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Running Head: LEADERSHIP AND THE LIBERAL ARTS

Leadership and liberal learning:


Unleashing human potential
Heidi Loos
Indiana Wesleyan University

LEADERSHIP AND THE LIBERAL ARTS

Leadership and the liberal arts: Unleashing human potential


Introduction
Practicality is at the forefront of our culture. College students, especially, are encouraged
to pursue practical degrees, engage in practical field experience, and settle into a practical job.
Consequently, practical degrees, such as business, are increasingly prevalent and the value of a
liberal arts education is under question (Roche, 2013). Holmes (2010) describes this
phenomenon that haunts many students on the verge of embarking on a career as the what-canI-do-with-all-this-stuff (p. 24) question. Subjects like leadership, therefore, become no more
than a self-marketing tool to obtain a better job. While some systems do necessitate practicality,
Holmes (2010) contends that it should not be our primary objective and, in opposition to this
mindset, presents a new question: What is this doing to me as a person? (p.25). With the
example of leadership, the focus of the study shifts from self-marketability to self-development.
The primary goal of leadership being, therefore, the extension of a humans potential, rather than
a furthering a career. This paradigm shift also views the whole of education as a means of
liberation and actualization of human potential (Holmes, 2010; Riggs et al., 2007). In short,
education is about being over doing.
Through acknowledging that being is more important than doing, this discussion
approaches the subjects of the liberal learning and leadership. This discussion seeks to integrate
leadership within the liberal learning curriculum to illuminate how both leadership and liberal
learning are integral parts to what it is to be human and fulfill human potential in oneself and

LEADERSHIP AND THE LIBERAL ARTS

within others. This discussion also reveals how various subjects inform leadership theory and
are useful in leadership development.
The discussion will begin by reviewing literature on various leadership theories, which
will then be synthesized into a working definition of leadership used for the remainder of the
discussion. The discussion will then examine the various disciplines of the liberal arts and the
role it has in leadership development. In a similar manner, the professional field of public
relations is also addressed and utilized for leadership integration. The discussion will conclude
with recommendations for the practice of leadership and a reflection on personal leadership from
the topics addressed.
Literature Review
Leadership Theories
Ideas and theories on the definition, identification, execution, and implications of leadership
are not scarce. Discussions regarding whether leadership is strictly positional (Silva, 2014),
genetically inherent or learned (Arvey, Zhang, Avolio, & Krueger, 2007; Bennis, W. G. y
Thomas, R. J., 2002, Silva, 2014), and constant or situational (Fiedler, 1954; Silva, 2014; Vroom
& Jago, 1988) are among those that commonly surface. Discussions, such as these, have led to
countless definitions for leadership and even discrepancies in the meaning of leadership as a
whole (Northouse, 2010). The study of leadership, therefore, demands special rigor into a variety
of leadership theories and definitions developed through research.
Amidst the array of sound leadership theories, several theories persist and remain widely
accepted among leadership scholars. This discussion will examine a few of those theories that
address the aforesaid common discussions on leadership: situational leadership, path-goal theory,

LEADERSHIP AND THE LIBERAL ARTS

leader-member exchange theory, transformational leadership, and servant leadership. This study
will then present a definition of leadership based on these theories that will be utilized for the
remaining discussion on the liberal arts.
Situational leadership. In the late 1960s, researchers Hersey and Blanchard (1969)
introduced a new theory of leadership that addressed the effect of followers maturity and
varying leadership styles. Originally termed the life cycle theory of leadership (Hersey &
Blanchard, 1969), the theory evolved through revision and became widely accepted as situational
leadership by the late 1970s due to the theorys emphasis on a rational evaluation of a situation
for effective leadership (Graeff, 1997).
Hersey (2001) states that the core competencies of situational leadership are the
capability to assess the ability, competency, and commitment of followers and adjust ones
leadership style accordingly. The adjustment of leadership styles is based on interplay between
task-oriented (directive) versus relationally-oriented (supportive) styles (Graeff, 1997; Hersey,
2001). The theory asserts that the leaders must adapt their leadership style according to various
situations in order to be effective (Giltinane, 2013). The leaders determining factor for adjusting
his or her leadership approach is subject to the development, or maturity, of the followers as it
relates to their psychological development and competency of the job at hand (Hersey &
Blanchard, 1969). The model developed by Hersey and Blanchard in 1985 describes the various
approaches based on the amount of supportive versus directive behavior: delegating (low
supportive, low directive), supporting (high supporting, low directing), coaching (high
supportive, high directing), and directing (low supportive, high directing) (Graeff, 1997;
Northouse, 2010).

LEADERSHIP AND THE LIBERAL ARTS

Situational leadership theory offers a dynamic approach to leadership styles, recognizing


the variability in followers competencies and the ability of a leader to exercise multiple styles
accordingly. In an overview of the theory, author Peter Northouse (2010) identifies that one of
the strengths of the situational theory is the acknowledgment that there is not one best leadership
style for all situations. Instead, the theory broadens the opportunities for effectiveness through
the various styles. One study expanded on this strength by recognizing the possibility to reach
substantial untapped potential(p. 334) within followers through varying leadership styles
(Norris & Vecchio, 1992).
Several researchers, still, criticize the legitimacy of the situational theory. Although
multiple altercations have arisen, the main critique addresses the lack of attention to the
interaction between leaders and followers (Nicholls, 2006; Parry & Bryman, 1975; Graeff,
1997). In response to this critique, a new wave of leadership theories began to develop that took
the positive attributes of the situational theory of leadership, such as its ability to inspire greater
potential in followers, and adapted it into subsequent theories that also accounts for an increased
exchange between leaders and followers.
Path-goal theory. A decade after the acceptance of situational leadership, a new theory
emerged from a management theory known as expectancy theory (Mitchell, 1974). The major
assumption of expectancy theory is employees are motivated to achieve a goal if they believe
their actions will result in a positive reward (Vroom, 1964). Researchers took the perception of
motivation and applied it to leadership theory creating the path-goal theory of leadership (House,
1971) that increases followers motivations changing their perception of the goal and supporting
them on the path to get there (House & Mitchell, 1975). Unlike situational leadership style based
on followers (Northouse, 2010), path-goal theory looks at a leaders individual style as one factor

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taken into consideration, along with environmental, subordinate and task characteristics and then
assesses how best to motivate and move followers toward the common goal amidst these
constraints (Wofford & Liska, 1993).
Path-goal leadership has endured revisions since its establishment by House in 1971
(House, 1996), however, the major premises are still present. Path-goal leadership seeks to
motivate followers through changing behaviors for one purpose to achieve the shared goal
(House & Mitchell, 1975). The leader role is to provide coaching, support, direction, etc. in order
to increase the expectancies, instrumentalities and valences (Wofford & Liska, 1993, p. 857).
Essentially, the role of a leader present through the path-goal theory is to motivate and equip
followers, whether through changing their own behavior, removing obstacles or providing
incentive, to accomplish a meaningful vision one of which they are convinced (House &
Mitchell, 1975; House, 1971; House, 1996; Wofford & Liska, 1993).
LMX theory. Both situational leadership and path-goal theory share the necessity for the
leader to account for the characteristics of the followers and adjust accordingly. The leadermember exchange (LMX) theory (as well as the remaining theories in this discussion), however,
not only assesses the follower but takes leader-follower relationships to a deeper level by
studying their interactions (Graen & Uhl-bien, 1995; Northouse, 2010). LMX also expands
leadership theory by analyzing individual interactions as opposed to the leaders relationship
with the followers as a collective whole (Graen & Uhl-bien, 1995; Lunenburg, 2010; Northouse,
2010). It is through those relationships, or partnerships, between leaders and their followers that
an organization holds stable social structures and can make effective progress toward a goal
(McClane, 1991).

