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Ambassador Charles A. Ray

There are those who sincerely believe that in this, the digital age, with almost instantaneous communication between any two points on the globe, and with the present-day emphasis on flat organizations and empowered employees, leadership is less important. That is, in my view, dangerous thinking, and just plain wrong. Leadership is more important now than ever.

I’m not talking here about the smokestack economy style of leadership, but leadership in its most basic sense. Leadership that sets vision and direction, leadership that coordinates all the disparate, independent elements that make up modern organizations into a coherent whole.

In an era when mistakes or misunderstanding can cause catastrophic consequences, whether from weapons of mass destruction in the hands of rogue groups, a biosphere devastated due to wrong-headed business decisions, or nature wreaking havoc; there is a compelling need for enlightened leadership.

In a "flat" organization, everyone should aspire to be a leader. Not necessarily in the formal sense, with titles and perks, but informally – ensuring that the right things are done the right way. As my grandmother used to say, "don’t wait around for someone else to do it."

This column will be devoted to a discussion of leadership in the 21st Century and beyond. What leadership is and what leadership does. I am looking forward to a lively exchange with readers.

To get things started, I offer two observations that I would like readers to react to:

  • Leadership is the art of achieving what the science of management says is impossible.

  • Leadership can’t really be taught, but it can be learned.

Let us and the world know what you think on these or any other topics of interest to you. Write me  at For more of my writing on leadership and other topics, see my blog at


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