A Discussion On Leadership

Yesterday we had a Business Department meeting to kick off our new semester. I facilitated the meeting, and I did some things well and some things I did not do well. I liked the collaborative environment, the ability of faculty to be autonomous, and collective decision-making. However, I don’t think I did well demonstrating Moodle. It is a great instructional tool for organizing your course. The events of the day did get me thinking about Leadership.

I think a good leader is constantly looking at themselves for areas of improvement. I think this is an important characteristic born out of the desire to lead an organization to higher levels of performance. However, I also think that a leader needs to keep passion in check. There is no need to get too upset, or even too excited, about events trusting the process to get the organization where it needs to go. In this case I see I am exercising more of a coaching leadership style instead of a directing style. I think this is in line with some things that Thomas a Kempis mentioned in his book, “The Imitation of Christ.” A Kempis stated, “The proud and the avaricious man are never at rest; while the poor and lowly of heart abide in the multitude of peace.? Ok, I don’t see my self as too prideful, but I do recognize the importance of lowliness of heart, being humble. Collins calls this a level five leader who leads through a combination of humility and professional will.

A Kempis makes another very good comment, “But if, on the other hand, he yield to his inclination, immediately he is weighed down by the condemnation of his conscious; for that he hath followed his own desire, and yet in no way attained the peace which he hoped for.” Yielding to passion, and A Kempis is talking about lust, will not set one free but only affirm one’s bondage. Thus a leader needs to keep a level head and push forward.

Why is it important that a leader not be too passionate, or too much of a director? This type of leadership allows for a sense of individual freedom and autonomy. You want people to be able to make decisions for themselves. If not we enter into a totalitarian environment that destroys initiative and innovation. A new movie, which is showing this weekend displays the hopelessness of totalitarianism. The Giver, which is another in the long line of movies dealing with similar subjects as Hunger Games, opens today and portrays a society that sacrifices “human individuality in the utopian pursuit of sameness.” As I read the review on this movie, it reminded me of the short story Harrison Bergeron. In that short story the government had ensured that everyone was equal. Those who wanted to enjoy an independent thought were fitted with shock equipment that would measure the thought patterns within the brain, and when there was a creative thought, the person would be shocked. That society did not want difference.

Raymond Floyd in this morning’s Wall Street Journal discussed the losses of a so-called utopian society. He wrote after seeing The Giver, “As the lights came up after the screening of the Giver, my thoughts were on Poland and communism, but soon they turned to the broader subject of totalitarian regimes robbing individuals of their God-given rights. So often, one of the first jobs of the totalitarian is to declare that God is dead and that government is the final authority on truth and justice.” Ultimately this is leadership that is directive eliminating creativity and individual thinking.

I don’t think that is real leadership. Leadership is not making sure everyone does things exactly the same, although there does need to be some consistency of process; leadership allows people to perform at high levels by encouraging individuality, creativity, and autonomy.

And that is my thought for the day!

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