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.  


Can sleep deprivation cause you to behave unethically?  Researchers at VT think so.  What are the implications for leaders based on these results? 


Michael Harvey is an associate professor and chair of the Department of Business Management at Washington College. His work and research focuses on how leaders communicate. Harvey has published numerous articles on the literary approaches to leadership. He spoke with Tom Fox, who writes the Washington Post’s Federal Coach blog and had this to say when he was asked about his concept of leadership.  Leadership is a walk in the dark.  

I share Michael’s reflection as an invitation to start asking people and reading more about other’s views of leadership.  We hope that through this course you’ll define your very own philosophy – not one that simply mimics other leaders you know – rather, one that is informed, shaped and interrogated by your efforts.


Even though global literacy rates are high (84%), people are reading less and less deeply. This trend is especially detrimental to those in leadership roles. As John Coleman explains, deep, broad reading habits are often a defining characteristic of great leaders, and can catalyze insight, innovation, empathy, and personal effectiveness.  Want to be an effective leader?  Start reading.


The Center for Creative Leadership publishes a blog called Leading Effectively.  Read this post about the challenges of balancing tradition and efficiency in a race to save lives.


What are you reading about leadership lately?

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21 Responses to A la Carte

  1. Luke Carroll says:

    I read the article related to leadership and reading. It really struck home to me how vital literature and reading is to our society and how in layman’s terms it is going out of style in many peoples lives. Personally, I love reading it has always been sort of a hobby on the side I love books themselves and reading them. I’m one of those guys that wants a secret library in his house when he gets older, (Not going to give any details cause that would defeat the purpose of it being secret). Anyway, I find it so apparent when someone is less versed and well versed in literature. The article is completely true they have a wider vocabulary and I believe that people who truly delve into literature, like myself, have a greater thirst for knowledge and truth.

    • Grace Ellis says:

      I agree with Luke. I also enjoy reading, and believe that reading is important for expanding your vocabulary and understanding. These two benefits may also improve your skills as a leader, because you may become a more effective communicator with a wider vocabulary, and you may acquire knowledge on a variety of subjects that are relevant to leadership. In middle school, our teachers always tried to tell us how important it is to read, and even though I always have liked to read, now I am even more confident in the benefits of reading. I was happy to discover that reading may help with memory and reduce stress.

    • Ethan Brown says:

      I completely agree with Luke on this one. I personally feel like I can’t read enough books in my lifetime to suffice myself. I think that by reading we are able to make crucial connections between things that we wouldn’t otherwise notice. These connections are instrumental in ones ability to lead and know what to do in certain scenarios. Also by reading, we are capable of expanding our vocabulary and like Luke said creates an inner drive for more knowledge.

  2. Allyson True says:

    I also read the article about leadership and reading and I agree with Luke that deeper reading is going out of style. I think if someone were to quote a famous novel at a business meeting, the members there would have no idea where the quote came from or what it means. I love to read and I think it is an important part of learning, but I also think the lifestyles we have created do not facilitate deeper reading. The article talks about the normal business man and how he will mostly read business material. I think this happens because he does not have time to read much else. He probably goes into work early and comes home late, and if he has a family, he will spend his evening with his children. Where in his schedule does he have time to read? I think people today are so focused on their job and advancing themselves that simple things, like reading a classic novel, are pushed to the side because they are not as important.

    • Abigail Bartolome says:

      While reading the article, I couldn’t help but think that it might be even more valuable to read works for their deeper meanings, and select books that show more of the writer’s literary prowess. Reading books that were written as social criticisms can still hit a nerve that gives a businessman an idea of how to act on social change, or how to lead more effectively in whatever it is that he is doing. And even if the book isn’t the greatest literary work ever written, the book should still challenge the business man in some way. I don’t think young adult fiction will necessarily broaden a business man’s vocabulary, or drastically better him in some way other than entertaining him with a story…

  3. Suzanne Berry says:

    I read “Leadership is a Walk in the Dark.” The article reminded me of our discussion on how the hour makes the man. The article states that history can provide partial leadership lessons, but the real challenge is being able to figure out the right thing to do for the right time. It also relates to Spencer (in Kellerman), who says that man would not be the leader that he is without the environment that he is in.

