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Leadership and Scholarship in Nonprofit Amanda Gibson University of Phoenix SAS

LEADERSHIP AND SCHOLARSHIP Leadership and Scholarship in Nonprofit

To the transitional transforming type of leadership (Burns, 1978; Downton, 1973) dimensions which reflect leadership based from self-interest to mutual interest, Jordan (2005) adds a new concept, that of transcending leadership. Such a leader has to exhibit, aside of the commonly agreed upon traits, emotional intelligence, vision and ability to see the big picture. Considering the three challenges the non-profits of the future are facing: people, funding and strategy, leaders of nonprofit organizations are expected to achieve complex outcomes with shrinking resources, to reconcile the not-for-profit aspect with the need of economic efficiency all the while being aware of the influences and needs of both employees and clients with global provenience. A leader in human services has to be able to empower others, through both emotional and functional means, instill self-confidence while providing opportunity and thus help create a new generation of leaders. As scholars, we endeavor to become better thinkers, problem solvers, and inquirers people able to locate, evaluate and effectively use information. A successful professional must be able at any moment to know when information is needed, to identify, find and organize it, and use it effectively for solving the problem at hand. It should also be stressed another dimension of the leader, that of a mentor / teacher one who invests time and interest to impart knowledge. In a succinct way, Ernest Boyer (1990; 1996; Ramaley, 2004) described engaged scholarship as a multi-pronged approach: the scholarship of discovery, of integration, of application and of teaching - which includes not only transmitting knowledge, but also transforming and extending it beyond the university walls.

LEADERSHIP AND SCHOLARSHIP Leadership development is self-development. Engineers have computers;

painters, canvas and brushes; musicians, instruments. Leaders have only themselves. The instrument of leadership is the self, and mastery of the art of leadership comes from the mastery of the self (Kouzes & Posner, 2007). It is of no doubt to anyone who stood in front of a team, trying to teach and to motivate, that doing it with any modicum of success means being willing and able to return to the classroom, library, drawing-board or peer forum, any and all clearinghouses of information. The theoretical framework I think fits most for this leadership statement is the mental model, the continuous search to understand phenomena in daily life. According to this model, the mind constructs a small-scale model of reality and uses it to reason, to underlie explanations, and to anticipate events. In trying to become a better leader, I learned to always apply ontologic humility - at a personal level one needs to verify or refute opinions which might be biased or inadequate, to recognize misuses and abuses of information. I evolved to this level gradually, thinking and sometimes even instinctually acting about improving myself, with no idea about leadership values and traits. But somehow, my personal learning curve came to intersect what is expected and proved that a leader should be and have, and obviously I perceived it as a huge morale boost: The quest for leadership is first an inner quest to discover who you are. Through selfdevelopment comes the confidence needed to lead. Self-confidence is really awareness of and faith in your own powers. These powers become clear and strong only as you work to identify and develop them (Kouzes & Posner, 2007).


During my doctoral journey I became aware of Peschls (2007) third loop, a concept that resonated greatly with me. It seems my whole process of learning until now followed the first two loops, leaving me to conceptualize and apply just the last upgrade, to the third loop. Looking at the leadership traits I value I like to see a leader as someone who possesses a wealth of both soft and hard skills, so from the soft point of view I agree with Roger B. Smiths (1994) words: Todays leaders want to help others realize their own power and dignity. They lead because they want to create an environment in which people are free to think, innovate, and unite into teams and groups, in order to solve problems that are too big for any one person to solve alone (Wren, 1995). This is what I will always strive to achieve. From the practitioner angle, I aim to be better able to identify, research alternatives, and solve business problems with the highest value-adding solutions. I want to display business knowledge and be recognized as a business subject expert, to be able to draft and redesign industry rules and standards. Going through the doctoral program, I had so much to gain. It is a time commitment indeed, and a notable effort but one which is simultaneously useful and enjoyable. Following the SPL model I became a better member in my community and a better-balanced person: Would-be leaders learn to manage their time more wisely. Would-be leaders learn that self-pity and resentment are like toxic substances. Would-be leaders learn the old truth that most people are not for or against you but rather preoccupied with themselves. Would-be leaders learn to break out of their comfortable imprisonments; they learn to cast aside dull routines and habits that enslave most of us. Would-be


