During Week 1, you will be asked to explore the concept of leadership (Chapter 1) and two main perspectives of leadership. The trait approach will be examined in Chapter 2 and the contingency approach will be considered in Chapter 3. You will also be asked to introduce yourself (Discussion 1) and participate in two discussion forums. Discussion 2 is devoted to an examination of the possible benefits and costs of a leader’s awareness of his/her strengths and weaknesses, whereas Discussion 3 is devoted to understanding the relationship between ethical guidelines and leadership.
The purpose of this guidance document is to go beyond the information given in the textbook and challenge you to become a critical consumer of information.
Before we begin our journey
Always keep in mind that knowledge is acquired through exposure and reiteration. Knowledge acquisition is a process that takes time and effort. Thus, be patient with yourself! Week 1 contains a lot of new concepts and facts. Read the required materials and then ask yourself practical questions about the concepts that you have encountered. Always keep in mind that critical thinking is an essential component of learning. It makes us skeptical (i.e., less gullible) consumers of information. Thus, question the information you find in the textbook and in the assigned readings. If you do so, not only you will write engaging and valuable posts, but also you will help others learn information. Learning is a two-way street. You can learn some interesting facts and ideas from your instructor and your peers. At the same time, instructor and peers can learn interesting facts and ideas from you. Thus, share your knowledge with others. Lastly, keep in mind that personal viewpoints, experiences, anecdotes are valuable, but need to be supported by scientific evidence.
For instance, let’s consider an issue that will be discussed thoroughly during Week 1: Can ‘personality traits’ explain individual differences in leadership? To answer this question, engage your critical thinking skills: Consider a situation where two separate individuals in a position of leadership (e.g., John and Paul) are confronted with a provocation. Can personality traits explain why John may respond to a provocation by shouting, whereas Paul may respond to the same provocation with a shrug? Furthermore, can personality traits explain why John may respond to the same provocation by shouting one day and by walking away the next day? Philip Zimbardo, a renowned social psychologist, has argued that personality traits do not explain behavior, but merely describe it. Zimbardo has proposed that the context (e.g., the situation faced by an individual) can turn an honest person into the devil, and a devil into an honest person (Zimbardo, 2007). If you discuss Zimbardo’s viewpoint, cite the scientific findings upon which it is based. Below is an example of the source you may consult:
Zimbardo, P. G. (2007). The lucifer effect: understanding how good people turn evil / Philip Zimbardo. New York: Random House, c2007.
Alternatively, if you are interested in the field of emotion research, try to find an example of a study in which psychologists have examined the extent to which emotions can control behavior, including the actions of leaders (e.g., consider how a change from sadness to happiness can increase a person’s activity level, thereby enhancing his/her willingness to take risks). Then discuss its content with the class. Of course, make sure that you cite the article you found so that peers and the instructor can read it too. Below is an example of the source you may consult for your post:
Leith, K., & Baumeister, R. F. (1996). Why do bad moods increase self-defeating behavior?
Emotion, risk taking, and self-regulation. (Special Issue: The Self and Social Identity). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, (6),