Is leadership different in business than education?

road-1556604_960_720Pixabay – AidaGorodoskaya

As I reviewed my reflection on leadership, I began to think about how leadership shows itself in business and education.  Are the contexts so different that the actual concept of leadership is different?

Leadership is about inspiring a team to achieve a shared goal, which is made possible because of the social and intellectual capital of the group.  It’s about using the influence that you have built up within the group to add value and help not only individuals learn and grow stronger, but support the team in moving toward their shared vision.  All of the things that you choose to do or not do shape the culture, relationships and success of the team.

As an educator, I’m part of many different teams.  The teacher in a classroom has a unique opportunity each semester to support the development of a strong learning team by involving his/her students in the learning process.  Teachers work with other teachers, admin, parents, support staff and student support services professionals in a constant search to respond to the needs of the student in a way that creates the best learning environment possible.  As educators, we are all on the same team.  Our ultimate goal is to support students in reaching their learning outcomes in the best ways that we can.

As an entrepreneur, I’m also part of many different teams.  The world of network marketing and direct sales is built on teams.  Teams that work well together propel all of the contributing individuals towards their goals.  You can always work alone but the synergy that comes from being part of a positive, inspiring, cohesive team is revitalizing.

While the specific goals we are trying to achieve may be quite different, the concept of leadership is consistent.  Whether I’m working in education or business, genuine leadership makes a difference in achieving the outcomes.  Leadership styles will vary based on the specific leader, the team and the context.  How you get to the goals you set will be different, but the factors that support the coevolution of social and intellectual capital will be the same.

Granted there we be specific parts that may be more difficult in one realm or the other but the concept itself still holds true.  Take for example Jim Collin’s idea that before you can go anywhere you must first have the right people on the bus. Ensuring you have the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus isn’t always as easy as it sounds. As a teacher, you don’t get to pick the students in your class and often as a business leader you don’t have the authority to change your team.  The idea of starting with who is on the bus is still valid.  You have to know the people on your team or in your class in order to truly build a culture of excellence. It goes back to creating a shared identity, so that we are all working our our fullest potential.

Uniting a team begins by building trusting relationships.  Covey (2006) offered 13 practical ways to build trust.  While these trust building behaviours may show themselves differently in a classroom or an office, the behaviours are the same.  Purposefully, creating and maintaining trust within the network increases the likelihood of people interacting positively.  This in turn builds social capital which increases the chances of people exchanging knowledge.  As the social capital grows, so to does the intellectual capital.  As a community evolves shared stories begin to emerge, which help shape the group’s identity.  Daily interactions lead to shared language and codes which increase communication and build a resilient culture.

Creating a trusting environment in a classroom means that students will feel more comfortable stepping outside their comfort zone.  As a learner, they will be open to taking risks, trying new strategies and making connections to new information.  Students that trust their teachers will become more involved in the classroom, which creates more opportunities for knowledge sharing interactions and decreases behavior challenges.  The same is true in business.  In direct sales, for example, building a team matters.  If I’m worried about my upline’s motives, I’m less likely to work as part of team.  This in turn means that I lose out on mentoring opportunities and the chance to be part of a learning environment which could help push myself and my own team to new levels of success.

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it (Sinek, 2014). Whether people are consuming an actual product or the act of learning itself, they still want to know why you are teaching it and that you value their perspective in the exchange.  We all want to feel valued.

Leadership style will vary from one situation to another.  How people inspire or scare others into achieving the desired goal of the group happens through different strategies.  You will find all types of leaders in business and education.  The type of leader isn’t mutually exclusive to one domain or the other.  The leader is ultimately shaped by his or her personal choices within the context he or she is attempting to lead.  The concepts that I’ve suggested to be common to leadership are foundational to leaders in both education and business settings.  Building trust, creating shared stories, shaping a common identity and context, enhancing communication and sharing knowledge are all significant in building a connected team.  So while the logistics and specific activities of developing team relationships may be unique to each setting, the path to becoming a leader worth following shares the same road.

usa-1556922_960_7201Pixabay – MarioSchmidtPhoto

 

goal more effectively because together the whole is stronger and better equipped

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Leadership

Leadership Concept Map August 2016

This concept map is meant to visualize the different the different connections I came across while studying leadership.  The detailed explanation can be found in my blog post entitled Leadership Connections – A Reflective Look Back.