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According to early models of LMX, the social structures created through the individual
relationships of the followers with the leader create various levels of confidence with the leader
(McClane, 1991). This can create in-group and out-group relationships in which the leader
has a few followers of whom he/she trusts and can delegate special tasks exclusively
(Lunenburg, 2010; McClane, 1991). This isolating result can cause a dangerous power struggle
for some organizations and it is important, therefore, for leaders to understand the implications of
LMX so that they can utilize its benefits and decrease the negative attitudes of out-groups
(Power, 2013). One of the responsibilities of leaders according to LMX theory is to look at
followers as individuals, distinguishing their unique gifts and determining their most effective
placement within the group (Lunenburg, 2010).
Transformational leadership. The exchange between a leader and a follower is an
important element to realizing full potential in all aspects of a team and, while it is beneficial, if
the interaction stops after the leader adequately places the follower within the group, a greater
degree of potential is inhibited. Researchers developed this notion through the addition of a new
dimension of leadership theory that changed leader-follower interactions from transactional to
transformational (Burns, 1978). Although he did not create the terms, James MacGregor Burns
operationalized the terms and brought communication theory on a movement toward the new
transformational approach (McCleskey, 2014; Northouse, 2010).
Transformational leadership was the first theory to incorporate a moral and ethical
dimension to a theory (Rost, 1991). According to Burns (1978), a transformational leader, among
other things, inspires followers by increasing their understanding of the value and importance of
the vision (Burns, 1978). In addition, he or she recognizes the full potential of the followers
(Giltinane, 2013). Leaders can accomplish this only through engaging in a deeper level of

LEADERSHIP AND THE LIBERAL ARTS

relationship with followers the distinguishing factor between transactional and transformational
leadership (Northouse, 2010). Researchers agree that this deeper level of connection and
realization of full potential is achieved through the leaders attentiveness to the followers highlevel needs, such as self-esteem and self-actualization as defined by psychologist Henry Maslow
(Giltinane, 2013; McCleskey, 2014; Maslow, 1987). The result of such a relationship is that
leaders and followers are engaged in a common enterprise; they are dependent on each other,
their fortunes rise and fall together (Burns, 1978, p. 426).
The transformational leadership theory addresses many facets of leadership, including
communicating a compelling vision (Giltinane, 2013), teamwork and inspiration toward common
values and vision (Marquis & Huston, 2009), and equipping followers to lead on their own
(McCleskey, 2014) but it is not without reproach. Yukl (1999) was among those critical of
Burns (1978) assertions, claiming his theory lacking in various contextual variables that alter
leader effectiveness, and believed that the mechanical underlying of the empirical work of the
study was ambiguous. Regardless of whether the implementation strategies are realistic (Rost,
1991), the model paved the way for more theories focused on serving followers needs (Sendjaya
& Sarros, 2002).
Servant leadership. Research first alludes to the notion of servant leadership through
Burns (1987) and Greenleaf (1977), but the origins of servant leadership date back centuries.
Examples of servant leadership ideas include the monarchial pledge of service to God, country,
and people (Sendjaya & Sarros, 2002), to leadership patriarchs such as Gandhi, Mother Theresa,
and Harriet Tubman (Parris & Peachey, 2012), and Christianity founder and servant leader
example, Jesus Christ (Sendjaya & Sarros, 2002). Now, as it is empirically studied for the first

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time (Laub, 1999; Greenleaf, 1997; Spears, 1995, 1998, 2004) the theory takes on application
for addressing the issues of the modern world as well (Parris & Peachey, 2012).
Similar to transformational leadership, servant leadership is focused on meeting the needs
of followers. Greenleaf (1977) describes how a servant leader puts others needs and aspirations
above his or her own a concept foreign to the survival of the fittest mindset that dictates
much of our economy (Parris & Peachey, 2012). This is also slightly different from the path-goal
approach, above mentioned; for in servant leadership, leader needs are set aside, while the pathgoal approach focuses on meeting the needs of followers so that they will be motivated toward
accomplishing the shared goal (Indvik, 1978). A servant leader also aims to inspire and empower
followers to grow healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, and become servant leaders as well
(Greenleaf, 1977, p. 13-14). In order to do so, servant leaders must be committed to a different
dynamic with their followers. Servant leadership demands a client-server relationship instead of
a master-slave or supervisor-subordinate relationship (Sendjaya & Sarros, 2002). Finally, through
all servant leaders aim to accomplish, the bottom line remains that the true test of a servant
leader is not solely about what leaders do, but much more about who they are their character
and the way they live out that character in commitment to their followers (Parris & Peachey,
2012).
Being a generally new theory that has only minimal empirical support, the theory faces
criticism. Before it can be widely accepted, scholars urge theorists to better operationalize their
definition of servant leadership and create a practical model for application (Berger, 2014; Parris
& Peachey, 2012). The theory is further scrutinized for the emphasis Greenleaf (1977) places on
servant leadership as a way of life. Scholars question whether or not the theory is more of a life
philosophy and, if so, how they could then empirically study it (Parris & Peachey, 2012).

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Despite these reservations, empirical research on servant leadership has emerged cross-culturally
and within various contexts placing it as a candidate for a greater understanding of the leaderfollower relationship for the twenty-first century (Parris & Peachey, 2012).
Leadership Definition
Leadership theory has transitioned away from leaders and followers as isolated parts of a
system and toward integrated models focused on leader follower relationships. Situational
leadership began by recognizing how the leader can change his/her leadership approach
depending on the maturity of the followers, granting them the ability to motivate the followers in
a way they would best respond. Path-goal theory illuminates the responsibility of leaders to
motivate followers to find value in the corporate goal and remove obstacles in their advancement
of that goal. LMX explains how a leaders relationship with individual followers enables him/her
to see their unique potential and create structures of relationships that foster an effective group.
Transformational leadership theory then engages with a mutually beneficial relationship between
the leaders and followers so that both are challenged toward the advancement of the goal and are
free to cultivate their potential. Finally, servant leadership solidifies the attitude and heart of the
leader throughout all these facets by constituting a servants heart and a priority to serve the
needs of the followers above all else. Through this examination of leadership theory, leadership
can be defined as recognizing the potential in people and motivating and equipping them to
direct their abilities toward a meaningful vision.
Leadership and Liberal Learning
In light of the definition of leadership utilized for the sake of this discussion, the increase
of a persons potential is essential. Effective leaders not only recognize the potential in others but

