Subjective theorists prefer to stress the personal qualities of individuals rather than their official positions in the organization. The subjective view is that leadership is a product of personal qualities and skills and not simply an automatic outcome of official authority.
The notion of post-modern leadership aligns closely with the principles of subjective models. Keough and Tobin (2001, p. 2) say that “current postmodern culture celebrates the multiplicity of subjective truths as defined by experience and revels in the loss of absolute authority.” They identify several key features of postmodernism (Keough & Tobin, 2001):
- Language does not reflect reality.
- Reality does not exist; there are multiple realities.
- Any situation is open to multiple interpretations.
- Situations must be understood at local level with particular attention to diversity.
Sackney and Mitchell (2001) stress the centrality of individual interpreta tion of events while also criticising visionary leadership. “Leaders must pay attention to the cultural and symbolic structure of meaning construed by individuals and groups . . . postmodern theories of leadership take the focus off vision and place it squarely on voice” (p. 13-14). Instead of a compelling vision articulated by leaders, there are multiple voices, and diverse cultural meanings.