What is the Value of Leadership?


What’s the value of leadership?  What price do we place on leadership?  As I recall from reading, listening, watching and observing information, media, and live “performances” of leaders, I’ve paused to take away a few things about leaders and their value.  But first, let me clarify what value in this context means.

First, it is not the material return on an investment.  While it is true that a good leader may provide a person or their company with increased value, that in of itself does not really translate the value of leadership.  Second, it is also not about the values that the leader brings to the relationship with a person, though values are extremely important in leaders and how they conduct themselves.  In this context, value is that emotional connection between you and the leader.

Huh? Why should me, you or anyone really care about the emotional connection between themselves and leaders?  Well, as I think about past, present and no doubt future leaders, the one thing that comes to mind very quickly is the emotional engagement between the leader and those that are in or within their realm.  The emotional return is what drives many people to follow (sometimes blindly) leaders regardless of the leaders economical, political or social returns.  We should care because this type of connection – particularly when the leader defies norms – can be dangerous to the stability of the group.

Isn’t this just charisma and/or popularity?  To a certain degree that’s true.  However, I think the leader I’m speaking of can attract those emotional returns and not necessarily be charismatic or a popular icon.  It’s something else – something deeper – and (perhaps) those attributes that makes these connections so remarkably personal, may lead some to an emotional state where they may verge on fanaticism.

And the bottom line? As we define the 10’s if not 100’s of traits, characteristics, styles, types, etc. of leaders, think about one thing that can’t really be defined, and that is the emotional connection a person or group has with someone that is promoted (in whatever fashion) to a position of leadership.  This type of leadership connection has an almost unbreakable bond, and thus may endure despite constant criticism, social-political pitfalls, or majority discontent.  In other words, in their minds, “Haters gonna hate.”

by Rick Patterson, teacher and learner at the Thomas Jennings Open Learning Village



Caught in the Middle of a Paradigm Shift


Funny, the first time I recall giving the word paradigm any serious thought was in graduate school.  This was during the Total Quality Management (TQM) revolution.  Practical application of TQM was to be the salvation for the American corporation.  At the time, Toyota, Honda, et. al. were all the rage with their use of the Deming model for Statistical Process Control and TQM philosophy (14 points).  But did it really make a difference in the overall American business model?  I’m not an MBA type nor do I currently work in private corporate America.  However, my brief experience in that sector suggest that IF the revolution occurred, it was not widespread and it certainly did not gain any entrenchment.  I say that because both of the companies I worked for did not have any values that came close to the 14 points.  In fact, chasing targets and analysts forecasts were the only values, everything else seemed to be secondary.

So, now there is another revolution supposedly occurring, a paradigm shift, this time in the field of education.  Yes, online learning and Massive Open Online Courses are now the rage. I subscribe to a google alert on online learning – not a day goes by when I don’t get two or three new articles vis a vis online learning.  The buzz words in this shifting landscape (at least on the surface) are:  Open, accessible, community, collaboration, MOOC, online, e-learning (eLearning,elearning,E-Learning), formative assessment, and technology. This list isn’t inclusive, but these are the words that come immediately to mind.  Like TQM, these are just buzz words.  What evidence is there that real change is occurring? Some anecdotes:

Online completion – 32% of Higher Ed students are taking at least one online course.

Online presence – 89% of all public institutions offer online courses (60%) for private non-profits.

Quality perception – 77% of academic leaders rate online courses as equal or better than face-to-face courses.

Strategic – 69% of institutions stated that online education is critical to their long term strategy.

Sources:  Changing Course: 10 Years of Tracking Online Education in the United States. (Allen & Seaman) 

The Digital Revolution in Higher Education – College Presidents, Public Differ on Value of Online Learning. (Parker, Lenhart, and Moore).

Obviously, the delivery landscape is indeed changing.  However, the essence of education is the teaching and learning.  To what degree that will change is the real question.  The data focuses on the delivery model as the so-called revolution for education and perhaps the world wide accessibility.  Perhaps, because the medium of delivery demands different approaches to teacher to learner and learner to learner interaction, by default we will undergo a revolution in how we actually engage our students with the content.  I’m certain we are not there yet, but just maybe we are somewhere close to the middle.