I used Sketchboard to create my concept map and one of the features was the ability to create a quick slideshow.  So I’ve created a short video from the screen capture of my Sktechboard slideshow.

Here’s a quick overview of what the leadership concept map means to me.

 

 

An Overview of “Situated Cognition”

An Overview of
Chapter 5 Situated Cognition
By Marcy P. Driscoll


Driscoll provided a straight forward overview of situated cognition and it’s connection to communities of practice.  In particular, I was interested in learning participation and how a learner’s trajectory leads to full participation and access to insider knowledge.  Being in a group implies legitimate peripheral participation because learning is only facilitated if you are actually part of the group.  Driscoll often cited Lave & Wenger’s (1991) work as she explained the diversity of apprenticeship in learning. Whether you are on the peripheral, inbound, an insider, on the boundary or on an outbound path, your learning is impacted and potentially limited by your participation in the group.  Driscoll skillfully connected situated cognition, apprenticeship, learning trajectory, and semiosis all while examining the implications of situated cognition for instruction.

 

Popular Culture vs Academic Writing

As with anything the way that I attempt to convey my message is dependent upon the message I am attempting to share, my purpose and my intended audience.  Mullen (2011) noted that persuasion is at the root of what we do as researchers, teachers and with our colleagues.  We are often trying to convince others of our intended purpose (para 1). He went on to explain logos as the use of argumentation to convey data, statistics and information in a logical format.  It’s research based.  Pathos, Mullen noted, serves to stir up people’s emotions and appeal to what Chip and Dan Heath referred to as the elephant sides of our brains while logos appeals to our rational rider.  Lastly, ethos reflects not only how you speak but the individual integrity you bring to what you are saying.  It’s your credibility based on your previous results (para 4-6).

As I look back on the leadership resources that I’ve reviewed they fall into two groups.  Resources that are more easily accessible may be considered more popular reading while highly academic pieces follow more rigorous standards and processes before they are published.  Does one have more value than the other?

I was certainly drawn to the page turning pop culture books.  They not only shared statistics and data they made it come alive by sharing stories and personal experiences.  It appealed to my logos and pathos side.  A powerful combination when you get both the rider and the elephant headed in the same direction.  Over the course of my ETAD program, I came to re-appreciate not only the ideas and data that come from more academic writing, but the rigorous process of publishing respected work.  It appealed to me on both a logos and ethos level; moreover, the academic work often forms the foundation for more popular books.

I noticed frequent citation of each other’s work within the more academic realm including both formal studies and academic articles.  If you hit on the right concept and trace the research back it forms a long chain of reference.   Daniel, Schwier & McCalla (2003), for example, often cited the work of Nahapiet and Ghoshal (1998) with regard to social capital. Even Google has run with this concept by highlighting the number of times an article has been cited.  I’m certainly drawn to the articles that have been cited many times.  It seems to reason, they are more credible.  It doesn’t necessarily mean those articles have the information I’m interested in learning more about.  To apply Nahapiet and Ghoshal’s concept of intellectual capital, the more connections between cited articles the higher the intellectual capital.

In reviewing, Covey’s Speed of Trust references, it’s apparent that Covey wants you to know where the information comes from and he has organized his references by chapter highlighting where he found the material.  His references range from interviews, quotations, conferences (i.e. Stanford Leadership Conference), many articles – some of which included newspapers while others included the Harvard Business Review; he noted formal studies, surveys and annual reports.  Overall, his resources pulled from both popular culture and academic sources as did Chip and Dan Heath’s in the Switch.

Not all of my pop culture reading and articles provided detailed references.  Some simply mentioned the reference in the context of the text.  They clearly stated who the information came from, but a list of references wasn’t included in the copies of the books that I read.  It is something that I’m more aware of since my return to grad school and it makes me wonder why they didn’t note their sources more directly.

McGonigal’s Super Better book, for example, provided a detailed chapter by chapter break down of the science.  In fact, she has even dedicated a website called showmethescience.com to share the research behind living gamefully.  In fact, McGonigal’s references tended toward the more academic side citing numerous journals and academic studies.  In fact, Super Better, itself has been involved in two clinical trials.  So while there is certainly differences in how pop culture authors cite the research, there is ethos embedded into the writing.  Sometimes, however, the ethos may come from their status in society not from the detailed references that they provided.

