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Superheroes — Lessons about Power and Leadership

In Avengers, Batman, Comic Books, Dark Knight, Exploring Leadership, Harry Potter, Justice League of America, Komives, Leader, Malavenda, Movies, Nance Lucas, Pablo Malavenda, Pop Culture, Robert Greenleaf, Servant Leadership, Spider-Man, Timothy McMahon, Tuckman Stages, Uncategorized on July 3, 2012 at 7:22 pm


This summer you can’t escape Superheroes. From the Avengers movie which is smashing all box office records to The Amazing Spider-Man (reboot) to The Dark Knight Rises (big screen’s 7th Batman actor so far) — not to mention Dredd (Judge Dredd reboot) and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance — superheroes are saving the world in teams, with side-kicks, and alone on multiple, multiplex screens.  Even Broadway in New York City is currently smitten with a superhero — Spider-Man — Turn Off the Dark.

Leadership and Power — there is no better example than Superheroes.  According to J.W. Gardner (1990), Power is a social dimension; it is the capacity to ensure the outcomes one wishes and to prevent those one does not wish. Gardner (1990) also explains that Leadership and Power are two different things but are intertwined in many fascinating ways. The important questions are — What do you do with Power when you get it? How did you get the Power? How and when do you use it? Why do you use your Power — toward what ends?

Over the past 25 years, I have led many discussions about Leadership. Everyone has an idea of what Leadership is and what defines a Leader. Since I am more interested in engaging individuals I developed a highly interactive session. My goal is to give the participants an opportunity to think rather than be told what to think. I start the conversation about Leadership and Power with a simple yet important question —


Why Be a Leader?


What are the benefits? Why do individuals aspire, work, lobby, and fight to become the leaders of their groups or communities. Being the “Leader” is often not easy. Being the Leader means taking on responsibility, working harder than others, and not getting much recognition or praise. Being the Leader is often unfair. Leaders rarely get credit for the successes and almost always get blamed for the failures. In many cases, the Leaders are hated just because they’ve been given the title or position of authority. Take for instance the President of the United States. As soon as they win the election, they are hated and disrespected by a large portion of their constituents. Often even Superheroes like Batman, Spider-Man, Green Hornet, Blue Beetle and Green Arrow are misunderstood by the public they are serving and vilified in the media. So why would anyone want to be a Leader? What are the benefits and rewards? The audience thinks and begins to offer answers.

  • Because I could do it better than everyone else
  • To Make things better
  • To have a say in what happens
  • To control what is done
  • To learn and grow personally and professionally
  • To determine your own destiny
  • To give back
  • To serve others
  • To make a difference
  • Because no one else will

When the participants start running out of answers, I usually stop and tell them there are two answers they have missed.  I also share that I am not surprised that neither of these answers have been mentioned yet — because for as long as I have been asking this question, these two answers rarely come up.  They usually look at me dumbfounded.  With a few more hints — they finally realize the two mysteriously missing answers to the question, Why Be a Leader? are: MONEY and POWER. In an academic or intellectual setting, it just isn’t appropriate to share that your goal in life is to be a Leader to get a better position with a better salary, incredible benefits and retirement plan. Emile Henry Gauvreay gives an insightful description of our attitude of Money today in this observation:


I was part of that strange race of people aptly described as spending their lives doing things they detest to make money they don’t want to buy things they don’t need to impress people they dislike.


Pursuing money as a benefit to being a Leader is not all bad unless it is your only motivation.  After all we must live, support our families and feel that we are being compensated appropriately for our work and effort.

And POWER also has a very bad name — individuals in our discussion talked about “control,” “determining the destiny,” and “having a say” — but they won’t use the “P” word for fear of appearing greedy, corrupt and immoral. Power is typically used in a negative context thanks to powerful political leaders and powerful corporate CEO’s who have behaved badly. This quote from Lord Acton in an opinion piece from 1887 says it all:


Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.


As for POWER, again, if it is the sole reason for being a Leader it will most likely bring trouble. But I would argue that POWER is actually quite necessary to make any positive change as a Leader.  Without POWER what really can be accomplished? The key is how you use the power — for good or for evil.

Everyone is with the Justice League. Each member of the Justice League has great power. But unlike the Super Villains, Superheroes use their Power for good not evil. Another example — a bit more obscure — is the Disney movie, Sky High (2005). In looking at Power and Leadership, I love Sky High. The storyline in Sky High is similar to Harry Potter. This 14 year old finds out his parents are very famous Superheroes (The Commander and Jetstream), and he now must attend a special school for Super Heroes kids called Sky High.  The first day of school, the gym teacher has all of the new kids gather in the gym and one at a time they have to show him their super power.  Based on their demonstrated super power, the gym teacher identifies them as Superheroes, Villains, and Side-kicks.  The concept of a side-kick I think is fascinating.  The role is to support and complement the Superhero without ever being in the spotlight. I like this idea because I can definitely see myself more as a side-kick than a Superhero or Villain. Superheroes use their Power for Good — Villains for Evil.

Leaders typically have some degree of Power; but Power can exist without Leadership.  The person who puts a parking ticket on your car’s windshield has Power but not the permission to lead. Parents have Power; School teachers have Power; Mid-managers have Power. Some have power because of their title and position — but they may not be Leaders.  Others get Power because of more intrinsic reasons like their physical appearance and attractiveness, their leadership skills, or ability to persuade others (Gardner, 2003). Superheroes are not Leaders until they can harness and control their Power, understand how their Power may be used for Good, and must commit to using their Power only when necessary and always for the good of others.

