1. Howe, Created July 31, 2017

Course Name: Leadership

Course Location: SCIU Online

Credits: 4 semester units

Start Date: Whenever each student wishes

Faculty Course Creator: William Howe, Ph.D.


Faculty Bio: Dr. William Howe has spent much of his long career in higher education focusing on leadership – theory/research, practice/application, and education/development. After earning 5 university degrees (Stanford, Ph.D.; Stanford, M.A.; Harvard, Ed.M.; University of Massachusetts, M.A.; Northwestern, B.A.), Dr. Howe became a leadership educator. He was one of the founding faculty at the world’s first school of leadership, The Jepson School of Leadership Studies. Later he served in the Leadership Studies program at the University of San Diego, the world’s first doctoral program in leadership studies, and then created leadership centers at National University and the University of California at San Diego. Subsequently, he served as Dean of Academic Affairs at California International Business University and University of the West. At present, he is Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the MBA Program at SCU.

Course Assessment: Each student will be assessed for mastery of course content through a multiple-choice format Final Exam. The student may progress through the course at his or her own pace and then take the Final Exam whenever he or she chooses. The student should complete all course modules, however, before taking the Final Exam, which will be transmitted to him/her when he/she is ready to take it.

The Final Exam is graded automatically at SCIU. It is the ONLY means used to assess course performance; SCIU does NOT use quizzes, papers, or other means of assessment. In order to pass the exam and thus complete the course, the student must earn a score of 70% on that exam. If the student scores lower than 70%, he/she must re-take the exam at a later date.

Academic Honesty Policy:

Academic honesty is strictly adhered to at SCIU. The Final Exam, for example, must be taken solely by the individual student without assistance from any other person. Should SCIU discover at any time that the student received outside assistance from another person or persons, it will consider appropriate disciplinary action. We believe strongly in trust, however, and in the desire of the student to complete the exam honestly and with integrity. Note: The Final Exam must be completed within a period of 6 hours from the time it is submitted to the student by SCIU. The 6-hour time period between the transmission of the exam to the student and the return of the exam to SCIU by the student will be strictly enforced. Note also: The student should feel free to use any course materials (or other material) as he/she completes the exam.

Course Description:

This online course is required by MBA students – that is, students who have had some experience in organizational contexts, who have exercised some kind of leadership at some level in an organization or aspire to exercise leadership, and who recognize that leadership is an essential element of organizational life today. The focus of the course is on understanding leadership theories and concepts and applying them in real practice. Students make use of actual organizational settings, preferably settings in which they currently work but not necessarily so, to study and apply leadership. The course covers the range of theoretical perspectives about leadership but grounds those perspectives in actually doing leadership. In addition, the course considers leadership practices in multiple cultural contexts around the world, recognizing that leadership is a global phenomenon and may differ significantly from one national/cultural context to another and that multi-national leadership may require careful consideration of multiple contexts.

In addition, because the course is conducted online, students do not interact with each other in a classroom setting. That situation has serious implications for leadership. On the one hand, it means that students may miss the body language, the tone, and all of the elements of non-verbal communication that are integral to leadership. Nevertheless (and this has been demonstrated in many current online programs), students can interact with each other successfully online, collaborate with each other (perhaps more effectively than in a formal classroom setting), and work together on course material. An online format such as this course, in fact, moves the class automatically away from a teacher-centered scenario and compels ALL students to participate with and to dialogue with each other. From that perspective, an online leadership course becomes itself a laboratory for applying leadership, with each student sharing the responsibility for moving the learning forward. There is nowhere to hide in an online leadership course; each student must exercise leadership by helping his or her fellow students, encouraging them, motivating them, and influencing them to succeed in the course itself but also in their professions and their lives. In that sense, the course empowers you to be a leader.

IMPORTANT: It is crucial that you interact with your fellow students during the course. PLEASE SEE “COURSE FORUM” at the end of this syllabus for information on student-to-student interaction.

Course Objectives (COs):

            By the end of this course students will be able to:

  1. Understand and evaluate a broad, interactive framework for leadership theory and practice;
  2. Understand and evaluate specific leadership theories and concepts and how they may be useful to current business contexts;
  3. Analyze specific business leadership contexts (e.g., in their nation/culture or in other nations/cultures) and apply learning to those contexts;
  4. Synthesize learning (theoretical perspectives + practical experience) to frame an approach to an original leadership theory or practice.

Course Materials: Materials used in this course are available through links included in the “Module-by-Module” outline below.

Instruction/Learning Methods:

This course will be conducted through diverse methods, with the primary intention of creating an engaging, interactive, dialogical learning situation that moves away from teacher leadership and empowers the students to exercise leadership in the course and beyond. Besides the dynamic of online learning itself, specific methods will include readings, videos, and student interaction through the Student Forum.  Students should use the Student Forum to share ideas and to learn from and lead each other. Thus, the course is about both learning leadership and doing leadership.

Module-by-Module Outline:

Module 1:

Objectives (MOs – 1):

  1. Introduce the broad, interactive framework for leadership theory and practice (CO # 1)
  2. Explore yourself and how personal styles and qualities reflect your perspectives as leaders, your capacity to interact with followers, and the contexts that may be most appropriate for your leadership (CO # 1)


  1. Read “Leadership – Interactive Framework,” written by Dr. Howe. This document is located at the end of the syllabus. It is 15 pages long.
  2. Lifeline exercise:

Draw a line on a piece of paper. Label the left end of the line “0” and the right end whatever age you are now. That is your lifeline.




Then, using any means you choose (boxes, circles, arrows, top of the line for positive things and bottom of the line for not-so-positive things,…), chart your life on that line. You can do this any way you wish, and I encourage you to be creative. For example, you may wish to note challenges, schooling, jobs, passions you developed, obstacles you encountered, relationships you developed, sudden moments of vision or epiphanies, … In addition, you may wish to use dotted lines or bold lines or double lines. Feel free to be creative.

Once you have completed your lifeline, go back and reflect upon it. What themes or patterns does it reveal or suggest, particularly in terms of leadership? Note those themes or patterns.

Feel free to share any reflections you may have on this exercise with other students enrolled in the course through the “Student Forum.”

