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Teaching Leadership

Leadership can be defined as a critical management skill or the ability to motivate a group of people toward a common goal. A leader is a person who has a vision, drive and a commitment to achieve that vision and the skills to make it happen. Leadership itself is the process by which a person influences others to accomplish an objective and directs the organization in a way that makes it more cohesive and coherent.

There are several factors that set leaders apart from other people. Some people are born with these characteristics, while others develop them as they gain more experience as leaders. Leaders have integrity, they understand the differences that make people unique and use those individual skills to achieve their goal. The specific skills of a good a leader include effective communication, motivation and planning. Good leaders usually develop through a continual process of self-study, education, training and experience.

Leadership training can take many forms. It can take place in a classroom, online or during a special training event. Effective training can help enhance leadership skills that people possess already and can also help them build up skills they didn't even realize they had. Effective training can also be a learning experience for the facilitator. During training sessions, it is a good opportunity to witness how people react under stress and how they interact with others.

Since communication is an essential part of leadership, helping future leaders enhance their communication skills should be a key feature of a training session. There are various techniques that can be used to enhance communication skills, such as role-playing activities designed to show would-be leaders the right way versus the wrong way to communicate. The effects of body language on communication should also be examined as part of training. Important factors to be discussed in this situation include posture, eye contact and other methods of communication.

Leadership training should include a review of three significant leadership styles. The authoritarian leader will state what he wants done and how he wants it done; the participative leader includes others in the decision-making process; while the delegative leader allows others to make the decisions themselves. During the leadership training session, these three styles of leadership can be reviewed with the class. Participants may engage in a discussion about the different styles and give examples of influential leaders and what style of leadership they fit into. Examples could include military leaders or NFL coaches. Participants can move on to discuss how they can adopt these leadership skills and styles themselves.

Training can also take place in a fun, off-site environment. Rope courses or other challenge-type activities that are designed with leadership skills in mind can be used for this style of training. These types of events will help future leaders learn important communication and teamwork skills. This is also a great opportunity to spot how people react under stress and pressure and an opportunity to incorporate training to address these issues.

Situational leadership training focuses on accommodating a leadership style to particular types of people and tasks. The main objective of this method is to encourage participants to learn and demonstrate proficiency in situational leadership tactics. Learning through experience may occur in real-life situations, or in made-up situations proposed by the facilitator. Situational leadership training can take place in large group settings, small group settings or individualized sessions. Some training may take place in one session, while others include multiple sessions.

One of the most effective ways to educate and train leaders is through experiential development. This method of training uses hands-on situations to demonstrate a specific leadership principle. The purpose of experiential leadership training is to provide potential leaders with an experience that will teach a leadership principle or put into practice a leadership skill. The intention is to place individuals in real-life situations where they can use the knowledge taught from lecturing and reading leadership books. Its purpose is to produce confident leaders who know how to handle any situation.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Leadership: What's in It for Schools?
Thomas J. Sergiovanni.
RoutledgeFalmer, 2001
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "Leadership and Learning: Searching for a Practical Theory"
Leadership in Early Childhood
Jillian Rodd.
Allen & Unwin, 2006
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Fourteen "Building and Sustaining Leadership Capacity in Early Childhood"
Training a New Generation of Leaders
Welch, Reed L.
Journal of Leadership Studies, Vol. 7, No. 1, Winter 2000
Leadership in the Making: A Comprehensive Examination of the Impact of Leadership Development Programs on Students
Zimmerman-Oster, Kathleen; Burkhardt, John C.
Journal of Leadership Studies, Summer-Fall 1999
A River Runs through It: A Metaphor for Teaching Leadership Theory
Burns, John S.
Journal of Leadership Studies, Vol. 7, No. 3, Summer 2000
Leadership Education in Colleges: Toward a 21ST Century Paradigm
Rost, Joseph C.; Barker, Richard A.
Journal of Leadership Studies, Vol. 7, No. 1, Winter 2000
The Future of Leadership Development
Susan Elaine Murphy; Ronald E. Riggio.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2003
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 12 "Leadership Education at the Undergraduate Level: A Liberal Arts Approach to Leadership Development"
Leadership for the Twenty-First Century
Joseph C. Rost.
Praeger, 1993
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 1 "The Problem with Leadership Studies" and Chap. 2 "An Overview of Leadership Studies"
Its' about Learning (and It's about Time)
Louise Stoll; Dean Fink; Lorna.
Routledge/Falmer, 2003
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "Leadership for Learning and Learning for Leadership for Learning"
Developing Teaching and Learning in Higher Education
Gill Nicholls.
RoutledgeFalmer, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 9 "Leadership, Management and Administration"
Identifying, Defining, Applying, Analyzing & Synthesizing Leadership Opportunities with Adolescents
Culp, Ken,, III; Kohlhagen, Brad.
Journal of Leadership Studies, Vol. 7, No. 2, Spring 2000
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