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Howard Gardner
Scholar

Howard Gardner

Howard Gardner is the Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Senior Director of Harvard Project Zero.

Tea Party: Informal leadership can only get you so far

Q: Has the recent success of the Tea Party come because of, or in spite of, the movement's lack of a formal leadership structure? Along with Wikipedia, open-source software and organizations like moveon.org, is this another example of the power of distributed leadership?

Without question, the speed with which the Tea Party has come to prominence would have been difficult, if not impossible, to achieve in a pre-digital era. And while it would be naive to infer that there is no leadership---certainly there are individuals with financial and intellectual resources working diligently behind the scenes--the movement clearly has a 21st century feeling to it.

The real challenge is this: it's easy to be against something, much more difficult to articulate a positive vision and then to make progress in achieving it. I'm doubtful that, absent more conventional leadership, the Tea Party will be able to be constructive--as well as destructive. If it manages to achieve legislative or executive results, in the absence of formal leadership, that will really be a case of "man bites dog."

By Howard Gardner

 |  September 21, 2010; 10:31 AM ET
Category:  Government leadership , Political leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Why are the American People treating the terroist group known as the “tea party’ any different than the terroist group known as the “taliban”. Both groups use hatred and fear as their weapons of choice. Why?

Posted by: rkornegay1 | September 21, 2010 5:00 PM
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