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Author(s): G. Jason Jolley

Review by: G. Jason Jolley
Source: Academy of Management Learning & Education, Vol. 6, No. 1 (Mar., 2007), p. 149
Published by: Academy of Management
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Accessed: 10-06-2016 01:28 UTC

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dynamic and change, outsource, insource, off- distinctions: (1) authority versus leadership, (2)
shore, and finally change your DNA)? Or is it pos- technical problems versus adaptive challenges, (3)
sible that managers do not want to believe the power versus progress, and (4) personality versus
system is crappy and issues are the result of the presence.
people in the system? The problem that exists with Authority versus leadership recasts leadership
any evidence-based approach is not on how to as the ability to mobilize people, resources, and
measure (the systems and delivery), but instead groups to address difficult problems. It challenges
what should be measured. Getting the organiza- the presumption that formal authority is a neces-
tion to agree on common measuring points could sity for leadership. Technical problems versus
be a project that would rival an ERP install. A adaptive challenges distinguishes between tech-
further discussion on how to determine what nical problems that can be solved through existing
should be measured would be greatly beneficial. knowledge and adaptive challenges that require
Also, measuring everything is not possible and new learning and innovation. The power versus
will cause paralysis through analysis. Greater progress distinction posits personal power is less
stress could have been applied to the fact that if an important when leadership is defined as the pro-
organization refuses to become a learning organi- cess of making progress on adaptive problems,
zation, it will never profit from evidence-based and the personality versus presence distinction
management. Company's that do not have a core posits the presence to make progress on complex
belief in continual learning in everything will al- issues is more important than charisma.
ways explain away any evidence-based derived Unlike traditional case studies which draw on
truth. the practical experiences of others, case-in-point
builds on the advice of John Dewey and other ed-
ucators who argued that students learn best from
their own experiences by using the classroom's
Leadership Can Be Taught: A Bold Ap- social system and their personal and professional
proach for a Complex World, by Sharon experiences as case studies. Parks takes the
reader inside Heifetz's classroom and traces the
Daloz Parks. Boston, MA: Harvard Busi-
experiences of students as they interact with Heif-
ness School Press, 2005. 287 pages, hard etz and their classmates. Heifetz challenges stu-
dents to learn about their own leadership suc-
cesses and failures through a variety of interactive
Reviewed by G. Jason Jolley, University of North Caro- approaches including questionnaires, small-group
lina at Chapel Hill. leadership activities, and classroom presenta-
tions. Throughout this experience Heifetz con-
Is leadership an innate quality bestowed on those stantly encourages his students to move from "the
in formal positions of authority, or is leadership a balcony to the dance floor" to understand the
learned behavior that can taught to others? In larger pattern of interactions. Heifetz uses the bal-
Leadership Can Be Taught: A Bold Approach for a cony and dance floor as metaphor of leadership
Complex World, Sharon Daloz Parks recasts lead- interactions. Being on the dance floor allows for
ership as an "adaptive" process and challenges active participation in a complex scene, yet partic-
the established myth that leadership is a trait- ipants have difficulty understanding the patterns
based characteristic, associated with command- of interaction occurring among the various actors.
and-control structures, power transactions, and By moving to the balcony and removing oneself
personality. She utilizes the case-in-point teaching from the dance floor minutia, students gain a bet-
method developed by Harvard Professor Ronald ter understanding of the sociopolitical and cultural
Heif etz and his colleague to demonstrate that lead- patterns influencing these interactions. Successful
ership is a learned quality, which can be taught to leaders operate through the complex engagements
others. on the dance floor with occasional movement to
In the first five chapters of the book, Parks draws the balcony to gain new perspectives.
on the classroom experiences of Heifetz to demon- Chapters 6-10 examine the transferability of
strate that the case-in-point teaching method is the these leadership lessons to the students' work-
best technique for teaching leadership. While places and whether this teaching method is trans-
case-in-point teaching draws on established edu- ferable to other teacher-practitioners. In chapter 6,
cational techniques such as seminar, simulation, Parks formally interviews 15 people who partici-
presentation of ideas, discussion and dialogue, pated in the leadership course in the past 3-10
and case studies, the method features four critical years. She also interviews a supervisor or co-

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