That is not the case, though, and even a 'grass roots' movement that begins in the bottom levels of a company or a government can make a big difference as to whether changes are made in the higher levels. The reason for this is that people really do want to see the changes that are necessary, but they are often too shy or concerned for their job to start making the changes themselves. Gardner (1990) also argues that there are many selfish people who are leaders, and because they are not as concerned with the good of the group as they should be, they fail to be effective.
The self-centered ideals that a lot of people hold when they reach and maintain positions of power often stop them from continuing to do what they know they really should in order to help the people whom they lead. This seems like a simple concept that people would work to avoid, but it is more difficult to maintain something for the good of the people when everything around you is trying to convince you otherwise. There is often a tremendous amount of pressure put on leaders, and it keeps them from doing what they often feel is right in favor of what they must do in order to keep their position (Gardner, 1990). They get into these positions with the idea of making changes and doing things that will be very helpful for people who are being led, but the power and the position change them into something else. They can stop that from happening, but they fear losing their jobs so they change in order to keep the job, instead of foregoing the job so they do not have to change.
With this work, Gardner (1990) shows that there is more to being a leader than making decisions and ordering others around. If leaders and followers would work together in the spirit of Burns' (1978) transactional leadership ideas, much more would get done and there would be fewer problems with corporations and countries. Since Gardner's (1990) book has been out for 20 years now, it is easy to see that it has not significantly impacted the leadership and business worlds. That is not to say that there have not been any changes made because of the work. Some companies and communities may have made changes that were based on the ideas of Gardner (1990), Burns (1978), and similar authors. However, the world as a whole has not conformed to what these authors feel is the 'correct' way to be a leader.
Whether others move to follow the examples that Gardner (1990) has set out remains to be seen, but his work is considered to be one of the classic books on leadership and development. Anyone who wants to be a leader who really makes a difference would be wise to read his book and Burns' (1978) work, as well. It is not impossible to do small things that make large differences in life, as Gardner (1990) clearly points out. This is true in leadership and many other areas, but it is all-too-often forgotten by people in their daily lives because they are busy with the worries and issues that everyone must handle. If a person can focus on what is truly important from a group perspective instead of a personal perspective, he or she can use that focus to make important differences in a leadership capacity.
Gardner (1990) appears to clearly understand that there are many differences between the way people lead and the kind of leadership that will really work. He endeavors to point this out in his work, but he also attempts to convince people to do more with the leadership opportunities that they have. The call to action that he offers has been offered before, but eventually more people will begin to hear and accept that call. When they do, the face of leadership in their area will change. As it does, others will see what is taking place and they will begin to affect change in their own areas. The ripples from something like that could become very widespread, and that is the kind of effect that Gardner (1990) is looking for. If and when it takes place, leadership throughout the world will…