Dark matter:

Leadership is, I think, the dark matter in the world of groups and organizations. Let me note that I am neither an astronomer nor a cosmologist, but rely here on Wikipedia where I learn that in astronomy and cosmology, dark matter is a type of matter hypothesized to account for a large part of the total mass in the universe. Its existence and properties are inferred, in part, from its gravitational effects on visible matter. Like dark matter, leadership is hypothesized to exist, although its existence can, for the most part, only be inferred from actual observables.

Consider, for example, the observations of Moorhead & Griffin (2004, p. 342) who posit that leadership keeps the organization properly aligned with its environment, or those of Williams (2005, p. 247) who suggests that leadership preserves and maintains essential resources of the organization. Keeping our organizations properly aligned with their environments along with preserving and maintaining essential, organizational resources are definitely important and aught not be left to chance. Given general agreement on this point, the challenge is to specify the organizational “dark matter” that prevents these important elements from being left to chance.

Bolman & Deal (2008, p. 343) make what I think is a variation of the same “dark matter” point when they suggest that leadership is not tangible, but rather exists only in relationships and in the perception of the engaged parties. Leadership’s hypothetical reality not withstanding, Owen (p. 132-133 and p. 164) proposes that leadership is not inert but instead emerges from the passion and responsibility of those who care, providing the critical focus and direction for the emergent organization. As we see, leadership is analogous to the astronomer’s dark matter in that it theoretically exists in and of itself but also exists as an energy capable of causing or contributing to observable conditions, events, and circumstances. For example, Leadership, among other outcomes, brings change and adaptability. (Feiner, 2004)