Analyzing Leadership Critically

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    • 00:11

      DR. SCOTT TAYLOR: My name is Scott Taylor.I am currently a reader in leadership and organizationstudies at Birmingham Business School,University of Birmingham in the English Midlands.I research leaders and leadership and leadingin most of what I do.

    • 00:32

      DR. SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: One of the important ways to approach this topic, I think,is to locate leadership within its organizational settings.What I'm going to talk about todayis the research field of leadership studies.Leadership studies, as a research field,is interesting in a context of business school management

    • 00:55

      DR. SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: education because leadership studies hasbeen with us for a long time.However, it has a relatively low profile and low statuswithin business schools.Leadership studies began around about 100, 120 years agoas a specific research field.

    • 01:15

      DR. SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: It had developed during the 19th century when biographersstarted to ask how certain people become leaders,why they become leaders, and then also why other peopledon't become leaders.Through asking those questions, those early biographersof so-called great men-- because all the people they

    • 01:38

      DR. SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: were writing about were men-- developed the ideathat great leaders were born rather than made.They made this observation through looking closelyat people's lives and how people such as army generals or navy

    • 01:59

      DR. SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: captains or important industrialistscame to occupy the positions that they did.They very consistently came to the conclusion--these early biographers-- that great men became great leadersbecause they carried some specific trait,

    • 02:20

      DR. SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: some specific aspect of their character or personalitythat enabled them to become leaders.The research that I do on leadershipand leading is directly contrary to that specific conclusionthat leaders are born, rather than made.

    • 02:41

      DR. SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: So one of the things I want to doin talking through the field of leadership studies todayis to encourage the idea that perhaps leaders are born,but also perhaps leaders are madein a variety of different ways.

    • 03:03

      DR. SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: The field of leadership studies isframed by a variety of research methods and methodologies.Now usually in academic research papers,the method and methodology is a short sectionwhich is relatively boring which many people skipwhen the reading the journal papers that reporton the original research.

    • 03:24

      DR. SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: In the case of leadership studies,it's actually very important to read the sections reportingon method and methodology, because theytell you a lot about the field of study and the conclusionsthat researchers can come to within that field.In leadership studies, there's a very long traditionoff doing what's called trait-based based

    • 03:47

      DR. SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: research, trying to identify personality characteristicsthat individuals either have or develop overthe course of their lives which definewhether those people become leaders or not.You can think about this, for example, in relation to someone

    • 04:08

      DR. SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: being an extrovert, someone having an outgoing personality.That's very often cited as importantin the process of becoming a leader.You could also think about certain terms of height.Height is often one of the most important traitsthat people identify in analyzing leadership.

    • 04:30

      DR. SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: The taller the person, the more likelythat person will be to become a leader.The third obvious example that you could probablythink of yourself here is sex, whether a personis male or female.A number of leadership researchershave tried to identify whether that's

    • 04:51

      DR. SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: significant in how we understand leadership in organizations.There are other research methods and methodologieswhich researchers have used over the course of the last 100years in trying to identify reliable ways of understanding

    • 05:14

      DR. SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: how people become leaders.One of those methods is the contingency approach,which is taken from organization studies.This approach suggests that whether someonebecomes a leader or not depends on the organizational contextor the sector context or the industrial context,and it also depends on that person being

    • 05:34

      DR. SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: able to adapt their behavior according to the contextthat they're working within.So leadership studies during the 20th century,as a field of research, went through a series of changes,and new theories didn't replace older theories,

    • 05:55

      DR. SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: but complimented them.If we start at the 20th century as group of researches,thinking mostly about personality traitsand character traits, and then in the mid-20th century,leadership researchers began to recognize the significanceof context, introducing the idea of contingencyand the possibility of behavioral change.

    • 06:18

      DR. SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: Towards the end of the 20th century,leadership studies researchers beganto think much more about transformational leadership.This was partly in response to the rising statusof both managers and leaders during the 1980s and 1990s.

    • 06:40

      DR. SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: And this is a time period when peopleat the top of large organizations,particularly in North America and Western Europe,began to acquire a much higher degree of both statusand a much higher degree or remuneration, of pay.

