Leadership, Personal Development
May 5, 2014
TopicsCharacter-based Leadership, Leadership Development, Self Development
Have you ever wondered what Leadership 201 is all about?
In fact, this question was the driving force in my decision to pursue the study of leadership in a graduate program.
Although I could have taken the more conventional route for an MBA, or even an MA in Management, I wanted to understand what advanced leadership was all about.
What came after all those Leadership 101 classes and workshops I had attended over the years?
I wanted to take it to the next level and wondered what Leadership 201 would teach me?
Having read the “must read” leadership books, I wanted to understand what right all those authors had to call themselves leading authorities on the subject?
What had they learned in their studies or experience I did not know after working in management for 25 years?
So I decided to return to school.
Although my decision was highly supported by my family, I also had my share of uncertainty.
For one, I was 50 years old.
Second, as an established vice president with 17 years in the same company, I did not need a degree to move ahead.
In fact, my manager questioned my decision. Would my time not be better spent improving my golf game?
However, reading about leadership and studying management had always been of interest to me.
And the timing was perfect. With my oldest daughter now out of college, I had the opportunity to pursue a dream.
Just like the Nike slogan, I was going to Do It.
I was going to discover what Leadership 201 was all about.
So I researched a number of schools and selected one based upon reviews of their leadership program, as well as my financial budget.
My first class was on Emotional Intelligence and the required reading was the book of the same name by Daniel Goleman. It was also a book I had previously read.
Our final for that class was not a written paper, but rather a slide presentation we could present to others in our business.
The second class was on Strategic Leadership and the required reading was Leading Change by John Kotter. Once again, it was a book I had previously read.
And once again, our final was a slide presentation.
In fact, for the majority of classes taken, I had already read the books. And every class final was a slide presentation we could use later in business.
Although it took 24 months and a 10-year student loan, I had finally discovered what Leadership 201 was all about.
Funny thing, the answer was in front of me the entire time.
Each time I picked up a leadership book, read a leadership blog, or enrolled in a leadership class, I was receiving a lesson in Leadership 201.
You see, what I discovered is that Leadership is not a destination. Leadership is a journey.
A journey where you share with others what you have learned along the way.
Thank you for sharing your story! Out of all the books you had the opportunity to read (or reread) through school, which landed best with you? Any you would recommend as a MUST READ for a young professional who is passionate and working in this field? I am adding “Leading Change” to my list (I already have EI).
One of my favorite leadership books is The Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes and Barry Posner. The reason I recommend this book is because of the amount of research that went into it on a global scale – and how the research was done not once, but twice over two decades. The book discusses the top characteristics of admired leaders and breaks down these characteristics based upon country. Although a textbook in nature, it’s still an easy read with solid information that you can put to immediate use.
Thank you for a great question!
I LOVE TLC! I taught a high school leadership class and utilized that book for the structure of the course. We also use it as our textbook here at Luck Companies for all associates who go through our Monthly Values Program. Thanks for your response Bill!