The Role of Leadership Educators: Transforming Learning

By Dan Jenkins and Kathy L. Guthrie

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Dan Jenkins PhotoDan Jenkins is Chair and Associate Professor of Leadership & Organizational Studies at the University of Southern Maine. He received his doctorate in Curriculum & Instruction from the University of South Florida. Dan has published more than 30 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters and facilitated dozens of workshops around the world on leadership education, pedagogy, curriculum, and course design. Dan is a past chair of the ILA Leadership Education Member Interest Group, co-chair of the ILA Leadership Education Academy, and has served on the boards of the Association of Leadership Educators and Collegiate Leadership Competition.

Kathy L. GuthrieKathy L. Guthrie is Associate Professor in the Higher Education Program, Director of the Leadership Learning Research Center, and Coordinator of the Undergraduate Certificate in Leadership Studies at Florida State University. She currently serves as associate editor for the New Directions in Student Leadership series and editor of the Contemporary Perspectives on Leadership Learning book series. Her research focuses on leadership learning outcomes, environment of leadership and civic education, and technology in leadership education. Kathy has been involved in ILA in various ways over the years, most recently as past-chair of the Leadership Scholarship Member Interest Group.

BookcoverOur journey to write The Role of Leadership Educators: Transforming Learning (Information Age Publishing, 2018) began with a conversation about the void of any literature beyond journal articles and conference proceedings around teaching leadership written from the perspective of and for leadership educators. Equally, it was clear during these initial conversations that we shared a mutual intellectual curiosity of the myriad and complex facets of leadership education as well as a desire to create a book that would provide resources that transcend curricular and co-curricular leadership education contexts. Although more recently there has been dialogue on teaching leadership such as Barbara C. Crosby’s new book Teaching Leadership: An Integrative Approach (2017) [Featured in this column in October 2017. Read a short article from Crosby and watch her video interview with Dan] and Gama Perruci and Sadhana Hall’s Teaching Leadership: Bridging Theory and Practice (2018), it was only after we sent off our final chapters to our publisher this past summer that we became aware of the aforementioned new and important contributions to the field. We are proud to be a part of a new movement, built upon Sharon Daloz Parks’ seminal book, Leadership Can be Taught: A Bold Approach for a Complex World (2005), which until now was some of the only literature that discussed deeply how to teach leadership. [Read an ILA interview with Sharon from December 2005 about this book and Download the first two chapters of Daloz’s book on ILA Chapter Downloads Page]

It wasn’t until the final stages of writing and proofreading our own work that we realized the opportunity for profound impact our book would have. This was echoed by the authors of the two Forewords in our book, ILA members Jay A. Conger and Susan R. Komives. In speaking to the growth of leadership programs worldwide (2,000+), Conger remarks how we “…are redefining in powerful ways how we must think and act as leadership educators.” Conger continues:

Welcome to the new world of the leadership educator. If you wish to be one, it is no longer enough to be an effective classroom teacher. We all need to be agents of change who can rally our campus colleagues to rethink how we teach leadership to young people in the context of educational institutions. We must think expansively so that learning stretches far beyond the classroom and reaches into every nook and cranny of a student’s life. Guthrie and Jenkins have provided us with a wonderful rich resource to reflect deeply on who we are and who we need to become. This book will challenge you to become the best leadership educator you can possibly be. You will be inspired to do so.

Likewise, Komives notes how we, “…masterfully captured how leadership learning can be enhanced in these diverse experiences across the whole environment. Indeed, every single student experience is and must be an opportunity to develop leadership in every student.” Too, we aimed to capture the critical duality of leadership educators’ own as well as our students’ leadership self-efficacy along with our own identities and mindsets about teaching and developing leadership as a process working to, “influence individual students to develop their leadership awareness and capacity.” It is through this coverage that, as Komives notes, our book, “thoughtfully abounds with scholarship, research, good practices, and resources to support the development of each leadership educator and diverse leadership programs on each campus.”