Power is essential.  If you read the essays by Robert K. Greenleaf (2002) about Servant Leadership — you see that he acknowledges that indeed little may be accomplished in a community without Power. A wonderful example of an individual whose means and ends were so admirable and so well respected that seeking Power is justified.  The leader is Green Arrow who gained power and used the power to fight crime in his home town. Loki on the other hand used Power to an end that was horrifyingly destructive and despicable. The Justice League of America (JLA) and the Avengers are similar in that each Superhero and Villain acquired their super powers in different ways.  Most gained their super powers because of an accident — like being blasted off their home planet (Superman, Wonder Woman), falling into a vat of toxic goo (The Joker, Poison Ivy), exposed to alien technology (Green Lantern, Blue Beetle, The Thing, Invisible Woman), being exposed to radiation (The Hulk, Captain America), being bitten by a bug (Spider-man), morphed with an animal (The Penguin, Beast Boy), struck by lightning (The Flash), using themselves as  test subjects in an experiment that goes really wrong (Green Goblin).  Others chose to find or create their power like the billionaires who have different identities by day (Ant-Man, Batman, Green Arrow, Iron Man, Wasp).

In Exploring Leadership, Komives et al (2003) affirm that Leaders must have the power to get results. Leaders though must be held accountable. Leaders also must be careful not to hoard power; hence their emphasis on Empowering as a key element of their Relational Leadership Model (Komives, 2008).  Power can be indeed shared and amplified but Leaders should be hesitant to merely give it away (Gardner, 2003). Most of the time Superheroes act alone or with their sidekicks. But this summer with the wildly popular movie The Avengers, we see Superheroes needing to figure out how to work together. Like any group of Leaders who are put together in a team to focus on one task, they progress through a series of stages of group development (Tuckman, 1965).  This is seen in the Avengers — and the success of the movie is that they eventually pass through the “storming” stage, begin to “norm” and ultimately “perform.”  You even see some evidence of them saying goodbye or “adjourning” (Tuckman, 1977).  During the performing stage you can see all of the Superheroes sharing power and in effect amplifying the overall power of the group — of Avengers, who defeated Loki and his alien army. And the DC folks are working on a Justice League of America movie; so, we’ll get a chance to see shared Power and Leadership among Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Cyborg, Flash, and Aquaman soon in a theater near you.

Lastly, J.W. Gardner (2003) cautioned that Leaders must always be accountable. To avoid Leaders hoarding power or using Power for their own benefit, there must be a system of checks and balances.  More importantly, Leaders who are given extraordinary Power must be able to use the Power well. As Spider-Man recalled from his last moments with his surrogate dad, Uncle Ben:


Whatever life holds in store for me, I will never forget these words:

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

This is my gift, my curse. Who am I? I’m Spider-man.


So next time someone asks you “Why Be a Leader?” — don’t be afraid to say for POWER. But don’t forget to explain that like Superman, Batman, Spider-man, and all of the Avengers — YOU will choose to use your POWER for Good not Evil.


References:

  • Gardner, John W. (1990). On Leadership. New York: The Free Press.
  • Gardner, John W. (2003). Living, leading, and the American dream. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Greenleaf, Robert K. (2002). Servant Leadership: A Journey Into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness – 25th Anniversary Edition. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.
  • Komives, Susan R., Lucas, Nance, & McMahon, Timothy R. (2007) 2nd Edition. Exploring Leadership for College Students Who Want to Make a DifferenceSan Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
  • Tuckman, B. W. (1965). Development sequence in small groups. Psychological Bulletin, 63, 384-399.
  • Tuckman, B.W. & Jensen, M.A.C. (1977) Stages of small group development revisitedGroup and Organizational Studies, 2, 419-427.

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Survivor Leadership: 4 Powerful Lessons from Reality TV

In CBS, College Students, diversity, Exploring Leadership, Group Dynamics, Interaction Process Analysis, Komives, Leader, Leadership, life, Malavenda, Nance Lucas, Pablo Malavenda, Pop Culture, Reality TV, Robert Bales, self-fulfilling prophecy, Survivor, Survivor Cook Island, survivor women, Timothy McMahon, TV, TV shows on May 12, 2012 at 8:22 pm

The Complete Guide



The Complete Guide to Survivor Leadership contains 4 Powerful Lessons.  Studying LEADERSHIP by watching the CBS reality TV show, Survivor will give you powerful insights into how leadership develops in teams AKA tribes. I have taught leadership for close to 25 years.  I have used various techniques to make learning leadership meaningful and topical.  As long as Survivor has been on the air, I have been using the reality TV show to emphasis and highlight the various aspects of several leadership models, practices, and theories.  From the first episode through the live Finale show, Leadership is present, can be observed, predicted and studied. The 4 Survivor Leadership Lessons are as follows:


Survivor Leadership


Lesson 1 — The Leadership Primer


This PC Pop blog post is the quintessential Survivor Leadership primer. In this post you will learn about the basic LEADERSHIP models that give the framework for being able to study leadership and how leadership emerges among tribe members. Using Leadership models and theories that emphasize relationships as much as task completion, you begin to understand how Leadership develops among tribe members.  If you love studying leadership you will love finding out how LEADERSHIP is an integral part of the group dynamics on Survivor.  If you read this before watching Survivor, you will begin to see the relationships and interactions on Survivor in a much different way. It makes watching Survivor a much more exciting experience. READ more…


Lesson 2 — Self-Fulfilling Prophecy


This PC Pop blog post discusses a concept called “self-fulfilling prophecy.” In order to study LEADERSHIP among the castaways on Survivor you must examine some of the variables that will impact the group dynamics.  In this post we look at how casting affects the group development and the tone of the tribe communities. Read this post and learn about how casting can reinforce negative stereotypes and complicate the natural development of teams.  If you are interested in how important diversity and inclusion are in Leadership, you will find this post very interesting. READ more…


Lesson 3 — Family First


This PC Pop blog post focuses on what the members of the tribe must be concerned about if they wish to be a LEADER. The tribes within Survivor resemble in many ways a “family.”  This post explores the concept of LEADERS first know who they are before they may be effective.  Leaders must first must know them-SELVES, then their FAMILY, then OTHERS. Once you become self aware of your own talents and issues, have the love, support and coaching from your family — you then impact your community and change the world. LEADERSHIP is about community and family; and this blog post explores that within Survivor.  As you will see sometimes it works and (like this season) sometimes it doesn’t.  You will enjoy the analysis of the men’s tribe; and it will give you more to think about the next time you tune into Survivor. READ more…


Lesson 4 — Serving Your Community


This PC Pop blog post focuses on the importance of Leaders developing a sense of Community. In order to understand others, you must first understand yourself.  You cannot lead a team or tribe unless you understand others enough to include and empower them.  Once they are empowered they must be coached, challenged, and encouraged. In Survivor, your immediate tribe is your core community (small c) or family.  The entire group of castaways regardless of their tribe affiliation and their alliances is the Community (Big C).  Unfortunately, the castaways become so focused on Leading their tribe and playing the game they fail to become great Community Leaders. To examine this further we must look at various LEADERSHIP models particularly Robert Greenleaf’s Servant Leadership. This season there are some clear examples of castaways completely disregarding their community — and getting eliminated. READ more…


Survivor: One Worldthe twenty-fourth season of the American CBS competitive reality television series, premiered on February 15, 2012. I triple love Survivor for many reasons — but mostly because of the LEADERSHIP lessons learned by observing the group development, teamwork and relationships among the castaways. As a self-proclaimed, cultural anthropologist with a specialization in Pop culture — Survivor gives me great joy.  Tune in and let me know what you think.  If you already planned on watching, I hope these four Survivor Leadership blog posts give you something more to observe and reflect upon.  I hope I’ve convinced you it may be worth tuning into Survivor in future. You might find some value in studying Survivor — some value in studying Pop Culture — some value in studying Reality TV.


To understand more about Survivor Leadership, please read each of the PC Pop blog posts 1, 2, 3, 4. Please check back here often because this list will be updated regularly.


CBS Survivor episodes and videos can be viewed online.


Saying Goodbye: You’re Off to Great Places

In Adjourning, Books, College Students, Dr. Seuss, Exploring Leadership, Group Dynamics, Komives, Kouzes, Leader, Leadership, Malavenda, Nance Lucas, Oh the places you'll go, Pablo Malavenda, Posner, Timothy McMahon, Tuckman Stages, Uncategorized on May 6, 2012 at 8:51 pm


Congratulations!

Today is your day.

You’re off to Great Places!

You’re off and away.


Saying Goodbye can be a powerful and transforming action that many Leaders overlook. Leaders spent a tremendous amount of time and energy building a hardworking, cohesive team and often see great results. But Leaders fail to give appropriate praise and recognition which should include some type of ceremony at the end of the year. In many team situations there is a clear and definitive “end” of the year, completion of the work and inevitable dissolution of the relationships. This is especially true in organizations in which the leader, chairperson, or president must be elected (or re-elected) each year — like student organizations and societies in college and high school. It is that time of year when some students are getting ready to graduate and for life after college, and all of the other students are preparing to move on to the next level of leadership. Leaders often let the outgoing members of student organizations just fade away though and allow the incoming  Leaders and the formal graduation ceremonies take precedence. What Leaders must do however is give formal recognition to the accomplishments of the team which has been together for the entire year and most likely has many wonderful things on which to reflect and of which to be proud.

Great Leaders spend part of their tenure recognizing accomplishments, rewarding good work, working on team building and trust among group members, and empowering and encouraging their team members to work hard, take risks and make history. Ironically these same Leaders often leave office and fade away without properly “Saying Goodbye” and more importantly without allowing the team members to say Goodbye to each other. When Kouzes and Posner talked about “Encouraging the Heart” they were not only referring to recognizing individuals throughout the entire year but also having an upbeat year-end celebration to give closure to the entire team (Kouzes & Posner, 2008).

