LEADERSHIP CASE STUDY & C Student Becomes Successful CSI Detective: A True Story

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 10/21/15.

My leadership students study Northouse’s 5-elements of leadership.  If you would like to know more click on this article: LEADERSHIP & The 5 Recurring Elements in Leadership (according to Northouse.)

As a result of studying Northouse’s classic model of leadership inputs, my students sometimes remark that by looking at their traits, abilities, skills, behaviors, relationships and influence processes they have discovered their leadership is wonderfully more complex that it seemed at the onset.  One of my previous students got a smile out of me when he noticed this 😉

And so, I thought I would pass it along to you his comment and attach a short story about my childhood friend.  If you are one of my students reading this, there is need to respond in the discussion forum (unless you want to).  This is just my way to help sum up this week’s very good investigation into conceptualizing leadership.

The student said,

“When I skimmed this chapter I actually thought the trait approach was going to be explained differently. It lists certain traits that leaders have, and it describes these traits as innate. I think the idea of a ‘born’ or ‘natural’ leader came from this approach.”

The student was right, trait leadership explains inherited qualities that help us lead.  But as this student was noticing, people who say “she is a natural-born leader,” are really over simplifying the complexity of leadership.

In addition, many times people have traits that others do not recognize as leadership traits, when actually almost all traits can become leadership traits.  Since my students shared with me their traits, I thought I would share a short story about my leadership traits, and the opposite traits of one of my childhood friends.

I was born with a high energy level due to excessive blood sugar cycles. This makes me very productive, but also I have to be careful I don’t deplete these sugars.  Therefore, I have long periods of intense concentration (one is going on right now 🙂 but I also have to be careful to have an energy bar nearby or else I can become fatigued an hour or two before meals or bedtime.

My best friend growing up had a more constant level of blood sugar and thus often operated at a slow, yet dogged, pace to get things done.  He rarely made a deadline.  I was sometimes asked in school to help him get his assignments completed on time. But, it never worked out for he just operated at a slower (and for him natural) pace.  As an adult, I became a professor, where my energy could keep a class interested during three or four hours of lecture.

But he became a CSI investigator working for the federal government.  He is a successful crime investigator, heading a team that slowly analyzes the many pieces of the crime-scene puzzle.  I guess we both discovered jobs that worked well with our “natural-born” leadership traits.

Thanks Northouse for reminding us of this.
 Northouse, P. G. (2012). Introduction to leadership: Concepts and practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

LEADERSHIP & The 5 Recurring Elements in Leadership (according to Northouse.)

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 8/15/15.

My students read the classic book on leadership by Northouse, P. G. (2012). Introduction to leadership: Concepts and practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.  In this book there are dozens of ways (or theories) to look at leadership.

Sometimes students wonder if  there “are any over-all or generally recurring elements in a leader?”

The answer is yes:

1-2)    things leaders are born with (abilities/skills)
3-4)    and things they develop (skills/behaviors)
5)     through collaboration (relationships).

Let me explain why Northouse sees this.  

Northouse sees running through the multiple theories of leadership, five (5) recurring qualities.  In “Introduction to Leadership: Concepts and Practices” (Los Angeles: Sage, 2012:2-6) he explains how all leadership theories are really just looking at leadership as a pentagon of five sides.  He thus weaves together five qualities of all leadership theories: traits, abilities, skills, behaviors and relationships.  Here is my synopsis (with an example):

1. Trait: inherent qualities you are born with (2012:2-3), i.e. high energy and a quick mind.

2. Ability: natural capacity (ibid.), i.e. being naturally good at public speaking

3. Skill: a developed competency (ibid.), i.e. ability to put together a seminar

4. Behavior: what a leaders does with traits, abilities and skills (2012:2-6), i.e. creates popular speaking engagements.

5. Relationships: requires collaboration, i.e. organizes a speaking tour.

Thus, the trait-ability-skill-behavior-relationship pentagon describes how (in all theories) leaders lead by things they are born with (abilities/skills) and things they develop (skills/behaviors) through collaboration (relationships).

Each week I give my students a followup question.

It requires a response and will add significantly to their understanding (and their grade 🙂  So, if you are a student and reading tjhis, make sure you answer the weekly followup questions.  Here is the first.

A.  Describe some leadership quality you were born with and/or comes naturally: _________________________________

B.  Describe how you have expanded it: _________________________________________

C.  Using this foundation, how do you collaborate with others to use these qualities? ____________________________________

I’ll start.

A. Describe some leadership quality you were born and/or comes naturally: high energy, enjoy reading and/or analyzing something.

B. Describe how you have expanded it: I spend a lot of time reading and researching about church growth and change.

C. Using this foundation, how do you collaborate with others to lead: I created a consulting firm to meet with church leaders and work with them through my analysis of their church.

Now, if you are a student share your response in the course forum.  I am looking forward to good insights.  Or if you are reading this wiki- for the resources, this makes a good exercise for your Sunday School class or small group.