leadership may be the most rare and precious. One can point to hundreds of companies that were collapsing despite legions of consultants and new plans and policies, until finally its chief executive officer was removed, a new head was brought in, and the company turned around as though by magic. History abounds with similar examples among armies, universities, churches, and nations.
Conversely, the untimely loss of a talented and effective leader can prove disastrous for the organization she was leading. Try as they may, a succession of new leaders cannot stem the inexorable decline of the very same organization that a few months or years before was at the peak of health and vitality.
Moreover, sometimes whole societies lose their ability to produce great leaders. There are numerous cases of societies that lost their earlier, highly developed culture and retrogressed to a more primitive way of life. In some of these cases, external factors such as invasion or drought played a role, but in many cases it would seem that the retrogression was due to a failure of will and a lack of leadership.