  1. Develop your own personal definition of leadership (no more than 100 words). Share this with other students enrolled in the course through the “Course Forum.” Also, consider dialoguing with the other students about their definitions.
  2. Video 1: Watch the video clip that features Tony Robbins, noted presenter and coach:

The Three Mandates of Leadership (13 minutes)(2013)

Share with other students in the course on the “Student Forum” the ways Robbins’ three mandates are or are not relevant to your current organization or an organization for which you worked previously.

  1. Take the Kiersey Temperament Sorter test at Submit your test (at the site) and then get and read your free result.
  2. Read “Ethics and Leadership” by Jessica Waggoner (34 pages).
  3. Video 2: Watch the following two videos about Nike. Business Case Study 2: Nike (5 minutes)(2010) Nike Sweatshops: Behind the Swoosh (20 minutes)(2011).

Feel free to share your reactions to the videos with other students enrolled in the course. Use the “Student Forum.” Try to lead an ongoing discussion of the videos and of the role of ethics in leadership. Use ideas gleaned from the article by Waggoner.

Module 2:

Objectives (MOs – 2):

  1. Understand and evaluate specific theories and concepts of power and influence and how they may be useful to current business contexts (CO # 2)
  2. Understand and evaluate specific ethical theories and concepts and how they may be useful to current business contexts (CO # 2)


  1. Read the following articles on power and influence:;;;

Also, read the following articles on ethics and leadership:;;

  1. Using the “Student Forum,” discuss 2 specific leadership skills or attributes you believe you possess and 2 that you do not possess but would like to develop.
  2. Using the “Student Forum,” discuss how you have used power and influence effectively.
  3. Video 3: Watch the following video featuring Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf:

Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf: A Lesson in Leadership (57 minutes)(2012)

(a) Choose 2-3 ideas from Scharzkopf’s speech that you find most exciting for your leadership practice. Or (b) Gen. Schwarzkopf was considered a highly effective leader. Discuss the leadership qualities he demonstrates in the video. Or (c) The video tends to focus on leadership in the United States or as exercised by American leaders. Do you think what Schwarzkopf discusses is relevant to leadership in other nations or to leadership globally? Discuss using the “Student Forum.”

  1. Discuss in “Student Forum” the most effective strategies leaders have used to motivate you. Then comment on one post by one of your classmates.
  2. Video 4: Watch the following video, which is a clip from the movie “Henry V” featuring Kenneth Branagh as King Henry V:

This is one of the most famous scenes in all of Shakespeare’s plays. It depicts British soldiers on the day of the Battle of Agincourt, which was fought against the French. Consider why you think Henry is effective or ineffective at motivating his men, and share your thoughts with other students on the “Student Forum.”

Module 3:


  1. Understand and evaluate theories of motivation and performance and how they may be useful to current business contexts (CO # 2)
  2. Understand and evaluate theories of groups/teams and how they may be useful to current business contexts (CO # 2)


1.Read the following articles or presentations on motivation and leadership:;;;

Also, read the following articles or presentations on groups/teams:;;

2.Discuss on the “Student Forum” how you can enhance your skills for motivating and developing others – one-on-one, in teams, or in entire businesses.

3.Video 5: Consider the central message of the following video – that is, empowering employees and making them leaders is the primary task of leadership:

  1. David Marquet: What is Leadership? (10 minutes)(2014)

Given your experience in organizations, what do you think about this practice of empowering people? How would it work in your present or previous organization? Feel free to post your thoughts on the “Student Forum.”

4.One of the most touted skills of leaders is learning how to “think outside the box.” The following are some examples of how humans have moved beyond taken-for-granted perspectives by using out-of-the-box thinking.

Our universe: Ptolemy saw the universe as Earth-centered, with everything circling the Earth. Copernicus then broke through that old way of thinking and demonstrated that the sun is the center, with the planets in our solar system revolving around the sun. Hubble then moved beyond that way of thinking by demonstrating that the entire universe of billions of solar systems is expanding and that there is no center whatsoever. More recently in the field of astrophysics, people have argued that there are multiple universes, with no one universe taking precedence over the others.

Space-time: Newton suggested that time and space are constant. Einstein then demonstrated that time and space are relative and that there is no constant. Quantum Mechanics then proposed a theory of “entanglement” wherein objects are related to each other across thousands of miles, thus implying that everything in space is connected to and affects everything else in space. String Theory then suggested that there may be “wormholes” which could allow for travel through time. Others have suggested that the universe may have 10 or more dimensions rather than the 3 we usually talk about.

Leadership: Leadership was originally conceived as something exercised by “great men.” Later it was conceived as something teams or groups could perform. Later some suggested that whole organizations or even whole nations could exercise leadership amidst other organizations or nations. A few theorists even suggested that there are “substitutes for leadership” – values, for example, that can stand in place of leadership.

Organizations: For most of history we conceived of organizations as building-based, material entities that had definite boundaries. Today we know that there can be virtual organizations that exist with no spatial boundaries.

Think about one of the following and come up with an alternative way of seeing it from the way we usually see it. Feel free to post your thoughts on the “Student Forum.”

  • Education
  • Curriculum
  • Learning
  • Homo sapiens

5.Video 6: Watch the following video clips that feature Patagonia:

Patagonia: Social/corporate responsibility (5 minutes)(2011)

Consider how Patagonia is a unique organizational context and how its leadership is unique.  Consider sharing your thoughts with other students through the “Student Forum.”

Module 4:


  1. Understand and evaluate situational theories of leadership and how they may be useful to current business contexts (CO # 2)
  2. Understand and evaluate contingency theories of leadership and how they may be useful to current business contexts (CO # 2)


1.Read the following:;;;’s-contingency-theory.html#axzz4oXGq5uLk;

2.Video 7: Watch the video “Situational Leadership” (4 minutes):

Feel free to share on the Student Forum examples of Situational Leadership in your current or former work contexts.

3.Video 8: Watch the video “Situational Leadership” (8 minutes):

Feel free to share on the Student Forum which kind of situational leadership each of the clips displays.

