Wicked Problems and the Leadership Challenge


Some time ago, I was fortunate to attend a leadership master class with Keith Grint. His presentation was about wicked problems and leadership. In this post, I briefly explore one definition of leadership and introduce tame problems, critical problems, and wicked problems.

A Definition of Leadership

In Leadership: a Very Short Introduction, Keith Grint differentiates leadership from management. He reasons that the difference between leadership and management is context. That is, management is equivalent to déjà vu whereas leadership is equivalent to vu jàdé. Literally, this is the difference between something one has experienced before, and something one has not.

In other words, managers tend to resolve previously experienced problems, whereas leaders must innovate to solve novel or unruly problems. For the manager, problems are complicated but rarely complex: there is little uncertainty because problems are tame.

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