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Leadership: Leaders, Followers, Environments by Art Padilla

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Introduction

The least recognized but perhaps most important side of the leadership triangle is the environmental space within which leaders and followers interact. David Gilmour, a successful entrepreneur who has started several highly profitable enterprises, comments on capitalism this way:

Creative capitalism is a potent force—arguably, the most powerful mankind has invented. But it requires a level playing field. It requires economic stability. It requires justice. More than anything, it requires freedom.1

Whatever your views about capitalism—some call it the worst economic system in the world, after all the other “isms” such as totalitarianism or communism—each of the elements Gilmour mentions are things many people in the Western world take for granted. They are important pieces of the contexts and environments. A “level playing field,” where no one owns the ball or makes the rules, requires strong civic and legal institutions. Prerequisites for economic stability include a transparent government and efficient, noncorrupt agencies to enforce rights and define processes. Justice speaks for itself; its indispensable ingredients include the rule of law and freedom of the press, religion, and expression. Freedom is hard to get and harder to keep. Many nations do not enjoy the checks and balances to power, or the transparency of civic, political, and cultural institutions that many people who live in the United States, Germany, or New Zealand take for granted. But let anyone ...

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