January 28

Disruptive Leadership

“[W]e must distinguish more consistently between the notions of a leader as an individual who occupies a formal role, and leadership as a communicative process that produces leader-follower categories, identities and relationships.”(Tourish, D. pg.5)

Reading through this week’s required readings, I was interested to see many of the different opinions surrounding leadership.  Because leadership impacts virtually every industry there are so many different ideas about what or who makes an effect leader.  The above quote really jumped out to me because so many times we use the terms leader and leadership to mean the same thing.  This quote caused me to stop and evaluate what those terms actually mean to me and how I have used these terms in my career.

Tourish (2014) discusses how “[t]here needs to be more emphasis on the role of followership as opposed to an infatuation with leadership”(pg. 27).  When we look and consider those who are supporting (or not) the leader, we tend to see a better representation of who the leader is.  A good leader does not necessarily need their followership to be subservient and “yes men”, but rather not be afraid to

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disagree with the leader and share an honest and open opinion.  This creates a climate that is much more effective and a group that functions as a team that is always looking out for each other.

Similarly, when discussing the characteristics and varieties of  Functional Stupidity, Alvesson and Spicer (2016) state “[f]ollowers willingly let their leaders do the thinking for them”(pg. 2).  This quote resonated with me because I have never believed in being this type of follower.  Yes one needs to remain respectful and follow the leader, but one also needs to ensure not to do so blindly.  Asking questions, challenging opinions, and thinking for oneself are all important and ensure the leader has considered everything when making decisions that impact the entire group.

 

Edwards et al. (2013) states when describing Elisabeth Kelan’s article “a number of students commented on the relationship

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between sexual attractiveness and women’s professionalism, alluding to what they regarded as the opposition between sexual attraction and being a professional woman” (pg. 7).  This quote resonated with me as a professional female because it has always been a struggle being both a leader and female.  Typically qualities associated with leadership have not been categorized with the qualities associated with being female.  When a female takes on a leadership role she has often been criticized for being bossy or too emotional when delegating or making decisions.  These comments have less to do with the job the female is doing and more to do with the stereotypes that have been assigned to females in power.  Women are also expected to present themselves in a certain manner, which the quote and the study outlined.  Why can women (and men, for that matter) be looked at for the skills they possess and less on the clothes they wear or the stereotypes associated with their gender?

Abrahamson (2004) begins his article Avoiding Repetitive Change Syndrome introducing a commonly held piece of management advice that reads “change is good and more change is better”(pg. 1).  This adage seems senseless but it is something that is ever-present in the field of education.  I am sure many of you have heard the rumour about teachers and administration being moved after working at a given school for x number of years.  These forced moves not only disrupt the balance in a school community but they greatly impact the way the school is run.  When a player is removed from a successful team environment, that team is disrupted and it takes time to re-establish and find the team’s rhythm once again.  When the leader within the school is uprooted, that causes even more disruption and some pains are definitely observed during the time of re-organization.  Don’t get me wrong, change is definitely warranted, however change for the sake of change only cause disruption and is not warranted.

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When exploring the different understanding in leadership between American and Native Americans, Miles T. Bryant (1998) outlines that American “leadership is seen as vital and the success of an enterprise rests and falls according to the quality of leadership.  The leader shoulders responsibility for the work and behaviour of others and is expected to motivate others to do their work.  A lack of success on the part of an organization is, rightly or wrongly, attributed to a shortcoming in the leadership of the organisation”(pg. 2).  This quote resonated with me because this describes the exact type of stress and expectation many in leadership positions experience.  I know when I have been in positions of leadership, I have experienced the stress associated with success within the team.  Though working in team situations requires a number of individuals to be involved working toward a common goal, the one person who is leading the group takes on the responsibility for the whole.  This stress can sometimes overshadow the goal of the team and can take away from the leader’s ability to guide and support the other members.  Success and failure should of a team is not determined by the leader, however we see it all the time.  If a professional sports team is not performing well, often the team’s coach, or leader, is let go.  Leadership responsibilities are not easy. Being a leader takes a lot out of a person, however the rewards to seeing your team succeed or accomplish great feats, certainly make it worth it!

This video was introduced to me recently at a Leadership session I attended.  Though it is intended for a business model, I think it speaks volumes to being an effective leader.

There are many challenges that leaders face while pursuing leadership roles.  These articles brought up a few and I found they definitely caused me to stop and evaluate what they meant to me and my own leadership philosophy.  I believe I am still developing as a leader and, in doing so, I am increasingly interested in what other people are saying about leadership, what makes an effective leader, and how I can improve in my own leadership skills.  I know as I continue to take on leadership roles in my personal and professional life, I will continue to evolve as I experience new opportunities.

 


Posted January 28, 2019 by jenresch in category EDL 820

3 thoughts on “Disruptive Leadership

  1. Stephen Wihak

    Hi jen,

    I really like the way you integrated your comments on the five readings into one synthesis, rather than dealing with them separately.

    Can I ask you to comment on some of the indigenous wisdom contained in the article on indigenous leadership? There is much to value and learn from there. Thanks!
    Bryant, M. 1998. Cross-Cultural Understandings of Leadership. Educational Management and Administration, 26(1) 7-20.

    Reply
  2. jenresch (Post author)

    Thank you so much for your comment Stephen. Yes I agree that the Brynat article did provide some great insight into Indigenous leadership. One aspect that caught my attention was when the author stated …”a guiding value that we experienced frequently was that of modesty. One does not presume to speak for others”(pg. 13). The reason this quote resonated with me is because this is a trait that leaders often take for granted. As a leader, it is important to recognize you are not the spokesperson for those who you lead. You cannot speak for others as you are not privy to their inner thoughts. A leader can speak on behalf of her own understanding, however allow the others in your team to speak their truths and share their ideas. A leader is a role model and a mentor, not the spokesperson for the group. I believe a lot of us can learn a lot from these Indigenous leaders and their leadership philosophies.

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