Program Philosophy

Our Purpose

Among scholars and practitioners alike, there is general consensus that organizations are over-managed and under-led (e.g., Bennis & Nanus, 1985; Kotter, 1990). Moreover, most scholars believe that leadership is not a genetic gift, but rather an emergent process that must be nurtured and developed intentionally (e.g., Bennis, 1989; Day, 2001; Kotter, 1990). Based on these assumptions, the JMU Strategic Leadership Doctoral Program aims to develop innovative new leaders who will effectively lead educational and nonprofit organizations.

Leadership Defined

Characteristics of an Effective Leader

Effective leaders possess strong social skills (e.g., Ferris, Perrewé, & Douglas, 2002), including emotional intelligence (e.g., Goleman, 1995), the capacity to persuade (e.g., Cialdini, 2001), hard and soft power skills (e.g., Nye, 2008), and political skills (e.g. Ferris, Davidson, & Perrewé, 2005).

Moreover, leaders possess and exhibit qualities consistent with various theories of leadership, including (1) ethical leadership (e.g., Treviño, Hartman, & Brown, 2000), (2) transformational leadership (e.g., Bass, 1990), and (3) strategic leadership (e.g., Boal & Hooijberg, 2001; Cannella & Monroe, 1997).   These three leadership theories are described below:

Types of Leaders

Ethical leaders are able to craft perceptions of themselves as moral persons and moral managers (Treviño et. al., 2000). They are viewed as honest, trustworthy, and fair. Moreover, they exhibit high consideration behavior consistent with the "individualized consideration" tenet of transformational leadership (e.g., Bass, 1990).

Transformational leaders (e.g., Bass, 1990) are generally charismatic people capable of influencing others to motivate themselves to accomplish tasks consistent with the leader's vision.  Transformational leaders effectively provide "individualized consideration" to key stakeholders (e.g., employees), influence in idealized ways, have a compelling vision that is motivating to others, and are intellectually stimulating. A recent addition to transformational leadership theory is 'authentic transformational leadership' (e.g., Bass & Steidlmeier, 1999; Price, 2003), which focuses on behavioral motives and differentiates between ethical and unethical transformational leaders. Authentic transformational leaders possess "a moral foundation of legitimate values" (Bass & Steidlmeier, 1999: 184) and emphasize espoused values (both personal and professional), virtues, character, judgments and behavioral processes that are altruistic, congruent, and "true to self and others" (191).

 In addition to possessing the characteristics of ethical leaders and authentic transformational leaders, effective leaders are also strategic leaders (Boal & Hooijberg, 2001; Cannella & Monroe, 1997). Proponents of strategic leadership theory (e.g. Boal & Hooijberg, 2001; Cannella & Monroe, 1997) argue today's organizational leaders typically face increasingly hyper-turbulent organizational environments and, to be effective, must possess various capacities to act wisely, such as absorptive capacity (e.g., the ability and willingness to continually learn relevant knowledge), adaptive capacity (e.g. the ability and willingness to be flexible and change), managerial wisdom (which includes discernment and Kairos time - "the capacity to take the right action at a critical moment"),  and vision (both industry-specific and market-specific vision). Moreover, they must stay continually tuned in to all salient stakeholders and manage the creation of meaning and purpose in (and for) their organizations (Boal & Hooijberg, 2001).

 In addition to ethical, transformational, and strategic leadership, there are several other types of leadership that will be discussed in the program, including bureaucratic (Weber, 1905), charismatic (Weber, 1905), autocratic (Lewin, Lippitt, & White, 1939), democratic (Lewin, Lippitt, & White, 1939), laissez-faire (Lewin, Lippitt, & White, 1939), people-oriented (Fiedler, 1967), task-oriented (Fiedler, 1967), servant (Greenleaf, 1977), transactional (Burns, 1978).

Goals of Leadership

 One of the primary goals of leadership is to foster an organizational culture that develops self-leadership amongst all organizational members. Self-leadership is a self-influence process by which workers apply the self-direction and self-motivation necessary to optimize job task performance (Manz, 1986; Manz and Neck, 2004). Importantly, throughout the program students will learn and have the opportunity to discuss and observe similarities and differences between managing and leading. Many authors have argued the differences between management and leadership (e.g., Bennis, 1989; Bennis & Nanus, 1985; Kotter, 1990, 1999).

Definitions of Leadership

There are many definitions of leadership. Some of the more widely used definitions include the following four. "Leadership is the ability of a superior to influence the behavior of a subordinate or group and persuade them to follow a particular course of action" (Barnard, 1938). "Influencing a group of people to move towards ... goal achievement" (Stogdill, 1950). "Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality" (Bennis, 1988). "The capacity to create a compelling vision and translate it into action and sustain it" (Bennis, 1989). Applying these definitions along with the descriptors and theories, we offer the following definition for the Strategic Leadership Doctoral Program: Leadership is the process of creating and communicating a compelling and ethical vision that others willingly follow and implement.

Leadership in the Program

The Strategic Leadership doctoral program is designed to help students learn about these topics, but also how to apply appropriate leadership functions for each situation. This 'situational' (Hersey & Blanchard, 1969, 1988) or 'contingent' (Fiedler, 1967) leadership style is widely considered appropriate, especially in today's organizational settings. Early courses (e.g., LEAD 600) will provide foundational leadership content and applicable theories. This includes reading original research on theory on leadership topics. Later coursework and field work (e.g., LEAD 890) will provide students with the opportunities to revisit, discuss, and apply the leadership content in real-world settings.

The curriculum chart illustrates where various aspects of leadership are taught and reinforced.  One distinguishing approach in this academic program is the continual emphasis of the "big picture" or macro perspectives.  Whereas management covers more specific situations and how they are best handled, leadership addresses questions such as: "What are intermediate and long range goals?"; "Should our organization be doing this at this time?"; "Why are we proceeding in this direction?"; and. "What is the impact upon our organization, other stakeholders, and society?"  This mindset of conceptualizing several action steps and various consequences beforehand will be constantly reinforced.

Leadership and Management

The Strategic Leadership doctoral program is designed to develop effective leaders by providing students with learning environments (on campus, online and in the field) that will enable them to develop a compelling and ethical strategic vision of organizational improvement, effectively communicate that vision, facilitate goal development and achievement, foster a trust-based environment, and inspire and persuade followers to proactively take steps to achieve the vision.  Graduates of our program will be better prepared to lead their organizations by learning new competencies and understanding different ways of leading and managing. They will also get to practice their new knowledge and skills in a real-world, capstone course and in externship settings (i.e., LEAD 890).

Our belief is that our students will need to improve both their managerial competencies and their (likely nascent) leadership skills. Given scarce resources in most organizations, there are very few purely leadership (or strategic visioning) positions--most require some combination of management and leadership responsibilities. Those in leadership roles must also have management competencies: implementing the strategic vision, linking the organizational mission and objectives to group and individual goals and tasks, delegating tasks, handling day-to-day operations, and more. Also, building trust and followers requires managerial competencies--few workers trust or will willingly follow an incompetent boss. Similarly, the best managers inspire subordinates and other stakeholders to follow their lead. Our graduate-level business courses will hone students' managerial competencies within a "big picture" leadership context.


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