4.Video 9: Watch the video “Situational Leadership (6 minutes):

Module 5:


1.Understand and evaluate theories of leadership and change and how they may be useful to current business contexts (CO # 2)

2.Understand and evaluate concepts of “the dark side of leadership” and how they may be useful to current business contexts (CO # 2)

  1. Read the following:;;;;;

  1. Share on the Student Forum a change initiative that was implemented in your current organization or a previous organization. How was the change successful or unsuccessful, and what role did leadership play in the change?

3.Video 10: Watch the video “Six Keys to Leading Positive Change” (18 minutes)(2013):

Consider sharing on the Student Forum the extent to which your organization makes use of Kanter’s “six keys.

4.Video 11: Watch the video on John Kotter’s 8 steps in leading change:

Feel free to share on the Student Forum any ways you have seen Kotter’s ideas in place in your current or former organization.

5.Consider discussing on the Student Forum a “bad” leader you have known (no names please) and how that person’s leadership affected the organization.

6.Video 12: Watch the video “Bad Leadership” featuring Barbara Kellerman (60 minutes)(2008).

Consider discussing on the Student Forum how Kellerman’s points about bad leadership are relevant to leaders you have known or perhaps even to yourself in some ways.

7.Video 13: Watch the video “7 Bad Habits of Highly Ineffective Leaders” (6 minutes).

Consider sharing on the Student Forum one bad habit you have that makes you less effective than you could be.

Module 6:


  1. Understand and evaluate theories/practices of vision and how they may be useful to current business contexts (CO # 2)
  2. Understand and evaluate theories/practices of managing conflict and how they may be useful to current business contexts (CO # 2)

1.Read the following:;;;

3.Video 14: Watch the following videos featuring Harvard professor Jon Kotter:;;

4.Video 15: Watch the following video featuring a real visionary leader, Walt Disney:;

Can you create a vision for the rest of your life? Start with “I will…” and then express in 1-2 sentences your vision for your future. Feel free to share your vision on the Student Forum.

5.Read the following:;;

6.Video 16: Watch the following video, “Conflict Management” (14 minutes).

Feel free to discuss your own conflict management style on the Student Forum.

Now that we have reached the end of the course, reflect on all you have learned and try to develop your own perspective on leadership. What do you think leadership is, and how do you want to act as a leader? Feel free to share your thoughts on the Student Forum.

NOTE: You should have been notified by SCIU that you can open the Final Exam whenever you wish. Once you have completed all the course modules, you should use that notification to open and take the exam. Bear in mind that you have only 6 hours to complete the exam after you have opened it. You may use any materials you wish as you work on the exam.


  1. Howe, Ph.D.

What is Leadership?


Thousands of definitions of leadership that have been offered by scholars and practitioners over the past century, and there are even some scholars and practitioners who suggest that we should abandon any attempt to define such an amorphous thing as leadership. To be sure, leadership is a broad-ranging phenomenon that can include different contexts or situations (e.g., business, non-profit, government, military, social movement; large organization, small organization; mature employees, inexperienced employees), different disciplinary lenses (organization studies, psychology, management studies, sociology, political science, social psychology, even the humanities and the arts), different units of analysis (the individual, the group or team, the entire organization), different cultural lenses (e.g., leadership in the West, leadership in the East), different levels within an organization (executive, middle manager, line employee), and different aspects of people (e.g., rational mind, emotions). Moreover, leadership, many suggest, is both a science and an art – that is, something that can be learned through study and practice but also something that flows naturally from a person, perhaps because of innate talents. One could even argue that everything in life is pertinent to an understanding of – as well as a practice of – leadership, including how we communicate, how we behave, the values or ethical positions we hold, how we influence or are influenced by those with whom we interact, and how we develop and use our minds, hearts, bodies, and spirits.

Leadership, many argue, was described by Plato and Aristotle thousands of years ago and has been set out over the centuries by thinkers like Machiavelli, More, Tolstoy, Carlyle, Freud, and Nietzsche. Others point to descriptions of leadership in Eastern thinkers like Confucius and Lao-Tzu. Still others suggest that leadership, as a formal consideration, was born only in the 20th century in the writings of thinkers like Weber, Taylor, Stogdill, Bass, and Burns. A few even indicate that the best way to understand and learn leadership is through classic literature – e.g., Cervantes, Shakespeare, Dante, Melville. In brief, there is little agreement about when considerations of leadership began, how the theories and practices of leadership have developed and evolved, and how we can best understand and learn leadership.

Most early 20th century discussions of leadership tended to focus on the leader as the principal or even sole component of leadership – that is, leadership is something that a leader does. As a result, those discussions tended to focus on the traits, qualities, or skills that a leader should possess in order to be effective, or on the behavior that a leader should exhibit in order to be effective. Increasingly, however, leadership scholars and practitioners began to focus on the “followers” with whom the leader interacts and on the context/situation in which both the leader and the followers are engaged. Thus, by the middle of the 20th century the discussions of leadership were far more inclusive than they had been in earlier decades. Scholars like Bass, Burns, House, Fiedler, and Rost emphasized the interactive nature of leadership. Other scholars like Eagly began to focus on the leadership of women, while yet others began to examine leadership in different national or cultural contexts around the world.

Today most discussions of leadership agree that it is an interactive process, not simply something the leader does. Those discussions tend to emphasize mutual influence, sharing, empowering others, social responsibility, team/group leadership, and democratic ethical perspectives. To be sure, leadership is no longer about what Carlyle called “the one great man”; it is about many people working collaboratively to solve group, organizational, community, or society problems and to effect positive change. As Rost (1991) says, “Leadership is an influence relationship between leaders and collaborators who intend real change that reflects their mutual purposes.” The focus is on relationship and mutuality rather than on the leader and the leader’s actions.

As a result in this shift from the leader as an individual to a process that is interactive, leadership learning and development have assumed new dimensions. No longer are we focusing on developing individual traits or qualities (though those are still important as part of a larger, systemic consideration); instead, today’s leadership learning and development initiatives tend to emphasize interacting successfully with others and sharing leadership responsibility as appropriate. Burns even suggests that leadership is about making leaders out of others or helping others realize their full potential.

At the same time, we have shifted the way we assess and measure leadership. No longer do we focus almost singularly on how well the individual leader is performing. On the contrary, the current focus is on assessing how the process of leadership is functioning – e.g., how well are people collaborating with each other, how well all members of an entity are able to engage in the leadership of that entity and share leadership responsibility, and how well the organization as a whole is accomplishing its strategic plan. It is worth noting, however, that we still have no simple means of determining what makes for effective leadership.

