History of Earl de Blonville as a business consultant, speaker and sole purveyor of “Postformal Leadership”
URSUS International Corporate Leadership Consultants
Ursus began in 2002 and ended in 2008 , according to Earl’s CV . This was a “globally-oriented enterprise focusing on the development of exceptional leadership communications at the senior executive level” dealing with C-Suite executives.
And for some reason, this “globally-oriented” enterprise waiting until 2008, the same year they closed, to create a website.
Google “Postformal Leadership” and you will see that all links lead to Earl. He coined the term and, as of 2020, he is the only person “studying” this academic “discipline”. If you have no academic history or credentials, one way to break into academia is to make up your own, personal academic discipline and promote yourself as the world’s expert.
“Postformal Leadership” is a three-legged stool. First leg is “Circumstance Calling Forth a Champion” a snappy, melodramatic re-branding of common principles of leadership and group dynamics i.e. different challenges call for different skills, perspectives, styles of leadership. Second is the idea that Millennial’s are a unique generation who reject ossified corporate structures and values and insist on meaning and purpose in their jobs. This is a rehash of many past generations, most recently the 60’s generation known as the Boomers. Earl de Blonville blames Boomers for everything and he is a card-carrying Boomer. Third are the qualities of Postformal Leadership (Dialogical Reasoning is a crowd favorite!) as enumerated by de Blonville and of which he holds himself up as a living example. The begged question is whether de Blonville’s personal professional story, as told by himself, about himself, is true. The facts say no. And with that, “Postformal Leadership” collapses onto the dustbin of ego-infused bright ideas that no one ever paid much mind to.
Here’s a review of one of Earl’s limited talks on “Postformal Leadership”. The title, ironically, says it all: “Are you the leader simply because you, or others, say that you are?”. I would add the corollary, “Are you a leadership EXPERT simply because you say that you are?”. In a nutshell, Postformal Leadership is this: “Be a good, empathetic person with strong personal values in life and when some crisis pops up, you may turn out to be the leader “called forth by circumstance”.
Earl de Blonville claims unique insight into the weighty question of “leadership” yet his own experiences as a leader beginning with the 1986 Arctic Kayak Expedition, were anything but exemplary. So Earl is a leadership expert solely because he says he is. And in his Ph.d proposal at RMIT (he was kicked out without completing it) Earl’s whole premise is that he will study “leadership” by interviewing actual, famous, genuine leaders and celebrities to discern what makes them tick and this will all be valid academically because Earl is their peer, a status that is pure fantasy on his part.
Think about that for a minute. Earl a: creates an academic discipline that no one has ever heard of out of thin air and declares himself an expert in same, b: declares he is a “global leadership expert” in spite of having no track record of leadership success, quite the opposite, c: declares that he will validate his theory of postformal leadership by hanging out with people of genuine leadership accomplishment because he is (self-declared) expert on leadership.
Consider some of the attributes that Earl says are key to being a postformal leader:
Contrast the list below with a recent Thomas Friedman article about leadership in which honesty, humility and competence are the prime ingredients to effective leadership. Those qualities are conspicuously absent from Earl’s list below.
- Reflexivity – knowing who you are and are not, being deeply self-reflective.
- Dialogical reasoning – working collaboratively, not competitively, to co-create.
- Higher purpose – without higher purpose, you have no purpose at all.
- Intuition – the most powerful quality you can have; the conscious mind taps into the unconscious.
The obvious presumption is that Earl has these characteristics. There is no evidence in Earl’s record of professional or personal activities to support that presumption. It all sounds swell but according to participants in the 1986 Kayak expedition, Earl was a leadership flop. He took a couple of rich businessmen to Greenland in the next year but has never shared any information about that trip or it’s outcome. His consulting business flopped, his various sailing/greenland/leadership/climate change schemes all not only failed, they never got beyond a website. He dropped out of one Ph.d program (Rushmore University) and was “kicked out” of another (RMIT). He has fought tooth and nail to hide details of his relationship with Southern Cross University and RMIT. His applications to Southern Cross for adjunct status and his applications to form Oceanic Research Institute and to the Australian Tax Office contain exaggerations and falsehoods. He has actively worked to erase all the archived information about his failed projects including his own, personal website earldeblonville.com.
Are these the actions of a “global leadership expert”?