Encouraging the Heart is based on two commitments: recognizing contributions by showing appreciation for individual excellence and celebrating the values and victories by creating a spirit of community (Kouzes & Posner, 2003).  For some leaders Encouraging the Heart comes naturally but for most it is not their strongest trait. Believe it or not it is easier for many Leaders to “Challenge the Process” but Encouraging the Heart frightens them. Yet is it so important that Kouzes and Posner dedicated an entire textbook to this one behavior of their Leadership Challenge — Encouraging the Heart. Now there’s a book, Encouraging the Heart workshops, and the Encouragement Index. So don’t blow it by not coordinating an end of the year celebration. According to Kouzes and Posner the importance of Encouraging the Heart is backed up by research that reports that approximately one-third of North American workers say they NEVER are recognized for a job well done, a little more (44 percent) say they receive little recognition for a job well done, and only 50 percent of Leaders say they give recognition for high performance  (Kouzes & Posner, 2003). Great Leaders know that people matter, and Leader must make people feel in their hearts that they are valued and appreciated — and we’re not necessarily talking about money or salary.


You’ll be on your way up!

You’ll be seeing great sights!

You’ll join the high fliers

Who soar to high heights.


Also remember that every group, team or organization goes through developmental stages explained well by Bruce Tuckman’s Group Development Model. Tuckman’s original stages of development, as you will recall, are as follows: Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing (Tuckman, 1965).  In 1977, Tuckman with Mary Ann C. Jensen added a fifth stage: Adjourning. Adjourning has also been referred to as the De-Forming or Mourning stage.  Tuckman and Jensen (1977) realized the function or design of many groups is to complete a series of tasks and to dissolve.  Even if the group continues to exist the members of the group will be different and the developmental stage would revert to the Forming stage also know as Re-Forming and Re-Storming.  Adjourning allows for the group to continue on with new members, new leadership and a new set of goals and tasks to complete.  According to Tuckman and Jensen (1977): When it is time to end or change the group in some way, managers can be perplexed by the blind refusal to change or contemplate a future that is different from today. This requires the skills of “Change Management” Leaders to be deployed, for example in celebrating the successes of the past whilst steadily revealing the inevitability of the future (Tuckman & Jansen, 1977). As with beginnings, rituals help people cope with the changes of ending. If properly implemented the Adjourning stage which includes Encouraging the Heart behaviors can be transforming for all members including outgoing members and new incoming members as well.

The 3-steps to a successful “Goodbye” are as follows:

  • Celebrate
    • Bring all members together
    • Have a meal
    • Dress up
  • Recognize
    • Say Thank you
    • Recognize major accomplishments
    • Honor members – leaders, staff, volunteers, advisors
    • Give a Keepsake
  • Leave a Legacy
    • Pass the Gavel
    • Introduce New Leadership
    • Share Vision for Future — finances, services, programs, and leadership


On and on you will hike.

And I know you’ll hike far

And face up to your problems

Whatever they are.


From an organizational perspective, plan the ceremony and pick a date as soon as possible.  Get the event in everyone’s calendar and make it an expectation to attend.  Assign the planning of the event to someone on the executive team.  I prefer the event to be coordinated and planned by the vice president.  The VP has enough knowledge and connection to the entire organization to plan something appropriate and special.  Make sure the event is within the budget and communicated as an expectation as well as a priority.  Most of your budget will be needed for food and beverages and the gift to all members.  That being said focus on the objectives of the event which represents the Heart of the organization — the people, relationships, memories, and the personal growth of each member; therefore, don’t let the lack of funds prevent you from planning something creative and special.  Everyone should attend. Everyone who attends should feel very special at the event.  Everyone should be acknowledged, thanked and recognized — EVERYONE.  This is consistent with the principles of the Relational Leadership Model concerning Empowerment and Inclusion (Komives, Lucas, McMahon, 2007). Be careful not to plan one of those banquets that makes a few people feel great and most feel ignored and under-appreciated (again).  A proper Goodbye is wonderful and uplifting for EVERYONE!


And will you succeed?

Yes! You will, indeed!

(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)


How you Say Goodbye is up to you and should be appropriate for the culture and consistent with the values of the organization.  Here are some ideas that may work for you.

