It is interesting that Rost, along with a number of other academicians, seeks to abandon the concept of the individual leader in favor of a more collective process. The leadership position is notoriously vulnerable, certainly, and it seems likely that the many instances of poor leadership as practiced by individuals encourage a desire to look elsewhere for a similar effect. The impetus is also valid in terms of pragmatic approach; if leadership presence may be defined as a guiding force, it is reasonable to assume that something other than a single person may provide it, and without the harmful potentials invariably manifested by individual leaders.
Nonetheless, the approach is one that cannot be adequately sustained because it ignores the fundamental basis for leadership itself. This basis is not that of individual need to assert leadership, although that in itself is no incidental issue. Rather, it is the omnipresent human need to identify one individual as leader. This is a need in evidence historically in virtually every culture and epoch known to mankind, and within arenas ranging from the minimal to the massive. Moreover, it is not necessarily indicative of flaws or weaknesses in the humans so eager to identify the leader, as may be supposed. People are social animals, a fact that vastly influences all human behavior, and the nature of any social construction is intrinsically stratified to an extent. The position of leader is required because it provides a core of human focus no alternative can match, if only because of the “human” element of the leader. People demand, not merely a human presence to take responsibility and offer guidance, but one that accommodates a need just as pressing: a repository of trust. Generally speaking, people are inspired to do and create when there is an assurance that they are serving the interests of themselves, as well as of others; the individual leader, then, establishes the human model necessary for this vital connection to occur. To lead is to set out a trajectory of some kind, in which behavior is geared toward a type of goal or accomplishment. An abstract concept may partially fuel such effort, yet no abstract concept in history has sustained one, no matter the urgency of it, without that guiding human leadership presence. Leaders emerge, time and again, not to seize opportunities for self-aggrandizement or noble aspiration, but to occupy a position required by those around them. The position is essential, imply, because it is the necessary human embodiment to inspire human effort.