‘Leaderless’ or ‘leaderful’?

 Both these expressions have been in vogue at different times to describe great organisations.  Can they both be right at the same time?

If Martians landed in the NHS and said to a doctor at random, “Take me to your leader”, what would he/she do?  Personally, I would probably stammer, “Err, what do you mean?  Do you mean the person I think is the head of my professional body (President of the Royal College), or the Chief Executive of the Trust I work in?  Perhaps you mean my Clinical Director or is it the Medical Director?  On the other hand, maybe it should be the Chief Medical Officer; no wait, what about the NHS’s Medical Director?  That can’t be right, it must be the General Secretary of the BMA, or do I mean the GMC?”  I imagine by now the Martian will be having second thoughts about visiting!

Is my indecision a symptom of an egalitarian, democratic Utopia where no-one needs to be ‘in charge’ since all are working towards a harmonious, unified goal?  Or is it a ‘leaderful’ community, one where everyone takes a leadership responsibility and models great teamwork and mutual encouragement?

I guess no objective observer would ever describe the UK’s NHS as a great example of highly effective leadership.  So perhaps my plethora of ‘leaders’ is more of a ‘leader-heavy’ institution, i.e. one where there are more ‘Chiefs than Indians’!


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