Category Archives: EDL 820

EDL 820 Blog: Unit Two (Disruptive Leadership)

Unit Two: Disruptive Leadership (January 23, 2019)

  1. Read the summary below of the 5C’s leadership Approach.
  2. Read the 5 required readings. You do not have to read these articles in depth. Just skim through them to get a sense of the main argument in each, and to find a quote that resonates with you personally. Doing this will prepare you for the blog postings to follow. 
  3. Go to the Course Blog, and post:
  4. a quote from each article that resonates with you, along with a brief explanation of its impact on your evolving leadership philosophy, including ways that these readings disrupted any impressions formed by the leadership review excerpt I provided for you in the previous session.
    • post a thoughtful, responsive comment to at least two classmates’ blogs.

Quote #1 (Page 6)

“Transformational leadership theory, in particular, stresses how charismatic leaders can inspire, intellectually stimulate and radically reorder the values and actions of others (Van Knippenberg and Sitkin, 2013). Such leaders act on others rather than alongside them. They decide on a vision and then align followers’ mind-sets with goals that are consistent with the vision (Hartnell and Walumba, 2011). It is an approach that has long been criticised for seeing organisational influence in uni-directional terms (that is, flowing from leaders to more or less compliant followers), advocating the achievement of corporate cohesion and a monocultural environment to the detriment of internal dissent, and exaggerating the role of charismatic visionaries in the achievement of corporate goals (Tourish and Pinnington, 2002; Tourish et al, 2010).”

This quote resonates with me as I had previously blogged about my struggle with the charismatic leadership style.  Seeing organizational influence in uni-directional terms contradicts what many of the leadership styles seem to favour, input from all parties involved in a decision.  I have known leaders charismatic enough to sway me to do something that I would otherwise not consider doing.  This can be either a good or bad thing.  Regardless of the outcome, a strict a one-way relationship between leaders and followers is one that I feel can’t have long-term success.  Long-term success comes from a workforce that feels empowered and has a certain level of autonomy and therefore has a higher level of job satisfaction.  Therefore I believe that a more democratic leadership style would be preferable.

Quote # 2. (Page 7)

“In conducting videoed interviews with 20 MBA students (10 female and 10 male), representing a range of ethnicities and nationalities, two key themes emerged. The students (a) made judgements on the industry-appropriateness of the women’s appearance and (b) a majority of students commented on the relationship between sexual attractiveness and women’s professionalism, alluding to what they regarded as the opposition between sexual attraction and being a professional woman. For these MBA students, to become, and to be seen, as a businesswoman therefore requires future women leaders to scrutinise what is deemed appropriate according to their industry and to not appear too glamorous or sexy!” 

It’s interesting that in the #MeToo era that we see so much focus put on a woman’s appearance.  We are upholding power structures that have been in place for generations, power structures that typically are to the benefit of the straight white male.  It’s interesting that MBA students, that you might anticipate to be more liberal-thinking, still see a woman’s sexuality and professionalism as two things that are in opposition.  As someone who may have a baby daughter next month, I hope that she grows up in a society that puts more value on her skills and abilities than what she looks like.  From a leadership perspective, I plan to work my hardest to disrupt these power structures.

Quote # 3 (Page 2)

“The first symptom, initiative overload, manifests itself when organizations launch more change initiatives than anyone could ever reasonably handle. At a large U.S. pharmaceutical firm, a team of midlevel executives had spent three days working on a new change initiative when one executive admitted that the team was not ready to take the exercise seriously. Although the team members believed that the initiative was vital, they felt it had little chance of making a difference. Many change initiatives at the firm, once started, had not been completed; they were dropped midway when yet another new “superb initiative” was launched. Moreover, so many initiatives were already in progress, and the executives were already so overworked, that launching a new one would only cut further into the precious time they had left to run routine operations and to serve their customers.”

Yes, I’m picking a quote about being overworked.  I’ve commented a couple of times now on these class blogs about teacher work time intensification.  It change happens, it should have good rationale behind it, because there are only so many hours in a day and, as most teachers will tell you, they already have enough on their plates as it is.  Sometimes it seems educational change goes in cycles.  Particularly for more veteran staff members, when they hear of a new initiative, you’ll hear one or two “We tried this fifteen years ago” comments in the staff room.  If a change is seen as something that won’t make a difference, or if there are past initiatives that have yet to be completed, it is hard to take initiatives seriously.  As a leader, effective communication is key is communicating what changes must happen, and why they must happen.

Quote #4 (Page 9)

“A second aspect of stupidity is not seeking cause or a good reason. People stop asking ‘why’ at work. They do not ask for, or offer, reasons for their decisions and actions. A rule is a rule and it must be followed, even if no one is clear why it exists.”