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also seek to cultivate a life that fulfills this potential in others as well as in them. This section
discusses one avenue for cultivating such a life: the liberal arts. Through understanding the
liberal arts the history, philosophy, and value one can understand the inextricable connection
between the liberal arts and leadership.
The origin of debate within the liberal arts started over 2000 years ago with philosophers
such as Socrates, Plato, and Cicero (Riggs et al., 2007; Holmes, 2010; Roche, 2013). The term
liberal arts is derived from an ancient education philosophy, artes liberalis; the Latin root
which means free (Hovland & Schneider, 2011; Roche, 2013). This philosophy was defined as
such because it was meant to liberate, or free, the mind of humans (Millard, 2008). The classical
Greeks believed liberation was possible through the primary study of three areas of language
known as the trivium: grammar, logic, and rhetoric (Holmes, 2010; Millard, 2008; Roche, 2013).
Later, Europeans utilized the trivium as a basis for an additional four areas of study, known as
the quadrivium, that addressed the art of numbers: arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy
(Millard, 2008; Roche, 2013). Through education in these seven areas, students were thought to
cultivate skills, knowledge, and a sense of responsibility vital to engagement in the social sector
(Hovland & Schneider, 2011).
Today, the liberal arts are still a part of our education system. Commonly contrasted with
vocational education, the liberal arts involve the general study of the humanities, arts, and
sciences (Bevins, 2012; Roche, 2013). The evidence of this approach to education is prominently
practiced at small, residential liberal arts colleges and universities due to their ability to foster
beneficial learning environments for the diverse disciplines of study (Roche, 2013). Some of the
philosophy surrounding the pedagogy of todays liberal arts stems from the Socratic method of
teaching. . Socrates believed that learning was best fostered in an environment where students

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had the ability to ask questions, discuss material, and wrestle with major life issues (as cited in
Roche, 2013). Therefore, todays liberal arts college has provided the platform for such
discussion and created space for the liberating of the students minds (Roche, 2013). However, as
Riggs et al. (2007) mention in a report on liberal education, the mere label of a liberal arts
college does not warrant a true commitment, complete understanding or holistic implementation
of the purpose of the liberal arts.
As previously stated, the original purpose of the liberal arts was to liberate ones mind
through education (Millard, 2008). Plato, in his famous Allegory of the Cave, depicts this
liberation and describes how education can free a person to experience the truth of the real world
(as cited in Riggs et al., 2007). Through the liberal arts, students learn to think critically and
analytically with a breadth of knowledge that allows them to recognize a wide range of
perspectives that lead to truth (Roche, 2013). Although pragmatic (Hovland & Schneider, 2011),
these skills lead to what scholars have considered a higher purpose the cultivation of
intellectual virtue (Riggs et al., 2007; Roche, 2013). The study of numerous disciplines within
the liberal arts required intellectual rigor that fosters virtues such as inquisitiveness, integrity,
empathy and humility (Riggs et al., 2007; Wren, 2009). In light of the cultivation of virtue, Riggs
et al. (2007), summated the ultimate purpose of liberal education as character formation, or the
fulfilment of ones intellectual, moral, and spiritual potential and, thus, the pursuit of a life welllived ( p. 5).
When examining the origins, philosophy and value of a liberal arts education, the
interconnected nature of the two subjects emerges. Scholars (Holmes, 2010; Riggs et al., 2007;
Wren, 2009) attest that the liberating arts allow students to engage and become more fully
human. Wren (2009), in turn, points out that leadership being rooted in human interaction is

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core to the human experience making it essential in the pursuit of the liberal arts. Similar to the
liberal arts, in order to study leadership, one must pursue an array of subjects including
psychology, political science, sociology, history and literature (Wren, 2009). Thus, leadership
and the liberal arts have a dual ability to inform each other and are, therefore, inextricably linked
topics; one cannot study leadership without the liberal arts and one cannot engage the liberal arts
without addressing leadership (Wren, 2009).
Leadership and the liberal arts are interconnected and are useful as an integrative study
due to the alignment in their purposes. This discussion lends to a definition of leadership that
centers on cultivating the increase in human potential. As revealed in the aforesaid purpose of
liberal education, the goal of the liberal arts is also to increase intellectual, moral, and spiritual
potential (Riggs et al., 2007, p. 5). Therefore, if the core of leadership is to increase potential in
oneself and in others, the liberal arts are an essential and practical way this potential can be
realized. In other words, leadership recognizes the potential and chooses to liberate that potential
through exposure to the liberal arts. Just as leadership and liberal learning inform each other, one
also cannot come to fruition without regard for and rigorous attention to the other (Wren, 2009).
As Wren (2009) articulates, leadership and the liberal arts are two sides of the same coin; a coin,
of which, is explored throughout the next several sections of this discussion.
Leadership and the Trivium
I. A. Richards states that the purpose of the arts is to provoke and equip the potential of a
persons higher level thinking (as cited in Maroosis, 2009). A liberal arts education, therefore,
also elicits the same goal as it not only aims to increase ones ability to think independently but
also to read, write, and speak with logical and graceful expression (Holmes, 2010; Roche, 2013).
For the classical Greeks, this was accomplished through education in grammar, logic, and

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rhetoric, also known today as the trivium (Millard, 2008). To the Greeks, these subjects, which
form the basis of communication (Joseph, 2002), were the means by which citizens of society
learned to debate, hypothesize, argue and defend ideas (Millard, 2008). They are the aspects of
the liberal arts that pertain to the mind. As one scholar puts it, grammar is the art of creating
symbols that can combine to express thought, logic is the art of thinking, and rhetoric is the art of
communicating from one mind to another (Joseph, 2002). Through these functions, application to
leadership surfaces as the trivium provides the ability to communicate a vision, motivate and
equip others and, ultimately, provoke their potential.
Grammar. Much of the theoretical framework for the three areas of the trivium stems
from Aristotles work on language and rhetoric ( as cited in Joseph, 2002). Although Aristotle
(367-322 BC) mainly focuses on the use of rhetorical devises for persuasion in his piece on
Rhetoric, his theories of language grammar and logic are the basis of his work and are
foundational for the effectiveness of rhetoric (as cited in Joseph, 2002). The ancient scholars
recognized that in order to address effective, pragmatic or aesthetic discourse, a standard of
language must be developed, resulting in the establishment of the study of grammar (Ehninger,
1968) grammar which underlines the fundamental leadership ability of vision casting.
Millard (2008) defines grammar as developing correct use of language in order to
communicate effectively (p. 2). Other scholars highlight grammar concerning its function as a
symbol though the development of words and language (Joseph, 2002) and the study of word
interaction (Maroosis, 2009). Throughout these discussions on the topic, all elucidate that
grammar, as Joseph (2002) articulates, provides the necessary structure to connect words to
ideas, thoughts, and realities. Moreover, grammar provides the tools to not only express thoughts
but also express them clearly, so that the intended meaning is most accurately conveyed (Joseph,

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2002). Leadership, being in part defined as the ability to direct people toward a meaningful
vision, relies on this tool. Bass (2008) insisted that transformational leaders have the ability to
express a compelling, clear vision to their followers. Taking into account the importance of a
clearly communicated vision for leadership and the purpose of grammar to provide clear
articulation, the vitality of each to one another is evident. The inattention to the rules and study
of grammar would directly inhibit a leaders ability to communicate a meaningful vision and,
therefore, rise up potential within followers toward that vision.
Logic. The proper use of words based on their applied meaning and represented concepts
is inseparable from the proper use of words and syntax (Conrad, 2014). Just as grammar
concerns how language is used to symbolize things, logic concerns how language describes the
way things are known and understood (Joseph, 2002). According to Kennedy (1963), Aristotle
continually expressed the high importance of, yet underdeveloped research on, the logical side of
rhetoric. Nevertheless, examining the present research on logic the ability to effectively use
language to think and reason in cause and effect (Millard, 2008) reveals the importance of the
ability to reason in order to identify and equip potential as a leader.
Joseph (2002) calls logic the art of arts since logic directs reason and reason drives all
other human behavior (p. 21). However, logic is only possible if there is a consistent consensus
on the applied meaning of words (Enos, 1996). Therefore, just as correctness is the norm
necessary for grammar, truth is the norm necessary to predicate logic (Joseph, 2002). Through
established truth, logic enables men and women to observe, judge, and reason (Joseph, 2002;
Maroosis, 2009) skills central to the practice of leadership. Many leadership theories are based
on an assessment of the situation (Hersey & Blanchard, 1969; House, 1971) or of followers
(Burns, 1978; Graen & Uhl-bien, 1995; Greenleaf, 1977) which implies the utilization of logic to

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observe that which is present, judge the present state, and reason through plausible action. It is
for this reason that logic is a prevalent and indisputable tool for effective leaders as it provides
them the ability to judge and reason the best ways to provoke and equip potential through seeing
possibilities, setting goals, and developing action steps (Maroosis, 2009).
Rhetoric. As the final part of the trivium, rhetoric is dependent on both the use of
language in grammar and the deliberative nature of logic (Conrad, 2014). Aristotle (367-322 BC)
offered a definition of rhetoric as the faculty of observing in any given case the available means
of persuasion (p. 15). In other words, rhetoric looks at the array of grammatical symbols and
determines, through logical reasoning, which is more likely to persuade the audience in a given
situation (Joseph, 2002). Millard (2008) echoes this by defining rhetoric as using language and
logic in order to instruct and persuade (p. 2). For Aristotle, this was an important leadership
tactic as he inspired his own audience to use the philosophy of rhetoric to present a persuasive
and appealing argument in the public sector (as cited in Baird, 1965).
Beyond Aristotles (2014/384-322 BCE) pragmatic view of rhetoric as a leadership
platform, multiple other parallels align. One scholar calls rhetoric the art of transformation,
implying that rhetoric leads to innovation and entrepreneurship that elicits change (Maroosis,
2009, p. 182). Leadership theory reflects this idea most explicitly through transformational
leadership theory (Burns, 1978). Maroosis (2009) goes on to say that rhetoric is an agent of
change that is adaptable to a situation, suggesting that rhetoric is a means by which the entire
leadership process from identifying potential to inspiring and equipping directed efforts toward
a vision takes place. Within leadership, rhetoric is a part of creating a meaningful vision
(Maroosis, 2009), maximizing the effects of the message on inspiring, equipping, and directing

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abilities (Levine, 2006), and making the most of the potential through attention to how
something is communicated (Joseph, 2002).
Leadership and the Quadrivium
The trivium elicits a persons potential through higher-level thinking in rhetoric
(Maroosis, 2009). However, an equally high-level and rigorous area of study comes from the
proceeding four liberal arts known as the quadrivium (Keyser, 1947). First accepted into the
liberal arts education during the Middle Ages, the components of the quadrivium are considered
the arts that pertain to matter or our physical world (Joseph, 2002; Millard, 2008). These four
subjects of arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy provide the basis for logical criticism and
rigor from a number-based education (Conrad, 2014). Through understanding of the quadrivium
one does not simply understand the origins, meaning, and use of numbers but develops skills in
observation, logical reasoning and personal development (Critchlow, 2010; Wren, 2009).
The study of the liberal arts aims to shape human comprehension abilities as well as
physical abilities (Bevins, 2012). In many ways the trivium provides the physical abilities of
writing and rhetoric. The quadrivium, on the other hand, completes the other side of the equation
providing a leader with the ability to think critically a skill that is necessary for identifying
potential in oneself and others and skillfully raising the potential to the next dimension.
Regardless of its emphasis on matter over the mind, the quadrivium is a very human study able
to direct and describe fundamental elements of human life, which is an essential facet of the
liberal arts and leadership (Keyser, 1947).
Arithmetic. Fundamentally, arithmetic is the study of numbers (Joseph, 2002). Millard
(2008) expands on this premise by asserting that arithmetic within the liberal arts is about

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developing an understanding of the processes of numbers using a set of commonly accepted


axioms (p. 2). The Greek root of the word arithmetic, to count, helps to illuminate further the
rudimentary nature of the subject (Barnes-Svarney & Svarney, 2012). The study involves the
application of laws and postulates related to addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division,
and the relationship of one number to another (Clifford, 1946; Keyser, 1947). Arithmetic at its
foundation, however, is a process of assigning meaning through symbols, or numbers, in order to
describe the reality in the world around us (Danesi, 2004).
What is the value, then, of such a basic discipline? Keyser (1940) answers this question
by asserting that to renounce the value of the study of arithmetic is to renounce the value of all
rigorous thinking. Arithmetic is the foundation to logical thinking, and without it we would not
have the capabilities to expand logical thought into other subjects like the ones discussed in the
following sections (Keyser, 1940). Furthermore, the study of arithmetic teaches one to reason
through the logic of constants (Keyser, 1947). Millard (2012) defines leadership, in part, as
taking action to effect change (p. 350) and, through the definition utilized for this discussion,
change occurs as a leader moves and grows an individuals potential. Change is essential to the
human experience and human flourishing, yet, we long for constants in life to help navigate
change (Keyser, 1947). Scholars have noted that mathematics (and fundamentally, arithmetic) is
the perfect model to train one to navigate this process as the study of numbers is the study of
constants that make rigorous thinking possible (Keyser, 1947). Therefore, the study of arithmetic
is vital for leaders to direct the process of bringing potential to fruition through logical reasoning.
Geometry. Galileo Galleli (1638/1914), in his work Dialogues Concerning Two New
Sciences, states, Indeed I begin to understand that while logic is an excellent guide in discourse,
it does not, as regards stimulation to discovery, compare with the power of sharp distinction

