Conceptual Framework

The Doctoral Program is driven by a Conceptual Framework that centers on three dimensions of leadership: (a) the leader as person; (b) the leader in organizational systems; and (c) the leader in global systems. Principles of research designed to honor humanity are threaded throughout the program and provide doctoral students a structured way of thinking and coming to understand leadership from personal, organizational, and global systems perspectives.

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The Leader and the Personal Dimension
The Leader and the Organizational Dimension
The Leader and the Global Dimension
Three Dimensions of Leadership:

Seeing Clearly
Responding Ethically
Serving Willingly

The Leader and the Personal Dimension

There is an increasing need expressed in leadership literature for leaders to inspire others toward a higher vision of what it means to be human (e.g., Goleman, 1995; Greenleaf, 2002; Heifetz, 1994; Kouzes & Posner, 2002; Palmer, 2000; Senge, 1990). At the core of this dimension to leadership is examining how to transform human capacities in ways that fulfill the human spirit, raise awareness of new possibilities and potentialities and encourage self and others to transcend self-interest for the sake of the greater human endeavor (Bass, 1985; Burns, 1978).

Senge (1990) emphasized that leaders in today’s world need to continually clarify and deepen their personal vision and focus energies toward new realities and new stories that speak of hope and courage. Effective leaders are consciously present to leader-follower relationships, realizing that relationships form the foundation of leadership. How leaders’ values play out in the relationship can mark success or failure of the leader to inspire and motivate others to become more fully human.

Lowney (2003) proposed leadership opportunities are found not only at work but also in the ordinary activities of everyday life. Four principles of leadership emerged:

  1. Everyone is a leader; we are all leading all of the time, well or poorly.
  2. Leadership springs from within; it is about who we are as much as what we do.
  3. Leadership is not an act; it is a way of living.
  4. Leaders never complete the task of becoming a leader; it is an ongoing process (p. 19).

Lonergan (1968, 1988) viewed self-questioning as a natural instinct of the human conscience. The process of self-questioning forms the basis of personal authenticity and occurs when we are attentive and conscious of our thinking, gain deeper understandings, make judgments that are reasonable, and choose to act in ways that are responsible.

Examples of personal leadership theory and practice:

  • Servant-leadership (Greenleaf, 1977/2002): leaders are servants first, fostering a sense of community that embraces diversity, and developing in the self an intricate and artistic understanding of what it means to develop the freedom, health, wisdom, and autonomy of others;
  • Relational leadership (Fletcher, 2001; Komives, Lucas, & McMahon, 1998);
  • Transformational leadership (Bass, 1985); and
  • Appreciative leadership (Bushe, 2001; Luthans & Avolio, 2003).

Questions to explore through the coursework in this dimension include:

  1. How do leaders’ images of themselves effect the system in which they lead?
  2. What is involved in risking deep positive change at the personal level?
  3. What is the role of positive affect in higher levels of human development and what are implications for developing leaders?
  4. How does one cultivate a life of deliberately noticing, anticipating, and magnifying positive potential in the self and others?

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The Leader and the Organizational Dimension

Because organizations are, in the end, webs of relationships, they are dynamic, living systems. Leaders cannot control dynamic, living systems, but they can disturb them (Wheatley, 1999). Leaders who influence organizations in an efficacious manner form a comprehensive understanding of both the theoretical and practical workings of organizations. Identifying the mental models individuals hold about the organization that collectively identify the organization is inherent to the development of mature leadership that can transform organizations at fundamental levels.

Transformational changes within the organization can occur when leaders identify and change the thinking of the organization. The identification and examination from many angles of the complex and difficult issues associated with mental models requires the ability to engage in dialogue. Genuine dialogue involves listening without judgment, reflecting on thoughts and feelings, respecting differences, seeking deeper levels of understanding, releasing control, and identifying underlying, unstated assumptions (Daft & Lengel, 1998; Senge, 1990).

Wheatley (1999) suggested healthy systems connect to more and more of themselves by strengthening the relationships within the system. Creating organizations based on networks of relationships requires moving from personal to shared visions and this means reconciling individual purpose with organizational purpose (Senge, 1990) by deciding together what we want to create (Block, 2002; Wheatley, 1999). Quinn (2000) contended that leaders facilitate this process by creating the conditions for productive communities to emerge and that these conditions require systems of relationships in which members share a common purpose and each works for the benefit of all (p. 28). The internally driven leader is required to wrestle with issues such as the intent versus the impact of each action that is taken; the role of blame and forgiveness in organizations; and the deepening of both justice and mercy.

Questions to explore through coursework in this dimension include:

  1. What kind of leadership creates an organization that is a place of infinite possibilities?
  2. What is the role of the person in creating positive organizational change?
  3. How can organizations be leader-full (leadership is shared among all people at all levels) yet be led at the same time?
  4. How can the sacred and miraculous become valued in organizations?

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The Leader and the Global Dimension

Personal and organizational leadership occurs within the context of global systems. The relevance to leadership and the complexity of these general or comprehensive systems is reflected in the rapidly changing ethnic composition of organizations, the ability of political change to radically alter the environment, and the extent to which international issues, including trade and employment, impact local situations.

