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Level Three Leadership

Level Three Leadership

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I cannot resist a suggestion which embodies all of my hopes for the school. It is that nothing will ever induce us to lay aside instruction in the ethical foundations of American business. Without a firm attachment to unimpeachable integrity, in our business as well as in our personal affairs, we build on shifting sands and there can be no future for any of us.

COLGATE W DARDEN, JR. This, book is about learning to make a difference as a leader. It promotes the view that many leaders, especially those raised and trained and experienced in Industrial Age organizations, have learned to lead at what I call Level One, focusing on behavior and often ignoring or undervaluing opportunities to influence people at Level Two, their thinking, and at Level Three, their values and basic assumptions about how the world operates. As a consequence, many managers have a superficial impact on the people with whom they work, which manifests as a perceived lack of leadership and lackluster results. The goal of this book is to provide practical principles of leadership that get beneath the surface, that intend to influence others' thinking and feeling rather than just their behavior. In this, the book attempts to present a practical perspective of leadership rather than a theoretical one. There are no summaries of common leadership theory, yet bits and pieces of many of them are woven into the story presented here. In that sense, this book draws on the literature what we say we know about leadership today and it greatly reflects the experience of several faculty at the Darden Graduate School of Business, University of Virginia, who have been involved in designing and teaching leadership programs for master of business administration (MBA) and executive education students for several decades. The book is intended for practicing managers who, on their own or in connection with ongoing studies in executive MBA or executive short courses, want to learn more about effective leadership. It is also intended for MBA students thinking about the same issue, yet this is not, in the usual sense, a textbook. It is not about summarizing all the leadership theories; rather, it's about integrating theory and practice and creating a model and a set of related perspectives and concepts about how one can become a better leader in one's own life, work group, and organizations.

BACKGROUND The book is based on consulting, research, and teaching experiences from several faculty of the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia, whose mission is "to better society by developing leaders in the world of practical affairs" and whose students, eve hope, tend to be known for an action orientation, an enterprise perspective, determination, vision, judgment, integrity, and social responsibility. The ideas here have been tested in the MBA and executive education classrooms of the Darden School over the last 15 years. The Darden School faculty take a student-centered, practical approach to education, that is, we believe that each class should begin with and build from the level of the students' understanding of the issues and intricacies presented in a series of cases. Cases are descriptions of actual business situations where the authors focus on the situation rather than demonstrating any particular theory or point of view. Real (as opposed to "armchaired") business cases form the basis for virtually all of the class work at the Darden School. Students, all with more than two years of work experience after college, are required to prepare, on average, one case for each of three 85-minute classes each day. The discussion typically begins with a student speaking to the case as well as she can and then develops into an active debate including all members of the class. I have not included any of the cases from our various programs here, although several are referred to, and I am developing a case book to accompany this volume. The cases used in class were not intended to be used as illustrations of theory as orchestrated by an instructor or as presented by student study teams. Rather, they provided data and scenarios that invited personalized discussion, demand decisions, and action plans. This allows students to confront and learn to deal with actual business situations (as presented in the cases) as viewed by a group of highly active, intelligent peers. Typical discussions include overviews of the key issues and problems, analysis of the underlying forces and realities, choices of action, and discussions of how to implement action decisions. Business-related cases are available from Darden Educational Materials Services (DEMS) at the Darden School; from Harvard Case Services (HCS) at the Harvard Business School, and from the Ivey School in London, Ontario, Canada; and other sources, including the Case Research Journal. To assist the students in their wrestling with these business cases, faculty often write and disseminate technical notes, which are short briefs of relevant theories, concepts, frameworks, and principles. We use these notes to avoid lecturing in class. We hold the expectation that students can read and determine in the process what is useful and what doesn't fit their experience. These technical notes help students get through the current literature more rapidly and consolidate thinking on a number of topics; they provide frameworks for the students to help them make sense of cases or a series thereof. Students read these conceptual treatises and choose whether and how to apply them to any succeeding case that they may encounter. The case method avoids rote memorization for an exam's sake. The use of technical notes avoids "reinventing the theoretical wheel," a common criticism of case method, so that students can wrestle with the practical applications of current theory. Technical notes also give a flexibility that assigning texts doesn't; one can pick and choose the conceptual frameworks one wants to use without having to assign a book for each. We desire to have students develop their own theories-in-use that will stick with them over time. Thus, although the technical notes tend to focus less on abstractions and more on practical applications, they are decidedly not atheoretical. The notes are filled with theories and portions of theories, concepts, and principles gleaned from multiple sources including the academic literature, our faculty's own research, and the faculty's practical experience in working in and consulting in industry. This book is derived in part from these technical notes. The book also draws on the work of a wide range of scholars and authors in the field of leadership and managing change. There is no intent here to substitute for those primary sources but only to summarize where appropriate for those who want the core concepts without the supporting discussion and databases. Consequently, most chapters will have footnotes for further references that readers may pursue if they wish.

GENERAL ORGANIZATION OF THE BOOK This book does not purport to present a summary of the various theories of leadership. Other volumes, notably Gary Yukl's Leadership in Organizations (Prentice Hall, 2002) do that task very well. Rather, my goal here was t9 present a set of practical principles of effective leadership as they seem to be emerging in these difficult times that mark the transition from the Industrial Age to the Information Age. I have included a section at the back of the book, however, that gives a very brief (usually one page or less) summary of some of the key points for a variety of current leadership theories. The book generally follows the structure of the general leadership model (sometimes referred to as the diamond model because of its shape) presented in Chapter 3. This framework attempts to incorporate aspects of many previous leadership theories into a single, broad structure that can be, examined in part or as a whole and provides the largest overarching theme of the book. This model includes four basic elements self, task, others, and organization and various relationships among them. All of these elements and their relationships appear in an environmental context and combine to produce a set of leadership outcomes. Structure of the Book The book follows the rough outline suggested by this diamond-shaped model. The first section introduces the major paradigm shift between the Industrial Age and the Information Age, the general model of leadership employed in the book, and some important concepts on ethical behavior in leadership. The second section focuses on characteristics of individual leaders that are important to positive leadership outcomes. The short, third section addresses strategic thinking and the importance of a prospective leader developing strategic-thinking skills. The fourth section explores the connection between the leader and the followers and introduces concepts of leading others and leading teams. The fifth section examines the importance of leadership as manifest in the design of organizations and their systems and of leadership in managing change. The book ends with a summary chapter and then some additional materials that include a workbook we often use in executive education seminars, some recommendations for additional reading, and exercises. The end of each chapter contains a summary list of the principles of effective leadership introduced in that chapter. Some of these principles may not seem like principles. In general, I've included summaries and concepts as well as "if one does x, then y will occur" principle statements. Although this list may tally what I see as the important ideas in each chapter, they do not provide a substitute for engaging the logic and reasoning in the chapters themselves. Again, this is not about memorizing ideas but about considering leadership more deeply and how one might become better at it rather than know more about it. The chapters also include a series of questions for readers' personal reflection. These ques...
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