The Leader

Despite the larger, more inclusive perspectives that have emerged, the focus on the leader – particularly as a component on the leadership process – remains intact today. Many studies of the leader are still well worth examining, going back to Stogdill’s important examination of the traits of a leader in the 1940s and continuing through research on leader behavior, the power and influence an individual leader can exert, the charismatic or transformational/transactional “style” of a leader, and the values an individual leader holds or espouses.

Considerations of a leader’s power and influence go back to Machiavelli’s The Prince, though 20th century discussions tend to focus specifically on the sources of a leader’s power. French and Raven, for example, examined five forms of leader power: coercive (compelling someone to do something against his/her will), reward (giving people what they want in exchange for doing what you want them to do), legitimate power (derived from the role or status the leader holds), referent power (derived from the way others feel about the leader or like the leader), and expert power (derived from personal knowledge and skill). Discussions of influence often revolve around Maxwell and Schmitt’s 16 influence “tactics,” which include such tactics as rewarding, punishing, using positive expertise, ingratiation (getting someone into a positive frame of mind), giving gifts, collecting debts (calling in past favors), moral appeal, instilling positive self-feelings in others, instilling negative self-feelings in others, and altruism (asking for a favor). Kipnis, Schmidt, and Wilkinson added such influence tactics as assertiveness, rationality, sanctions, upward appeal, and the use of coalitions.

A leader’s values have also garnered much attention, with much discussion in the past few decades on the moral/ethical positions of a leader – e.g., is he/she a dictator or a democrat? an open, honest person or a Machiavel? a self-seeking, egotistical person or an other-oriented, altruistic person? a utilitarian decision maker or a deontological decision maker? Some scholars have even suggested that any consideration of leadership must always include a consideration of good leadership, though what constitutes good leadership can be the subject of serious debate – e.g., Is it acting purely democratically, or is it providing authority and guidance to those who may need structure in order to carry out their tasks? In addition, as Hofstede has argued in several works, values vary widely from one nation or culture to another, not to mention from one organization to another. Thus, there may be no universal values by which individual leaders should operate. Furthermore, individual leaders may have to respect and appreciate the diverse values that derive from different ethnicities, different genders, different sexual orientations, different regional perspectives, and a host of other differences. Still, there are some who argue that there are attributes that are universal to all individual leaders and that those attributes include certain values as opposed to others.

But much of the attention on the individual leader has focused on the traits of a successful or effective leader, and various scholars – from Stogdill in the 1940s to Kirkpatrick in the 1990s – have attempted to compile a list of the most salient traits, characteristics, qualities, or attributes. Such lists include the following: honesty, competence, ability to inspire, intelligence, forward looking, high energy, tolerance for stress, self-confidence, self-knowledge, ability to take risks, optimism, assertiveness, internal locus of control, emotional stability, dominance, enthusiasm, self-assurance, integrity, sociability, empathy, charisma, concern for others, persistence, a need to achieve, an action orientation, flexibility/adaptability, strong ability to communicate, decisiveness, passion, openness to change, eagerness to learn. Most scholars agree, however, that there are no traits are universal across all leadership situations; the context may require specific traits or abilities. Recently, trait discussions have been complicated by Gardner’s research on multiple intelligences and by Goleman’s work on emotional intelligence; both scholars have brought their findings to bear on individual leaders.

Trait approaches too have been associated with “personality” and, as a result, with personality assessment profiles. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) , for example, has been used to assess the “type” of an individual leader – that is, is he/she introverted or extroverted, intuition-oriented or evidence-oriented, thinking-oriented or feeling-oriented, and judgment/closure-oriented or perceiving/open-ended-oriented. Now the most widely used personality indicator in the world, the MBTI has been brought to bear in numerous leadership scenarios.

Much of the trait perspective on leadership, as well as later behavioral perspectives, has focused on whether a leader is oriented toward relationships (that is, oriented to people) or oriented to the tasks/structures of the organization. Studies stemming from Ohio State University and University of Michigan focused on those two dimensions and led to the creation of the Leadership Behavior Description Questionnaire, an instrument that has been used thousands of times to assess individual leaders and their “styles” on the two primary dimensions. Blake and Mouton took the notion of those two dimensions and developed what they called “The Managerial Grid,” which assesses a leader’s “concern for people” vis-à-vis his/her “concern for results.”

Obviously those who want to understand leaders and leadership, those who want to develop leadership, and those who want to hold leaders accountable, have looked to perspectives that emphasize the traits, skills, styles, and behaviors of individual leaders. Recent research, however, has demonstrated clearly that a focus on the leader alone is not enough to explain the phenomenon of leadership. More robust explanations come through a consideration of the interaction of the leader, the followers, and the situation.


Rost, J. (1991). Leadership for the twenty-first century. Praeger: New York.

The Followers

As leadership theory and practice evolved in the industrial era of the 20th century and then moved into the information age, a consideration of followers – sometimes called constituents, collaborators, colleagues, participants, …– began to assume increasing importance. Some people even questioned the leader-follower dichotomy and turned it on its head or deflected it, offering us “servant leadership” (Greenleaf, 2002; Spears, 1995), wherein the leader is the servant of the followers, self-leadership (Manz and Sims, 2001), wherein each person becomes a leader, or substitutes for leadership (Kerr and Jermier, 1978), wherein organizational values take the place of leadership. Clearly, the emerging focus on followers helped initiate a new era in leadership research and practice and spawned new theories, new organizational structures, new organizational values, and new approaches to gain competitive advantage. Followers were no longer content to engage in assembly line working conditions; they demanded a share in the leadership experience, and employers and leaders learned that empowering them and giving them leadership responsibility meant increased motivation and productivity, increased satisfaction, and better performance.

