Week 10

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Last Week's Definition: The process of taking initiative to develop
effective relationships to coordinate the strengths of different individuals in a group to accomplish a significant community goal, while improving emotional and strategic approaches in varying situations in order to work towards the overall goal in an ever-changing global society.

This Week's Definition: The process of taking initiative and recognizing potential to develop effective relationships and coordinate the strengths of different individuals in a group to accomplish a significant community goal, while improving emotional and strategic approaches in varying situations in order to work towards the overall goal in an ever-changing global society.

Analysis of the differences in the definitions: I have added "recognizing potential" to my definition because in order to "coordinate the strengths of different individuals" a leader must first see their strengths and understand how to use them in a way that will help the group reach its goal. This is an essential part of group development, particularly in the forming stage (Komives, Lucas, McMahon, 1998) when the team is being built. It's a unique kind of vision because recognizing potential is to see a latent or hidden strength in another person. The person possesses certain qualities perhaps they don't even see themselves, and a leader is one who can harvest that talent for the benefit of the group. This ability requires a leader who looks beyond themselves and invests in the team because they understand that, after all, a team's strength is greater than the sum of its individual's strengths (Komives, Lucas, McMahon, 1998).

Reference:
Komives, S. R., Lucas, N., & McMahon, T. R. (1998). "Interacting in Teams and Groups." Exploring Leadership: For college students who want to make a difference (pp. 165 - 194). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Week 9

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Last Week's Definition: The process of taking initiative to develop
effective relationships to coordinate the strengths of individuals in a group to accomplish a significant community goal, while improving emotional and strategic approaches in varying situations in order to work towards the overall goal in an ever-changing global society.

This Week's Definition: The process of taking initiative to develop
effective relationships to coordinate the strengths of different individuals in a group to accomplish a significant community goal, while improving emotional and strategic approaches in varying situations in order to work towards the overall goal in an ever-changing global society.

Analysis of the differences in the definitions: This week I added "different" to the definition because as a leader, one encounters people from all walks of life, and it is the ability to get others of different race, religion, or anything else to work together toward that common goal that allows for expansion. Those with diverse work teams are much more prepared to function and thrive in a global society also. In fact, organizations can suffer when they do not incorporate diversity in the workplace (Kezar, 2000). Leaders that prefer homogeneity lose out on many opportunities for growth, as those who know a different culture can contribute new material. Groups of like-minded people run out of ideas fast!

Reference:
Kezar, A. (2000). "Pluralistic Leadership: Incorporating Diverse Voices." The Journal of Higher Education, 71(6), Nov. - Dec., 2000, pp. 722-743. http://z.umn.edu/kezar

Week 8

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Last Week's Definition: The process of taking initiative to develop
effective relationships to coordinate the strengths of individuals in a group to accomplish a significant community goal, while employing appropriate emotional and strategic approaches in varying situations in order to work towards the overall goal in an ever-changing global society.

This Week's Definition: The process of taking initiative to develop
effective relationships to coordinate the strengths of individuals in a group to accomplish a significant community goal, while improving emotional and strategic approaches in varying situations in order to work towards the overall goal in an ever-changing global society.

Analysis of the differences in the definitions: The change I made this week was including the word "improving" instead of "employing". Improvement is an important aspect of leadership, both in the overall goal and everyday work of a leader. This includes self-improvement as well as improvement within an organization. Not many leaders go into their roles hoping to maintain the status quo. It may be obvious that leaders often strive for large-scale change through vision, but they are in a constant state of revision even on the small-scale. For example, communication is an everyday task for leaders, one that is not performed in the same manner every single day. We are constantly shifting and adjusting our style of communication within the same day depending on with whom we are speaking. In fact, we often must reassess our strategy within a single conversation (Saphiere, Mikk, & Devries, 2005). The small improvements leaders make on a day-to-day basis affect the direction of the large-scale change they hope to achieve in the long run.

Reference:
Saphiere, D. H., Mikk, B. K., & Devries, B. I. (2005). "Factors Affecting Communication Style: Starring acts in the circus." 47 - 82.

Week 7

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Last Week's Definition: The process of developing effective relationships to coordinate the strengths of individuals in a group to accomplish a significant community goal, while employing appropriate emotional and strategic approaches in varying situations in order to work towards the overall goal in an ever-changing global society.

This Week's Definition: The process of taking initiative to develop
effective relationships to coordinate the strengths of individuals in a group to accomplish a significant community goal, while employing appropriate emotional and strategic approaches in varying situations in order to work towards the overall goal in an ever-changing global society.

Analysis of the differences in the definitions: The only change I made in this week's definition compared to last week's was the phrase "taking initiative" because I've realized that is a major component that has been missing from my definition. "Even more important, neither of them leaves himself out of the equation in his assessment of his team. In both cases, their willingness to 'go first'... made a difference" (Kegan, Lahey, 2009). The act of stepping up and making the first move is what separates leaders from followers. Those who lead are the ones who act first, they set the example (whether it be a good or bad one) while those who follow wait for someone else to move first and show them the way.

