“Be not the slave of your own past – plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep, and swim far, so you shall come back with new self-respect, with new power…” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Current State of Leadership Development: Organizations around the world are failing on one key metric of success: leadership development. According to research from the Corporate Executive Board (CEB), 66% of companies invest in programs that aim to identify high-potential employees and help them advance, but only 24% of senior executives at those firms consider the programs to be a success. A mere 13% have confidence in the rising leaders at their firms, down from an already-low 17% just three years ago. And at the world’s largest corporations—which each employ thousands of executives—a full 30% of new CEOs are hired from the outside.
Turning Potential to Success – Harvard Business Review Nov-Dec 2017 (pg. 87)
Our Course is a Solution:
There are assigned readings for this course.
Design: Custom designed to fit your schedule. Follow up sessions by individual and group conference calls.
Intended Course Outcome
This course is about
“Being” a Leader and the
Effective Exercise of Leadership
and a lot, lot more…
You will leave this course with a worldview required to give you access to being an effective leader and with what it takes to exercise leadership effectively.
Note: While you will not necessarily have all of the experience and specific knowledge you need to be a truly extraordinary leader, you will have experienced whatever personal transformation is required for you to be a leader, and in any environment and no matter what the conditions.
This is a very different kind of course:
You are expected to bring all that you have gleaned from leadership courses, experiences, and seminars throughout your career. As such, I will be relating to you as the leaders that you are and will expect you to relate to each other as leaders as well. In other words, every interaction that we have with each other will be from one leader to another. The context you leave this course with will reinterpret and leave you with a more powerful expression of what you learned about leadership and the effective exercise of leadership. This includes working together and constituting yourself as the “organization” not just as an individual. You will find yourself leading from the concerns of the whole organization as distinct from what you want. You will be able to see into a situation and act appropriate to what is needed both from a personal view as well as an organizational view.
The vast majority of leadership research and education seeks to describe what leaders do or to identify what characteristics leaders possess. Subsequently, models are developed to capture the categories or classes of what leaders do to be effective and the observable traits and characteristics. While, this has contributed to the science of leadership, some researchers are beginning to see the limitations of merely describing leadership. For example, although the transformational leadership theory gives access to describing constructs such as inspirational motivation, simply understanding this construct does not make a person an inspirational motivator. And if it does and that’s the limit of their spectrum of expression they would be in trouble in leadership situations when some other way of being is required to be an effective leader. Understanding authenticity does not provide access to being authentic. Therefore, an approach that provides access to authenticity rather than a mere understanding is needed in order to truly advance the science of leadership and leadership development. This course is about providing access to those constructs that have thus far been merely described.
This course is a laboratory for your leadership development. This course is not about knowing and being able to speak knowledgably about the characteristics of successful leaders, or the stories about what various successful leaders have done, that is, the formulas for leadership. There is no pap in this course. There are no tips, no how-to’s, no formulas, and a mere understanding of the material in the course won’t get you there. In this course you will be on the court developing yourself as a leader, and mastering what it takes to be effective in the exercise of leadership. You will not be in the stands observing and commenting on leader and leadership.
In most courses in an academic institution, you are expected to leave the course knowing and demonstrating that you know the content of the course, and that you are able to speak knowledgably about the subject of the course. This course goes beyond that. This course is designed to leave you being a leader, with the effective exercise of leadership as your natural expression.
In order to walk out of the course being a leader, you must master what is dealt in the sessions of this course. While this will be intellectually challenging and will require intellectual effort on your part, the course is about being a leader, and that is not a mere intellectual exercise.
To fulfill on this intention, this course engages in transformative learning. Rather than adding to your ‘bucket’ of knowledge (informative learning), we will be examining the ‘bucket’ itself. As Mezirow & Associates say in Learning as Transformation, “… maturity in childhood is understood as a formative process that includes assimilation of beliefs concerning oneself and the world, including socialization and learning adult roles. Adulthood is perceived as a transformative process—‘involving alienation from those roles, reframing new perspectives, and reengaging life with a greater degree of self-determination’” (pg xii).
As managers, you have one foot in informative and one foot in transformative. This course employs the transformative process. We will highlight those assimilated beliefs, reframe new perspectives, and launch you into a new world of “being” a leader.
How will this course be conducted?
