The LEAD Program: The Journey of Discovery

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Dr. Matt Chodkowski and Dr. Terry Schindler Dr. Matt Chodkowski and Dr. Terry Schindler

“Thus, the task is not to see what no one yet has seen, but to think what no one yet has thought about that which everyone sees.”  –  Schopenhauer

In the first article of our series on leadership in the 21st century, we described postindustrial leadership as the influence process among leaders and collaborators who intend real significant change based on their mutual purposes. This reflects a fundamentally different understanding of leadership predicated upon the change from an industrial to a postindustrial paradigm. As the paradigm of leadership has changed, so too must leader development change.

The traditional view of leadership being synonymous with the leader is an oversimplification of epic proportions. The contemporary view of leadership acknowledges the relational nature of leadership and asserts that leadership is a social and cultural phenomenon. The study of leadership has been severely restricted to the leader-centric perspective, even though it is universally known to be a social phenomenon.

There is now general agreement within the leadership establishment that leadership studies have stagnated, and leadership training has failed to develop leaders. Yet predictably, the establishment displays an overly zealous interest in reinventing the role of the leader instead of reconceptualizing the paradigm of leadership. The academic leadership establishment and the commercial leadership complex are still under the influence of the industrial paradigm. As a result, there has been a dramatic increase in scholarly research which has produced a multitude of new models. These new models appear to be advancing the field – but are only variations on the same leadership theme that is deeply rooted in the traditional leader-centric paradigm.  

Additionally, there is widespread agreement and evidence that leadership development programs have not delivered what they have promised. There is scarcely any evidence to show that the ever-increasing spending on leadership development is producing better leaders or creating better leadership. Despite the lack of evidence showing economic returns, there is little doubt that training budgets will continue to grow, and dollars will continue to flow into the billion-dollar leadership industry.

The Institute for Postindustrial Leadership recognizes that leadership exists in the space between leaders and collaborators wherein influence relationships develop and operate to effect significant change based on mutual purposes. The answer to our crisis in leadership will not be in designing more leadership strategies, developing new competencies, imitating prescriptive behaviors, or formulating new and improved leadership models. The leadership crisis can only be addressed by displacing the traditional leader-centric paradigm.

Most leadership training courses follow the phenomenological blueprint formulated by the historical research conducted at Ohio State and Michigan University over fifty years ago. Although quite popular, they reduce leadership to a set of management skills and behaviors based on the leader-centric perspective. These programs overlook the much deeper educational and developmental aspects of the leadership phenomenon. These traditional programs fail to acknowledge the relational collaborative nature of leadership.

Simply learning a popular model and adopting practical skills will not make someone an effective and enlightened leader – that requires a much greater awareness and a much deeper consciousness. The commercial leadership complex is saturated with leader-centric theories and two-dimensional models designed to teach leaders what to do and how to behave. At the Institute, leaders learn how to think. LEAD, the Institute’s leader education and development program, is a fully integrated approach focused on cognitions – the thoughts that determine and drive behavior.

LEAD facilitators do not teach participants how to lead, and participants do not learn about leadership – they learn about becoming better leaders. The LEAD approach gets below the surface level of leader style and behavior and focuses on deep underlying assumptions and beliefs - the thoughts that determine and drive behavior. This contemporary education and development method also exposes and debunks pervasive and popular management myths about human nature, change, motivation, organizational culture and other concepts.

The LEAD Program’s innovative instructional design and dynamic workshop approach breaks with the more typical traditional leadership development courses. LEAD is an interactive, experiential learning laboratory focused on concepts of human behavior, planned change, organizational culture and contemporary leadership designed to build a foundational knowledge base of profound principles and practices.

Principles are the centerpiece of the workshops. LEAD principles are not simply platitudes –  they are rooted in science. Principles are not merely tools – they are ideas. Using the dynamic LEAD motive development technique, participants form the neurocircuitry to internalize and integrate principles. The LEAD Program contains sixty-five profound principles and five foundational principles. We will discuss each of the five foundational principles in future articles.

The LEAD Program is intended for all management levels from front line supervisor to senior-level executive. The level of one’s profound knowledge does not correlate directly with one’s level in a hierarchy. LEAD cohort groups made up of leaders from all levels form the building blocks of a learning organization and become the catalysts for organizational change.

LEAD is unique in its design and revolutionary in its approach. LEAD is referred to as “The Journey of Discovery” because participants discover who they are through reflection and introspection – two essential elements of the program. Empirical research conclusively shows that to change the way you lead, you must first change the way you think about leading. Participating in LEAD can transform leader behavior and enable leaders to transform organizational culture. The mission of the LEAD Program is to “transform organizational culture, one leader at a time.”

If you are interested in learning more about the Institute for Postindustrial Leadership and the LEAD Program, the Institute is conducting a public event on November 2, 2018 at the Skyline Club. For information and reservations go to: www.uindy.edu/postindustrial or email postindustrialinstitute@uindy.edu. Matt and Terry are co-founders of the Institute for Postindustrial Leadership at the University of Indianapolis.

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