Quantifying leadership for the greater good

September 24, 2014 — Leave a comment

Samuel Wilson

Throughout the last year or so, we have explored the meaning of leadership for the greater good.

Whether we have explored sustainability as a guide to the good, the leadership needed to address tough or wicked problems, or the challenges posed to such leadership by liquid modernity, it is clear that leadership for the greater good is very complex. Indeed, leadership for the greater good is less a unity concept than it is a complex of concepts, mindsets and practices.

As observed by the late Stephen Jay Gould, it is best to sneak up on generalities, rather than tackle them head-on. Such is the power of treating generalities by particulars. This piece of wisdom is certainly applicable to the challenge of understanding the nature of leadership for the greater good.

To this end, we have a talented collection of PhD students starting this year who will be examining a diversity of these particulars.

Nevertheless, it is useful to offer general observations about the state of the good in Australia and the quality of leadership in its service. This is especially important given that the challenge we have set ourselves is not only to understand the meaning of leadership for the greater good but also to promote its practice and enhance its impact.

The principal way in which we will glean insights into the state of the good in Australia and the quality of leadership offered in its service is through a major national telephone survey, which is launched today.

Conducted in conjunction with Swinburne’s highly regarded Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing team, lead by Dr Gordana Bruce, we will interview 1000 people from all walks of life across Australia.

This extensive survey work will yield some unique insights into perceptions of leadership in Australia, especially as regards the quality of leadership offered in the service of the environmental, economic, social and political dimensions of the good and the extent to which citizens create ‘space’ for the leadership that addresses Australia’s long-term needs and the needs of future generations.

The Swinburne Leadership Survey is an important first step in measuring leadership for the greater good and will be a vital tool in tracking leadership for the greater good in the years ahead.

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