Leadership Theory and Practice

A great deal of the theory and research on leadership has relied on the “industrial” model of leadership in which the primary outcome of interest is some measure of organizational performance. In this type of leadership theory, goals are unambiguous and the means to achieve them are uncontested and clear. In the context of modern, knowledge- and service- based organizations, this model is at best deficient and at worst the basis for serious negative, unintended consequences. Although we can learn from this leadership research, it tends to underplay the importance of values as well as the social and institutional context in which leadership takes place. The focus in this class is on leadership in organizations, where other, external values, goals and expectations stand alongside (or above) simple organizational performance. We will cover a number of important theories, but we will do so with an interest in developing leadership capabilities in ourselves and others. As a result, we will move back and forth between theory and practice, and include opportunities for self-reflection and skill development. [3 credits]