  • Thank You — A thank you gift that each member may take away. It may be engraved with the “year” or term of office or something that can be personalized like a picture frame.
    • Flowers — a flower for each outgoing member
    • Gift — glass, mug, picture frame (for the group photo mentioned below)
  • Recognition
    • Plaque – may include photo, name, year or term of office
    • Certificate of Achievement/Excellence — this is most inexpensive recognition item you can give but it will be treasured by the members.  They look great if you use multi-colored certificate paper, and they can be personalized and signed by the VIPs of the organization.  For a few more cents, you purchase certificate covers and fancy stickers and ribbons to make the presentation even more dazzling.  Check with your national/international office for pre-printed certificate paper.
    • Photo of Group — the photo may be distributed electronically or made available online; the photo should include a “key” with names of everyone pictured and not pictured.
    • Logo Item — a lapel pin, patch, medal, hat, fancy pen, coaster, etc.  If the organization is a national/international or has a specific logo, there may be items for sale from the national office.
  • Program
    • Emcee, Keynote, Presenters — decide who will be hosting and emceeing, select and invite a keynote, and select presenters
    • Keynote Remarks — should focus on Leadership and leaving a legacy for the future. Considering using creative, leadership focused quotes and books like Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss. {More information on how to use Story Books in Leadership may be found in this PCPop post: Story Book Leadership: Getting Started.}
    • Script — Write a script. Do not ad lib or “wing it.”  Don’t deviate from the script once it is written because it was developed to give everyone equal recognition and assures that no one is singled out as extra special (unless that is part of the original plan).  We have all witnessed this disaster — when the emcee calls up each member to receive their certificate and offers personal remarks about one particular member and then has to come up with something equally impressive for everyone else.  It never works out well, and it makes the program awkward for everyone.
    • Awards — are optional.  If you choose to give awards like best program, best committee, best chairperson, best senior, best alumnus/a, etc — make sure they don’t do more harm than good.
    • Special Recognition — decide if you wish to honor specific groups or categories of members like all graduating seniors, all executive team members, advisors, staff, or committee chairs.
    • Creative Presentations: Superlatives, Limericks, Funny Awards for each member.  With these creative presentations you must make sure there is one for each member.  A small group of officers or committee members may create these presentations or they can create the awards and superlatives and have the members vote (like “Most Likely to Succeed”).
    • Passing the Gavel: Give the outgoing president an opportunity to give remarks about the year’s accomplishments and highlights.  The outgoing presidents then presents an engraved gavel to the new president for the upcoming year.  The new president shares his/her vision for the next year building on the success and hard work of the outgoing members.
    • Photo/View Slideshow — Every organization should have a director of communications who is responsible for taking pictures and video at all events.  Their ultimate goal is to have enough photos to create a meaningful slideshow for the end of the year banquet.  The slideshow can then be shared online with all members — another gift for all members — as well as alumni and friends of the organization.
    • Music/dancing:
      • Dinner music –if you have the funds, during dinner it is a nice touch to have live music featuring a piano player, jazz combo, violinist, or harpist.
      • Dancing — After the formal presentation, some group may enjoy dancing to a DJ, who will also play “dinner” music and supply you with a microphone and sound system for your keynote and presentations.
  • Food & Beverages — Dinner, Lunch or Breakfast
    • Plated — served, sit-down meal; must coordinate special dietary meals in advance
    • Buffet — hot meal, easier to accommodate special dietary needs
    • Picnic – variety of menus will work: burgers/dogs, steak/potatoes, shish kabobs, bbq (ribs, chicken), clam bake
    • Hors d’oeuvres — this is a great option if your budget will not allow for a full meal but make sure the food is hot and plentiful.
    • Desserts — this is another great low(er)-budget option but make sure you have healthy options too like fruit smoothies, yogurt, granola, fruit salad or fresh fruit platters.
      • Buffet with a chocolate fountain (Yum!)
      • Ice Cream Sundaes — make your own — make sure you have lactose-free (soy) and lower fat options like sherbet.
  • Beverages
    • Cash Bar — general rule of thumb is that if more than half of your honorees and guests are of legal drinking age a cash bar would be appropriate.  You may disagree but I don’t think using organizational funds to pay for an open bar is appropriate.
    • Coffee — if dessert is a part of the event, coffee would be a nice addition.
  • Venue— once you decide on the program and the food you would like to serve, you have a few options for venue.  Remember to ask about catering options, food charges, vegetarian options, tax charge, service fee, tip/gratuity, bar fee, bar minimum, security requirements and any other costs.  Make sure you ask about specific requirements and the cost, if any, for a microphone, lectern, video projector, screen, dance floor, linens, flatware, centerpieces, table for awards, etc. Options for your venue are as follows:
    • Banquet hall
    • Hotel banquet room (tend to charge extra for everything — so, get a quote!)
    • Private home (obviously technology challenges)
    • Park, beach, golf course club house, country club, pavilion, outdoor plaza/patio, neighborhood clubhouse
    • Restaurant — private room
    • Museum, gallery

So…

Be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray

Or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,

You’re off to Great Places!

Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting.

So…get on your way!

(Dr. Seuss, 1990)


It sounds like a lot of work, but the rewards are tremendous.  Each one of your members will feel wonderful about their experience with the organization, be proud of what they were able to accomplish, and be confident that their contributions are appreciated and valued. New incoming members and officers will be inspired to continue to work hard toward accomplishing the mission and vision of the organization.  You will have started a meaningful tradition that members will look forward to attending each year. You will have become a great Leader who is comfortable Encouraging the Heart and understands the importance and significance of the Adjourning phase of group development. “You’re off to Great Places – Today is Your Day – Your Mountain is Waiting – So, Get on Your Way!”


References:

  • Komives, Susan R., Lucas, Nance, & McMahon, Timothy R. (2007) 2nd Edition. Exploring Leadership for College Students Who Want to Make a DifferenceSan Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
  • Kouzes, James M. & Posner, Barry Z. (2003). 2nd Edition. Encouraging the Heart: A Leader’s Guide to Rewarding and Recognizing Others. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
  • Kouzes, James M. & Posner, Barry Z. (2008). 4th Edition. The Leadership Challenge. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
  • Seuss, Dr. (1990). Oh, The Places You’ll Go! New York, New York: Random House.
  • Tuckman, B. W. (1965). Development sequence in small groups. Psychological Bulletin, 63, 384-399.
  • Tuckman, B.W. & Jensen, M.A.C. (1977) Stages of small group development revisitedGroup and Organizational Studies, 2, 419-427.

