Academic journal article Journal of Technology Studies

Leadership Knowledge and Skill: An Enabler for Success as a Technology Education Teacher-Leader

Academic journal article Journal of Technology Studies

Leadership Knowledge and Skill: An Enabler for Success as a Technology Education Teacher-Leader

Article excerpt

Introduction

While our technological society has rapidly moved into the digital-information age leadership has emerged as even more distinctive and essential for success (Reich, 2000). Experience teaches us that leadership can be exercised through noble uplifting pursuits or driven by corrupting repressive power. Leadership when positive creates a stimulating environment that builds a thriving organization but, when negative, it fosters a woefully oppressive and debilitation atmosphere which chokes performance. Historically, Americans love Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln, but despise Hitler types who are autocratic tyrants. Research tells us that leaders are not born but emerge through a complex sociological process to satisfy some demanding need or want (Clark & Clark, 1996).

We are all familiar with the story of Winston Churchill, who during World War 1 was charged with poor military decisions ending in extensive loss of life. For nearly 20 years fame was derailed and influence ceased. Churchill referred to this time in his life as the wilderness years. Fortunately for England, Churchill took the advice of Benjamin Disraeli, who said, "The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his time when it comes." Certainly, it was Churchill time when he was elected Prime Minister of England in 1939 at the beginning of WW II. He more than anyone else rallied the English people through inspiring speeches and endless work to achieve eventual victory. Today, England, and others, consider Churchill the greatest Englishman who ever lived. Similarly, great teachers rise to the challenge by becoming successful classroom leaders through a combination of ever increasing knowledge and elevating experiences (Walling, 1994).

Purpose

The purpose of this article is to share the value of leadership knowledge and skill for enhancing the survival and performance of teachers and leaders.

Leadership and Performance

When performance of an individual, organization, or event is discussed leadership becomes the dominant subject. Recently a cartoon appeared in the Wall Street Journal where two men were having a heated discussion about leadership. Finally, one turned to the other and said, "Yes, we need leadership, but also we need someone to tell us what to do." Most people have difficulty attempting to understand or appropriately use leadership (Drucker, 1993; Peters, 1992). They see it as hazy, confusing, or a distant abstraction.

Nevertheless, most people can comprehend the behaviors of great leaders and teachers when they can personally relate to their actions. Let me illustrate. Recently I visited an art museum displaying works of some of the world's most famous artists. There were paintings by Monet, Picasso, van Gogh, Renoir, and many others on display. The paintings I enjoyed the most were those that gave a clear depiction of something I was familiar with, such as a serene lake, a gathering of flowers, or people easily recognized as humans. There were other paintings on display that portrayed distorted figures, and blurred shapes and colors that defy description. Certainly, these, too, are valued works of art that were carefully selected to represent the variety of creative expression, but the distant abstraction left me with a feeling of emptiness or even confusion. Similarly, the omnipotence or great secret of highly effective leaders and teachers is achieved when they cut confusion and haziness to relate and build understanding. An example of transforming from a hazy-confusing leaderless environment to a clearly functioning leadership process can be found in the small book The Leaders Compass (2003) by Ruggero and Hailey. This is a must read by the beginning leader.

Clark and Clark (1997) stated that with effective leadership any organization can increase its performance by at least 20% to 25%. Further, educational literature suggests that an effective teacher-leader can also raise the learning level of his/her students by 15% to 25%. …

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