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Leadership Theory

  After spending days looking at the media frenzy around Mel Gibson and Lindsay Lohan I must admit I could not even look at the rash of media mentions around Levi and Bristol and Sarah Palin. I needed some deeper nutrition and found it in Ron White’s article about leadership theories. I was just wondering what would happen if we stopped obsessing with celebrities that keep us feasting on cotton candy and really all began to dig our teeth in the work of people with substance. And yet, I am still curious to know why so many spend so much time discussing the antics of those who behave badly. In any case, take a few minutes and get some healthy reading under your belt today.   Article: Leadership Theory and Biology By: Ron White   I’vebeen working on a major research project on “Leadership Ethics.” My initial task has been to explore the history of the various theories of leadership. I was immediately struck by a familiar pattern. Most of that research was produced during the late twentieth century, by social scientists without reference to parallel research being conducted in the biological sciences. As late as the 1990s, leadership theories continued to evolve without even acknowledgment of the major works in sociobiology and evolutionary psychology. As a result, a succession of leadership theories remained largely self-contained, untestable, and immune from biological and evolutionary critique. In this blog entry, I will suggest that in each case, those successive theories of leadership would have benefitted from a broader research base, including  ethology and evolutionary psychology.    When leadership scholars look back on the history of their discipline, they usually begin with the “Great...

Bill Gates to Teachers

Whether you have children or not, the future of society truly depends upon how we educate the next generations. Check out what you think about Bill Gates ideas for helping teachers grow as professionals. He makes good points. And then look at my comments and let me know what you think. Bill Gates spoke to the AFT on July 10th. Here is an excerpt of what he told the teachers: Great teaching is the centerpiece of a strong education; everything else revolves around it. This is the main finding of our foundation’s work in education over the past ten years. I have to admit – that is not where we started. Our work in schools began with a focus on making high schools smaller, in the hope of improving relationships to drive down dropout rates and increase student achievement. Many of the schools we worked with made strong gains, but others were disappointing. The schools that made the biggest gains in achievement did more than make structural changes; they also improved teaching. If great teaching is the most powerful point of leverage – how are we going to help more teachers become great? In 2008 and 2009, our foundation partnered with Scholastic on a national survey to learn the views of 40,000 teachers on crucial questions facing your profession. Teachers said in huge numbers that they don’t get enough feedback. They’re not told how they can improve. When I was working in software, many times I would look at the computer code someone wrote and I’d say: “Oh, wow, this guy is good. That’s better than what I would...

Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places

Since I began doing leadership coaching with Jon Gosselin, I have become more sensitized to the role of “celebrity” in our culture. It creates both the addiction to being known and noticed all the time, and increases the dark side of depression and disappointment when the lights stop flashing.   There was an interview recently with Angelina Jolie who talked about the fact that so many in Hollywood are needy for love. Aren’t most of us! However, our every move is not scrutinized, our every sentence not pulled apart like pork for a barbeque sandwich.   The concern about looking for love, looking for acceptance, looking for comfort, looking for peace, looking for what matters, is a worldly one. Leaders in all companies I have worked with have variations of the same dilemma that Jon Gosselin is dealing with, how to find the essence of who we are to lead a life of purpose and dignity.   I believe that our curious need to see how the rich and famous handle their problems is because we all think that if money can’t buy happiness, at least it can buy the people and situations that may well lead to happiness.   Leaders in the media, in business, in politics are there to be the pointers, hopefully for ways to get to prosperity, peace, and pleasure in life; except, it doesn’t seem that those we look to as role models are doing such a super good job either.   Maybe we all need to go home again, to look at what we learned in that original organization we all joined, the...

Sylvia, Jon, and Asking Questions

  I am fascinated by the fact that there are so many words being written on the web, and yet, there are so few real questions being asked. Yesterday I was fortunate to talk with a reporter from TodayShow.com and what a difference!   We had a dialogue! Now, that is not something busy people do anymore. Dialogue is not debate. Debate is when there is a winner and a loser. It was not just plain conversation. Conversation is more about how the hot weather is bothering, or not bothering you, how the folks are, with an answer of “Fine thanks”. It is not even discussion. Discussion gathers points of view and bundles them into groups.   Dialogue is a way of conversing to find new and important concepts and ideas that were not available when you and another, first began to talk. In true dialogue each person’s unique point of view is brought together by asking questions, wondering about possibilities, gathering bits of information, until you can come together with a newer more vital perspective than could have been developed individually.   Dialogue is systemic in nature; it is the essence of collaboration, and in our argumentative and debate-oriented culture, a vital force waiting to be harnessed.   When Mike Celizic emailed that he would like to do an interview about my connection with Jon Gosselin, I groaned.  This is not what I had signed up for when I agreed to be a leadership coach with Jon. I was not looking for quick media coverage so people could do sound bit debates, pro or con, simplistic, often rude...

Battling Women and Windmills

In our Total Leadership Connections program we teach participants to go beyond the obvious, that leadership in any field requires deep thought; superficial considerations are merely not enough. Recently asked what I thought about all the brouhaha around actor/director Mel Gibson’s racist and venomous comments to ex-girlfriend and mother of his child I decided to do some research. Based on what I teach, how we either stand on the shoulders of the past or repeat it, I have a whole new understanding of what I think may be going on with this famous celebrity. Stay with me for a minute while I take you back to Mel’s ancestry, no not as far back as Bravehart, just to his father Hutton. Mel’s father, a devout Catholic has his own website where he tackles what he sees as the hypocrisy of his church in modern times. He also is a conspiracy theorist and a holocaust denier. I began to wonder how this man became so polarized in his thinking; we have to be taught to hate, it is not our natural state of being. I decided to dig deeper. You may have a hard time tying together what I am saying; it is counter-intuitive in the world we live in, which is fraught with dichotomies. If so, please find more information in “Don’t Bring It to Work” or you may contact me at Sylvia@ceoptions.com. Okay, here we go. One of the most vital aspects of our development has to do with crises; what I call hardening of the emotions. In Hutton Gibson’s life there were many. His mother died when he...