I find myself asking “why” a lot more lately with my new role as education leader.  It’s not that I’m trying to be disrespectful, and I don’t think that anyone interprets it that way.  I just want to know the rationale behind some of the things that are done school-wide or department-wife.  It gives me a better understanding and that understanding helps me in relaying information to the rest of the department.  I am learning a lot and am enjoying the role so far.  I imagine most of the education leaders were asking “why” questions often during their first year in the role, as well.  If I do decide to go into administration, I hope to be as open to “why” questions as my administrators have been.

Quote #5 (Page 6)

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I really enjoyed this quote about decentralized leadership.  Particularly in a school setting, with so many staff and students with a variety of strengths.  There are so many talents and skills to draw on.  I like the lack of hierarchy that this passage implies, and I like to think that schools operate in this kind of way often.  What is important here is that no person considers themselves as better than or less than anyone else.

EDL 820 Blog: Unit Two (Leadership Self-Reflection)

Unit Two: Leadership (January 22, 2019)

Prompt:

1. Discuss your own core personality as a foundation of your leadership style.
2. Describe one or two key life experiences that have helped to shape your approach to leadership.
3. Discuss at least three leadership approaches in the PDF that interest you.
4. Reply to at least 2 classmates’ blog postings that made you look at things in new ways and continue to engage with their ideas.

 

1. I’ve always been a pretty easy-going person.  As a teacher, I try my best to remain calm and to adapt to changing situations.  I’ve found that this style works particularly well working on the office as acting administrator.  I was acting administrator during a large power outage on December 5 of last year, and I believe that remaining calm, particularly in situations that could easily escalate emotions, is something that is an asset.  As a leader, I typically like to trust people and allow for us much individual autonomy as possible.  I have always had a strong work ethic, so I believe that leading by example is important.  Though I am easy-going, I also don’t like to beat around the bush.  Efficiency is important to me, and in leadership this means good communication and meetings that are run as efficiently as possible.  We are all aware of the intensification of teacher time, and meetings running efficiently is one way that some stress can be removed from a teacher’s day.

2. It’s a tricky thing to pick one or two life experiences that have shaped my approach to leadership.  Working currently as an education leader has certainly helped shape my approach.  The department that I currently work in is comprised of seventeen people.  The personality types involved are as varied as the subject area that they teach their students.  All but a few of the people in the department are older than I am.  I try my best help staff members with one of my strengths, technology integration, but I also rely heavily on the experience of other teachers in the department.  For the practical and applied arts teachers, this meant consulting with them to determine what would be an appropriate cell phone policy for PAA classrooms. PAA teachers decided that, primarily because of safety concerns, cell phone use should be completely banned.  In my technology courses, my biggest safety concerns are eye strain and carpal tunnel syndrome.  My students often use their own devices to record video and audio.  My experience as an education leader has shown me that while consistency is important, it can be difficult to paint everything with the same brush.  Much as my students can’t all be successful if I continue to employ the same teaching strategies and assessments, so too can the colleagues in my department not be successful unless I treat them as what they are- individuals with distinct strengths and weaknesses.

3. Of the leadership styles, these are the three that stood out to me.  They either interest me because I have personally seen them work or used them, or they interest me in that I’m amazed that people still use them.

Democratic/Participative Leadership Style— As previously stated, I believe in allowing team members to be a part of the decision-making process.  Back in university it was suggested that there is great value in allowing students to be a part of the process in coming up with rubric criteria or classroom rules of conduct.  It would thus make sense that in allowing adults to be a part of the process that they will be more likely to “buy in” when the final decision is made.  Development of employee skills is essential, and I would much rather work with people that have a high level of job satisfaction.  The main danger of this style, in my eyes, is a situation where efficiency, which I’ve mentioned prior in this post, is important.  In this case, an executive decision may be required to speed up the process.

Charismatic Leadership Style— As an introvert, this is a leadership style that I struggle with.  I’m not one for giving a rousing speech.  I prefer to work behind the scenes on things.  I have yet to come across a charismatic leader who believes he or she can do no wrong, but, like the article says, that could be a big weakness with this leadership style.

elliott phone

Leadership is more than just making phone calls.  (Photo: Michael Wolf)

Bureaucratic Leadership Style— This is a style that may work will in a PAA classroom during a lesson where safety is paramount, but it isn’t a very good leadership style.  I see this as a style that administrators could easily default to during difficult situations.  At the end of the day, school-based administrators need to answer to super intendants and parents, so guidelines must be followed.  Large budgets are also at play, so accountability is important.