Various theories have been offered over the past 60 years to explain follower motivation and satisfaction. One of the most influential of the theories is Maslow’s, which is based upon five kinds of needs in a hierarchy from lowest to highest: (1) physiological, meaning the basic needs of the body (food, sleep, sex); (2) safety – that is, protection from physical and economic harm; (3) belongingness and love, meaning the desire to give and receive in society; (4) esteem, which includes self-confidence and self-worth; and (5) self-actualization, which is the need for self-fulfillment. According to Maslow, an unsatisfied need motivates a person’s behavior, and people generally move up the hierarchy in a logical progression. This theoretical perspective had a significant impact on the work of James MacGregor Burns, whose book Leadership (1978) is often considered the seminal treatise in the field of leadership studies. In his discussion of “transforming leadership,” Burns believes that leaders should make leaders out of others by helping them become everything they are capable of becoming, a reflection of Maslow’s notion of “self-actualization.”

With the ERG (Existence, Relatedness, Growth) theory of motivation, Alderfer set out something quite similar to Maslow’s hierarchy, though ERG suggests that people can seek to satisfy more than one need at a time and that they can revert to a lower level need if they find themselves unable to satisfy a higher level need. In terms of leadership, leaders can identify the need levels of followers and then help them satisfy needs at those levels. In addition, they can keep on the alert for any regression by followers to lower need levels and help those followers move successfully to higher need levels.

Other motivation theories focus more specifically on the differences between people and on working with those people on their specific traits, values, or desires. Atkinson and McClelland, for example, looked to differences between people on their achievement orientation. While some people have a strong desire to achieve, others are content to set lower levels of achievement for themselves. Some theories focus on what people value – e.g., recognition, power, tradition, security, money – and on motivating them by giving them activities that support what they value. Unfortunately, many leaders believe that people put high value on external factors like money, whereas in fact those people may put far higher value on internal factors like creativity, excitement, and pleasure. Leaders need to understand followers’ interests and values and then seek to align them with tasks that draw upon those interests and values.

Still other theories – loosely known as cognitive theories — focus on setting goals, expectations, and desirable outcomes. Research suggests that leaders should set high but achievable goals, expectations, and desirable outcomes, support followers in their progress, and celebrate successes along the way. Expectancy theory, one specific cognitive theory of motivation, indicates that followers will act in ways that maximize their expectations of getting desired outcomes or rewards and that factors which influence expectations can be quantified. Put another way, followers will be motivated to do their work if they feel they can perform the work tasks, if they feel they will be rewarded for doing those tasks, and if they value the rewards. Equity theory emphasizes followers’ sense of fairness at work – that is, that the efforts they make and the rewards they get for their effort are fair in terms of the effort others make and the rewards others get. If followers feel that the work situation is unfair (i.e., there are inequities), then they can change their efforts, seek different rewards, change their self-perception, change their perception of their reference group, change their reference group, or leave the work setting and move on to something else. Self-efficacy theory, which focuses on one’s beliefs about being able to perform tasks successfully, argues that followers will perform tasks well if they believe they can perform them. Leaders need to try to boost followers’ sense of self-efficacy by providing meaningful work tasks, ensuring that adequate resources are supplied for successful task completion, and offering appropriate support and encouragement.

Motivation can also be approached from a situational perspective. The operant approach suggests that followers can be motivated through the administration of  rewards and punishments that take into account the particular tasks or work situation. Another approach, empowerment, involves delegating leadership down to the lowest possible level and also providing followers with the resources they need to perform work in the specific situation.

Research indicates that followers’ satisfaction is an important component of any leadership scenario. Satisfaction results in increased motivation, lower turnover rates, greater collegiality at work, less workplace conflict, and higher performance levels. Factors that affect satisfaction include a person’s position in a hierarchy (Those at higher levels generally exhibit higher satisfaction levels), level of compensation, leadership effectiveness, work load, opportunities for professional development, and possibilities for promotion.

Theories of job satisfaction include: (1) affectivity, which claims that some people have consistently positive attitudes about work whereas other people have consistently negative attitudes about work. The differences between the two may be due to genetic factors, which suggests that leaders may be unable to take specific steps to create changes in the satisfaction level of some people. (2) Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory, which focuses on factors called “motivators” (e.g., achievement, recognition, advancement, responsibility, the work itself) – associated with satisfaction at work — and on “hygiene factors” (e.g., supervision, working conditions, pay, co-workers, job security) – associated with dissatisfaction at work. Leaders, Herzberg argued, should maximize the motivators and just adequately satisfy hygiene factors in order to increase followers’ satisfaction levels. Unfortunately, there is little empirical evidence to support this theory, despite its popularity and persistence. (c) Organizational Justice, which focuses on whether people are treated fairly or unfairly in workplace organizations.

Followers can be conceived as groups or teams as well as individuals. Group factors that leaders can consider include group tasks, group size, group goals, stage of the group’s development, group roles, group norms, and the degree of group cohesiveness.

To be sure, consideration of followers has transformed leadership research and practice. No longer are we concerned with leadership as what-the-leader-does; instead, leadership is now conceived largely as the interaction and relationship between the leader(s) and the followers.

The Situation:

Research and practice have recognized increasingly that the situation or context in which leadership occurs must be a crucial element in any consideration of leadership. As empirical studies have demonstrated repeatedly in the last four decades, leadership in one situation may be very different from leadership in another situation, resulting in the conclusion that there is no one best leadership for all situations. A lieutenant in a battle situation, for example, may have to exercise a command-and-control leadership and order his followers to carry out assigned tasks. On the other hand, a corporate executive today may want to empower employees, seek their input on decisions, and even encourage them to share in corporate governance and profits. Similarly, a teacher in an elementary school class may have to take careful charge of the learning and provide considerable structure and direction, while a professor in an advanced graduate seminar may encourage students to participate actively in framing the learning, sharing with each other, and even teaching the course. Clearly, different situations may elicit or require different kinds of leadership. Those situations may include the type of organization (e.g., business, non-profit, educational, military), the size of the organization (from a small start-up to a multi-national corporation), the kinds of employees in the organization (e.g., novices vs. those with strong skills/experience, young vs. old), the structure of the organization (e.g., cross-functional, team structure, hierarchical), the age of the organization (e.g., new vs. longstanding), and the environment of the organization (e.g., monopoly vs. competition, traditional industry vs. new industry).