Systems thinking provides the theoretical underpinnings for the cultural, political, and international dimensions of the program. The unit as a whole and the nature of its relationship to the surrounding environment is the primary concern; the parts of the system that are assumed to work together for the overall objective of the whole are secondary (Haines, 1998, p. vi).

Cultural competency is based on an understanding of culture as knowledge people use to generate and interpret social behavior. Culture is constantly in flux and because it is learned and shared, and therefore can be changed. Cultural competency is about developing an understanding that allows leaders to recognize the role of culture, and in turn transcend their own culture. Subsumed under cultural competency are the cultural aspects of (a) knowing oneself (b) knowing others (c) knowing issues, and (d) working with others.

Political competency requires understanding the interplay of policy and power goals in political systems, and of the geographical and economic implications of political action. Policy provides the interface between leaders and systems. Leaders, regardless of their level, are always both impacted by policy and have a responsibility to discern and implement policy that deepens and enhances the human experience by creating greater freedom and wisdom in the person, the organization, and society as a whole.

International competency means seeing the world as a diverse, heterogeneous community composed of different communication, social, political, economic, and fiscal systems. Leaders who engender meaning and purpose in others are able to deal with these systems by understanding the implications of modernization, dependency, and world-system theories of leadership (So, 1990).

Technological competency provides powerful tools for influencing policy and, notably, the political competencies required for responding to and changing policy are significantly different when they are exercised in virtual organizations. The technological explosion also requires consideration of ethical issues like the implications of the digital divide separating individuals based on wealth, education, gender, ethnic identity, and nationality (Dyson, 1998).
Questions to explore through coursework in this dimension include:

  1. If we truly saw one another as gifts to each other, how would our world be different?
  2. If we live in a world we have socially constructed, how might we re-construct a better world?
  3. How can multinational relationships be created that are trusting yet challenging, supportive yet provocative, visionary yet practical?

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Three Dimensions of Leadership

The Doctoral Program centers on three dimensions of leadership: (a) the leader as person, (b) the leader in organizational systems, and (c) the leader in global systems. Principles of research designed to honor humanity are threaded throughout the program and provide doctoral students a structured way of thinking and coming to understand leadership from personal, organizational, and global systems perspectives.

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Seeing Clearly

To see clearly involves the self’s journey toward a conscious learned practice of knowing and understanding.

Personal. Seeing requires leaders, as conscious “knowers,” to understand and appreciate their intelligence—how they think, how they gain new understandings, and how they make judgments. Seeing requires reflective practices and transformational learning such that one’s personal narrative becomes evident, and one’s desire to understand includes a desire to understand correctly (the intention of one’s intelligibility).

Organizational. Seeing at the organizational level means leaders have the capacity to understand what it means to be human and what is required for humans to live their lives fully and joyfully. This seeing involves interpersonal modes of knowing whereby leaders gain an appreciation and understanding of the dynamic, complex nature of human collectives. They are able to see beyond competing agendas that seem to divide, seeking the common good that unifies minds and hearts, bringing strength and integrity to the organization/community as a whole.

Global Social Systems. Seeing at this level means leaders’ minds are open to hearing, receiving, and learning from differences. They are able to see potentialities and possibilities that lie beyond what has been experienced. Seeing means being able to recognize and differentiate between systems that are life-giving and those that are oppressive. Seeing means having both hindsight and foresight as leaders are able to learn from lessons ingrained in history and given these lessons are able to envision a viable, sustainable future.

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Responding Ethically

To respond ethically is to see the relationship of self to other in the contexts of care and justice and to act out of that awareness.

Personal. Leaders are free as human agents to act in accordance to their deepest desires. Through discernment they are able to make judgments that are reasonable based on data available, and they choose actions that are responsible. Leaders have a virtuous character; they have integrity and choose to act authentically.

Organizational. Leaders are trustworthy. They are sensitive to how they influence and are influenced by others. They embrace a culture of hospitality, creating space for the other that honors their presence with on-going regard and respect, moving toward a sense of collective “We.” Responding in community involves leaders being able to reconcile dissonance, embrace chaos, and create new beginnings.

Global Social Systems. Leaders are committed to responses that speak to truth and justice. Leaders create relationships that help people come to know one another and discern how their lives, although different, are connected to their neighbors at a deep level. Connection encourages community members to learn of each other’s struggles and successes, providing a sense of unity and support during challenging times.

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Serving Willingly

To serve willingly is to discover that the fullness of being human is becoming a person for others.

Personal. Leaders gain a personal philosophy and deep understanding of what it means to serve others, to be a person for others. They understand how the notion of serving addresses the betterment of humankind. Leaders willing to serve are able to transcend their ego selves to new ways of thinking and behaving in community. They understand the difficulties and joys of growing toward greater maturity.

Organizational. Leaders that are willing to serve empower others to live their lives fully by becoming healthier, wiser, and more autonomous. These leaders enable others to become leaders who have the capacity to give of themselves for the purpose of serving others.

Global Social Systems.
Leaders that are willing to serve continue to expect and search for a better world. They focus on movements toward that which is good, while keeping an outlook for trends that speak of oppression and the disintegration of ecological, economic, and human systems. It is through conscious, reasonable, and responsible acts of knowing that this state of decline can be transformed into healthy systems able to serve the world.

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All Are Welcome Here
All Are Welcome Here