    • Catherine (Cate) Beach says:

      I completely agree with Suzanne. This article relates to many discussions we have had in class that say that the time makes the leader. In the “Strengths Finder 2.0” by Rath, there is a good quote by Mark Twain which reads “a man who died and met Saint Peter at the Pearly White Gates. Knowing that Saint Peter was very wise, the man asked a question that he wondered about throughout his life. He said, “Saint Peter, I have been interested in military history for many years. Who was the greatest general of all time?” Saint Peter quickly responded. “Oh that’s a simple question. It’s that man right over there.” “You must be mistaken,” responded the man, now very perplexed. “I knew that man on Earth, and he was just a common laborer.” “That’s right my friend,”assured Saint Peter. “He would have been the greatest general of all time, if he had been a general.”
      I think this quote and story resembles very much what the idea of the hour makes the man is saying. If you are in the wrong time or the environment you are in doesn’t call for you as a leader, then you won’t become one. It is all about time and place and is honestly in my opinion, a matter of coincidence and luck of being in the right place at the right time.

  4. Sam Fleck says:

    Something that I noticed in both articles is that both authors talk about communication. In the article about reading, John Coleman states that reading can make “a leader a more adept and articulate communicator” as well as enhance vocabulary. In the article “Leadership is a Walk in the Dark”, Hadley Hooper says “Leaders can have an impact if they can communicate with people.” Hooper goes on to explain that if you are a leader with great ideas but no way of communicating those ideas, then you are not a leader. I agree with both of the authors in the fact that communication is an immense aspect of leadership. Leaders have to be able to persuade and bring people in with just their voice. They need to be able to say exactly what they are thinking in a simple, persuasive, and focused matter.

    • Morgan Carson says:

      I highly agree with the fact that leaders should be able to communicate effectively with others, but some people’s talents lie elsewhere. They can be a genius problem solver and creative thinker, but struggle with explaining it to others. I don’t necessarily think this makes them a bad leader. All it takes is a little practice on their communication skills and their leadership style can become unique. The statement, “Leaders can have an impact if they can communicate with people,” made by Michael Harvey is very bold and could discourage someone from pursuing leadership. He should have made more of a point to state that communication is a skill that can be developed over time. It is not a trait that you naturally have. I am not bashing on Michael Harvey because I agree with the majority of his article, just that one aspect bothered me.

  5. Lauren Nance says:

    I read the article titled “Leadership is a Walk in the Dark”. I really liked the part where it talked about leaders taking responsibility for their actions. It gave the example of Bear Bryant, Alabama football coach who said if the team did bad, it was his fault. If the team did good, the player received all the credit. Dwight Eisenhower also showed responsibility when he proclaimed it was his decision to remove the troops from war. I think it requires a lot of courage to take responsibility for our actions sometimes. In our human nature it is often hard to admit that we have messed up or that it’s our fault when things go wrong. I admired these to men because they were able to overcome that and show the courage and bravery it takes to be a successful leader.

  6. Alexander Jones says:

    In response to the article “Want to Be a Great Leader? Start Reading”, I believe that we are smarter in today’s world, despite our lack of casual reading. I feel a large influence of our lack of reading today, is the amount of mandatory readings we must do for school. The last thing I want to do after reading pages and pages for school is to open up another book and read. I do think the article was spot on though when saying it is important to vary your reading. I feel like many people get too caught up in a certain subject and never experience all of the other forms of readings out there. Being able to read and recognize many types of writings is necessary to become a successful reader and leader.

    • Esther Jeong says:

      Although I understand what you are saying about mandatory readings, I think that when you are working in the work force with any type of position it is important to expand your intellectual thinking through reading and keep the creative side continuously active because working in the corporate world, it is incredibly easy to become stagnant and life becomes banal. Also it is essential that you read books that fascinate you and appeal to your interest in contrast with forced readings that we are required to do for school.
      I completely agree with you in that reading a variety of literature is healthy, especially in broadening your perspective and you are able to go through different experiences that may promote inspiration.

  7. Luke Carroll says:

    Going through this a second time I decided to read the article by Michael Harvey. After learning everything we go over in class it is so apparent how obvious it is to connect the subjects and questions that Harvey spoke of within his article. He raises clear questions on how to function and utilize your skills as a leader and how to go to the next level of leadership. While at the same time answering many questions that many people struggle with when it comes to leadership.

  8. Taylor McClain says:

    I was on the Virginia Tech website today, and the article on sleep deprivation caught my eye. Since coming to college, the average amount of sleep I get each night has decreased significantly. Usually, I’m not up late because I’m doing work, but rather I’m hanging out with my suite mates or making late-night trips to DX. This system definitely hasn’t been working for me, and after several weeks of this, I knew I needed a change.