    • 06:60

      DR. SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: This was partly-- most researchers agree-- in relationto political changes.So understanding leadership at this pointbecame much more about understanding howand individual heroic leader could transforma very large organization employing maybe10,000 or 20,000 people towards higher success,

    • 07:26

      DR. SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: towards more success, higher productivity, and a greaterpresence in competitive markets.For these and other reasons, researchers and leadershipstudies began to concentrate on the idea knownas transformational leadership.Understanding transformational leadership

    • 07:47

      DR. SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: could be followed through the research methodsand methodologies which had been developed earlierin the progress of the discipline.But researchers also began to turn backtowards more qualitative data, such as leader biographies,such as interviews with leaders and followers,

    • 08:08

      DR. SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: much more than questionnaire data.This is a particularly interesting periodfor leadership studies as a disciplinebecause it still involves a focus on the individual leader,but at the same time, it's becomingmuch more open as a research fieldto the possibility of critical analyses of both individual

    • 08:31

      DR. SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: leaders and also the fact of leading.All of these theoretical approachesin leadership studies have always alsobeen focused on the idea of leadership development.So leadership studies is very much an applied fieldwithin business schools.

    • 08:53

      DR. SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: That doesn't mean it looks like management consultancy, thatmeans that as researchers, we alwayshave to think about how the research speaks to bothpracticing leaders and also the people whofollow those leaders.So the application, if you like, isin the everyday, lived experience

    • 09:13

      DR. SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: of work organizations.For leadership studies, most of the applicationcomes in the form of leadership development.Now leadership development is an issuewhich all theories of leadership can speak to.Most trait theories of leadership, for example,

    • 09:34

      DR. SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: would suggest that leadership can't be developed.Leaders are born, not made, thereforeit's impossible or very, very difficultto develop into a leader.It's just an accident of birth.Contingency theories provide a little more space for leadersto be able to develop.

    • 09:56

      DR. SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: Transformational leadership suggeststhat leaders can perform a kind of charisma,leaders can become transformational leadersif they are very, very skilled performers.But still we're talking mostly hereabout leaders being born rather than made.

    • 10:17

      DR. SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: Recent research, though, suggeststhat leadership development is somethingwhich can happen as a process and as a practicemuch more effectively than we thought previously.In particular, a group of researchersworking at the University of Auklandhave been developing an approach to leadership development based

    • 10:38

      DR. SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: on identity.These researchers have been thinkingabout the ways in which we identify individualsas leaders, and those individuals theninhabit the identity of being a leader.And they think-- these researchers in Auklandthink-- that if we can work out the relationship

    • 11:01

      DR. SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: between attributions of leadership,practices of leadership, theories of leadership,and identity, then we'll be in a much better positionto be able to understand the processes of leadershipdevelopment, and in particular, the reasons why some peopledon't become leaders.Because while it's important to be

    • 11:22

      DR. SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: able to identify how and why some people do become leaders,it's also crucial to be able to understand how and why peopledon't become leaders.The most obvious example of this in the UK at the momentis in relation to the Financial Times stock exchange

    • 11:43

      DR. SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: 100 largest companies list which we have here.Of the list of 100 companies, usually somewherebetween three and five have a woman as chief executive.Now if you ask a group of undergraduate studentswhy this is the case, you get a range of responses

    • 12:04

      DR. SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: all the way from some people saying women are obviously notvery good at leadership, to other people saying well,it's the patriarchy and it's the structureof domination and oppression that women have to work within,which means that they don't become leaders.This isn't just a theoretical question,this is a question then which affects people's lives

    • 12:26

      DR. SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: in very significant ways.So in conclusion, understanding the kind of leadersthat we follow and understanding the norms of leadershipwhich we all work to seems to me to be a relatively important

    • 12:49

      DR. SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: thing to try to do, thinking criticallyabout leading and leadership.I've talked here about classical theories of leadership-- traittheories, contingency theories, and transformational theoriesof leadership, and then also more contemporary approachto leadership development, which has been focusing

    • 13:10

      DR. SCOTT TAYLOR [continued]: on the issue of identity.It's a very brief overview of leadership studies,and it emphasizes the importance of critical thinking.Because if we don't think critically about leadersand leading, then perhaps we end up with leadersthat we don't want.

Analyzing Leadership Critically

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Abstract

Professor Scott Taylor discusses several theoretical approaches to the study of leadership. Each attempts to explain whether leaders are born or made.

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Analyzing Leadership Critically

Professor Scott Taylor discusses several theoretical approaches to the study of leadership. Each attempts to explain whether leaders are born or made.

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