Do "Leadership Gurus" Teach Us Anything?

Last Updated Mar 16, 2009 6:13 PM EDT

What exactly makes a "leadership guru" a leadership guru? While one or two actually have management experience - what a concept - the vast majority either come from academia or were somehow born that way. Who actually proclaims these otherwise ordinary humans to be leadership gurus? Why, Leadership Gurus International, of course. From the website:
Leadership Gurus International ... independently rates leadership trainers and leadership speakers ... to determine if they have attained "guru" status. Only those leadership speakers and trainers who have attained "guru" status are featured on this site. Each of them has also been bestowed the GURU Award of Excellence based on our criteria.
On the site you can actually vote for your favorite leadership guru. Think I'll do a write-in vote for Scott Adams, the guy who writes Dilbert. Think I'm kidding?

Anyway, I guess the site named John C. Maxwell - an incredibly prolific author of more than 40 books - their top leadership guru. You know, Maxwell used to be a minister with a PhD in the ministry, but he quit in 1995 to devote himself to writing and speaking on leadership. He credits his leadership instincts and early training to his father, also a minister. He's a self-proclaimed student of Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People. I'd say he was a remarkably astute student.

In Thought Leaders & Gurus: Too Big for Their Niches, Allen Weiss suggests the following:

My sense is that all of this thought-leader stuff is really just for selling something. The same goes for the word "guru." That's fine, I guess, if you want to characterize yourself in some new age words in order to sell books.
I couldn't agree more. I also think the last thing we need when we're all struggling with a global financial crisis is some self-proclaimed thought leader telling us where we went wrong and how, if we follow and pay for their brand of thinking, we'll be better managers.

So here's a question or two for all you current and future businss leaders out there: Have leadership gurus taught you anything that actually helped you improve your company's operating results? How about some wisdom that'll stop greedy, corrupt, and incompetent politicians and business people from getting us into messes like the one we're in? Just wondering.