    Then I saw this article, and I’m even more convinced that I need to change my habits. I’m even a little bit stressed out about the fact that I haven’t been getting sleep. This is because Virginia Tech researcher Chris Barnes suggests in this article that a lack of sleep leads people to behave unethically. This is obviously not a good thing, especially for those in the workplace. Behaving unethically brings bad habits and unproductivity.

    Thus, I think that a proper amount of sleep is extremely important for leaders. Leaders are supposed to model the best and most productive behaviors for everyone else. I cannot help but think about the Social Change Model in this situation. One of the personal values is consciousness of self, and I believe this applies here. This means that one must be conscious of the various ethical decisions that are faced daily. One must also be conscious of their body’s own needs. Denying yourself enough sleep will without a doubt hinder your effectiveness as a leader.

    In conclusion, I’m going to bed early tonight.

  9. Carly Scullin says:

    I read “Want to Be a Great Leader? Start Reading”. I thought this article was accurate in saying that people are reading less and less deeply. Today most people consider reading to be magazines and journals instead of novels. I think in the world today it is hard to sit down and enjoy a book. I know personally I feel like I am always reading for school, or I have something to do and not time left to read. I agree and completely believe that reading is important. I helps with vocabulary and informs readers of others opinions. Overall, I wish I had more time to read.

  10. kelsey edmonds says:

    I read the article “Want to Be a Great Leader? Start Reading”. I definitely agree with many of the points being made. I firmly believe increasing your reading leads to more intelligence and insight, creative thinking, and improves empathy because people start to understand more social cues and the way people think. Personally, I do not believe reading is the only thing you can do to become a leader but the fact that the article states “less than half of the US adult population is reading” worries me. Looking at successful leaders now and before my time, almost all of them have a varied vocabulary and are able to communicate their ideas eloquently. Even though many Americans along with myself do not find the time to fit reading into their busy schedule, I think it is definitely something worthwhile that should constantly be stressed.

  11. Anna Lehman says:

    I read the article Balancing Tradition and Efficiency. This article was very interesting, made some points that made me stop and think. The Munich Mountain Rescue team in Germany is facing some big issues. The different local chapters get more financial support with the more rescues they make, in result there has big a huge shift in the way the chapters act towards one another. One incident has caused a court case to form. All of these rescuers are volunteers, and its awful that they are fighting over who gets to help people. At the end of the article it asks the question, Have you ever been involved in an organization that fights over the how and forgets the why. As leaders part of our responsibility is to remember why we do what we do. Without a cause and a need, there would never be the question, how do we do it?

  12. Dixon Holland says:

    When I read about leadership, I see as though it is present throughout the entire world in our everyday lives. Leadership is available to us on many different levels, including, worldwide, national, and even local. Anyone can be a leader, so long as they know what it truly means to be a leader. What it takes is true heart to get something done, which is something I know everyone has.

  13. Francisco Gabitan says:

    Lately I’ve been reading Socrates, Roussea, Marx and Dewey, four of the most profound philosophers in history. What I learned from them is that leadership takes true sacrifice. Most of these men were bashed and ridiculed in their time by their fellow scholars because their ideas seemed too radical. All of them spent countless hours simply writing and thinking, it’s as if that’s all they did throughout their lives. They are leaders not through action but through their words. The works they have published have lead the actions of so many people and nations. Without Marx, communism would not be what it is today. Leadership doesn’t mean “now”, it can take form after the leader dies without enjoying the knowledge that he/she influenced so many.

  14. Mariana Sa says:

    At first this may sound a little off-topic, but not really. I have been reading about leadership on romantic relationships. It is important to recognize that in a relationship none of the parts can be the ultimate leader or the follower, as that should exist a balanced power, if any on that interaction. The issue is that a great number of modern relationships have been following under the leader-follower type of thing and this goes beyond deciding where the couple goes to dinner or in which city they want to settle down together. It takes responsibility on abusive relationships, on parenting issues and on long term effects on both of these people’s lives that are involved on a relationship of this kind. I found the topic interesting because it makes the reader think back to his or her own experiences as a leader and as a person in a relationship with someone. There is always the necessity of finding a balance between the power of leading and the ability one must have to let him or herself be led and this can be very interesting when observed in real life relationships.

  15. Maggie D says:

    I enjoyed the article “Want to Be a Great Leader? Start Reading” because I think the more you know, the easier it is to inspire and share your knowledge with others. I especially agree with the article when is says “reading increases verbal intelligence and can improve empathy”. An articulate and empathetic leader is easier for others to relate to. Many of the top leaders in the past as well as those around today are persuasive, and expressive individuals.

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