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Catalytic Conversion

Leadership editor Marshall Shelley reports from Catalyst, a conference for young leaders.

After two days at the 2005 Catalyst Conference in Atlanta, I've picked up the mixed feelings that the emerging generation has about leadership. Even though Catalyst is billed as a conference for "young leaders," the attendees I've talked to don't openly aspire to leadership, at least not "the strong, dominant leader" model.

No one openly and forthrightly says (as I heard young people say 20 years ago), "I want to be a leader." Or "I hope to be a person of great influence someday." Instead, the conferees at Catalyst carefully parse the meaning of the word leadership. The attendees see the importance of good leadership, and everyone appreciates being in a group that's well-led. But when picturing such a group, very few mentally picture an individual leader. The mental image of a group that's well led doesn't have a clear and established leader. In fact, a person who identifies himself or herself as a ...

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