Saturday, January 28, 2012

Transformational Leadership

The success of transformational leadership is determined by the level of effective engagement between leaders and followers. "Such leadership occurs when one or more persons engage with others in such a way that leaders and followers raise one another to higher levels of motivation and morality" (Wren, 1995, p. 101). Successful transformational leadership "changes some of those who follow into people whom others may follow [while changing] leaders into moral agents" (Wren, 1995, p.103). This promotes a healthy and collaborative workplace environment which can only benefit a company/school. However, unsuccessful transformational leadership occurs in situations when leaders feel threatened by followers' growth or empowerment. Avolio (2002) notes that "the impact of transformational leadership on followers' performance is often explained as stemming from followers' development and empowerment, which increases both their ability and their motivation" (p. 83). Leaders who are too self-absorbed or egotistical, and not willing to work with their constituents as relative equals, may soon find this collaborative leadership approach too "hands on" for their liking. In turn, this would stifle progress and attitudes within the company/school.
Avolio, B.J., & Yammarino, F.J. (2002). Transformational and charismatic leadership: The road ahead. San Diego, CA: Emerald.
Wren, J.T. (1995). The leader's companion: Insights on leadership through the ages. New York, NY: Free Press.

The Role Of Conflict In The Establishment Of Leader/Follower Relationships

Conflict is an unavoidable, yet necessary "evil" in establishing leader/follower relationships. This inevitable interaction is both healthy and vital in order to achieve an effective work environment. "If successfully managed, conflict can produce high quality, creative solutions that lead to innovation and progress" (Wren, 1995, p. 435). This rationale can be applied to both the corporate world and our educational system. In addition, "the resolution of disputes is a major factor driving incremental change in an organization [or school district] or in a [leader/follower] relationship" (Wren, 1995, p. 437). Conflict forces leaders and their constituents to work together in partnership for the betterment of the company/school. The top-down, power approach (i.e., "I am the boss, and what I say goes") does not foster the healthy working atmosphere necessary for an institution's continued success. Followers would become unhappy in their work and suspicious of the leader's intentions. Effective leaders need the support of followers, while being open to their constructive criticism. Through conflict and resolution, followers are a more integral part of the workplace, leaders entertain a wider range of options to a situation, and the organization benefits from the collaboration.


Wren, J.T. (1995). The leader's companion: Insights on leadership through the ages. New York, NY: Free Press.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Superior Leaders

Superior leaders often possess certain natural born traits that make being a successful and effective leader more likely. The most important of these traits are honesty and integrity. These qualities (especially integrity) cannot be taught, and every potential leader freely chooses to either accept or reject these virtues. On one hand, they represent innate characteristics that potential leaders virtuously aspire to uphold which, in turn, enhances followers' respect. On the contrary, non-potential leaders do not value or possess these traits and are subsequently set up for failure or, at best, mock success. Honesty and integrity are requisites of superior leadership as they "form the foundation of a trusting relationship between leader and followers" (Wren, 1995, p. 138).

Similar to the fact that the best athletic coaches are often those who were not superstars as players, people who possess average charisma and/or personality have the potential to be truly superior leaders. These types of people have had to work hard for their successes and have a clear understanding of the followers' mindset. In fact, Wren (1995) suggests that charisma often becomes a leader's undoing.
Just as superstars are often too "full of themselves" to be effective coaches, so too are leaders whose charisma narcissistically "gets in the way" of effective leadership. In fact, although a certain amount of charisma is a plus, charismatic leaders are not necessary "to influence followers to comply with and carry out the vision of the leader. Rather, the vision itself needs to reflect and draw upon the vast resources contained within individual employees" (Wren, 1995, pp. 219-220). "Regardless of personal style, an individual can be inspirational to a good portion of colleagues" (Zenger, 2009, p. 20). Hence, even if a person is perceived to have only an average personality, he/she can have a dedicated following through trust and credibility.

Wren, J.T. (1995). The leader's companion: Insights on leadership through the ages. New York, NY: Free Press.

Zenger, J.H. (2009). Challenging times demand inspiring leadership. Financial Executive 25(6), 18-22. Retrieved from

Sunday, January 15, 2012

13 More Charged in SAT Cheating Scandal

This relatively recent article in USA Today from last November, brings into question morality issues that we, as the professional educators, must be willing to address and discuss with our constituents. It seems that more often than not, students feel the "need" or the pressure to excel--at any cost--as, to them, the end results are worth the possible consequences of the unethical means. "To view plagiarism in terms of morality requires the writer to acknowledge that using someone else’s ideas or words without permission or acknowledgement is morally wrong" (Hatcher, 2011, p. 154). As learners move up the educational ladder, and stress or the pressure to succeed increases, students of all ages must resist unethical shortcuts as methods for obtaining their intended degree. To this end, educators (at the earliest levels) must continuously address the need for each student to do his/her own work and to properly cite thoughts and ideas that are not original. This will give students the solid foundation required for them to become both ethical and moral scholars, and effective leaders in our future society.


Hatcher, T. (2011). Becoming an ethical scholarly writer. Journal of Scholarly Publishing 42(2), 142-159. Retrieved from

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Advancements In The Development Of Basic Leadership

Some leading thinkers claim that there have been no major advancements in the development of basic leadership in the last 200 years. Even though there appears to be no clear cut, definitive definition of leadership, to suggest that no significant strides in development have transpired over the course of two centuries is too critical a statement. Leadership, along with what determines the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of individual leaders, is an ever-changing and evolving term that is contingent upon contextual settings, situations, current perceptions, and followers' characteristics. As these variables have changed over time, so has the workable definition of leadership and the qualities and traits effective individual leaders should possess. Leadership development should not be measured in terms of whether or not norms have been established over time, as for every leadership opportunity there exists a different setting, context, and follower constituency. In addition, current research suggests that effective leaders must evolve with, and adapt to, the times (e.g., the 21st century.) This signifies progress. As noted in Wren (1995), a 21st century SuperLeader maximizes "the contributions of others through recognition of their right to guide their own destiny" (p. 213) all for the betterment and good of the workplace. In addition, recent developments based on research suggest 21st century leaders will need to find "ways to bring out the best of people through trust, respect, listening, inspiration, setting the example...nourishing...mentoring...recognizing creativity and genius, harnessing talent...and even having fun" (Wren, 1995, p. 460). This research exemplifies recent developments and advancement of basic leadership. In addition, Clawson (2006, Appendix) outlines the development of various leadership theories and approaches that have been developed over time (trait, behavior, power and influence, situational, charismatic, and transformational) and add credence to the proposition that there have been significant developments in basic leadership, even if this list simply represent theories.

Clawson, J.G. (2006). Level three leadership: Getting below the surface. (3rd ed.). [Adobe Digital Editions version]. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall. Retrieved from

Wren, J.T. (1995). The leader's companion: Insights on leadership through the ages. New York, NY: Free Press.

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