I did notice that Covey’s work was referenced on a few occasions in other pop culture books.  I think how often some of them cited each other depended on how recently the book was published. With regard to the concepts of leadership, different authors often mentioned the names of respected and well known leaders instead of citing other books about those leaders.

Having learned more about social and intellectual capital, it’s often what the pop culture leadership books are referring to or at least in part.  Again it depends on the message and the particular focus the author is attempting to convey.  As with anything, we need to acknowledge that while the main purpose of writing a book or publishing a study is to better the common good and increase what we as a society know.  There is a financial factor involved.  As a reader, it’s important to actively think about the material you are reading and it sources.  Citizens have to be able to make informed decisions and not just go with what sounds best.

Lastly, it’s about the audience.  Writers compose their text with a specific audience in mind.  Academic writing has a very specific audience and purpose, as does pop culture.  The latter perhaps to make the research more accessible to a larger group of people in a variety of social circles.  Perhaps how you write and the language you use defines the community of practice to which you belong. Shared language and codes help build positive social capital as does following the expectations and norms of the group.  Each group has a different form and standard of what’s considered acceptable when sharing information including different ethical responsibilities.

ETAD 898 has provided a unique opportunity to delve into the topic of leadership from both sides of the spectrum.  While some topics distinctly came up in each realm others were more subtly connected. Communities of practice weren’t formally mentioned in the pop culture books, however, the characteristics were discussed in relation to teams and various groups.  Researching leadership from both perspectives has increased my appreciation for the ongoing need for both types of writing.  In the end it’s about sharing our explicit and if we are willing our tacit knowledge with members of our group.  The more diverse our network and sources the more we can grow our understanding of the world around us.


Mullen, Lincoln. (2011).  How to Persuade – with Ethos, Pathos, or Logos? ProfHacker

An Overview of “Seven Principles for Cultivating Communities of Practice”

An Overview of the
Seven Principles for Cultivating Communities of Practice
By: E. Wenger, R. McDermott & W. M. Synder


Wenger, McDermott and Synder (2002) offered seven practical aspects to consider for maintaining and supporting the growth of voluntary communities of practice.   This is an interesting read focusing on the significance of generating sustainable energy within the group.   Communities of practice (CoPs) are voluntary and Wenger et. al. noted their success over time is dependent up “their ability to generate enough excitement, relevance and value to attract and engage new member” (p. 1)

They put forth seven key principles:

  1. Design for evolution
    – At first you design to attract group members, but overtime the needs and goals of the group will change. To effectively sustain a CoP your design must continue to evolve.
  2. Open a dialogue between inside and outside perspectives
    – A well connected leader will thoroughly understand the needs of a group and be able to invite relevant outside perspectives to help the group grow.
  3. Invite different levels of participation
    – People participate in groups at varying levels of intensity and frequency and that’s okay.  Each group member contributes in their own way.  What I found interesting was Wenger et. al’s ongoing reminders to purposefully design for interaction.  Just as you would place a park bench along a path to invite people to sit and talk, so to must you create those opportunities within the CoP.
  4. Develop both public and private community spaces
    – All interactions both public and private have an opportunity to benefit the group through the interconnected relationships of the community. The authors explained that conversations at formal meetings are important, but don’t underestimate the value of the conversations that happen after the meeting or at the water cooler.  Those formal or informal discussions will enhance the individual relationships within the community.
  5. Focus on value
    – People participate in communities because there is value.  Work to ensure that both formal and informal interactions add value to the community.
    —  What is it that draws people to the group?
  6. Combine familiarity and excitement
    – A familiar routine creates a comfort level which facilitates the sharing of knowledge; however, to remain vibrant a community needs some exciting events that draw members together in a shared sense of adventure.
  7. Create a rhythm for the community
    – All communities have a rhythm, finding the right tempo for your community ensures that people are not running to keep up or stalled when it’s time to move.  Wenger et. al. noted that “the rhythm of the community is the strongest indicator of its aliveness” (p. 7).

Connections:

  • As an educator, your classroom is an ever evolving community of practice just like a business team working toward a common goal.  Wenger, McDermott and Snyder offered 7 thoughtful practices to keeping the community alive in an easy to read format.  Regardless of your team’s context, reflecting on these principles will provide a framework to better support the growth of your community and in turn grow the social and intellectual capital of your team.

