I have been interested in the concept of “leadership” since high school. I was a member of Civil Air Patrol (CAP), an auxiliary of the US Air Force that focuses on teen leadership as well as search and rescue. I had exposure to a number of leaders and non-leaders and had the opportunity to try my hand at leading myself.
As I finished engineering school and got into the real work world, a lot of what I experienced in CAP came back in the form of company management.
Some people had the “it factor”, while others I certainly wouldn’t follow. When I completed my master’s in engineering management, I had more tools for management, but not as many for leadership.
Many people consider them approximately the same thing, but there are significant differences, as Kotter succinctly explains, many people still view leaders at those at the very top and managers as mid-level but miss the critical differences between the two, that leaders can be at all levels whether an empowered manager or not (Kotter, 2013).
Though not truly a peer reviewed publication, the insight is valuable.
Wells (2018) discussed the differences a bit more academically with a list of what managers vs leaders focus on, where managers tend to focus on details of how to complete a task, leaders tend to focus on why something is important and inspire others to the task at hand.
He also features two quotes that stood out to me, one from author William Arruda in Forbes Magazine, “Leaders are change agents; managers maintain the status quo”, and the other from Stephen Covey, “Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.” This distinction between managing and leading is something I find very interesting and hope to explore more during my DSL work.
I particularly resonate with the Covey quote as I have had many experiences with managers trying to get the team to climb a ladder, but we all knew it was the wrong ladder. Later in my career when I was managing projects for an aerospace company, I saw a great deal of poorly managed and poorly lead programs.
Many leaders fall into the trap of thinking there are only a few very prescriptive ways out of a given management challenge (Eaton, 2000). I’ve seen this exact issue on a particularly large program where leadership was unable to full grasp the problems nor able to really the team to see the strategy and feel inspired to push forward. In the end the top level of leadership was removed and eventually things were corrected.
Through these events I began to read more material on leadership. I am interested in both the secular and biblical viewpoints on these topics and how to integrate both, particularly in a secular company and career. I’ve been lucky to have other Christian managers around me in my current company and we regularly meet to discuss management and leadership topics.
Part of this is trying to help and support our leaders who may not be executing well. Paul tells us to pray for our leaders (1 Tim 2:1-2), Jesus was an excellent example of a servant leader in the way he interacted with his subordinates (disciples), those he wished to lead (the people), those in authority (the Romans), and the ultimate authority (God the Father).
For me, the DSL program is an opportunity to really dig into the literature on these topics. Short term, each class presents new insight and research opportunities. I’m taking BMAL 702 concurrently and have already been reading many journal articles to start assessing the first topic, some of which I can already see as immediately applicable.
In fact, I sent an article I found to my team last night for further discussion this week. Longer term is to gain a better understanding of theories and practical implementation of them to further my own leadership skills and be better able to influence those I work with as we make strategic decisions in our company.
Equally as important, is leadership in the family. My wife and I have been married for almost 2 years, and we have 5-month-old twin boys. I strongly believe you cannot manage your family, you must lead it. So, I hope these class give me those tools as well, particularly on the biblical integration side.
The PLO assessment provided interesting insights into where I think I am, and areas that I would like to steadily improve over the next few years in this program. I rated myself advanced in the area of “Provide explanations to strategic leadership issues that align with a biblical worldview.”
This was due to the large number of conversations, books read, and interest in this topic. My personal Christian worldview and my study and practice of leadership in my career have come together over the years to give me a strong sense of what is secular and what is biblical and how to maintain a balance between them. I plan to leverage my knowledge here as I develop more formal thoughts on leadership topics and move towards the doctoral project.
In the “Develop integrative approaches to strategic leadership problems utilizing scholarly research” section I rated myself as proficient. I regularly particulate in strategic company decisions in areas of personnel, technology, partnerships with other companies, and organizational change.
My immediate team reads significant industry and management material to keep up to date on strategic trends, management shifts, and new ways of doing business. Much if this is not peer-reviewed content, but the concepts and ways to considering these topics and developing ways to formulate strategy based on content seems similar. I see the DSL program is strengthening my research abilities and general knowledge of scholarly literature on these topics.
Finally, I rated myself as developing in the area of “Provide explanations to strategic leadership issues that align with a biblical worldview.” This rating was based on my limited knowledge of the body of scholarly work and immediate recall of majority theory names and content. While I have a general understand (as I discussed above), this is one area I hope to improve significantly in the DSL program.
I hope to achieve a deep understanding of theoretic and practical aspects of leadership and how to better myself as a leader and discuss these topics at a high level with other leaders. I’m excited to start this journey and looking forward to the significant reading and thinking that this program requires.
Cite this essay
The Concept of Leadership. (2019, Dec 01). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/the-concept-of-leadership-essay