Leaders or Leaderfulness? Lessons from High-Achieving Communities: A Cousins Research Group Report on Community in Democracy



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This Cousins Research Group report by Kettering Foundation president David Mathews suggests the need to rethink conventional notions of leadership and makes the case for “leaderfulness,” a characteristic of high-achieving communities. These communities have the ability to change and adapt when faced with new challenges. Equating leadership with initiative, the report discusses the necessity for communities themselves to change when faced with problems that can’t be solved unless initiatives come from every sector.

After making the case for leaderfulness, the report shows how ordinary community routines, like giving a name to a problem, can be done in ways that encourage everyone to become engaged. The report also deals with barriers to leaderfulness, including some conventional ideas about leadership.

This is an invitation to participate in rethinking leadership for change, particularly in the communities where we live, work, and raise our families. The central ideas are that communitywide change requires a great many initiative takers and that a critical job for them is to make their communities “leaderful.” 

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