Leadership situations can be extraordinarily complex, unique, and dynamic. They can involve multiple factors, and they can evolve over time. Moreover, different people may see the same situation in different ways, meaning that a single organization may not be so “single” after all. Research on situational leadership has opened leadership studies and practice to a host of considerations, making the field of leadership studies and the practice of leadership in real organizations far more involved than it was fifty years ago. Moreover, it seems quite clear that situational factors can affect both leaders and followers, even as leaders and followers affect those same factors, meaning that causality is always perhaps problematic and ambiguous. If we consider, too, that situational factors – e.g., followers’ characteristics, organizational structure or size, and organizational environment — may work synergistically, then we have very complicated scenarios that call for advanced statistical methodologies or “rich,” multi-layered narratives in any analysis of leadership today. Organizations that are truly multi-cultural or international make such analyses even more complicated.

Among the first researchers to explore situational factors thoroughly and empirically were Hunt and Osborne, who developed what they called the multiple-influence model of leadership. They distinguished microvariables (e.g., personal traits, task characteristics) and macrovariables (e.g., larger environmental factors), and were among the very first to emphasize the importance of the macrovariables on how leaders act, thus expanding leadership research well beyond individual and organizational factors. Hunt and Osborne, along with others to follow, opened leadership studies to various levels of analysis – personal, organizational, environmental, and, more recently, organizational fields and entire nation-states.

To be more specific, situational factors can include the following noted by Hughes, Ginnett, and Curphy, though these are by no means inclusive:

Work factors:

  • Skill variety: the variety of skills needed to perform a task
  • Task identity: degree to which a work task is a coherent whole
  • Task significance: degree to which a task affects the lives of others
  • Autonomy: degree to which a person has control over the work he/she performs
  • Feedback: degree to which a worker receives information about a task he/she is performing
  • Task structure: e.g., structured vs. unstructured, individualized or group-oriented, ambiguous vs. clear
  • Task interdependence: degree of coordination required for task accomplishment

People factors:

  • Skills: possessed or needed
  • Knowledge: possessed or needed
  • Experience: possessed or needed
  • Expectations: e.g., for rewards, meaning
  • Needs: e.g., for relatedness, growth
  • Preferences: e.g., for individual tasks or group tasks
  • Demographics: e.g., age, gender, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation

Organization factors:

  • Level of authority: one’s hierarchical level in the organization
  • Organizational structure: the way tasks are organized and controlled
  • Complexity: e.g., the number of units, levels, locations
  • Formalization: degree of standardization of policies, procedures, and tasks
  • Centralization: the degree to which decision making is diffused
  • Design: e.g., functional, product, matrix (combines functional and product)
  • Lateral interdependence: degree of coordination between units
  • Culture: e.g., shared norms, beliefs, values, language, rituals, symbols within the organization

Environmental factors:

  • Technological: e.g., high complexity vs. low complexity
  • Economic: e.g., growth industry vs. depressed industry, hostile takeovers
  • Political: e.g., resource support, public policies, internationalization
  • Social: e.g., community interaction, customer relations
  • Legal: e.g., local, state, and national regulations
  • Crises: e.g., sudden changes in economic, social, political, or legal conditions

Situational leadership has been the focus of several theoretical perspectives, known loosely as “contingency theories” of leadership. Those theoretical perspectives include:

Normative decision Model: Formulated by Vroom and Yetton in the 1970s, this theory focuses on how leader, follower, and situational factors affect followers’ participation in decision-making processes in a group. Vroom and Yetton identified decision-making processes that range from autocratic, to consultative, to democratic or group-sharing. Included in the theory are considerations of decision quality and decision acceptance. The theory has received mixed empirical support.

Situational Leadership Model: Developed principally by Hersey and Blanchard in the late 1960s and elaborated over many years, this theory focused on two leadership dimensions – task behavior and relationship behavior – and suggests that leaders should optimally be high or low on each of these two dimensions according to the readiness of followers to carry out the organizations’ tasks. Despite the appeal of the model and its popularity among practitioners of leadership, there has been little empirical evidence to support it.

Least-Preferred Co-worker Scale: Developed by Fiedler in the late 1970s, this perspective – based upon a scale that assesses a leader’s style – asks a leader to consider the colleague with whom he or she has had the most difficult working relationship and then describe that colleague on a series of opposed adjectives – e.g., friendly/unfriendly, sincere/insincere. The results, Fiedler argued, suggest whether the leader is task oriented or relationships oriented. Evidence evaluating this theory has been mixed.

Path-Goal Theory: Developed by House and others in the 1970s, this theory takes into consideration followers’ effort-to-performance probabilities, performance-to-outcome probabilities, and the degree to which they value the outcome. Using this theoretical perspective, leaders will ensure that followers value the outcome and can achieve that outcome with the fewest possible obstacles. Depending upon the situation, leaders can use a directive, supportive, participative, or achievement-oriented leadership style. Here too, this theory has received only mixed empirical support.

Clearly, approaches to the situation in leadership have resulted in some clever and sometimes complicated theoretical perspectives. Nevertheless, none of those perspectives has received unqualified support by research. There is, it would seem, ample room for additional theories. In recent years, it should be noted, many leadership scholars have come together to discuss the possibility of generating a “grand universal theory” of leadership that might be applicable across situations/contexts. Efforts in that regard have not yet come up with such a grand theory, and, given the multiplicity of situations and contexts and the scores of factors embedded in most of those situations or contexts, probably never will. Leadership studies, it would seem, resist being constrained by a single theory.


Burns, J.M. (1978). Leadership. Harper: New York.

Greenleaf, R. (2002, 25th Anniversary Edition). Servant leadership. Paulist Press: Mahwah, NJ.

Kerr, S., & Jermier, J. (1978). Substitutes for leadership. Organizational Performance and Human Behavior, 22, 375-403.

Manz, C, & Sims, H. (2001). The new superleadership. Berrett-Koehler: San Francisco, CA.

Spears, L. (1995). Reflections on leadership. Wiley: Hoboken, NJ.

Leadership Skills:

Leadership skills have been a major focus of leadership research and practice during the entire time that leadership has been a formal consideration in modern times – that is, for about the past 100 years. Scholars and practitioners have been eager to identify the skills that make for effective leadership. Most university courses, too, seek to identify a focused number of skills on which aspiring leaders should focus – e.g., team/group development, communication, decision making, conflict negotiation, stress management, empowerment, conducting meetings, credibility (Howe, 1997).

