“You’ve arrived to a desert.”

At the Fulbright conference in Valencia, during the Q&A section of my lecture, a graduate student stated that she had difficulty finding programs in Organizational Leadership Studies at the undergraduate level in the USA. She asked if, based on my experience in Spain, I had found the situation to be similar in Spanish universities.

In response to the question, I shared about a dialogue that I had with a group of Spanish professors the previous summer in Tenerife.

During that dialogue with the professors, we discussed the focus of my Fulbright endeavor. We explored the differences between business administration and leadership. I proposed that administration is about developing and organizing different business functions (marketing, accounting, HR, IT, operations, sales, etc.) in order to have the business run successfully, and leadership is about influencing and motivating others towards common goals. I went onto explain about the scientific investigation of leadership and the 95+ leadership theories that are found within the literature. After about 20 minutes, a professor looked across the table and said…

“You have arrived to a desert. We have no idea what you’re talking about; however, we need it. The good news about being in a desert, is that whatever water you bring will be well received.“

This statement has left me with much to ponder. I think this sentiment is common across the globe. Not only does there seem to be a dearth of effective leadership in society today, but throughout history. For certain, it is not easy to be a leader. The question is before us… “To lead or not to lead?”