Wenger, E., McDermott, R., & Snyder, W. (2002). Seven Principles for Cultivating Communities of Practice. Retrieved from http://www.askmecorp.com/pdf/7Principles_CoP.pdf

An Overview of “Social capital in virtual learning communities and distributed communities of practice”

An Overview of
Social Capital in Virtual Learning Communities and Distributed Communities of Practice
By B. Daniel, R. Schwier & G. McCalla


A worthwhile read that introduces you to the concept of social capital.  Daniel, Schwier & McCalla (2003) explained the value of social capital in a straightforward way while highlighting the complex factors in play.  Because of the multidimensional nature of social capital, there’s no standard way to measure it.  The authors build on the earlier work of Nahapiet & Ghoshal (1998), which is succinctly pulled together in a thoroughly researched article overviewing the embededness of social capital in our learning communities.  Daniel et. al. (2003) noted the positive benefits of social capital include:

  • increases people’s ability to solve problems
  • people cooperate and collaborate better
  • increased positive interactions within the community
  • increased positive social behaviour
  • it increases team success in both education and business
  • reduces financial risk
  • bridges cultural gaps through the creation of a shared identity

As with anything taken to the extreme social capital can isolate the group by inhibiting the addition of new members or creating a highly cohesive group that begins to deviate from the accepted norms of the larger culture.

While social capital belongs to the individual and can’t be traded, a person’s connections within the group can facilitate the exchange of information.  Each interaction within the group or between groups has the opportunity to increase the knowledge of the group member. Increasing your social capital means following the expectations of the group and contributing to the overall goals of the team.

Daniel et. al. noted the significance of a shared language in generating a strong group identity.  Even shared stories provide opportunities to shape the identity of the group and share rich sets of meaning (p. 6).  The more interactions that take place with positive outcomes the more the trust grows between group members.  Increased trust facilitates increased interactions.

Daniel Schwier and McCalla elaborated on the differences and similarities between virtual learning communities and distributed communities of practice noting the most important characteristic is meaningful collaborative learning.  The stronger the social capital the more exchange of tacit and explicit knowledge.  Individuals learn by sharing, reflecting and making connections to new information, which is enhanced by the sharing of tacit knowledge (p. 12).

Connections:


We are all part of communities of practice and our willingness to exchange knowledge and learn from others is impacted by our involvement in the group.  Positive social capital strengthens our trust in the group along with the effectiveness of our sharing interactions.  How we are connected to others within a network impacts the knowledge that we have access to which in turn impacts our ability to learn.  Depending on the culture created by group the social capital will either grow and foster more sharing based on the norms and expectations of the group or the effectiveness of the group will begin to decrease.

Whether you are in a classroom or working with a business team, you have to consciously create opportunities to grow social capital.  You need clear norms and expectations so that all group members understand how to participate in order to support the team in reaching their goal. Social capital will influence the quality of the knowledge exchanged and the effectiveness of the team.  When individuals feel comfortable enough to share their tacit knowledge, the entire group benefits from their experience.

 


Daniel, B. K., Schwier, R. A., & McCalla, G. (2003). Social capital in virtual learning communities and distributed communities of practice. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, 29(3), 113–139. Retrieved from http://www.cjlt.ca/index.php/cjlt/article/viewArticle/85

Leadership Connections – A Reflective Look Back

Leadership Concept Map August 2016

Leadership Map PDF                             Video explanation of Map

As I reflect on what leadership means I’m drawn to Kruse’s attempt to define leadership.

“Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, toward the achievement of a goal”
(Keven Kruse, What is Leadership?, 2013)

Leadership is not about your position or title, it’s about the choices you make within your circle of influence.  Covey (2006) explained that you can begin by leading yourself.  Great leaders start by recognizing the value of ongoing professional and personal development. Regardless of whether you are involved in education or in business, it’s about making purposeful choices to help your team work together to reach a goal.  A team can be your friends, family, your educational colleagues, your classroom of students, the people on your home based business team or the people in your department at work.

Leaders are integral members of teams which are similar to communities of practice (CoPs).  Wenger, McDermott and Snyder (2002) noted that CoPs are voluntary, vibrant and productive groups that foster ongoing relationships amongst group members, which builds value and engagement and in turn contributes to social capital. While every reading acknowledged teams or groups or followers, communities of practice was not a common phrase in the popular literature.  The strategies suggested for developing vibrant, voluntary communities of practice are simply good strategies to consider for all teams in any context.