Hence, our book is for leadership educators. We begin with a focus on the professional identity of the leadership educator and the resources required to do our important work and offer exemplar programs and curricula as models for our chief propositions. Specifically, we propose two working models: (a) The Leadership Learning Framework; and (b) A Model of Leader and Follower Experiences as a Source of Transformational Learning. The Leadership Learning Framework maintains that the primary outcomes of leadership education — i.e., the knowledge, inter- and intra-personal as well as skill and competency development, meaning making, and engagement through participation in leadership and followership activities — are bound together by “leadership metacognition,” the reflective, systemic, organizational, analytical, evaluative, adaptive, processual, mindful, and complex aspects of leadership learning. With this outcome in mind, the learner is critically aware and understands their own thought progressions about the leadership process and the learning of leadership. Put another way, the learner is practicing mindfulness with respect to leadership. The second half of our book presents intentional, effective instructional and assessment strategies that act as a vehicle for transforming learners’ leadership and followership experiences into meaningful leadership education.

Leadership Can Be Taught: Education and Educator

As mentioned above, the first section of our book sets the stage for leadership education and the professional work of leadership educators. We focus on the notion that leadership can be taught in ways that emphasize the intentional creation of programs with established learning outcomes and solid environments where learners can thrive. Chapter 1 builds off the work of the National Clearinghouse for Leadership Programs [directed by ILA member Craig Slack] and Komives et al.’s (2011) work in The Handbook for Student Leadership Development, by broadly discussing leadership education. Here, we establish the importance for leadership education by discussing how leadership is interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary, exploring the power of language in leadership, and providing a brief historical synopsis of curricular and co-curricular leadership education.

Exploring how multiple identities influence our professional identity as a leadership educator and sharing the emerging scholarship on the professional identity development of leadership educators are discussed in Chapter 2. Although this chapter just scratches the surface in honoring our multiple identities and how those influence our professional identity as a leadership educator, this chapter focuses on the complexities of bringing our whole self to this work. Through conversation on multiple dimensions of identity and intersectionality, as well as experiences of becoming and being a leadership educator, we begin to engage in a conversation on the professional identity of a leadership educator and how we come together in a community of practice.

Chapter 3 provides various leadership educator resources. Although this chapter does not provide an exhaustive list, it provides a list of professional associations, workshops, academic journals, potential textbooks, and additional leadership educator resources. These leadership educator resources hopefully engage the reader in the wide variety and range of communities of practice leadership educators have.

Designing Opportunities for Leadership Learning

One of the most challenging things for leadership educators is to understand how to intentionally design effective leadership education programs. The second section of The Role of Leadership Educators: Transforming Learning is focused on just that. Collectively, this section provides resources, information, and examples of intentional leadership program design with learning at the core. Chapter 4 proposes the abovementioned Leadership Learning Framework and aims to shift the focus from the actual teaching and educator to the learning and learner. We propose that in order to design leadership programs that positively influence the learner, we should be focusing on how learning occurs and intentionally design programs with the learner’s perspective in mind rather than relying on what an educator feels like teaching. Consequently, our Leadership Learning Framework includes the following six aspects, all within the context of leadership: (a) knowledge; (b) development; (c) training; (d) observation; (e) engagement; and (f) metacognition.

In addition to putting learning at the center of designing intentional leadership learning opportunities, considering multiple contexts is critical in situating a leadership program appropriately. Chapter 5 discusses just that. Institutional contexts such as academic/curricular, co-curricular, undergraduate, graduate, discipline-specific, interdisciplinary, and integrated models matter when educators seek to intentionally design, deliver, and assess leadership programs. Here, we bring different contexts to light as being critical to an effective leadership program.

Chapter 6 discusses five characteristics of distinctive programs, which emerged from an extensive literature review. These characteristics are critical for consideration in designing and implementing leadership learning opportunities and include intentionally designing programs with specific learning outcomes, creating authentic leadership learning environments, focusing on the application of knowledge, skills, and values, making meaning through planned reflection, and including continuous program improvement in an overall program design. As a continuation of Chapter 6, Chapter 7 provides actual examples of distinctive programs that are situated in various institutional contexts. These examples from various institutions around the U.S. demonstrates how programs can implement programs in different contexts with distinctive program characteristics.

