Leadership: What do effective leaders do?
Leadership is a topic that has fascinated people for centuries. From antiquity to today, people have looked up to outstanding individuals who through their own actions and their influence on others have left a mark on this world—individuals like Abraham Lincoln, who held the United States together even as it was ridden by civil war; like Steve Jobs who changed the computer industry and introduced the smart phone to the mass market; like Anita Roddick who founded the cosmetics company The Body Shop and turned it into a multi-million business despite fierce competition; and like Mother Theresa whose charitable work for the poorest of the poor has inspired many around the globe to be caring for those in need. These and other world leaders serve as great exemplars from whom we can learn about leadership.
But we do not necessarily have to look at the world stage to find great leaders. Indeed, we can often find great leaders in our own circle—for example, in our workplaces, our communities, or our families. A respected supervisor at work might be one of them, or the coach of the local basketball team, or the family member that successfully runs a business unit. These leaders also leave a mark on this world, and even though their names might not be as widely known as those of world leaders, they too can serve as role models that hold clues for us about what it means to be an effective leader.
In this course, you will learn about what it takes to be an effective leader and to have great managerial skills, so that you too can join the ranks of those who leave a mark on this world when your time comes. If you are already in a position that involves supervising others, this course will help you improve upon the way you manage and lead yourself and those who look to you for guidance and inspiration.
This course is divided into four chapters. In the first chapter, we begin with a discussion of what leadership is. We will find out that although it is not easy to define leadership, there has been plenty of research on leadership over the last hundred years and that, based on this research, we have a fairly good understanding today of what distinguishes effective from ineffective leadership. We will also learn that being a leader is different from being a manager, and that both roles are important and can be learned. In the second chapter, we will zoom in on effective management. We will discuss in considerable detail how managers can organize work, avoid problems, and incentivize performance. In the third chapter, we will shift our focus to effective leadership. Here, we will discover how leaders can provide a compelling vision and be charismatic. We will learn that leadership involves stimulating critical and creative thinking, and that effective leaders genuinely care about the people who look up to them for guidance and inspiration. The chapter will conclude with a guide to how leaders can successfully bring about change. Once we have learned about how you can effectively manage and lead others, the fourth chapter will address the question of how you can lead yourself. We will discover that at the core of leadership is a personal purpose, a driver that propels individuals into action, and that those who have the will to pursue their purpose are able to lead themselves. The course ends with a conclusion that reviews the topics that we covered and offers some final thoughts on leadership and management.
This course is based on a script by Professor Jochen Menges. Jochen holds the Chair of Leadership and Human Resource Management at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, Germany. Previously, he was appointed as a university lecturer in Human Resources and Organizations at Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge, UK. He received his doctoral degree in management from the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland, spent a year at the Graduate School of Arts and Science at Yale University, USA, and completed undergraduate and graduate degrees in psychology at the University of Heidelberg, Germany.
Professor Menges’ research focus is on the social dynamics between leaders and followers, and the role of emotions in organizational life. He primarily conducts field studies in organizations, analyzes archival data, and runs carefully controlled experiments. He has published his work, for example, in Harvard Business Review, The Leadership Quarterly, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Research in Organizational Behavior, and Organizational Research Methods. Professor Menges’ discoveries have been featured in the media around the world, for example, by the BBC, CNN, The Economist, The Financial Times, Le Monde, NPR, The Wall Street Journal, and Die Zeit.