As Stephen M. R. Covey (2006) said “leadership is getting results in a way that inspires trust” (Speed of Trust, p. 40).  Leadership is a multidimensional concept that not only focuses on the task at hand but on how you go about achieving the goal.  It’s like going on a trip.  We all need to be headed to the same destination, but the paths we take and the stops we make along our journey all depend on how we are going to get there.

There’s many ways to reach your destination.  The concept of differentiated learning is based on the idea that we have a common outcome to achieve, but the learning and instructional strategies we use to get there depend on our choices.   You can hop in a car and drive yourself.  Going it alone will eventually get you there, but you may have to make more stops along the way to get everything done.  You could car pool with people that you trust, but that means you have to carefully choose your team so they can fit in the vehicle.  You could hop on the company bus, train or plane.  There’s lots of ways to get results, but not every path will be as efficient or support the coevolution of social and intellectual capital.

In a Good To Great article, Collins (2001) explained that it’s all about getting the right people in the right seats on the bus.  As the bus driver (leader), you have to start with WHO is on the bus.  The right people will bring a diverse and unique set of intellectual capital with them. It also means that you have to get the wrong people off the bus.  Building strong social capital within a group starts by creating a culture of excellence where individuals are motivated to be part of strong, dynamic team.

Part of creating a culture means defining the boundaries. Dr. Henry Cloud (2013) explained we have to lead in a way that people’s brains can follow.  You won’t foster strong, interpersonal connections and create a trusting environment by creating fear.  You have to keep the team focused on their goal, inhibit the barriers that will distract them and provide the opportunity to create routines in their working memories. Sinek (2014) agreed noting the importance of creating the circle of safety and how all of our actions as group members trigger brain based responses that either reinforce the relationships or create trust gaps.

Nahapiet and Ghoshal (1998) referred to the organizational advantage of companies that have both high intellectual and social capital as creating innovative, trusting and cohesive teams.  While trust is not the only component of building social capital, trust was mentioned by Nahapiet & Ghoshal (1998);  Daniel, McCalla and Schwier (2003); Wenger, McDermott and Snyder (2002); McGonigal(2015); Sinek (2014); Cloud (2013); the Heaths (2010); and most definitely by Covey (2006) in The Speed of Trust.  Trust was the common thread in the majority of reading that I did.

Covey (2006) gave specific trust building behaviours to practice.  Cloud (2013) discussed how trust permeates the culture you create.  It “is the starting point … [that] makes it all work” (Boundaries for Leaders, p. 171). Both McGonigal (2015) and Sinek (2014) focused on the body’s response to hormones like oxytocin which help foster trusting relationships. Trust is an integral part of creating healthy social capital, which in turn creates a strong, leadership culture.  As Covey (2006) stated and Nahapiet & Ghoshal (1998) noted, when trust goes up, the costs both financial and relationship go down. Trust increases the likelihood of knowledge exchanges which also generate intellectual capital.

Daniel, Schwier & McCalla (2003) cited Nahapiet & Ghoshal’s (1998) different aspects of social capital.