Much of the focus on leadership skills has emphasized skill development within the leader – that is, with only tangential consideration of followers or context. This module looks at leadership skills in terms of the leader as an individual, the leader as someone who must develop a relationship with followers, and the leader as someone who leads within a specific situation or context.

Though some skills may be inherent in the individual, most skills can be developed and practiced. Hence, this module emphasizes that students in the course must reflect carefully on personal skill strengths and weaknesses and then develop a plan to address skill weaknesses and to synthesize disparate skills into a coherent leadership style. Like leadership itself writ large, specific leadership skills can be learned.

Some leadership skills are most aptly described as skills that are pertinent to the leader as an individual, though each of these skills inevitably involves far more than the leader as an isolated individual. Communication skills, for example, often involve knowing your broad vision or purpose, which is contingent upon the kinds of followers to whom the leader is communicating and upon the kind of situation in which the leader is communicating. Communication also involves ensuring that followers understand the message communicated. Similarly, listening is a skill that can be learned and practiced by the individual leader, but by definition it involves messages given by followers or others, interpreting those messages, and responding with understanding. Much the same can be said of skills like assertiveness, which involves communicating to others what your needs are and learning to say no to some requests by followers and others; stress management, which may be linked closely with followers’ stress and with workplace relationships; building technical competence, which almost surely involves specifics of the leadership context and the specific tasks within that context; building effective relationships with superiors and peers, which speaks for itself in terms of the importance of interaction with others in the organization; and building credibility, which involves building expertise and building trust, both manifested through the perceptions and behaviors of followers and other organizational constituents.

Other leadership skills are especially pertinent to the leader’s relationship with followers and demonstrate Rost’s definition of leadership: “Leadership is an influence relationship among leaders and followers who intend real change that reflects their mutual purposes” (1991). As that definition indicates, leadership is a relationship, never just something the individual does without others; and leadership involves “mutual purposes,” not just the purposes of a sole individual developed in isolation from others or imposed upon others. Skills that explicitly point to the relationship between the leader and the followers include providing constructive feedback, which requires that the interaction between leader and followers be helpful, specific, timely, and flexible; punishment, which must be administered carefully and ethically in order to address followers’ performance problems; delegating, which involves empowering followers to carry out tasks and participate actively in the organization; team building, which encourages group-centered work and shared leadership by followers; development planning, which focuses the leader’s building knowledge and experience by considering, among other things, how followers see him or her; coaching, which emphasizes developing commitment, skills, and perseverance among followers; and empowerment, which can involve delegating responsibility to followers down through the organization or a bottom-up approach that emphasizes ownership, shared decision making, and risk taking.

Still other leadership skills focus on what leaders need in order to lead effectively in specific situations or contexts. Different situations, for example, may require different types of interaction, different means of approaching challenges, and different ways of dealing with change and innovation. Skills that involve the leader’s role in the situation or context include goal setting, which must be specific enough to address the organization’s unique situation and the commitment of the followers in that situation; conducting meetings, which involves objectives and agendas pertinent to the situation and appropriate to the followers there; managing conflict, which includes addressing the kinds of conflict that arise in the situation and means of resolving such conflict in conjunction with the unique followers; problem solving, which involves identifying, analyzing, and treating problems that are arise in the unique organizational context; and improving creativity, which requires the ability to see things in new ways within the specific situation and to elicit the help of followers in envisioning new possibilities.

To be sure, leadership skills and skill development are a significant focus today of researchers, businesses, and consulting groups. Leadership, it is generally acknowledged, is a powerful factor in the success and improvement of organizations, and leadership skills are central to the discussions of effective leadership. As organizations have become “flatter” in structure, followers’ participation in decision making more common, and competition among organizations within a specific organizational niche more severe, the development of leadership skills required to motivate and inspire followers and to treat the issues and problems within the specific situation has become essential to organizational effectiveness. Leadership skill sets in the contemporary world go far beyond what inheres in the individual leader; they include interaction and networking with a host of different constituents and a deep understanding of – and capacity to work with others in addressing –the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats embedded in the specific organizational situation.


Howe, W. (1997). “Leadership education: A look across the courses.” In Leadership education 1996-1997: A source book. Ed. Freeman, F., Knott, K., & Schwartz, M. Center for Creative Leadership: Greensboro, NC.

Rost, J. (1991). Leadership for the twenty-first century. Praeger: New York.

Management vs. Leadership:

For many scholars and practitioners, management and leadership stand in a rather ambiguous relationship to one another. Some see the two as synonymous; others believe they exhibit some overlap but are for the most part separate concepts/practices; still others believe they are distinct and perhaps even incompatible. Some books use the two terms interchangeably, while others take great pains to argue that the two are in opposition to each other (See, for example, Kouzes and Posner, 2007; Zaleznik, 2008; Rost, 1993, for discussions of the two and their relationship).

For the most part, scholars seem to agree that leadership and management, as they exist today, display significant differences – in theory and in practice. Leadership is generally conceived as a transformational activity that focuses on change, inspiration, vision, motivating people, creating meaning, and implementing a value-centered approach to individual, team, or organizational development. Management, on the other hand, is often discussed in terms of control, efficiency, and institutionalizing standard operating procedures and policies.

In The Future of Management, Gary Hamel suggests that management has been embedded in an old “industrial age” thinking that came out of the 19th and 20th centuries – i.e., thinking that emphasizes organizational hierarchies, positional power, elaborate control systems, standardized human resource practices, taken-for-granted planning rituals, decision making and strategic planning that is top-down, time-tested reporting structures and assessment practices, huge salary differentials between top and lower level employees, standardized job descriptions, and protocols for production and scheduling. As Hamel sees it, this old thinking is out of date and is in need of radical re-thinking for the post-modern age of the 21st century. Such re-thinking includes reinventing “the principles, processes, and practices of management” and taking steps to “first imagine, and then invent, the future of management” (p. x). This process, he believes, will help organizations renew themselves, maintain competitive advantage, harness the passion and creativity of employees, and foster continuous innovation and growth. In some ways, we might note, Hamel is arguing for a new kind of management that in many ways is similar to various exciting perspectives on leadership of the past 40 years – e.g., transformational leadership, servant leadership, distributed leadership, socially responsible leadership, shared leadership, leadership-as-empowerment, leadership-as-stewardship. One cannot help but wonder, in fact, why Hamel has left such perspectives on leadership out of his consideration of a new kind of management.

