How Leaders Inspire Actions

How do you inspire and influence others toward a common goal?

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Thanksgiving Day Proclamation – 1863

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

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A la Carte

When referring to a menu, something is a la carte if it is priced and ordered separately from other full menu items. LDRS “a la carte” entries are simply that – unrelated, brief entries that have captured our attention during recent weeks.

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Is there a leadership void on the Hokie football field?  Marcus Davis thinks so…

The Three “L’s” of Leadership… in the wake of Sandy, leadership lessons shine.

And what happened to Hostess?  What roll did leadership play in the downfall of an American icon.

Even though you are on vacation… don’t treat your brain like junk!

The Engagement Secret of Great Leaders… how storytelling and leadership go hand in hand.

 

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As the dust settles…

As the 2012 Presidential Election comes to a close, it is useful to take stock of the way the election shook out.  As I was reviewing some of the demographics pulled from exit polls, one posted by NBC News really connected to some of the issues we’ve been discussing regarding what makes leaders successful; or more to the point, why followers follow them.  Look at the poll results below, particularly at the “candidate cares about people like me” section as compared to other thoughts like vision, values, and strength.  Discuss a little bit regarding whether this is surprising to you or not based on what you have read/learned so far. I realize this can be an emotional time so lets keep the comments civil, and focused on the data rather than the candidates.  You can see the whole demographic breakdown from which this was pulled here: http://elections.msnbc.msn.com/ns/politics/2012/all/president/

 

Which ONE of these four candidate qualities mattered most in deciding how you voted for president?

Category Obama Romney % Total
Shares my values 42 55 27
Is a strong leader 38 61 18
Cares about people like me 81 18 21
Has a vision for the future 45 54 29
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The End of Leadership

Just when you thought you had it all figured out… listen to Barbara Kellerman explain the topics in her recent book The End of Leadership.

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The Courage to Lead Differently

Last week while reading A Very Short, Fairly Interesting and Reasonably Cheap Book About Leadership, I became struck by the concluding sentences in Chapter 5 (Critical and Distributed Perspectives on Leadership), “We remain more concerned with the ends of leadership rather than its means. This is why we still continue to find ways of invigorating the existing leader-centric models of leadership and to refine and bolster follower-centric models of leadership by means of maintain a healthy democratic counterbalance” (p. 111).

Really?  I don’t believe Jackson and Parry intended this to be an “ends justify the means” statement, but I began to wonder what prevented us, as a society, from shifting our collective focus from leader-centric to shared or co-leadership opportunities.  Certainly there’s an argument for such a shift, but the practice of follower-centric leadership hasn’t been widely accepted to date… are we ready to digest the suggestion that we may need to instantaneously transition between leader and follower as circumstances and needs of the team change?  The Art of Followership examines the many roles followers play and the often complex relationships formed between leaders and followers, not to mention the followers’ influence on culture, standards, and the practice of leadership.  While the movement continues to become more robust, leader-centric models are still more widely studied, researched, and practiced.  But, what would happen if we are all leaders?

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This past week I also had the opportunity to hear Dr. Brene Brown speak on vulnerability at the International Leadership Association conference.  Her research suggests that as a society we have become intolerant of vulnerability.  This intolerance has lead to foreboding joy, disappointment as a lifestyle, low-grade disconnection, perfection, extremism, and numbing.  She suggests that our intolerance of vulnerability may prevent us from experiencing joy.

Is it a lack of vulnerability which prevents us adopting a follower-centric model of leadership?  In part, maybe…

Could it be courage that prevents us from shifting the leader-follower paradigm?  Image

Merriam-Webster defines courage as the “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”  The “what-if” questions and risk we take as leaders to turn over the “important” or “critical” work of leadership which we cannot merely be assign to just anyone becomes crippling.  I suggest courage, rather than vulnerability because of the strength suggested by the definition of courage.

If you recall earlier in the semester we took a deep dive into the Social Change Model, reviewing an article by Helen Astin (1996) titled, “Leadership for Social Change” in which she describes a team’s reflection on the model and subsequent suggestion that courage may be added as the eighth “C” of the model.  The students Astin describes noted that it takes courage to make a change, and the power of the group inspired them to persist in achieving the common purpose; in their case, a social action project.  Nevertheless, this model is about change, and courage may be the key.

To be a courageous leader we may need to examine our lens and begin to celebrate the value of what people create together.  To value shared leadership.  To take a risk and allow others to rise up.  To transform how we lead, and how we follow.

When have you demonstrated courageous leadership?   

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Power and Influence in the VT Classroom

File:5th Floor Lecture Hall.jpg

All of this reading about power and influence got me thinking.  There is quite a bit of power/influence surrounding students, faculty, and administrators in Higher Education settings.  How have you seen power and influence, particularly in classroom settings?  It might help to think about French and Raven’s (1959) notions of Referent, Legitimate, Expert, Reward, or Coercive power (as described in the recent handout).  It might also be interesting for you to talk about what you expected in your various classes and what you see.

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