Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Culture of Leadership

I recently read an article in my Michigan alumni magazine about a perspective on leadership. I thought I would share that with you.

Sue Ashford, associate dean for leadership programming is quoted as saying, "A favorite question people like to ask me is whether leadership can be taught. Here at Ross, we believe most certainly it can be. By putting students in experiences that demand leadership of them, they will develop as leaders. We also believe that leadership is an art, and if you want to learn the art, you better expand the ways you learn."

Based on my previous post, you know that I love that she has a point of view. But what this article really got me thinking about is why leadership training is successful and Michigan yet fails in so many other places. In my view, the key difference is that Michigan creates a culture of leadership. That is, they consistently demand it from their students in a way that not many other institutions or corporations do. And, the reason that it is sustaining is that it is woven into everything that they do.

In my experience, leadership is too often thought of as a class you take or something that you do when you get promoted to a certain level. That is, most organizations prepare leaders by putting them through an ad hoc series of events or promoting people who do "good work". Because these events are not deliberately tied to the essence of what makes a good leader, eventually randomness takes over. I believe that if organizations can create a culture of leadership, by having a point of view and deliberately orchestrating leadership development, then they will be much better off in the long run.

No comments: