Being a Leader and the Effective Exercise of Leadership
An Ontological/Phenomenological Model
This course in developmental production is a collaborative work between Werner Erhard, Professor Michael C. Jensen, Steve Zaffron and Kari Granger.
The course is a leadership laboratory where instructors work with the participants to create direct access to the ways of being, thinking, planning, and action required to be a leader and to exercise leadership effectively – in any situation, and no matter the circumstances.
This course has been in development since it was first delivered in 2005 at the University of Rochester Simon School of Business to MBA, PhD, and Executive Development Program students, faculty, administrators, alumni and outside corporate executives. It has been taught at Texas A&M University Mays School of Business; California State University, Chico; Kremin School of Education, California State University, Fresno; Erasmus Academie (Rotterdam); Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore; and presented at the IC Centre for Governance, in Panchgani, India. It is currently being delivered at the United States Air Force Academy, and a version of it is also being taught at the Erasmus University Law School.
In August 2008, the course was also taught to some 250 senior management consultants from 66 separate firms.
The content and the learning/teaching method employed in this course is based on a new ontological model of leader and leadership. Rather than studying and trying to emulate the characteristics, styles, and actions of noteworthy leaders or to communicate knowledge about leader and leadership, this new model of leadership has been specifically designed to provide participants with direct access to being a leader and to the effective exercise of leadership. An epistemological mastery of a subject leaves you knowing. An ontological mastery of a subject leaves you being.
The course employs a unique contextual framework (structure for analysis) that distinguishes what leader and leadership are, and does so in a way that creates direct access to being a leader and the effective exercise of leadership. This specification of what leader and leadership actually are is also intended to contribute to the foundation for a true science of leadership. As a consequence of this contextual framework, the central role that the future plays in being a leader and the effective exercise of leadership are made clear, and how one kind of future constrains one and the people one is leading, and another kind of future frees one and the people one is leading for breakthrough results.
Course participants are provided with a new and powerful model of integrity; it is demonstrated that integrity as it exists in this new model is the foundation on which leadership is built. Participants discover that integrity, as it exists in this new model, is a necessary condition for maximum individual, group, and organizational performance.
The course makes clear the difference between management and leadership, the difference between the exercise of authority or decision rights and the exercise of leadership, and the difference between being in a “leadership position” and actually being a leader. It highlights the fact that being a leader and exercising leadership effectively does not require one to have authority or even to be in a “leadership position”.
The pedagogical method employed is “transformative learning”. The course draws on Jack Mezirow and Associates Learning as Transformation: Critical Perspectives on a Theory in Progress (chs. 1-3). In transformative learning we seek to become aware of our context of interpretations and beliefs, and to be critically reflective of our underlying assumptions. In transformative learning, our prevailing worldview and frames of reference (which are almost always invisible to ourselves) are uncovered thereby enabling us to reconstruct them such that more clarity and power is available to us.
Quoting Warren Bennis (2002) and Joseph Rost (1993) who conclude respectively:
“It is almost a cliché of the leadership literature that a single definition of leadership is lacking.” (Bennis,p.2)
“The scholars do not know what it is they are studying, and the practitioners do not know what it is they are practicing.” (Rost, p.8)
“…authors have tended to confuse their readers with contradictory conceptual frameworks, their theories and models have not added up to any meaningful conclusion about the nature of leadership.” (Rost, p.180)
Creating Leaders: An Ontological Model: Chapter 16 in The Handbook For Teaching Leadership - Scott Snook, Nitin Nohria, Rakesh Khurana, eds., Sage Publications, 2011
Introduction to Being a Leader and the Effective Exercise of Leadership: An Ontological Model - slide presentation, Social Sciences Research Network
Harvard Business School, Working Knowledge - Creating Leaders: An Ontological/Phenomenological Model
The Transformational Experiences that Leave Ordinary People Being Leaders, Access to a Context that Uses You, and Education as Stretching the Mind - Social Sciences Research Network
Harvard Business School, Working Knowledge - Being a Leader and the Effective Exercise of Leadership: An Ontological Model (PDF File of PowerPoint Slides)
Harvard Business School, Working Knowledge - Introductory Reading For Being a Leader and The Effective Exercise of Leadership: An Ontological Model
Being a Leader and the Effective Exercise of Leadership: An Ontological/Phenomenological Model - Course materials at Social Sciences Research Network
Introductory Reading for Being a Leader and the Effective Exercise of Leadership: An Ontological Model - Social Sciences Research Network
Michael C. Jensen delivering the Commencement Address - McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University, on Integrity, Authenticity and Being Committed To Something Bigger than Yourself
Simon School Leadership Seminar Series - with Michael C. Jensen
Harvard Business School - Working Papers Collection
Leadership Course - Erasmus Academie, June 2009
Leadership Course - Texas A & M University, Mays School of Business, June 2010
"Creating Leaders: Mastering the Fundamentals and Effective Delivery of the Ontological Access to Leadership"
- Faculty training for delivering the Leadership Course at the United States Air Force Academy, July 13 - 16, 2010
Michael C. Jensen, Current Research, Harvard Business School - Leadership and Leadership Development: An Ontological Approach
Erasmus University - announcing Leadership Course via YouTube (Dutch)
Erasmus University - announcing Leadership Course via YouTube (English)
Harvard Business School, Working Knowledge - Creating Leaders: An Ontological Model - Forthcoming Book Chapter
Michael C. Jensen Ph.D. - Leadership and Leadership Development: An Ontological Approach
"Creating Leaders: An Ontological Model" - Workplace Professionals
Society For Humanistic Psychology - The Handbook For Teaching Leadership
Four Ways of Being that Create the Foundations of A Great Personal Life, Great Leadership and A Great Organization
Professor Michael C. Jensen (Harvard Business School) - Keynote Address on Integrity at University of British Columbia
Warren Bennis, 2007, Introduction to the Special Issue “The Challenges of Leadership in the Modern World”, American Psychologist
Rost, Joseph C., 1993, Leadership for the Twenty-First Century. Westport, CT: Praeger.
Jack Mezirow and Associates, 2000, Learning as Transformation: Critical Perspectives on a Theory in Progress: Jossey-Bass Inc.