'What I Learned at Leadership Camp'

Vinoth Chandar / CC-BY-2.0

Vinoth Chandar / CC-BY-2.0

At the behest of a new employer, an unnamed law professor was recently required to participate in a five-day “leadership development program.” Fortunately, the prof brought a sense of humor and a bullshit detector and returned to tell the tale, which includes bits of insight such as this:

One of the strange things about the business world is the extent to which its jargon is euphemistic. When we talk about leaders, we’re talking about bosses. Yet for some reason bosses don’t like to admit what it is they do. That’s why employees become “team members,” why firing becomes “letting go.” In a way, it suggests that people’s human instincts are that capitalism is something rotten; the more you describe it with precision, the more horrendous it sounds. At the level of uplifting abstractions, derived from self-help culture, everything can be pleasant and neutral. It’s only when you hack through the forest of buzzwords that you can understand what is actually being discussed.

How should we understand “leadership” then? As an “ideological construct deployed to legitimize power and domination in the state and the labor process,” the author answers.

Read the full report on the experience at Current Affairs.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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