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which belongs to geometry (p. 116). Galileo believed in the importance of the application in
logic and arithmetic to theorems and proofs found in the study of geometry (as cited in Seeger,
1966). Geometry is the application of numbers in space; arithmetic manifest on a flat surface
(Lundy, 2005/2010). Another scholar writes that geometry applies numerical understanding to
object and spatial relationships as an emerging comprehension of how the universe is
constructed (Millard, 2008, p. 2). Geometry takes arithmetic, which describes reality, to
describe the physical world and takes the logic present in the study of numbers to apply it to a
new dimension forming an even greater system of logic (Rigenberg, 1976).
Euclid (c.a. 300 BC/2008) begins in his influential book on geometry, Elements, by
stating 23 definitions, five postulates and five common notions. From that, he creates a vast
plane of logic consisting of numerous geometrical propositions and laws that are still used in the
study of geometry today (Euclid, 300 BC/2008). Euclid, along with other early mathematical
scholars such as Pythagoras (as cited in Critchlow, 2010), took a few simple concepts and
expanded into an entire subject of complexities. This is the nature of geometry: the evolution of
a point into a line, a line into a plane, and a plane into a third dimensional object (Critchlow,
2010). In order to master geometry, it is not enough to study merely the definitions, postulates
and notions. One must take what is present and concrete in the postulates and apply it to the
physical world (Danesi, 2004). When this is mastered, the possibilities of application are endless.
This principle of maximizing what is present is evident in leadership as well geometry.
Galileo (1638/1914) believed geometry developed the competency to not just recognize sound,
logical arguments but to organically construct them individually based on the rules present. Just
as geometry trains one to recognize the presence of stable rules and apply it to complex
problems, so leadership requires knowing basic principles and applying them to complex

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situations. The study of geometry trains this competency and helps leaders problem solve
efficiently and develop followers to reach their maximum potential.
Music. Some scholars describe music as the application of arithmetic (Joseph, 2002) and
taking number theory into a new dimension, time (much like geometry took number theory into
the dimension of space) (Critchlow, 2010). Another definition specifically notes how music
applies number theory to harmonics and proportions (Millard, 2008). Music is dependent on
arithmetic, for it is the proportions between numbers that create sounds pleasant to the ear (Dyer,
2007). Unlike geometry of the physical space, music is a part of time because music is not
sensed by sight but through the ears and with the mind (Martineau, 2008/2010). Due to the
shifting ratio of numerical numbers, a person experiences discord, tension and release, and
accord as information from the ear is processed in the mind (Martineau, 2008/2010). However,
while mathematics is essential in explaining harmonious sounds, the pleasant accord of music is
a universal reality in itself and, therefore, is not only an application but an explanation of
mathematics (Dyer, 2007).
The value of music as a part of the human experience is vast. Elliot (1995) argues that to
learn to make music is an experience of self-growth, self-knowledge, and enjoyment (p. 120).
Kilwardby notes that the ability to distinguish harmonious sounds is something instinctively
human and the goal of the study of music is to perfect that ability through knowledge of the
mathematical representation (as cited in Dyer, 2007). In other words, one does not need to be
taught what sounds are pleasant and unpleasant. The aim of the study of music, therefore, is to
understand why some sounds are harmonious and how one can create such sounds based on the
arithmetic implications. Similarly, most people recognize effective and ineffective leadership yet
only some seek to study what makes a good leader and how they can cultivate similar qualities.

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Pythagoras (c.a. 571 BC) believed that all of nature consisted of harmony and music as a
discipline, and therefore seeks to explore and understand harmony in the intangible world (as
cited in Ashton, 2003/2010). Leaders, too, need this discipline in order to understand other
intangible elements, like potential. Leadership needs arithmetic to develop logical thinking,
geometry to apply logical reasoning to the tangible world, and music to apply logical reasoning
to the intangible world in order to motivate and equip people toward a vision and their maximum
potential.
Astronomy. The final discipline in the quadrivium is the mathematical application of
numbers in space and in time; it is an extension of geometry, taken off a two-dimensional plane
(Joseph, 2002; Millard, 2008; Critchlow, 2010). Astronomy, as a field of science, is also defined
as the study of the universe and everything in it (Liu, 2008, p. 1). In The Republic, Plato (380
BC/2001) describes astronomy as the progression from the formation of solids in geometry to
become the study of solids in motion.
Astronomy, being the last step in the education of the quadrivium, is the closest to
completing the quadriviums ultimate purpose: to discover truth and unity of the universe
(Lundy, 2005/2010). Astronomy uses all of the patterns, logic and knowledge gleaned from the
former disciplines to seek the highest understanding and knowledge (Plato, 380 BC/2001). The
big picture mentality is important to leaders as well. So far, in this section of the discussion,
the ideas of recognizing and maximizing potential have been evident; however, without the
ultimate purpose the meaningful vision all understanding is in vain. It is important that the
leader continues to gain perspective, seek truth, and look for unity in the way all of the facets of
followers and situations contribute to wholeness.

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In order for an astronomer to be successful, they must be comfortable with doubt


(Greene, 2004). Astronomers constantly seek truth while navigating a vast field of uncertainty; a
path familiar to leaders, as well, as they do their best to ascertain the truth of a situation and
navigate amidst change. Just as astronomers utilize their discomfort and unanswered questions to
achieve extraordinary feats of ingenuity and creativity (Greene, 2004, p. 470) so should leaders
sharpen their own ability to find innovation through uncertainty and bring potential to fruition.
The ultimate aim of astronomy is to provide comprehension of the workings of the
universe (Millard, 2008). Modern astronomer Brain Greene (2004) states that, by deepening our
understanding of the true nature of physical reality, we profoundly reconfigure our sense of
ourselves and our experiences of the universe (p. 5). Greene (2004) further expounds how the
study of the universe is catalytic to true understanding by asserting that refusing to look beyond
our experience on earth and study the cosmos is like looking at a van Gogh through an empty
Coke Bottle (p. 5). Ones perception of the world is far more limited without the study of that
which is beyond our world. Therefore, the study of astronomy aids a leader in his or her ability
to perceive their situation, their leadership and their followers.
Despite the revelatory gains, one of the fascinations in the study of astronomy stems from
its mystery (Pasachoff, 1978). Plato (380 BC/2001) even alludes that astronomy is not the end of
understanding but in fact, just the beginning. In his work he stated that astronomy compels the
soul to look upward and leads us from this world to another (Plato, 380 BC/2001, p. 200).
Renown physicist Steven Hawking (2005), concludes his work on the cosmos by acknowledging
the limitations of the scientific field for its inability to answer why the cosmos exists in the first
place. Hawking (2005) admits that the answer to this question would trump human reason upheld
by scientists and, in fact, be a glimpse into the mind of God. The following section, therefore,

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will explore the answers to these questions posed by Plato (380 BC/2001) and Hawking (2005),
regarding God and the reason for existence, by taking a step beyond the traditional liberal arts
education to look upward.
Leadership and the Ultivium
In his paper, Liberation learning: An alternative approach to general education, Millard
(2008) expanded the traditional seven-discipline liberal arts by adding two additional subjects.
He coined this appendix the ultivium a term derived from the Latin root meaning the ultimate
way (Millard, 2008). The construction of this category fulfilled the aim of the seven liberal arts
to point students toward the ultimate level of thinking (Millard, 2008), a goal reinforced by
Platos (380 BC /2001) thought that astronomy, the last of the liberal arts, compelled one to look
upward into a higher reality. Therefore, the ultivium is comprised of two such studies of the
higher reality: philosophy and theology (Millard, 2008). Each discipline not only leads one to
contemplate the ultimate understanding of reality but also provides salient skills and avenues for
pursuing questions and answers central to effective leadership.
Philosophy. Philosophy is an ancient study traditionally centered on the study of the
origins of the universe, nature of consciousness, what is the good life, and what is fundamental
reality (Bardon, 2013). The word philosophy, in Greek, means the love of wisdom (Christian,
1998). This definition, however, is vague and arbitrary. Therefore, many scholars have elaborated
to form a more pragmatic definition for the field of study including philosophy as the art of
forming concepts (Deleuze & Guattari, 1994) and the pursuit of asking questions (Tillich, 1955).
Christian (1998) described philosophy as critical thinking about thinking, the proximate goal of
which is to get in touch with the truth about reality, the ultimate goal being to better see the Big

