Today I am talking with Dr. Charles Yoos. Chuck, thanks so much for agreeing to be a part of my series of interviews in which I talk with people who have ideas that can be valuable to the legal profession. I am excited to have readers learn your thoughts on leadership. Back in 1984, you wrote a paper called THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS LEADERSHIP. I was quite intrigued when I heard the title. Would you tell us more about what you wrote in this paper with such a provocative title and perhaps some of what you have added to your thinking in the years since?
I wrote the paper to record correct knowledge ... an urge of intellectual honesty. In the paper I quote Martin Luther, who reputedly advanced his theses against Church orthodoxy with the remark, "Hier stehe ich. Ich kann nicht anders." (Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise). Me, too.
Another perspective on my position is that I am an iconoclast; literally, a breaker of (sacred) images. Leadership has become something akin to the holy grail of the applied social sciences. That's as folly as the ancient alchemists, who proclaimed that base metals could be transmuted to precious ones, but failed to figure out how. Oops...
I suppose that under these circumstances, the title is provocative...after all, I'm tugging on Superman's Cape. But what I want to focus on often doesn't occur to the persons who are provoked by the title. They want to dispute it viscerally, stoutly maintaining that there IS such a thing, even if they can't explain it. That's called faith, and is properly applied