Take Me to Your Leader
Look up National Public Radio’s program “Take Me to Your Leader.” During a two-week road trip during the presidential campaign of fall 2008, three NPR staffers traveled across the United States asking local people about their community leaders. One of the goals of the program was to show that leadership happens in other arenas besides politics.
- Option 1: On the website, listen to the audio recording of Greg Bock’s profile: “A Small-Town Fire Chief Juggles Big Responsibilities.” How does Bock show concern for relationships? For tasks? How might these behaviors be expressed by leaders in other lines of work?
- Option 2: Listen to several audio stories of community leaders. Which story is most meaningful to them? Why? Do the interviewees consider themselves to be leaders? What new insights do you gain about leadership styles from these stories?
- Option 3: Conduct your own community survey, informally interviewing people in town (storekeepers, firefighters, teachers) about who they think the community leaders are and how they lead. Conduct follow-up interviews with the identified leaders.
Northouse states that many training and development companies use the styles approach to teach managers how to become more effective. Look up several of these programs online. Most will list the services they offer and associated fees. But there are some that offer free tips for improving one’s skills.
- To what extent are these courses (either free or fee based) based on research? What makes them persuasive or attractive to potential customers?
- Look for advice that would help a person develop one or more of the behaviors listed on the Style Questionnaire. How realistic or helpful is the advice? Write a brief report, citing their sources.
Tweeting like a Leader
If you are following a thought leader on Twitter throughout the term, report on how the leader’s tweets reflect his/her leadership style. You can print out the tweets over a period of a month and then code them using the items on the Behavior Questionnaire or other criteria you choose to measure task and relational behaviors. Behavior Questionnaire items can be adapted for a coding scheme as follows: Does the tweet tell people what they are supposed to do such as act friendly, help people feel comfortable, suggest how to solve problems, and so on? Select one tweet that is especially effective and explain why. Similarly, choose a tweet that is unsatisfactory and explain why. What are the implications for the leader’s effectiveness?