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Picture (p. ii). It is through this goal that the essential elements in leadership to promote
potential, equip and motivate, and move toward a vision are cultivated through the study of
philosophy.
As established through the definition in this discussion, leadership involves moving
people toward a meaningful vision. In order for a leader see the big picture and move toward a
vision, they must possess skills of questioning and reasoning both of which one can develop
through the discipline of philosophy. One of the fundamental aspects of philosophy is learning
how to ask and re-ask questions (Christian, 1998). Philosophers are constantly seeking to discern
reality from appearance; therefore, every question aims to find truth (Bardon, 2013; Christian,
1998; Trueblood, 1942). Christian (1998) points out that the study of philosophy trains people to
relate materials, seek reliable sources, and verify or reject claims regardless of the hegemony or
homogeneity in thought. These skills are central to leadership. Leaders need to question the
status quo and discover the big picture in order to lead others toward a vision.
In addition to questioning, the ability to effectively reason is important to leadership and
cultivated through the study of philosophy (Boas, 1961). Reason requires one to identify
problems, link logical thoughts together, and establish an interrelated network of claims (Boas,
1961). For a leader, reason provides the ability to discern and identify potential and connect
situations and possibilities in order to fulfill the vision at hand. Immanuel Kant(1781/2009), in
his work Critique of Pure Reason, states that philosophical wisdom is derived from reasoning
through concepts. He also believed that of all the concepts he sought to reason, each aimed to
answer either, What can I know?, What ought I do?, or What may I hope? (Kant,
1781/2009). All of these questions are also important for the leader to ask. The question of
What can I know? seeks to understand people and uncover their potential. What ought I to

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do? seeks direction in motivating and equipping others. Finally, What may I hope? brings
leaders to dream about a meaningful vision they aspire to obtain.
Not only is it important for leaders and all of humanity to study philosophy for the
development of questioning and reasoning skills, it is inevitable because, by nature, humans are
philosophers innately daring to ask the questions of existence (Tillich, 1955). Kant (1781/2009),
however, points out that reason, by nature, will end by asking a question of which it cannot
answer. Therefore, philosophy looks to the subject it precedes where answers to the ultimate and
unified question of understanding reality can truly be revealed (Ebeling, 1978).
Theology. Similar to the study of philosophy, theology contemplates the concepts of
reality and existence through reason (Ebeling, 1978; Wiles, 1976). However, where philosophy
contemplates the nature of Being (Boas, 1961; Millard, 2008; Tillich, 1955), theology looks
toward an ultimate, intelligent Being the existence of God (McCoy, 2012; Wiles, 1976). In the
words of St. Thomas Aquinas (1256/1920), Theology is taught by God, teaches of God and
leads to God. Millard (2008) defines theology as developing an understanding of the nature of
God and spiritual truth as an ultimate comprehension of existence (p. 3). Within the nature of
God and spiritual truth, questions arise concerning if God does exist, how we can know God, if
God cares about humanity, if God can be trusted, and if God is good (Kapic, 2012).
Theology begins by applying the concept of truth, as studied through philosophy, and
relating it to the subject of God (Ebeling, 1978). While philosophy studies the finite world,
theology studies the infinite. In order to do so, taking into account our finite ability to develop
such concepts, the study of theology requires incredible mental discipline and extensive thought
in depth and breadth of information (Ebeling, 1978; Kapic, 2012). Due to this, theology can be

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considered both an art and a science (Kapic, 2012) with the necessity to understand multiple
disciplines such as history and sociology to pursue truth (Wiles, 1976). Scholars appeal,
however, that the place of theology is not just in the classroom. Rather, theology is a
conversation for all who live and breathe, who wrestle and fear, who hope and pray (Kapic,
2012, p. 16). By understanding the value of theology for all people, one can see how theology
benefits leaders as it raises self- and others-awareness.
Life and theology are inseparable (Kapic, 2012). Theology speaks into what is a basic
conviction of every human: to know something greater and to be known (Wiles, 1976). These
two notions, rather than being separate endeavors, are one and the same in theological study.
John Calvin (c. 1509/2000) believed that it was the combination of the two that led to wisdom.
He also believed our theological journey was not complete until our knowledge of God led to
knowledge of ourselves (as cited in Kapic, 2012). In turn, we cannot know the fullness of our
potential apart from knowing God. This serves as a fundamental argument for leaders to study
theology. The more accurate and deep the knowledge people have about themselves, the more
effective they will be as leaders, for they will be able to discern how their own leading is
affecting the goal to motivate and equip followers. This depth of knowledge can only be
developed through knowledge and understanding of God through which leaders begin to see the
big picture and the potential in themselves and others.
Theology is an important discipline for a leader because of its relevance for the human
condition, required skill in a variety of subject matters, and cultivation of self-knowledge
alongside God-knowledge. All of these reasons help leaders to discern and navigate situations
that motivate and equip others toward a vision as well as provide the aptitude to better
understand their own potential and the potential in others. In addition, Kapic (2012) reveals one

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final benefit for the leader within the discipline of theology. He states that whether or not we
believe God is distant or near, concerned with our lives or apathetic, or good or impulsive, our
view of God guides our lives (Kapic, 2012); therefore, our theology affects our leadership. If a
leaders are to guide others toward a meaningful vision, they should first seek to understand and
contemplate what they are letting guide their own lives. To contemplate the question of God is to
contemplate ultimate meaning for our lives and the lives of others (Ebeling, 1978). Theology
seeks to understand humanity, its relation to the ultimate Oneness of reality, and what we decide
affects us (Ebeling, 1978). Therefore, as leaders it is imperative to take thought beyond the social
constructions of the trivium, beyond the abstract intangibles of the quadrivium, and even beyond
the examination of meaning and reality of philosophy. Theology alone transcends human reason
to seek understanding of One who is beyond reason but whom reveals Himself to us in the world
(Kapic, 2012). Even in this transcendent study, one must appeal as theologian Dietrich
Bonhoeffer (n.d.) did and recognize that it is good to seek understanding of the One, but it is
unwise to ever believe that we are done finding understanding.
Strategic Communications, Public Relations and Leadership
The application of leadership is not limited to the traditional liberal arts, even including
philosophy and theology. Rather, leadership is instinctively human (Wren, 2009), therefore it
applies and is informed by a wide variety of endeavors. One such profession used for the purpose
of this discussion is that of public relations and strategic communications. Scholars argue that
tactical professions are imbedded within the liberal arts, for it is part of the humanities (making
sense of the human experience), arts (for its emphasis on design), and sciences (heavily reliant
on research, data, and problem solving) (Smith, 2014). Through looking at this specific

