Whether those who lead us are practicing good or bad leadership, or anything in between, is a matter of ongoing controversy that can be viewed from multiple perspectives. Even if such controversy is inherently unresolvable, there is still good reason to keep on asking ourselves whether providing leadership education or development programmes actually has any positive effects. Are such programmes worth the effort? Should they be rede- signed to better foster critical thinking? Should they be replaced by arrangements that emphasize leadership practice in ‘natural’ or ‘field’ settings, where people are encouraged to find their own ways to develop into good leaders? Should we abandon efforts to provide for the development of leadership attributes and instead focus on identifying ‘naturally born good leaders’ and empowering these outstanding people? Or should we rethink and reframe our conceptions of the role/position of leadership as something special, and transform leadership into more accessible and less challenging forms that more people can handle?
In this special issue, we do not seek to solve these issues once-and-for-all. Instead, we aim to broaden the debates by offering some less common perspectives on how bad leadership might be averted and how good leadership might be fostered or enabled. The five articles in this special issue are the main inputs. In this introduction to the special issue, our aim to provide a conceptual map and place the contributions made by the five articles onto this map.