mor517 – Leadership and Executive Development

In earlier times only heads of state, generals, and religious icons were considered leaders, never managers, bureaucrats, or administrators. The word manager itself derives from the Latin manus (hand) and meant to handle or direct a horse. Leader, on the other hand (no pun intended), comes from Old English and originally meant to show the way or guide. It is a distinction worth noting.

What kind of leader do you want to be? Will you move mountains (Gerstner, Mulally, Mulcahy) or do damage overnight? Will you consider it an honor to serve others or will you see leadership as a way to serve yourself? Authentic or Machiavellian? Your choice… and the purpose of this course is to give you a chance to think deeply about leadership, what it requires, and what that means for you.

There are many different paths that lead to leadership success or failure. The good news is that effective leaders do not have the same personalities, or the same styles, or even the same skills and abilities. But leaders, no matter the field, do face similar demands. We know a lot about those demands, various ways leaders meet them, and how the ability to meet those demands is developed. That’s what this course is about. Most of all, it’s about what you can do to develop your own leadership ability if you choose that kind of career.

The course is organized around the fundamental challenge of leadership: creating a context so that other people will be successful in achieving the organization’s mission. Context is created by how leaders handle the five demands in any leadership role

  • setting and communicating direction,
  • aligning key constituencies with that direction,
  • developing an executive temperament,
  • setting and living values, and
  • growing themselves and others.

How you effectively you handle those demands will determine how successful you will be as a leader. My primary purpose in teaching this course is to help you understand the demands of a leadership role, expose you to a variety of ways leaders have met those challenges, and, in that context, help you develop as a leader.

In short, by the end of this course you should 1) see the many ways effective leaders create a context for the success of others, 2) understand each of the five leadership demands, 3) reflect on your own experience and level of leadership ability in light of these demands, and 4) consider what that may mean for your life and career.