For more suggestions on must-read LEADERSHIP books, check out this PCPop blog post:


For more on Story Book Leadership, check out these PCPop blog posts:

Survivor Leadership — Chapter 1 — The Leadership Primer

In CBS, Exploring Leadership, Group Dynamics, Interaction Process Analysis, Komives, Leader, Leadership, Malavenda, Nance Lucas, Pablo Malavenda, Pop Culture, Reality TV, Robert Bales, Survivor, Timothy McMahon, TV shows, Uncategorized on February 14, 2012 at 12:06 am




Survivor: One Worldthe twenty-fourth season of the American CBS competitive reality television series, premiered on February 15, 2012. I triple love Survivor for many reasons — one of which may surprise you.  I consider myself a cultural anthropologist with a specialization in Pop culture — so, I force myself to watch as much cable TV and reality TV as possible.  Whether it is another Kardashian or some Wives spin off (including the Mob variety) or another show based in or featuring the colorful residents of the Garden State, I am there. What might surprise you is my assertion that Survivor teaches LEADERSHIP.  Yes, Leadership can be observed and studied by watching Survivor.  On Survivor, Leadership can be seen in a spontaneous and creative manner reinforcing leadership practices, theories and models both contemporary and historic. When I think of Survivor, I think of LEADERSHIP.

Survivor is an exciting experiment because it would not be allowed in most research settings. The basic premise of Survivor would never be approved by IRB. An institutional review board (IRB), also known as an independent ethics committee (IEC) or ethical review board (ERB), is a small group of experts that is formally designated to approve, monitor, and review bio-medical and behavioral research involving humans. On all levels Survivor would be considered high risk, cruel and unusual; and would never be approved by IRB. Part of the attraction of watching Survivor for me is that in most regulated research environments, this type of experiment on humans would be forbidden.  But because it is reality TV — anything goes — and scientists around the globe are jealous and observing — attracted and lured by the Forbidden Fruit. (At least I am.)

The stage is set for the grand experiment for the 24th time.  The producers have assembled 18 “contestants” — 9 women and 9 men.  This group of strangers is stranded on a deserted island or in the middle of the wilderness and forced to work together on tasks and challenges.  If you have watched Survivor you know there are three “tasks” that must be completed almost immediately after these strangers are assigned to their tribes.  Even if you haven’t seen Survivor but you’ve gone camping or played the teambuilding exercise “Earthquake,” you know there are a few survival techniques you can employ.  As you might know, the Earthquake exercise is used to demonstrate the importance of working in a team and the benefits of group decision-making.  The exercise involves ranking of options for surviving an immense earthquake.  Most groups immediately light the candles to illuminate the room and see what they’re doing.  Unfortunately, they end up losing because they blow themselves to smithereens by lighting the candles without first turning off all of the utilities. Ooops.

Robert Freed Bales, considered by many to be the guru of group dynamics and understanding the importance of the role of each team member, made many interesting observations that are directly relevant to Survivor. Bales observed that if you give a specific task to a group of strangers something happens.  Behavior is predictable and patterned and leadership emerges.  With Survivor there are three tasks that need to be completed immediately.

Today Survivors contestants have already watched all of the previous seasons on DVD; so, they know exactly what needs to be done before sundown. Can you guess? Is it “find food”? Nope, you don’t need food to survive but you do need water.  Clean water? Yes, but it also must be drinkable (salt water is clean but not drinkable). To be specific you need clean, drinkable water.


The first three tasks that must be completed by the new tribes before sundown on their first day are as follows:

  1. find clean, potable WATER
  2. build a FIRE
  3. build a SHELTER

Task #1 – find clean, potable (drinkable) water.

Task #2 — build a fire. Fire is important in so many ways.  Fire keeps you warm.  Fire cooks and sterilizes water and tools. Fire keeps away insects and critters and “lions and tigers and bears.” Nuff said.

Task #3 — build a shelter.  One could argue that a shelter is not essential to survival but I would disagree. Shelter gives the tribe a home and a place to “become” a tribe.  Like the town square gives a city a unifying place for the community — so does a shelter.  Also, nothing beats a good night’s sleep.  Tribe morale can be destroyed if the members are not getting a good night’s sleep.  You can’t sleep easily in the rain or with heavy winds. You can’t sleep well on the ground which can chill you to the bone and brings you too close to amphibians, insects and reptiles.  A good shelter can really have a positive overall impact on the entire tribe.


As the tribe members set out to complete these tasks, LEADERSHIP emerges.  Each team member takes on a role based on their actions.  Most actions are positive and help the group achieve its tasks or goals but others are negative.  According to Bales the team member who is the leader is often the member who is talking the most.  This is not because this person is the smartest or has the best ideas.  It is mostly because this person has all of the information from the entire group.  Because this individual is talking the most, other team members are sharing information with this person.  This person has the privilege of holding lots of information and is in the best position to ask questions and offer direction.  These are called “Task Oriented” leadership actions.  Successful leaders though also exhibit “Socio-Emotional” leadership actions.  These actions help to promote harmony within the group and among team members. Harmony is achieved when team members are praised, coached, valued, listened to and empowered. Over time trust is built within the group and the team members begin to perform on extraordinary levels.  A true leader makes sure that tasks are being completed and there is harmony in the team.  Both, not one or the other, are essential.

