International Business and Entrepreneurship Faculty Publications and Presentations

Xenophon to the Sustainable Development Goals

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In an attempt to bring together the Global North-West and the Global South-East, the authors explore leadership:followership models across time and cultures that challenge the reader to shift perspectives and paradigms. When integrated and applied to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), an approach incorporating the disciplines of history, leadership-followership, sustainability studies, cultural and anthropological approaches can reorient our thinking in a post-colonialist world. Three historical leaders, Xenophon, Cabeza de Vaca, and Cândido Rondon, are examined using transdisciplinary narrative against a backdrop of leadership thought, primarily informed by the work of Peter F. Drucker.

These leaders are examined because of their time, context, and universal appeal as individuals who thought and acted for and on behalf of a collective while working across differences. In addition, their individual complexities as military men who adapted consistently to some very “un-military” situations and environments introduces an additional intriguing factor to the leadership portfolio of each. They were from a military culture but not defined by it.

They were not perfect leaders, and, in many ways, have been and would be criticized for various obvious flaws, including paternalism, misogyny, and/or aligning with rather than radically challenging the powers/elites of which they were a part.

At the core of Drucker’s leadership thinking are three key areas: work, responsibility, and trust earned. This retelling provides an approach to understanding purpose-driven leadership in the past to better integrate leadership and followership values, education, and practices towards transforming our world. Although history remembers and raises Xenophon, Cabeza de Vaca, and Cândido Rondon in general as leaders exemplar, it can be demonstrated that their singular focus on their work, the manner in which they exercised personal responsibility, and their attempt to develop trust in their followers, provided a complexity that can help consider an approach needed for the future.


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Handbook of Global Leadership and Followership