What you will study
You'll learn about many of the major concepts of leadership, one of the oldest organisational concepts, with a history stretching back as far as the Ancient Greeks. Leadership is a practice and area of study that has persisted for so long for good reason: people find it incredibly appealing as an idea. At a very basic level this is because leadership perhaps inevitably deals with big questions about the overall direction of a group, organisation or society. In addition, people tend, for good or ill, to find the idea of leaders exciting, even bewitching.
You'll cover a broad range of ideas in this module: learn about various key concepts related to what it means to be a leader, all the way through to far more recent accounts that hold that leadership resides more in the collective acts of people.
In more detail, you will cover the following aspects of leadership:
- Leadership as person: these are approaches that assume that leadership resides in individual leaders. These views try to generalise what it means to be an effective leader through studying the personalities and behaviours of individual leaders.
- Collective leadership: these approaches assume that leadership is a practice conducted between people working together collectively in a group to offer direction.
- Identity and power: you will learn how leadership has become a desirable identity and how some people are (unfairly) deemed more suitable for leadership than others. You will also learn how identities in groups can be refashioned to create leadership with more possibility.
- Leadership ethics: you will learn about perspectives that try to understand what it means to be an ethical leader and also perspectives that help you understand ethical practices of leadership.
- Leadership aesthetics: you will learn how leadership can adopt an aesthetic quality that moves people. You will learn how to interpret aesthetic presentations of leaders but also how to improve your leadership practices through aesthetic practices.
Key module practices
You'll be asked to follow these learning practices as you proceed through the module:
- Understanding basic concepts of leadership. This is the important but more straightforward task of understanding what is meant by various key concepts, such as collaborative leadership, identity, and so on.
- Noticing examples of leadership (good, bad and indifferent) in the world around you, in the mass media and in your daily lives.
- Collecting examples of leadership – in the form of texts (written records of what people say), in order to notice how people talk leadership; pictures, photographs, paintings or sketches, so that you can notice how people visualise leadership; audio and video, so that you can notice how people enunciate and visualise leadership.
- Reflecting on these examples in relation to the concepts that you encounter in the module: their strengths and weaknesses. You'll reflect on the effect some concepts seem to have – or that they could have - in organisations and in society, whether or not they are helpful, harmful or somewhere in between.
- Self-reflection: targeting your practices, assumptions and views. You will be asked to think in some depth about what you hold to be significant and important in terms of leadership, which inevitably means reflecting upon your values and even your own background. In turn, you'll be asked to reflect upon how your sense of self and sense of what you find valuable in others translates across into your practice – in leadership terms and as a follower.
- Experimenting with leadership concepts. Firstly, you'll be asked to experiment in terms of your thinking. This means trying to think outside your normal zones of comfort: for example, if you are someone who usually holds leadership to be something tied very much to charismatic individuals, you will benefit from trying to think about leadership as something tied to a collection of people or to a practice, instead. You'll be asking yourself: what does it mean to see a particular person, practice or group in a different way? Secondly, experimenting means really trying out new ideas in your own environments. This could mean experimenting with new ideas and practices in a paid working environment, in a voluntary environment or more informally in your everyday lives. By experimenting with leadership ideas in real life we come to see their potential because these are ideas that are based on real human interaction – or at least they should be.
You will learn
By the end of the module you will be able to:
- understand and describe key aspects of leadership
- critically analyse and discuss various key approaches to leadership
- find and discuss information in the media or in your own lives in relation to key concepts of leadership
- critically reflect on your own beliefs and practices in relation to leadership
- critically reflect on your own working environment in relation to leadership
- communicate an approach to leadership rooted in an understanding of yourself and your working environment
- experiment in your own lives with different approaches to leadership
- reflect on and describe your learning in relation to key employability skills.
Many of the practices and skills you will adopt in this module – a sound understanding of leadership, critical thinking, communication in teams, self-reflection and finding and interpreting good information – will be attractive to employers.
Throughout the module you will be asked to reflect upon and keep track of the employability skills you develop and you will be supported to do this.
You will be able to make a note of the skills you develop and you will be supported in thinking about how these can be used in future job applications.