A leader today is defined as a person who can influence others to be more effective in working to achieve their mutual goals and maintain effective working relationships among members (Komives, 2007).  In this definition offered in Exploring Leadership (Komives, 2007), again there are two elements that define great leaders.  These two things are achieving mutual goals AND maintaining effective working relationships. Both, not one or the other. TASKS and RELATIONSHIPS are both essential in LEADERSHIP.

Soon the 24th season of Survivor begins.  As soon as the tribes get to their camp they will begin the tasks of finding water, building a fire and identifying a location for and building their shelter.  There are always one or two tribe members who take charge with building the shelter.  They identify a location typically near a natural barrier or wall, gather materials for building the floor, walls and roof of the shelter and start delegating tasks and barking orders.  Progress in building the shelter goes well until this self appointed “project manager” notices that not all of the tribe members are contributing.  Commitment to the task of building the shelter is uneven and the workload is not shared equally.  Inevitably there is a group of tribe members who can be seen in the distance chatting it up, laughing, enjoying each other while leisurely wading in the beautiful ocean water on the shore of the majestic beach on which they are all stranded.  The workers pause, wipe the sweat from their brow, feel the oncoming aches and pains of using muscles they haven’t used in months and roll their eyes at these “slackers.”  The resentment and tension begins to develop and rise within this newly defined tribe.

Fast-forward to Tribal Council and you shouldn’t be surprised that the self appointed “project manager” or one of the other hard-working tribe members is voted off FIRST.  Rarely does one of the “slacker” tribe members get voted off.  It is completely logical, right? Vote off the person who worked the hardest and contributed the most to building the shelter, gathering wood, fishing, finding water and food, etc.  Reflecting on our definition of Leadership and Bales’ theory, you know that you must do BOTH — TASK and RELATIONSHIP.  And early in the forming of a team, one would argue that RELATIONSHIP building is more important than TASK achievement.  The hard-working tribe members were certainly TASK oriented but they were not practicing any Socio-emotional Leadership actions.  The tribe members who were chatting it up on the beach were practicing Socio-emotional Leadership actions and “maintain(ing) effective working relationships among members.”  In other words — an icebreaker. In Survivor jargon, it is called building strong alliances.


The tribe members on the beach could not believe that the others could possibly start working together, building a shelter, without first “breaking the ice.”  These tribe members are not “slackers.” Quite contrary, they are working hard on socio-emotional or relationship building actions.

  • Where are you from?
  • How many brothers and sisters do you have?
  • Are you first-born?
  • Do you speak more than one language?
  • Do you prefer country living or city dwelling?
  • What do you read?
  • What music do you listen to?
  • What do you do for fun?
  • Do you squeeze your toothpaste tube from the bottom or from the middle?
  • What is your career or work?
  • Do you have kids?
  • Toilet paper roll — do you prefer over or under?
  • What are your life’s passions?
  • What do you want to be when you grow up?

These tribe members begin to form bonds and alliances based on things they have in common or things they do or do not agree on.  Most importantly, they are building relationships and beginning to care for and trust each other. Regardless of your work ethic, once you begin to know someone and respect them, you will support them, you won’t betray them, and you won’t “vote them off the island.” The one we are most willing to vote off is the one we don’t know much about.  If tribe members ONLY practice TASK oriented actions, they might as well be robots or pieces of machinery — easily voted off with no regrets and no feelings of remorse.The most interesting part of Bales’ observations is that TASK  and SOCIO-emotional are practiced unequally by members of the team; tension will develop between those high on TASK and those low on TASK; great leaders practice both TASK and SOCIO-emotional actions equally; and eventually, team members begin to collectively synchronize their TASK and SOCIO-emotional actions.

Leadership is about having a positive impact and getting things done with a cohesive, talented, supportive team, who is sufficiently challenged and empowered, bring out the best in each other, learn from the experience, and enjoy every minute.  This is why I love SURVIVOR!


(Plus — I met my favorite Survivor, Rupert Boneham, in the pits at the Indy 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and a few months later I met him again at Panera Bread.)


Now that you have the basics, brush up on your leadership models, definitions and theories and get ready to watch it happen among the new tribe members on Survivor: One World.  It is like watching rats in the lab only they’re real people (well, sort of).  Watch the experiment unfold and see if you can predict who the LEADER is.  Is it the the person who took the time to develop relationships AND contribute to the tribe goals and tasks?  Is the leader the member who talks the most?  Are tribe members afraid to be perceived as the leader or do members come in entitled and assertive? Do the leadership roles change?  Do you see leadership skills that you admire?

Mostly I love that it is completely unpredictably, predictable.  We have no idea what is going to unfold within these Survivor tribes but the leadership that emerges is often patterned and predictable. If you are an emerging leader or a scholar of leadership practices and theories, you won’t know what you will see week after week on Survivor — which is fun and exciting.  We all experience it together.  Understanding Bales and other contemporary, relational and reciprocal leadership models, you too can see LEADERSHIP emerge among the tribe members on Survivor — at least for the first four to six episodes each season.  For someone like me who has been teaching Leadership for close to a quarter of a century, some semesters the most exciting part of teaching is the unpredictability and absurdity of Survivor.  Experiencing it with the students as it is happening.

PLEASE NOTE: Of course as the show progresses and the “game” starts to kick in — Survivor’s basic premise of voting off everyone until there is no team, no tribe, and just one sole survivor is the absolute antithesis of the LEADERSHIP model I hope you aspire to following.