leaders learn how to become truly sharing and caring people in their families, their professions and their communities. And would-be leaders constantly learn too that they have more to give than they have ever given, no matter how much they have given (Wren, 1995). Ive always been a firm believer in the value of learning and education. Did I always enjoy following this path? No. But I felt it as a requirement of my being, an element as necessary for my intellect as food was for my body. The permanent exposure to new information and its processing has become since long time ago an addiction which will last as long as my awareness of self. I am also a problem solver. One that can go through several levels deep in detail or let go of what I consider irrelevant it depends to what I perceive as the problem to be solved at the moment. This versatility always showed in my leadership style almost evenly split between concern for task and concern for people. I guess that from my skill of listening and understanding, combined with the referent/expert position, I ended by taking on leadership roles. I never start by forcefully claiming the role, by the contrary I gladly yield to somebody better skilled in knowledge, charisma or vision but if such a person is not at hand I have no qualms assuming the guiding role. I like to focus on recognizing peoples potential, I try to develop their skills and offer them the right opportunities to progress. It is intensely rewarding to see the light of understanding in someones eyes: different levels of selfconstrual and different levels of identification (with the leader and with the group) are important because they have perceptual, motivational and behavioral consequences (Brewer & Gardner, 1986; Pratt, 1998). As Brewer (1991) postulated, when the definition of selfchanges, the meaning of self-interest and self-serving motivations also changes significantly


(p.476). Such leadership is likely to result in a wide range of outcomes at the personal level (e.g. followers empowerment, personal efficacy, extra effort) and group or organizational level (e.g. unit cohesiveness, organizational citizenship behavior, collective efficacy). (Avolio & Yammarino, 2007). The only thing I personally tend to consider as a weakness in my leadership is the lack of networking; while I interact easily with my peers and coworkers in the process of my job, for my spare time I prefer (Im afraid I actually need) solitude. From the first moments of self-consciousness I drew a line between me and the rest and no matter what, on first plan comes the time I need to acquire new information (read) and process it. Finding resonance is [] about finding what we can do, and doing it to the best of our abilities. When that happens, life is enormously rewarding.(Clawson, 2006). This resonance can come for me only in silence and self-reflection, in the time I need to collect myself in order to be better able to share what I know and what I am. While I realize the usefulness of networking, I cannot give up what stays at the bottom of my being, which I feel as immutable as the color of my skin or eyes. An interesting and useful exercise during one of my residency was the leadership evaluation, which put in front of our eyes a much-needed mirror for our output. The feedback I personally received did not surprise me. The leading themes were to look in audiences eyes while I speak (cant focus if I do that! When I speak with my eyes, my mouth remains tightly shut) and to have a more pro-active attitude towards leadership. This issue is also a non-issue with me, as my stance was assumed by choice, not for lack of awareness or ability. I enjoy more leadership in my professional role than in my scholar one, and maybe the reason is the same ontological humility I am here to learn and I can do this best by listening.

LEADERSHIP AND SCHOLARSHIP Looking towards the future, I will continue to aim for resonance in my inner

lifeFinding resonance is [] about finding what we can do, and doing it to the best of our abilities. When that happens, life is enormously rewarding. (Clawson, 2006). As for the practitioner angle, I want to try to pursue a concept that became dear to me from the moment I heard it mentioned. The necessity for non-profit organizations to embrace social entrepreneurship to ensure alternative means of funding. While I am trying to extend myself through gaining new skills and abilities, I cannot but agree with the following: Change real change comes from the inside out. It doesnt come from hacking at the leaves of attitude and behavior with quick fix personality ethic techniques. It comes from striking at the root the fabric of our thought, the fundamental, essential paradigms, which give definition to our character and create the lens through which we see the world (Covey, 2004).


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