Purpose – This paper aims to show how industrial thinking has led to a myopic focus on individual leadership styles to the potential detriment of a broader understanding of leadership. Also, to present the Nez Perce leadership council as an exemplar of post‐industrial leadership. Finally, to demonstrate that a historical approach can be used effectively to elucidate such constructs. Design/methodology/approach – A historical examination of the popular portrayal versus the actual functioning of the non‐treaty Nez Perce leadership council during the conflict of 1877. Findings – Although Chief Joseph has often been considered the supreme leader of the Nez Perce during the conflict period (industrial view), the group was actually led by a leadership council, which functioned in the manner described by Rost and Smith as post‐industrial leadership. Research limitations/implications – Although the paper illuminates Rost and Smith's model, it does not attempt to assess the effectiveness of post‐industrial leadership, as the successes and failures of the Nez Perce during the conflict period could be attributed to other variables beyond the authors' scope. It is to be hoped, however, that future researchers will continue the debate concerning leadership and its peripheral elements. Practical implications – It is suggested that contemporary organizational leaders should be focused on leadership beyond style and might consider the post‐industrial model for mutually satisfying influence, particularly with the team‐based and flattened structures common to the modern firm. Originality/value – The use of a historical example and method to exemplify the contemporary model of post‐industrial leadership. Further, to demonstrate how industrial thinking has encouraged many to focus on the periphery of leadership.
Journal of Management History – Emerald Publishing
Published: Apr 17, 2007
Keywords: Leadership; Management history; Post‐industrial societies