Tune in and let me know what you think.  If you already planned on watching, I hope I gave you something more to observe and reflect on.  If you weren’t planning on tuning in this season, I hope I’ve convinced you it may be worth it. Gather a group of “students”; review the basics of Bales’ Interaction Process Analysis, Fielder’s Contingency Model and Least Preferred Co-worker Scale, Komives’ Relational Leadership Model, and any other Leadership model you like; study the Survivor website taking special note of the biographies of the tribe members, watch Survivor with a set of questions and behaviors and actions to look for and observe; and meet after Survivor airs and discuss.  You are now a professor of Leadership. You will be pleasantly surprised how much Leadership you are able to observe and discuss.  You and the students will be excited to learn together. You might even have found some value in studying Survivor — some value in studying Pop Culture — some value in studying Reality TV. Oh my.


Read more about studying Leadership while watching the CBS reality TV show, Survivor, in the PCPop blog posts:





References:



CBS Survivor: One World airs on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. starting February 15, 2012; and can be viewed online.


Leadership Books – Recommended Reading

In Bennis, Blanchard, Books, Burns, Covey, DePree, Exploring Leadership, Group Dynamics, Komives, Leader, Leadership, Lists, Malavenda, Nance Lucas, Pablo Malavenda, Timothy McMahon, Uncategorized, Wooden on June 18, 2011 at 10:01 pm

I am often asked “what’s a good leadership book?” I originally created this list for a keynote entitled Leadership Books that Student Leaders Should Read and have kept it updated since based on new discoveries and suggestions from others. If you have searched the web for leadership books or browse your local bookstore for books about leadership, you know that there are lots and lots of leadership books.  But most of them are not worth your time.  The books below are ones that have inspired me with new ideas, practical methods, and contain important elements of leadership like inclusion, ethics, team-work, service, creativity and social justice. This is not a comprehensive list but rather and guide for getting started.  The second section is called Leadership Light. These titles are intended to re-energize you or be focus on one specific topic.

Leadership Books:

  • Bennis, Warren G. (2009). 4th Edition. On Becoming A Leader. New York: Basic Books.
  • Burns, James MacGregor. (1978). Leadership. New York: HarperCollins.
  • Burns, James MacGregor. (2003). Transforming Leadership: A New Pursuit of Happiness. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press.
  • Collins, James C. (2001). Good to Great. New York: HarperCollins.
  • Covey, Stephen R. (1992). Principle-centered Leadership. New York: Fireside.
  • Covey, Stephen R. (1989). The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. New York: Fireside.
  • Gardner, Howard (1995). Leading Minds: An Anatomy of Leadership. New York: Basic Books.
  • Gardner, John W. (1990). On Leadership. New York: The Free Press.
  • Greenleaf, Robert K. (2002). Servant Leadership: A Journey Into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness – 25th Anniversary Edition. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.
  • Harari, Oren. (2002). The Leadership Secrets of Colin Powell. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Hersey, P., & Blanchard, K. (1977) 6th Edition. Management of Organizational Behavior: Utilizing Human Resources. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  • Komives, Susan R., Lucas, Nance, & McMahon, Timothy R. (2007). 2nd Edition. Exploring Leadership for College Students Who Want to Make a Difference. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
  • Kotter, John P. (1996) Leading Change. Boston: Harvard Business Review Press.
  • Kouzes, James M. & Posner, Barry Z. (2011). Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
  • Kouzes, James M. & Posner, Barry Z. (2008). 4th Edition. The Leadership Challenge. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
  • Kouzes, James M. & Posner, Barry Z. (2008). The Student Leadership Challenge: Five Practices for Exemplary Leaders. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
  • Lencioni, Patrick. (1998). The Five Temptations of a CEO. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
  • White, B. Joseph (2006). The Nature of Leadership: Reptiles, Mammals, and the Challenge of Becoming a Great Leader. New York: American Management Association.
  • Wooden, John, Jamison, Steve (2005). Wooden on Leadership. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Leadership Light:
  • Byham, William (1988). Zapp! The Lightning of Empowerment. New York: Fawcett Columbine.
  • DePree, Max (1989). Leadership is an Art. New York: Dell Publishing.
  • DePree, Max (1992). Leadership Jazz. New York: Dell Publishing.
  • Farber, Steve, Kelly, Matthew (2009). Greater Than Yourself: the Ultimate Lesson of True Leadership. New York: Crown Publishing.
  •  Hoff, Benjamin. (1982). The Tao of Pooh. New York: Dutton.
  • Johnson, Spencer & Blanchard, Kenneth H. (1993). The One Minute Manager. New York: Berkley.
  • Johnson, Spencer & Blanchard, Kenneth H. (1998). Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal With Change in Your Work and in Your Life. New York: Putnam.
  • Lundin, Stephen C. (2000). Fish! A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results. New York: Hyperion.
  • Ruiz, Don Miguel. (1997). The Four Agreements. San Rafael, California: Amber-Allen Publishing.
You will either be led or lead in every aspect of your life from work to school to your family or your neighborhood.  Leadership needs to be thoughtful and leaders must practice, practice, practice.  Taking risks and making mistakes is a critical part of learning and developing your personal leadership skills.

I hope this list gets you motivated to learn more about leadership, be a leader in your community, and become a role model for other aspiring and emerging leaders.

Leader Up!