  • Structural – how members connect with other people in the community; how does information spread (Daniel, et al., 2003, p. 5).
    • Here’s where I see an interesting connection to Gladwell’s work in The Tipping Point.  Although he asked what causes a word of mouth epidemic, the question is essentially the same as asking how information is dispersed through a person’s network.  Gladwell (2006) talked about “connectors”, the people who are linked to many different people in a variety of social circles. While the articles on social capital didn’t mention the common links in the network, I would propose that the efficient dissemination of information flows out through key connectors with in the community.  Gladwell (2006) likened it to the game the six degrees of Kevin Bacon. While we live in a social media age, there are still key influencers online that we all follow or are connected to through our online network.
    • Next Gladwell (2006) mentioned the “mavens,” individuals that are extremely knowledgeable about specific topics.  They are your go to people.  When a maven answers your questions there’s a high probability you are going to follow their advice because you trust them and know that they are suggesting the best option for you.  Networks high in social capital will include mavens and connectors.  Both have a high knowledge capital and are willing to share their tacit knowledge with the group.
    • Finally, Gladwell (2006) explained the “persuaders” are the members of the group that can change people’s minds.  They are able to convincingly share and spread ideas.
  • Next Nahapiet and Ghoshal (1998) noted the relational dimension.  There are 4 components: Trust which we noted the value of earlier; norms; obligations: and identification.
    • Both Covey (2006)  and Cloud (2013) noted the importance of clear boundaries for a team.  People need to know where they are going, clarify what’s expected and be supported by a culture that trusts them to get it done.
    • Chip and Dan Heath (2010) explained you have to shape the path.  You have to create the environment which not only encourages people to make the change but shapes their choices. The Heaths’ strongly emphasized the significance of a shared identity.  In fact, they noted it’s our go to decision making model.  We may reason out our decision using the rational model, but when in doubt the elephant wins and we decide in favor of our identity.  Avolio, Walumbwa and Weber (2009) agreed that activating an identity to which people can relate, helps to build a shared identity (p. 427).
    • Gladwell (2006) likened this notion to the broken windows effect.   We are shaped by our environment and the people in it.  Culture is how we make sense of the world and our behaviour shifts according to the environment and context in which we live and work.
    • Daniel, Schwier & McCalla (2003) also noted the value of network ties and configuration as essential aspects of how we access information, which connect back to Gladwell’s connectors, mavens and persuaders.
  • Lastly, the cognitive dimension is based on building meaningful connections in a shared context.  A shared language helps teams facilitate the exchange of information which creates an opportunity to build intellectual capital. Daniel, Schwier and McCalla (2003) noted the significance of shared narratives (p. 6).  Just as Carmine Gallo (2014) explained in Talk Like TED, stories not only help us organize the world, they are given preferential treatment in our memory.  Nahapiet & Ghoshal (1998) also highlighted how stories are a powerful way to not only transfer explicit knowledge, but if you look closely at how the story flows the tacit knowledge is embedded, as well.
    • Bolden, Gosling, Marurano and Dennison (2003) pointed out that although there are many different leadership theories, there is no one size fits all leadership style and each theory lends itself to different styles, followers and situations (p. 8).  Knowing what style to apply depends on your context and situation and it’s an important part of responding to the needs of your team

Melrose, Park and Perry (2015) reminded us of the value of articulating our personal philosophy.  Before we can decide what or how to reach our destination, we have to understand why we chose that teaching approach in the first place.  Reflecting on your personal philosophy of learning and leadership is an important part of growing as a leader.  We all have a go to framework that not only helps us organize our learning, but it’s what we default to in times of stress.  In his TED Talk – How great leaders inspire action, Simon Sinek explained

people don’t buy what you do they buy why you do it.

Whether it’s selling a product, implementing a change or teaching a new skill.  People don’t buy in because you told them to, they are drawn to your why.  Just think about the teachers and leaders that have inspired you. It was likely their genuine enthusiasm and leadership style that you connected with most.   A strong understanding of content is important but unless people understand why the concept is important, it’s just data.

It doesn’t mean that your why or your personal philosophy of leadership or learning won’t change.  They will continue to evolve.  What’s important is that you are an active part of the evolution.  It’s the small actions each day that become the habits shaping your path and in turn your life.  Make sure you are becoming the leader you want to be not just the one that happened.

Sometimes the smallest actions say the most.  Body language and non-verbal communication surfaced on several occasions during my research.  From Amy Cuddy’s (2012) research on how body language can change the hormones released in our body and in turn how our brains think to McGonigal’s (2015) physical resilience power-up strategies, body language is embedded into social capital without us even realizing it.  Our brains will judge within seconds whether members of our network are trustworthy or not.  It’s not even something we need to consciously decide.  Our primitive brain is always working to protect us.  Sinek (2014) pointed out if the trust begins to fail our brain chemistry changes and we are no longer focused on the team goal but rather our individual survival.  Ruggieri, Boca and Garro (2013) noted face to face leadership is established through “body language, vocal inflection, eye contact and clothing” (p.98), which is reinforced based on the group’s response.

Winkler (2010) mentioned in several theories the results a leader produces are dependent upon the a group’s favorable response.  In the idiosyncrasy credit theory of leadership, for example, a leader rises as they gain credit for upholding the social norms and expectations of the group.  Once they become a leader their credits enable them step outside the boundaries and push the group in innovative directions, but only as long as the group finds the results favorable.  Too many withdrawals in your leadership credits means you will lose control. Similarly, Covey (2006) discussed the significance of making deposits not just withdrawals in your trust account.    While Winkler (2010) didn’t directly define the concept of social capital, it permeated the majority of contemporary theories that he discussed.