Reference:
Kegan, R., & Lahey, L. L. (2009). "We Never Had a Language for It" Immunity to Change: How to overcome it and unlock the potential in yourself and your organization (pp. 61 - 84). Boston: Harvard Business Press.

Week 6

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Last Week's Definition: Having the talent of developing effective relationships to coordinate the strengths of many to accomplish an overall goal, while being able to employ appropriate emotional and strategic approaches in varying situations in order to work towards the overall goal in an ever-changing global society.

This Week's Definition: The process of developing effective relationships to coordinate the strengths of individuals in a group to accomplish a significant community goal, while employing appropriate emotional and strategic approaches in varying situations in order to work towards the overall goal in an ever-changing global society.

Analysis of the differences in the definitions: The first change I made was including the word 'process' in the beginning. "Leadership is viewed as a process rather than a position" (Astin, Astin, 1996) was a phrase that stuck with me this past week. Looking at my own experiences in leadership, I can't help but notice this is a key aspect that is often overlooked. In our society I think we tend to look at the 'who' in leadership rather than 'what' leadership actually does. What position I hold says nothing about what I accomplish. I have also realized that the levels of leadership we ought to focus on is that of individual, group and community (Astin, Astin, 1996), rather than a hierarchy such as President, Vice President, Manager, etc. Understanding how individuals can contribute to a group and how that group can contribute to society with its goals is the ultimate objective of leadership, and thus ought to be included in its definition.

Reference:
Astin, H. S., & Astin, A. W. (1996). A social change model of leadership development: Guidebook (version III) (pp. 4 - 27). Los Angeles: University of California Los Angeles Higher Education Research Institute.

Week 5

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Last Week's Definition: The talents of employing appropriate emotional approaches in varying situations and developing effective relationships to coordinate the strengths of many to accomplish an overall goal.

This Week's Definition: Having the talent of developing effective relationships to coordinate the strengths of many to accomplish an overall goal, while being able to employ appropriate emotional and strategic approaches in varying situations in order to work towards the overall goal in an ever-changing global society.

Analysis of the differences in the definitions: This week I have updated/expanded my definition and it can be noticed that it has been re-arranged also. The arrangement reflects a branching out of the different qualities listed in my definition. The first fragment represents what I believe to be the base of leadership, and from there the qualities become accessories or branches of that central trunk (imagine a tree).
I also added a couple things this week. I added "strategic approaches" in addition to emotional because it is up to leadership to develop and guide the strategies needed to achieve the goal of the organization, and the strategy varies depending on the circumstances. A leader should have the ability to view any situation from the "dance floor" and the "balcony" (Heifetz, Linsky, 2002) to determine what stategy is best for the overall scene. That scene is always changing, and always growing. Leaders understand that there is a "permanent crisis" (Heifetz, Grashow, Linsky, 2009) always present in the background and that "hunkering down" with quick fixes will not bring the organization into tomorrow.

References:
Heifetz, R., Grashow, A., & Linsky, M. (2009). "Leadership in a (permanent) crisis." Harvard Business Review, 87(7), 62-69. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=keh&AN=41997981&site=ehost-live
Heifetz, R. A., & Linsky, M. (2002). "Get on the balcony." Leadership on the Line: Staying alive through the dangers of leading (pp. 51 - 74). Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Week Four

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Last week's definition: The talents of employing appropriate emotional approaches in varying situations and developing effective relationships to coordinate the strengths of many to accomplish an overall goal.

This week's definition: The talents of employing appropriate emotional approaches in varying situations and developing effective relationships to coordinate the strengths of many to accomplish an overall goal.

Analysis of the differences in the definitions:
As can be noticed, this week my definition has not changed from last week's. Going back to my comments in week two about Hitler and the connotation of leadership, I stand by what I said earlier - just because someone is a leader does not mean they do good things. While most of us really want to incorporate ethics in the definition of leadership, I do not believe ethics has a place in the overall definition. If we are talking about good leadership then indeed, I think a good leader must understand and be able to handle right vs. right situations (Kidder, 2003) and especially right vs. wrong situations. However, in order to exhibit leadership in it's most basic, and unfortunately even in it's most effective manner, it is not necessary that one have a functioning ethical compass.

Reference:
Kidder, R. M. (2003). "Overview: The ethics of right vs. right." How Good People Make Tough Choices (pp. 13 - 29). New York: Simon & Schuster.

Week Three

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First, I would like to revise/clarify last week's definition. I had not intended to disregard the initial definition of 2 weeks ago. Last week's complete definition should really be: Leadership is the talent of coordinating strengths of many people and effectively addressing a situation with the appropriate emotional approach in order to reach a significant overall goal.