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vocation, it is revealed that leadership not only applies to the field but the field, in turn, reflects
leadership as it recognizes potential and motivates and equips others toward a meaningful vision.
Public relations (PR) has a bad reputation. Often, when people hear the term their mind
automatically assumes fallacies, such as that it is equitable to lying, it is merely propaganda, it
does not seek the best interests of the common man but seeks to please the powerful money
holders, etc. (Smith, 2014). Although these are, indeed, a false representation of the profession,
the nature and tactic of the disciple does lend opportunity for corruption. This is why Aristotle
acknowledges the power of rhetoric to mislead as well as enlighten the public (as cited in Stauber
& Rampton, 1995). However, despite these accusations, PR is everywhere and most people dont
understand how it works, let alone accept that they are persuaded by it regularly (Dowie, 1995).
This is true because PR is not in the business of deception, but instead responds, illuminates, and
provides a reason for consumers to partake in something they already wanted (Marconi, 2004).
Besides contradicting the negative reputation PR has obtained, professionals in the field
also have to fight to distinguish their job from other like ones. To start, PR didnt even enter the
business world until the twentieth century (Stauber & Rampton, 1995). One of the early fathers
of the profession, Edward Bernays, saw PR as a link between corporate sales campaigns and
popular social causes (as cited in Ewen, 1996, p. 3). Although PR has steadily gained in
popularity since Bernays time (Stauber & Rampton, 1995), today many people still commonly
assume it to be the same as advertising (Dowie, 1995). The field, however, is distinct from other
business facets, including advertising, and has in part become a unique communication channel
all its own (Dowie, 1995).

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As previously mentioned, this section not only addresses public relations but strategic
communications as well. What, therefore, is the difference? To start, although public relations is
a relatively new field of study, strategic communications is newer still (Falkheimer & Heide,
2014; Stauber & Rampton, 1995). Rather than opposing the field of public relations, strategic
communications is actually a broader, more holistic field that includes public relations among
other professions including issue management and most marketing campaigns (Botan, 1997;
Falkheimer & Heide, 2014). In fact, many public relations scholars and practitioners today see
themselves as strategic communicators (Botan, 1997). Therefore, for the use of this discussion,
although public relations will be addressed specifically, strategic communications is more
inclusive and will also be used to address the place leadership has in the professional world
(Botan, 1997).
Leadership and strategic communications are interdependent. First, good leadership is
imperative to effective public relations. Researchers have studied the effect of good leadership in
strategic communications and found that studying and applying leadership skills and theory to
the profession is of high importance for multiple reasons (Meng & Berger, 2013). One reason is
that the application of leadership theory and skills allows a professional to effectively manage
the multitude of different tasks that is required of public relations and any other field in strategic
communications (Meng & Berger, 2013). Furthermore, the flourishing of the public relations
professional in the company propels the success of the organization as a whole. Falkheimer and
Heide (2014) explain that the function of a strategic communicator in an organization is to be the
active communication helping the organization reach its goals. Therefore, having good
leadership in strategic communication aids to the direct success of the organization (Meng &
Berger, 2013). Applying leadership skills and theory in public relations and the like enable the

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professional to design tactics and motivate groups to achieve organizational goals (Meng &
Berger, 2013). It is due to these basic functions of strategic communicators that leadership not
only informs the profession but the profession develops leadership.
The primary objective of a strategic communication professional is to research to
identify a problem or issue, relevant publics, and measurable goals and objectives (Botan, 1997,
p. 188). Similar to these objectives, the definition of leadership utilized for this discussion also
reflects the skills of identification and goal creation. Leaders assess the situation in order to the
identify potential present and effectively motivate and equip people much like it is a strategic
communicators role to assess the issue and the characteristics of the publics involved in order to
craft something meaningful. In fact, public relations professionals acknowledge that part of the
job of a public relations professional is to see and understand all of the factors involved in the
way people view an organizations goals (Marconi, 2004). Strategic communicators are also
deeply involved in achieving the organizational objective, which is highly reflective of a leaders
own objective to direct people toward a meaningful vision. Researchers affirm this connection
and validate that an effective strategic communicator must be deeply rooted in the mission and
vision of the organization and inspire others toward the larger vision as well (Bonk, Griggs, &
Tynes, 1999; Meng & Berger, 2013). Through this, it is evident that the mere practice of public
relations trains skills and abilities reflected in an effective leader.
Beyond the explicit job description, there are various skills within strategic
communications that are present and necessary for both communication practitioners and leaders
of any field. First, it is important that both leaders in the PR world and elsewhere have a firm
understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. Meng and Berger (2013) point out that without
this ability, PR practitioners cannot perceive situations and act appropriately. Likewise,

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leadership requires a person to accurately assess not only the potential present but, the limitations
and liabilities in the current situation so that they can act in a way that motivates and equips
others. Along with the ability to accurately see the situation, leaders also must have the ability to
see the big picture an ability cultivated through the public relations profession (Marconi, 2004).
Finally, as strategic communications heads toward a philosophy of public relations that is
focused on dialogic conversation with the publics, the opportunity to recognize and actualize
potential increases (Botan, 1997). As stated in this discussion, leaders fundamentally recognize
and aim to manifest potential within their followers. Public relations practitioners, too, engage
with this activity on a daily basis as they primarily recognize and highlight the potential within
companies in order to show the public the best that the company has to offer.
Leadership Findings and Recommendations
General Insights
This discussion has integrated leadership theory and the seven liberal arts with the
expansion into the study of philosophy and theology. Undoubtedly, through the cultivation and
integration of various resources, each section has brought respective insights into the main areas
of study. In reflecting upon the discussion as a whole, however, a few insights remain that are in
need of illumination. Specifically, throughout this discussion I have come to understand and
appreciate the progressive and cohesive study of the liberal arts and the necessity of each
discipline for the manifestation of humanities potential.
Although I was familiar with concept of liberal arts prior to working on this discussion,
the historical understanding of the seven specific disciplines was something I had not explored in
the past. Through gaining this knowledge, I began to see how the ancients designed the seven

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liberal arts in order to offer a student a comprehensive education worthy of appropriate


application within a multitude of subjects, including leadership. As the discussion continued to
integrate these disciplines into leadership and apply the skills cultivated within each of the liberal
arts to a definition of leadership, my understanding grew further. Now, I understand the liberal
arts as not only a comprehensive education but also a progressive education designed to build off
the preceding discipline and skills gleaned.
Through my newfound understanding of the progressive and comprehensive nature of the
liberal arts, I gained insight on why the study of all the liberal arts is important not just for
leadership but also for every human. Before this study, if asked about why studying a multitude
of disciplines was important, I would have responded that the importance was to become well
versed so that one is a jack-of-all-trades; a renaissance man as others might put it;
marketable and well-rounded. I looked at the disciplines merely for the knowledge and the
explicit skills they provided instead of looking at the implicit abilities they cultivated that are
necessary in all parts of life, not just in the specific discipline. For example, before working on
this discussion I looked at arithmetic and said, yes, it was very important to study because
everyone should know how to do and appreciate mathematics. Now (although I do not renounce
my previous statement), I see that arithmetic does not just provide explicit skills of mathematics
but implicit skills like the ability to reason logically and abstractly. Similarly, I learned to not just
see the study of astronomy as eliciting a fascination with the universe but cultivating the ability
to look beyond and look above to truly see the larger picture. These implicit skills make the
liberal arts applicable to any area of study even when the explicit skills do not seem to apply as
such in leadership.

