Course Units

Unit One: Developing A Personal Leadership Philosophy

In this unit, students examine different views of leadership and establish the foundation for a personal leadership philosophy. Excerpts from the Humanities include material from Plato’s Republic. Simon Bolivar’s famous Angostura Address outlines his philosophy of leadership in liberating much of South America from European colonizers in the early nineteenth century. The classic film, Twelve O’Clock High, portrays contrasting leadership philosophies and students explore the underlying assumptions of each approach.

Unit Two: Leading By Serving

Service to others and the public good is the cornerstone of great leadership. This unit explores in detail Servant Leadership and demonstrates compellingly that leadership in any field of endeavor requires a reversal of the conventional wisdom that exhorts simply to lead: it argues that the important thing is to serve. Included as the Classic Case are excerpts from Journey to the East by Hermann Hesse, which inspired Robert Greenleaf’s seminal writing on “The Servant as Leader,” also part of the unit. The Leadership Profile comes from a narrative of Harriet Tubman’s leadership showing service combined with leadership. A contemporary example of true servant leadership is portrayed in the Film Study of Hotel Rwanda.

Unit Three: Understanding Ethical Leadership

This unit introduces students to the concepts of personal and institutional social responsibility and social responsiveness. It also surveys the process of ethical reasoning and its tools. In Herman Melville’s Billy Budd, Captain Vere faces a critical ethical dilemma. Confucius’ philosophy of leadership from The Analects contains significant excerpts on ethical leadership. Some of Gandhi’s writing on the philosophical foundation of non-violent resistance appears in the additional readings for this unit. Finally, the true story of The Tuskeegee Experiment and its lessons in ethical leadership is presented in the film Miss Evers’ Boys.

Unit Four: Articulating A Vision

Inspiring a shared vision is one of the most difficult tasks a leader faces. There is a critical link between a leader’s vision and his or her ability to communicate its essence powerfully. Three speeches from Shakespeare’s Henry V, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Abraham Lincoln provide students the opportunity to examine excellent examples of articulating a vision. In addition, students observe the skill and drive with which suffragettes Alice Paul and Lucy Burns and others communicated their vision in the film Iron Jawed Angels.

Unit Five: Team Building

An effective leader engages in team building activities to increase the effectiveness of groups and the satisfaction of individuals working in groups. An excerpt from John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath underscores the importance of trust, courtesies, and establishing routine procedures for effective team building. A speech by Cesar Chavez demonstrates the organizational side of creating a team with unity of purpose. Students also observe the phenomenal team-building skills of football coach Herman Boone in Remember the Titans.

Unit Six: Leading With Goals

Goals are the stepping stones to personal, interpersonal, and career development and are critical for effective leadership. The Classic Case from George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion illustrates the importance of keen focus on goals and the necessary ingredients for reaching goals. Frederick Douglass’ autobiography provides a historical example of effective goal setting. Excerpts from Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, and a Film Study of Apollo 13 provide further examples of the importance of effective goal setting.

Unit Seven: Making Decisions

This unit investigates the processes of decision making first from a personal perspective with an excerpt from Huckleberry Finn, and then from a broader perspective when decisions will affect many with Chief Joseph of the Nez Perces who recounts the difficulties of weighing consequences in his 1879 speech “An Indian’s View of Indian Affairs.” George Orwell’s essay “Shooting an Elephant” reflects on the power of outside influences on our decisions. Students examine the decision making processes during the Cuban Missile Crisis in the Film Study of Thirteen Days as well as in an exercise using the film Twelve Angry Men.

Unit Eight: Guiding Through Conflict

In this unit, students learn that the leader’s task is not to remove conflict, but to choreograph it so as to reduce its harmful side effects, maximize its positive benefits, and maintain civility. Excerpts from Homer’s The Iliad illustrate the kind of conflict that can bring organizations down. Judith Olmstead describes the conflict management skills of Chimate Chumbolo in excerpts from Woman Between Two Worlds: Portrait of an Ethiopian Rural Leader. The Federalist: Number 10, by James Madison, offers profound insight regarding the corrosive effect of organizational conflict and makes specific recommendations for its remedy. In addition, for the Film Study, facilitators will guide students in an exploration of one or more films illustrating contemporary issues that heighten tensions between groups and create barriers to understanding.

Unit Nine: Realizing Change

One of the most important tasks of the leader is to encourage the ongoing rejuvenation of a group or organization. Plato’s Allegory of the Cave speaks eloquently to the problems a leader faces when he or she tries to change the organization. The words of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony describe the resistance they face and their determination to bring about change. Finally, Letter From Birmingham Jail, by Martin Luther King, Jr., compellingly explains the need for change and how change can happen. Schindler’s List provides a powerful example of how one person, the accountant Levin, initiates important and meaningful change in Oskar Schindler who not only changes his own life, but the lives of over a thousand others.

Unit Ten: Empowering Others

Empowerment is an important concept for effective leadership. Sophocles’ Antigone illustrates how an individual with no structural or formal power can give power and meaning to individuals or a community. Nelson Mandela also empowered many even while imprisoned and excerpts from his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom describe his approaches. The film Norma Rae portrays the empowering leadership of a union organizer and a determined factory worker.

Unit Eleven: Exploring the History of Leadership Studies

The use of the Humanities is on center stage in this final unit. Excerpts from Aristotle’s Politics highlight the importance of European Ancient Civilizations in leadership studies, and excerpts from Lao-Tzu’s Tao Te Ching show the importance of Asian Ancient Civilizations. Together, these selections point out the ancient roots of two prominent schools of thought regarding leadership: Great Man/Great Woman theory and Servant Leadership. This unit includes more Humanities readings than any other with additional literary excerpts from The Once and Future King, by T.H. White, and The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair, to illustrate the dominance of Great Man/Great Woman theory and the emergence of Scientific Management theory. An excerpt from Abram Maslow introduces Human Relations theory, and the autobiographical writings of Aung San Suu Kyi introduce Systems theory. The film Elizabeth gives students the opportunity to consider whether Great Man theory provides a framework for understanding female leadership as well or if other theories better describe the leadership of Queen Elizabeth I.