This week, I would like to hone in on an important fact that I have considered about leadership: It's all about relationships. A leader is not an isolated being, at least, they shouldn't be. They are meant to be at the center of their organization or domain (Kyle, 1998). Stability does not come from the top, it comes from the center. This means an effective leader is involved in multiple areas of his or her domain, and uses the "Power of Presence" to unite the many people they coordinate and work with them. When a leader distances himself or herself from those people by working from the top, a me-versus-them effect can happen, and then important work does not get done. The recent Minnesota government shutdown is a very real example of this.
Another way relationships play an important part in leadership has biological origins. Recent studies have revealed a type of neuron in the brain called mirror neurons (Goleman, Boyatzis, 2008). These neurons mirror what other people do and we subconsciously make connections with others based on their actions and emotions. This can be useful for a leader to know and understand this phenomenon because they can project a healthy attitude that others will emulate.
Incorporating this into my progressing definition, this week leadership is: The talents of employing appropriate emotional approaches in varying situations and developing effective relationships to coordinate the strengths of many to accomplish an overall goal.

References:
Goleman, D., & Boyatzis, R. (2008). "Social intelligence and the biology of leadership." Harvard Business Review, 86(9), 74-81. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=keh&AN=33983120&site=ehost-live
Kyle, D. T. (1998). "The sovereign: The power of presence." The Four Powers of Leadership: Presence, intention, wisdom, compassion (pp. 159 - 191). Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications Inc.

Week Two

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Last Week's Definition: Leadership is the talent of coordinating the strengths of many to accomplish a significant goal or task.

This week:
One topic I would like to reflect on is the connotation of the word "leadership" and how that often influences our definition of it. "Leadership" is a positive word and we think of leaders as people who do good things. When leaders go awry, people stop calling them a leader and use words like "tyrant" or "dictator" which have negative connotations. The classic test on this asks if Adolf Hitler was a leader and/or did he exhibit leadership? This boils down to whether leadership is inherently ethical (Terry 2001). Many people may believe so; they would say that Hitler was not a leader. According to my definition from last week, Hitler exhibited leadership. He had a goal in mind and he (very effectively) coordinated many people to accomplish that goal. Calling Hitler a leader does not glorify what happened nor does it mean he was a good person. It means he knew how to get things done, even if they were terrible things.

Coming away from this extreme, it becomes easier to see how it is possible to be a leader but not a great person. Individuals can fluctuate between different styles of leadership depending on the situation. It is the ability to balance these styles that can determine how effective of a leader one is (Goleman, Boyatzis, McKee, 2002). Some days, a leader may overuse the "commanding style" and their employees may very well comment that the boss turned into a tyrant that day. Another day the boss may turn on the "coaching style" and give personal tips to an employee over lunch. The ability to do both is what makes a competent leader. If an individual relies too much on commanding or pacesetting in their leadership style, then they come across as a jerk (or worse). In reality they may not be a very nice person and may enjoy the opportunity their position gives them to control others. Like Goleman et al. said, these "dissonant styles" should be used sparingly.

In conclusion, this week I would define leadership as the ability to effectively address a situation with the appropriate emotional approach.

References:
Goleman, D., Boyatzis, R., & McKee, A. (2002). "The dissonant styles." Primal leadership: Learning to lead with emotional intelligence (pp. 71 - 88). Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
Terry, R. (2001). "Deciding what you believe." Seven zones for leadership: Acting authentically in stability and chaos (pp. 20 - 40). Mountain View, CA: Davies-Black Publishing, Inc.

Definition of Leadership

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In simplest terms, leadership is the talent of coordinating the efforts of many to accomplish a significant goal or task.
After reading Rath and Conchie's Strength's Based Leadership:Great Leaders, Teams and Why People Follow , I find it necessary to fine-tune my definition of leadership using a quote by Wesley Clark, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, that was used in the book: "I've never met an effective leader who wasn't aware of his talents and working to sharpen them." It takes many people to accomplish great things. The difference between those many people and their leadership is that those leading are harvesters of strength and talent. Leaders know how to find strengths in themselves and others to form a team of experts that can successfully carry out the task at hand. So to revise, leadership is the talent of coordinating the strengths of many to accomplish a significant goal or task.

Recent Comments

  • Jude Higdon: Grade: 10 out of 10 Clarity of the new definition: read more
  • Jude Higdon: Grade: 10 out of 10 Clarity of the new definition: read more
  • Jude Higdon: Grade: 10 out of 10 Clarity of the new definition: read more
  • Jude Higdon: Nice work, generally. Try not to use disembodied quotations like read more
  • Jude Higdon: Really nice work. Grade: 10 out of 10 Clarity of read more
  • Jude Higdon: Nice post. I like the tree metaphor -- very visual! read more
  • boul0065: Jude, I do think that a personal vision can be read more
  • Jude Higdon: Nicole, very nice thoughts, and well-said. I don't necessarily agree read more
  • Jude Higdon: Really nice analysis, Nicole! And thanks for the clarification from read more
  • Jude Higdon: Nice thoughts and analysis, Nicole. The analysis is a bit read more

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