Thursday, July 28, 2011

online learning and leadership

I started the Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning (IELOL) program last week. It's a blended-learning leadership development program sponsored by Penn State and the Sloan Consortium. Very promising from a strategic perspective.

One assignment during the first week I found interesting had to do with our view of the essential elements of leadership. I found myself falling back on comfortable territory, but I don't think I was too far afield. Here are my thoughts:
I believe the most essential element of effective leadership is open and honest communication. Regardless of the leadership development model (I’m certain we’ve all seen many), communication is either a hub competency or critical component of other leadership competencies (navigator, facilitator, strategist, etc.). In some ways it seems rather obvious; how can I be an effective leader if I cannot communicate organizational and operational concepts (the good, bad and neutral) in such a way that they are understood to be truthful and in the best interest of the institution and the populations we serve?

Listening is also an essential element of effective leadership. Good communicators listen. Listening is a great way to learn – to actually hear the concerns, perspectives, expectations and needs of the people we work with and for. We demonstrate a commitment to the group and the institution by showing a real interest in our colleagues’ voices, skills, and talents, and using what we learn from them to help shape the direction and future of the institution.

That's nothing revolutionary, but I'm pretty well committed an emphasis on open and honest communication in all aspects of life. Seems pretty tough to get by without it.

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