HCBE Faculty Articles

Title

Leadership Lessons from the Past: Examining the Work of Mary Parker Follett and Lillian Gilbreth

Document Type

Article

Date

1-1-2016

Publication Title

International Leadership Journal

ISSN or ISBN

1554-3145

Volume

8

Issue

1

First Page

3

Last Page

26

Description

This article investigates the life and work of two women who were leaders of management thinking in the United States at a time when women were not well recognized in the business world. Both Mary Parker Follett and Lillian Gilbreth saw the human dimensions of management during the era of scientific management. Follett had no graduate education or corporate experience, but gained recognition among business groups who listened to her wisdom about human relationships and group behavior. Gilbreth earned a PhD in Psychology and worked side-by-side with her famous husband, Frank Gilbreth, widely known as the "Father of Motion Study." Both women were ahead of their times and foreshadowed the work of the Human Relations Era while also laying the groundwork of many of the popular leadership theories from the late 20th century to the present. The article directly ties their work to subsequent leadership theories and demonstrates that historical roots exist, often in the most unlikely places, for modern-day theories such as servant and authentic leadership.

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