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Holmes (2010) discusses how the study of the liberal arts seeks to answer the question
what is this doing to me as a person? and not what can I do with it? (p. 25). This echoes
the idea that the liberal arts is more about the implicit knowledge that shapes a person and not
just the explicit knowledge it provides. All of these skills are important because the liberal arts,
like leadership, is basic to the human experience (Wren, 2009). One way I began to understand
this concept is in relation to the Body of Christ. As the Body of Christ, we do not seek diversity
in our gifts, backgrounds, or personalities strictly for the sake of obtaining diversity. Instead, we
seek and need diversity because each person with his or her own gifts, background, and
personality has the unique ability to reveal part of the character and nature of God Himself.
Therefore, we seek diversity in order to gain a more complete understanding of God and our
world. The liberal arts is similar. We do not study the liberal arts to have merely a plethora of
technical knowledge. We need the variety of disciplines within the liberal arts because each
reveals a unique and new way of thinking, articulating and seeing the reality around us. Diversity
in the Body of Christ allows us to expand our understanding of God just as diversity in the liberal
arts allows us to expand our knowledge of our world and, in Platos (380 BC/2001) terms, come
out of the Cave. This is the manifestation of human potential and the point of highest potential
that a leader can hope to elicit in others. Additionally, the liberal arts and the Body of Christ
share one final thing in common: as discussed in the ultivium, the liberal arts also points to a
greater understanding of not only our reality but our Creator as well.
New Thoughts on Exercising Leadership
In general, the understanding I gained regarding the purpose of the liberal arts in
application to all things, including leadership, has shaped my view of how leadership should be
exercised. This discussion has led me to understand that leadership is broader and deeper than I

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allowed it to be in the past. Therefore, leadership needs to be exercised through a perspective


that shapes all our human interactions, with a servant attitude that prioritizes followers reaching
their potential, and through a mindset that places being as the primary focus.
I really liked the perspective that states that anytime two humans come together to
accomplish somethingleadership is a central part and it is therefore central to the human
experience (Wren, 2009, p. 21). This approach to leadership views it less as technical knowledge
(which is often how I viewed it in the past) and more as a study of something inherently human.
For instance, philosophy is the study of something inherently human and as we study philosophy
we realize that our perspective on the questions it seeks to answer shapes our lives. I think this is
how we should view leadership. Not as a combination of separate events to which we apply
separate theories individually, but instead a combination of separate theories in which we
formulate our own perspective on all human interaction. For as Wren (2009) states, every human
interaction is an exercise of leadership. Therefore, through the process of cultivating information
for this discussion, I learned that we should exercise leadership from our comprehensive
perspective and not just by the application of technical skills through theories.
As I constructed the definition of leadership I used throughout this discussion, I gained a
greater understanding of what servant leadership looks like as a central tenant to my own
leadership philosophy. The basic premise of servant leadership is that the leader places the needs
of the followers above his or her own. My understanding of this prior to writing this discussion
led me to have a very surface, basic, and literal understanding of needs. However, if I see
leadership as eliciting potential within followers, a new element to the idea of needs is added.
Looking for the needs of an individual is not just seeing if they have food, shelter, esteem,

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friendship, etc. but looking deeper into what is it they need in order to realize their greatest
potential.
This is a shift in perspective because what someone needs to reach his or her potential is
not something he or she will or can necessarily vocalize. In the past, however, I saw servant
leadership as strictly listening for and hearing the needs of individuals that they, themselves,
could vocalize. However, this left me with some reservations because what is vocalized is not
necessarily best in all situations, even if the followers believe they need it. Take a child, for
instance. He may believe he needs to run across the street but if a car is coming, not only is
that clearly not best, but it will not help him achieve his greatest potential. However, servant
leadership can still be exercised even in this case where the only option seems to be a patronizing
approach. For instance, by a leader restraining a child from running into a street, he or she is
actually serving the childs needs not for the moment but for his or her potential as a whole. I
believe this is a critical shift in perspective as one who places servant leadership as a
fundamental part of leadership philosophy: servant leadership is not only about seeking the
explicit, surface needs of those around you, but also about seeing the deeper needs that will help
them obtain their greatest potential.
Finally, throughout the discussion one pivotal element remains that is a necessary shift in
ones perspective and exercise of leadership. Leadership is about being more than it is about
doing. Although this is not a foreign concept to me and prior to this discussion, I would have
likely affirmed such a statement, it holds much more weight coming out of this discussion.
Previously, I saw being as mainly comprised of ones character but the purpose of being was so
that the leader could do. However, research revealed the importance of leadership as an
inherently human study and the liberal arts exposed how the various disciplines guide and inform

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leadership in a way that does not just provide technical knowledge but knowledge on human
flourishing. Therefore, I believe it is being and not doing that should be the forefront of
leadership studies. We should not study leadership just so we can accomplish more, rather, we
should study it because it makes us more even providing us the ability to reach our own
potential and that is a reason enough.
Future Practice of Leadership
Throughout the entire discussion, the many points of integration and insight, and the
reflection on new understandings gleaned, I will take with me several elements for my own
leadership in the future. As opportunities for leadership are presented in the future and as I seek
to be a better leader and a better human, I hope to continue to discover more ways to inform and
develop my leadership, see situations from new angles to find the present potential and
continually live in awe.
I have a wide variety of interests, which serves as both a blessing and a curse. I have
always been interested in a range of fields of study, many of which are well represented in the
liberal arts. This discussion has left me intrigued on how leadership is able to integrate so many
of those skills and interests. Not only do I see now that subjects like math and music all have a
place integrated within leadership, but I am also inspired to explore and discover the ways in
which more of my interests can be utilized to also make me a better leader. Leadership is an allencompassing subject and while I feel like I have many skills on the fringe of my life, I hope to
take a new look at them, as I had to do with the 10 subjects in this discussion, to discover ways
in which they can inform and develop my leadership.

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This discussion has helped me to look at the world in a new way. For one, I stand in awe
of the interweaving of the universe and they ways in which it points to our Creator. I learned to
look from a new angle at things that have always been present and I have learned that I need to
do this in leadership as well. Leadership is not creation ex nihilo creation out of nothing but
rather looking at what is present, finding where there is potential, and then strictly fostering the
right environment for that potential to flourish towards a vision. My hope is that in my life and in
any leadership I am a part of in the future, I will continually look at things from a new angle, find
what is already present and then turn it into something more.
The collective and progressive nature of the liberal arts that culminates in the study of
philosophy and theology has left me in awe. I struggle to grasp a God who reigns beyond our
universe yet cares enough to come to us as a servant. Nevertheless, if I believe He is so great that
even the intangible mysteries of mathematics, music and astronomy scream His name, then I
have to believe that the mystery of a personal God is also true. What an incredible example of
leadership: A God of ultimate power serving the needs of a human. This is what I hope ultimately
guides my future practice of leadership (and since leadership and the liberal arts is about being
over doing, this then is also who I hope to be). I hope I practice leadership with continued awe,
insatiable questioning, reverent humility, and joyful wonder as I seek to recognize the potential
in people and motivate and equip them to direct their abilities towards a meaningful vision.

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