SPA 362 – Leadership Development Lab II – Spring 2020

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Weeks 1 and 2 – (Re-) Introduction to Leadership 

Admin:  We only meet one time per week.  About half of you are registered for only one credit, and the social action leadership project itself should be a considerable effort.  We’ll all read the same material, so that we can have productive discussions in class.  All of you will have some written or other assignments due each week.  Those of you registered for two or three credits will have additional written or other assignments.

Reflections for Week 1 – January 15

You are not expected to have any readings completed before we meet for Week 1, January 15.  But we do begin with some important questions.

What are we trying to do here, really? What are some of the ways we can do this? What are some of the important questions we can ask of leaders from a variety of fields? And what are some observations we can make in our own daily lives that illustrate – or challenge – things we think we know about leadership?

There are small and sometimes big examples of leadership all around us.  One thing we’ll try this semester is be more more deliberately observant of leadership opportunities and how they develop.  Each week, let’s look for, notice, reflect on:  some examples of

— observing leadership in action (or leadership inaction)
— observing transactional or bonding experiences
— observing leadership from someone else’s perspectives

We might be directly involved in any of these, or you might just witness.  But notice, and think… Maybe write something down so you don’t forget…. Let’s do this throughout the semester.

Readings for Week 2 – January 23 

Remember: in our readings each week, please try to bring with you the ideas you developed last fall in SPA-362 part I.

The first weeks of our leadership biographies are about government, business, technology, and media.  We begin, then, with introductions that are relevant to these.

First, two articles on similarities and differences between government and business.  The Harvard Business Review offers a look at what leaders need, whether they are in business, government, or the non-profit sector.  Mickey Edwards (former member of Congress) distinguishes between those skills necessary for business and those necessary for government.

Second, we look briefly at politics as a business – as an industry, actually.  We often hear that “politics isn’t working” but esteemed management guru Michael Porter says it’s even worse: politics is working exactly the way the two parties want it to.  He says business might offer some solutions.  Optionally: if you like this article, you should see the short (seven-page) executive summary of the longer full report.

Third, we watch Clay Shirky on Cognitive Surplus.  Backgrounder 1: Shirky wrote about the importance of social media in political movements in fall 2010 – in winter/spring 2011 we got to watch it in action during the rise and fall of the Arab Spring.  Backgrounder 2:  Crowdsourcing has been around for a long time – centuries, by some measures – more recently as YouTube, Wikipedia, and American Idol.   Shirky introduces a couple of important ideas about leadership when barriers to entry fall to almost zero, and the difference between creating communal value and civic value.  What do we, as leaders,  value? How do we create more of that, and get others to create more of it? And how do we distinguish between – and use appropriately – social commitments and contractual commitments? This video is 13 minutes

Finally, we read from Dive Training magazine – who generously took this off the subscription-only reading list for us.  What do scuba dive team leaders need to keep in mind?  Among other things, that there is a science to leadership – but also choices – that ultimately rely on personal decision-making.  Like Shirky asks, what kind of leaders do we want to be?  From here, scroll down to the magazine image, read pages 55-58.  Or try his pdf version which will be available only until January 24.

Written Assignments for Week 2: 

Before we get started, a couple of thoughts.

Everyone:  This isn’t a timed, in-class writing assignment; this is on your own, at your own pace, with at least a couple days to do it.  This means you do not want to submit something that has typos, grammatical errors, or other sloppiness.  It also means you don’t want to look at it for the first time, type fast, and call it done.  Your work in this class, other classes, and life, will almost always be better if you see the assignment and then have some time to think about it before you begin; and if you come back later to review and revise it (in this class, at work, etc., you rarely want to submit a first draft of anything).

Everyone:  Relatedly, unless otherwise specified, our assignments are individual work.  You can talk to classmates, friends, colleagues, your older sister, etc., about anything you want.  But anything that is not originally your idea or work gets full attribution.  Separately, you can and should have someone else proofread your work, even quickly – this does not need attribution (but does deserve a big thanks, and maybe an occasional Frappuccino, etc.).

Everyone:  For Prompt 3 and elsewhere, I offer one thought for your consideration. Emotion is no substitute for analysis.  Where you have political or ideological positions, including strong ones, they are welcome; but they are not a substitute for analysis.

Everyone:  Our Prompts will typically require that you do the readings first.  And even if they don’t you should do the readings first.  When a Prompt includes “and perhaps from your own experience,” this can mean a few things.  It can mean your own personal experience as a leader (at work, in a student org, etc.) or in a situation with another leader – a teacher, a boss, an athletic coach, etc.  It might also mean something you have read or seen outside of class – President Obama or Sheryl Sandberg or Lech Walesa or Miriam Makeba or Simon Bolivar or someone local to you, etc. Unless otherwise specified, the Prompts do not ask you to do outside readings – but you are smart and experienced and well-read, and you might have things from outside the course that are useful to bring in – that’s what the “perhaps from your own experience” invites.

Ok, let’s have fun.

Written reflections for Week 2:

If you are a one-credit student, discuss one or two of these prompts for a total of about 400 words.  If you are a two- or three-credit student, discuss two or three of these prompts for a total of about 600 to 800 words.  Bring your reflections to class on Wednesday.  Your essays must include thoughtful reflection on one or more of the week’s readings – specify when you are referring to them.

Prompt 1.  In some ways the authors discuss technical skills that can be learned from a book or a classroom or experience, and in other ways they talk about the importance of personal attributes.  Referring specifically to the readings and perhaps from your own experience, discuss this.

Prompt 2. Leadership has been an essential element of politics and economics in every technological age.  Do the key questions of leadership change, or not, as technology changes?  Referring specifically to the readings and perhaps from your own experience, discuss this.

Prompt 3.  Leadership in politics can mean a lot of very different things. Referring specifically to the readings, and perhaps from your own experience, discuss this.  You might choose to include concepts from your Northouse book from last semester (you are not required to do this).