But Hamel’s push for a new kind of management is important in any case. His is a post-modern management that exalts human imagination and passion, that seems to democratize the workplace in the way that the Net is democratizing much of our planet, that calls for humanizing work and eliciting the very best from people because they enjoy what they are doing, that introduces systems that are fair and equitable rather than immersed in credentials and position power, and that multiplies human potential well beyond the managerial limitations that have circumscribed human achievement. Hamel may seem like an idealist and a dreamer, and he even admits that his book is “for dreamers and doers” (p. xi), but he offers concrete examples from many companies – e.g., Whole Foods, W. L. Gore, Google – to ground his daring ideas in real practices and also provides concrete suggestions that companies can use to stimulate innovative thinking and to move away from the status quo managerial imperatives of the past.

Hamel’s post-modern managerial imperative includes the following as key foci:

  • Organizational adaptability in opposition to the shackles of conformism and standardized rules/procedures/policies;
  • Ethical sensitivity in opposition to the old focus on organizational efficiency;
  • Meaningful, satisfying work in opposition to work that is characterized by pigeon-holing, the constraints of elaborate job descriptions, enforced schedules, and performance that is assessed only by managers from above;
  • Management that is constantly attuned to change in opposition to management that seeks to maintain the status quo;
  • Sharing control among the members of the organization at large in opposition to hoarding control at the top;
  • Open sharing of, and communication of, new ideas from all organizational members in opposition to the devaluation of new ideas as aberrant, as ill-conceived, or as coming from those who are not “in the know”;
  • “Rule-breaking innovation” in opposition to rule-accepting and rule-enforcing behavior;
  • Experimental management in opposition to the old “systematic management” initiated early in the 20th century by Frederick Winslow Taylor;
  • We-like and community-like organizational structure in opposition to the old bureaucratic structure with its “standardized routines, tightly drawn job descriptions, cascading objectives, and hierarchical reporting structures” (p. 13);
  • Sharing of responsibility and information in opposition to the clear division of labor and the hoarding of information among top managers;
  • Extolling imagination and creativity in opposition to technical competence or educational background;
  • Space in organizations for new growth projects in opposition to the old closed-mindedness about new possibilities;
  • Visionary, future-oriented perspectives put forth by any member of an organization in opposition to the patching and retrofitting spearheaded by those at the top.

Such foci suggest that management education, as well as management itself, must be re-imagined and re-invented. I would suggest, with that in mind, that a new management for the future might do well to open itself to perspectives long explored within the humanities and the arts – e.g., perspectives that get at the development of, and use of, imagination, visioning, creativity, metaphorical thinking, dialogue, and meaning making. To be sure, the social and behavioral sciences, particularly the disciplines of psychology and business/management, have long held dominance over leadership and management studies; it may be time, I have argued, for an infusion of ideas and practices from different knowledge domains if we are to discover means of releasing ourselves from industrial paradigm thinking and behaving (Howe, 1996). In that vein, Bolman and Deal (1995) have even suggested that “management and leadership development programs … desperately need an infusion of poetry, literature, music, art, theatre, history, philosophy, dance, and other forms that are full of spirit.” The humanities and the arts, Bolman and Deal propose, may introduce us to a new kind of management/leadership, one that treats meaning, human purpose, passion, a web of interrelationships, and even spirit and soul as essential ingredients. James March, former professor of business at Stanford University, has gone so far as to make use of classic works of literature – e.g., War and Peace, Don Quixote, Othello – in one of his business classes, and the Humanities in Management Institute at Hartwick College has developed over a hundred leadership/management cases that make use of classic works of literature.

I am suggesting, then, that the work of Hamel is extraordinarily important in helping us re-think management and where it can go in the future, particularly with his focus on imagination, creativity, and innovation. At the same time, however, I think Hamel’s ideas can be expanded so that they include perspectives that are directly relevant to, but rarely considered in connection with management/leadership – that is, perspectives from the humanities and the arts. March has even argued in his business courses that managers/leaders have much in common with poet/fools and that management/leadership may actually involve a “technology of foolishness” – i.e., learning to be the playful poet/clown who delights in and even thrives on ambiguity as do Shakespeare’s entertaining fools, whose laughter puts mundane, all-too-serious ideas into a larger perspective and mocks the power mongerers and all those who insist upon rationality, coherence, and logic. Like many future-oriented managers, in Hamel’s sense, the poet/clown delights in conflict, contradiction, and an open, playful, experimental approach to human interaction, thus undoing any compulsion for efficiency, coherence, and control. Moreover, the poet/clown, like Hamel’s new manager, helps us see things anew and break out of what the poet Blake called the “mind-forged manacles” that keep us embedded in the status quo. They help us see, in the poet Shelley’s words, “the before unapprehended relations of things” – that is, to see beyond what we have taken for granted and accepted as gospel and to free our minds from the shackles of unquestioned assumptions.

The future of management in Hamel’s sense, one could argue, comes close to what some see as the present of leadership – transforming organizations so that they are inclusive, innovative, imaginative, visionary, humanistic, democratic, and imbued with passion. Thus, Hamel’s new management is, at least in some ways, synonymous with current thinking about leadership. In any event, there seems a much greater overlap between management and leadership in Hamel’s perspective than in the thinking of many other management or leadership scholars. Still, as I suggested above, it seems to me that Hamel is himself blinded by his own training and experience in the realm of management, such that he can’t envision the possibility of bringing the humanities and the arts to bear on imagining and inventing the future of management.


Bolman, L., & Deal, T. (1995). Leading with soul: An uncommon journey of spirit. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Howe, W. (1996). “Leadership vistas: From the constraints of the behavioral sciences to emancipation through the humanities.” The Journal of Leadership Studies, 3, 2, 32-69.

Kouzes, J., & Posner, B. (2007, 4th ed.). The leadership challenge. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Rost, J. (1993). Leadership for the twenty-first century. New York: Praeger.

Zaleznik, A. (2008). Managers and leaders: Are they different? Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business Review