As I re-read my Super Better post wondering how I was going to connect gaming and resilience to leadership, I was drawn back to McGonigal’s (2015) keys connections between our thinking and behaviours that contribute to post-traumatic and post-ecstatic growth.

  • Learn to benefit find connected to Chip and Dan Heath’s (2010) find the bright spots which pairs with the strength based leadership focus.
  • Finding the heroic story encouraged us to connect to our story and how we identify with our network.
  • Cultivating connectedness builds relationships.
  • Being flexible and adopting a challenge mindset will help you and your team find the best solution rather than the one you think should work.
  • Lastly, taking committed action links to following through with what you say you are going to do (Cloud (2013) & Covey (2006)).

All of which help build social capital.

While gaming may not be your thing, the value in Super Better lies in the small, achievable challenges that build resilience. If you are focused on developing a team of strong leaders, building these strategies into your community of practice will not only strengthen the resilience of the individuals, but the team as well.  As Collins (2001) said, you need the right people on the bus and then it doesn’t matter what detours you encounter the team will make it happen.

What about e-leadership?

Avolio et. al. (2009) noted that e-leadership comes with its own unique set of challenges based on the physical distance, as well as, the type of technology; moreover, face to face is not the same as virtual environments (p. 440).  Ruggieri, Boca and Garro (2013) explained that online transformational leadership encouraged increased communication, self awareness and increased levels of team identification.  By focusing on more than just the transactions that occur within a group, transformational leaders build the skills of their followers in multiple dimensions. In short, they foster the growth of well rounded, leaders working towards a common goal.

As I reflected in an early post.  I learned the most from online classes lead by transformational leaders where we were encouraged to share our ideas without the fear of being wrong.  The true building of intellectual capital is in the sharing of and reflecting on ideas.  You don’t grow unless you share, make connections and think more deeply about your experiences.   All of which rarely happens without a positive, social capital rooted firmly in trusting relationships.  As Sinek (2014) noted, “the people always have the power” (p. 67) and the true power lies in realizing that we are all responsible for protecting the circle of safety.  The circle is what supports the coevolution of social and intellectual capital which creates an organizational advantage (Nahapiet & Ghoshal (1998); Daniel, Schwier & McCalla (2003)).

Driscoll (2005) cited Wenger (1998) as she noted how our learning trajectory changes over time.  Whether you are on an inbound trajectory headed toward full group participation as an insider or sustaining relationships in related communities of practice as a broker or on an outbound course, people are always interacting with communities of practice in different ways (Psychology of Learning for Instruction, p.168-169).  Driscoll (2005) noted the work of Lave & Wenger (1991) when she explained that becoming an insider takes time.  Newcomers start on the periphery and through their interactions with oldtimers (full participants) slowly progress toward full participation.  As new members join the group, the once newcomer becomes a mentor as they move closer to becoming an old timer (Driscoll, 2005, p. 166).

Learning trajectory is an interesting way to think about home based business entrepreneurs.  There’s a strong core group that is very active and in some cases includes the founders.  As teams grow, newcomers learn the business and progress toward full inbound participation, but just as often as new people join others are on their outbound path.  It’s an ever evolving community of practice held together by the core members.  As Driscoll (2005) shared with reference to the work of Lave and Wenger (1991), there is no illegitimate peripheral participation.  Access to most specific home based business groups requires actual membership before detailed sharing of knowledge occurs.  Whether people choose to engage and move from legitimate peripheral to full participation, depends upon the social and intellectual capital within the group.  The community of practice needs to welcome the new members and in turn new members must choose their level of participation (Psychology of Learning for Instruction, p. 167-166).

While it may at times be necessary for someone to actually take the lead, it doesn’t mean that all members can’t practice positive leadership.  We all have a choice to participate in and help strengthen the team.  The strength of a team lies not in in one person but in the complex interconnections between the explicit and tacit knowledge shared by the group.  Perhaps in the end effective leadership is less about the person leading and more about creating the conditions in which we can all learn to lead.  Avolio et. al. (2009) discussed leadership as an emergent state in which team members collectively lead each other (p.431).  Providing opportunities for each person’s strengths to contribute to and lead the team when appropriate creates a unified and cohesive group that can take on any challenge.


References available on our Leadership Resources page.