What you say is not inconsequential. If I am the only one speaking, this course will be approximately three hours. This course is not about me speaking. Rather, this course will be a conversation, a dialogue, that is, an inquiry into the nature of leadership and who you need to be to be a leader and exercise leadership effectively. This is a very personal matter. Course assignments will be designed to enhance your investigation into the nature of being a leader and the exercise of leadership and your relation to being a leader and the exercise of leadership. This means that course assignments will be both reading preparation as well as experimentation and you are requested to participate fully in both. Like all effective courses, this course is not about me, your instructor, imparting knowledge onto you for purposes of retention. Your preparation will have a direct effect on the success and the depth we are able to achieve in the course.
If you walk out of this course with some good, tips and techniques and no new access to being a leader, you will have cheated yourself. This is an opportunity to walk out of here being a leader.
Why the nature of leadership? Rost indicates in his seminal leadership book, Leadership for the Twenty-First Century,
“Most of the research on leadership has emphasized the same two items – the peripheral aspects and the content of leadership – and almost none has been aimed at understanding the essential nature of what leadership is…if scholars and practitioners have not focused on the nature of leadership, it should not surprise any of us who are interested in the subject that we do not know what leadership is…it is absolutely crucial that scholars and practitioners interested in leadership studies de-emphasize the peripheral elements and the content of leadership, and concentrate on understanding its essential nature.” Pg 5
Rost has pointed to the failure of effective leadership training that has resulted from the almost singular focus leadership scholars have put on the ‘periphery’ (traits, styles, personality characteristics, behaviors) and the ‘content’ of leadership (technical information, environment, future trends, relevant theories). The lack of an effective examination into the nature of leadership itself is what has left Rost concluding, “The scholars do not know what it is they are studying, and the practitioners do not know what it is they are doing.” (p. 8)
In this course we want an answer to the question “what is leadership” that leaves us with our arms around the being of a leader and the effective exercise of leadership, and our hands on the levers and dials of the controls of each. In a word, we want access to the being of a leader and the effective exercise of leadership. Rather than being better able to explain and understand what happens, we want access to making it happen. This requires a different kind of inquiry.
This course is not about being given answers. It IS about you being empowered to think for yourself with the expanded opportunity set of ways of being, thinking, planning, and action that give you access to being a leader and the effective exercise of leadership. As such, it is vitally important that you come prepared to class having done whatever preparatory work is requested of you so that you can engage in classroom dialogue. This course will not be easy, and, in order to fulfill on the promise of the course, your participation is required. The course gets done through your participation. We will be asking different kinds of questions in this course and seeking different kinds of answers to those questions. We will continuously ask the question what does this insight open up or make available for you in regard to your being a leader and the effective exercise of leadership?
Mezirow, Jack & Associates (2000). Learning As Transformation: Critical Perspectives on a Theory in Progress. San Francisco, CA: Josey-Bass. Chapters 1-3.
Rost, Joseph C. (1993). Leadership for the Twenty-First Century. Westport, CT: Praeger.
Summary of Course Agreements:
We will be fully discussing the Course Agreements—this is a summary of those agreements:
- Be willing to discover and confront your inauthenticities, that is, where you are not being genuine, real, or authentic – where in your life you are not being or acting consistent with who you hold yourself to be for yourself, and who you hold yourself out to be for others. And, be willing to tell the truth about where you are not being genuine, real, or authentic. Stated more rigorously, be willing to be authentic about your inauthenticities.
- Be willing to be open and ruthlessly straight about your ways of being and acting.
- Be open to having your worldview (model of reality) & frame of reference (mindset) regarding what it is to be a leader and the effective exercise of leadership examined and questioned, and be open to transforming those views.
- Be willing to take on fully what is presented in this course before deciding to accept it or reject it.
- To respect the dignity, thoughts and confidentiality of your colleagues.
- Participate fully and completely in the course, with nothing held back.
- Be a full partner in producing value for yourself.
You will have an opportunity to choose to be in this course, or not. I am going to ask you to commit, to give your word to these agreements. In class we will more fully discuss what it is to give your word.
While there is no “required work” for the class, not doing the assignments costs you the right to expect the result.
The assignments in this course are designed to get you on the court developing yourself as a leader, and mastering what it takes to be effective in the exercise of leadership. This course is a laboratory for your leadership development. If you are not being a leader and exercising leadership during this course, all that we will be speaking will be purely hypothetical and will not be grounded in any real experience. The assignments are designed to bring life to, and to assist you, in grappling with the distinctions presented in the course. A summary of all assignments are provided below, specific guidelines will be posted on our website.
You will be expected to handle yourselves orally. Each session you should be prepared to answer the question, “how have I contributed as a leader toward our intentions today?”
Leadership Talks: Part of your participation points will be leadership talks. There will be several short leadership talk opportunities for each class member throughout the course.
Financial Investment: TBD