Academic journal article Journal of Leadership Studies

Finding, Not Looking for Leadership: A Case Study Using the Bolman and Deal Model

Academic journal article Journal of Leadership Studies

Finding, Not Looking for Leadership: A Case Study Using the Bolman and Deal Model

Article excerpt


J. Thomas Wren in The Leader's Companion (1996) identified eight different definitions of leadership involving creativity, inducing of desired behavior in

others, influencing of relationships, transforming others, providing visions of goals, and actions which focus resources to create desirable opportunities. Visionary leadership involves a "realistic, credible, attractive future for your organization" (Nanus, 1992). The core of leadership is described as connecting "one's voice and one's touch" (DePree, 1990).

Interestingly, Normative Decision, Contingency, Path-Goal and Situational Models have all been developed upon the assumption that leaders make behavior "contingent" upon followers and/or situations. However all such models have mixed support (Hughes, Ginnett and Curphy 1996, 487-515).

Thus the meaning of leadership has not been established either by normative or theoretical process as being applicable to all individuals, leadership activities or situations. This paper will use a qualitative research method of inquiry with a case study approach to compare actual performance, in an academic setting, with a specific leadership model. There will be several sources, including observations, interviews, and reports. No generalization or interpretation beyond the individual case is intended. (Criswell, 1998, 61-64).

Leadership (and its characteristics)is assuming greater importance to academics. Many colleges and universities, plagued with rising costs and falling funding, face pressures to effectively control finances. Major institutions make drastic changes to survive. The magnitude of such changes requires more than qualified management alone. It requires the ability to engage, enlist, and empower diverse constituencies in making difficult choices across the institution. It requires leadership.

Many schools have made significant changes in costs and tuition to attract and retain students (Lee and Roth, 1996). Some schools have reduced or frozen tuition, but are still losing students. They face decreased grants from government as well as decreased tuition revenue. Northeastern University, The University of Massachusetts, Yale and Virginia Commonwealth are all names that have drawn attention for being successfully led through significant financial challenges (Tully, 1995, McMillen, 1991).

Lee G. Bolman and Terrence E. Deal reported in Educational Administration Quarterly the results of a conference called by The National Center for Educational Leadership (Bolman and Deal, 1994). They outlined consensus factors with respect to understanding leadership. Their seminal work requires further study, including empirical testing and case studies. In providing the latter, this paper will describe a real-world-example of leadership, consistent with the Bolman and Deal approach, which has unfolded at a small mid-western university. The authors hope that this case will provide valuable guidance for other institutions facing significant leadership challenges. A notable aspect of this case is that, although strategic issues arose which had to be addressed, the extreme urgency of the crisis made the need for a strategic plan tertiary, at best, since both the immediate and log-term goals of the institution were survival.

Bolman and Deal's Approach to Leadership

In their paper, Bolman and Deal outlined the personal characteristics of leadership as follows:

     Leadership                   Management

1.   Crisis/change-driven         Hierarchy/authority-driven

2.   Addresses change through     Eliminates change through
     cooperation                  efficiency, procedures;
                                  places importance on

3.   Based on power of            Based on organization for
     influence, communication     constraints and stability
     and ideas

4.   Recognizes politics, while   Uses goals, accountability,
     using vision and the         actions, often ignoring
     culture of the               politics

5. … 
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