Often forgotten or not integrated into intentional program design, is assessment. Chapter 8 focuses on various assessment types including resources such as the ILA Guiding Questions white paper and the Council for the Advancement of Standards (CAS). At a program level, assessment is a characteristic of distinctive leadership programs, as discussed in Chapter 6. Assessment types, including individual learning and program-wide assessment, are discussed in this chapter. Collectively, chapters 4-8 provide in-depth information on intentional leadership education program design. Hopefully this information allows for successful crafting of influential leadership learning opportunities.

The Art of Delivering Leadership Education

In the first foreword of our book, Conger brings readers’ attention to “the breadth of choices in pedagogy that we have today.” Accordingly, the final section of our book aims to provide tools and strategies for navigating these choices and offers concrete examples, grounded in the college teaching and leadership education literature. In fact, it was a value proposition between the authors that our book should not only provide coverage of pedagogy, but also tangible and accessible strategies for applying the knowledge offered in the reader’s teaching environment, whether it be face-to-face, online, blended, graduate, undergraduate, or co-curricular. Hence, this final section covers an impressive scan of the instructional strategies available to leadership educators including (a) discussion; (b) case study methods; (c) reflection; (d) team-based learning; (e) service-learning; (f) self- and peer-assessments; (g) role play, simulation, and games; and (h) various forms of art as leadership pedagogy. Our coverage of each instructional strategy comes through the lens of experiential learning (see Kolb, 1984) in which we, as leadership educators, must focus our students’ attention on their leadership and followership experiences as a foundation for leadership learning. It is from this foundation that, through intentional alignment of learning outcomes and the instructional strategies provided in our book, leadership educators facilitate students through the process of critically reflecting on these experiences, experiential abstraction (i.e., constructing meaning from their leader and follower experiences), and metacognitive discovery and exploration, where students experiment with new behaviors and skills while self-monitoring in the present. We represent this process in our book through the previously discussed Model of Leader and Follower Experiences as a Source of Transformational Learning.

Keeping this model in mind, each chapter in this section of our book builds off Wisniewski’s (2010) proposition that “the role of the leadership educator is not to deliver or transmit information,” but instead “to actively engage the learners in constructing personal theories and philosophies of leadership by creating a learning environment that builds upon learners’ existing knowledge and experiential base” (p. 65). Chapter 10, the first in this section, introduces what Jenkins (2012, 2013, 2016) identifies as the “signature pedagogy” of leadership education — discussion. We focus primarily on the practice and facilitation of discussion in leadership education, highlighting the democratic and inclusive nature of instructional strategy and how, through modeling this process in your classroom, you may incite similar practice by your students when they’re in environments outside your classroom.

In Chapter 11, we explore the various case study methods for teaching leadership, emerging from the reveled case study method of teaching at the Harvard Business School. While intentionality, relevance, and the problem or challenge at hand are still chief to this instructional strategy, leadership educators have more pools from which to draw than many of their peers in other disciplines. Leadership case studies aren’t just found in textbooks. Instead, we can access relevant cases from the news and media, YouTube, TED talks, and streaming and social media, just to name a few. Thus, we offer in this chapter interactive tools and techniques to bring the case study alive and creatively involve students in the process of analysis.

In Chapter 12, we focus on the various reflection-based instructional strategies available to leadership educators. Building on our transformational learning model, reflection — perhaps more so than any other pedagogical group — is symbiotic with leadership education, allowing learners to construct meaning from individual experience. In this chapter, we offer strategies leadership educators can use to integrate reflection-based activities such as journaling and individual- and group-reflection, for leadership identity development.

In Chapter 13, we emphasize the criticality of process in team-based learning (TBL) and provide specific activities for aligning group work with essential content and concepts in order to facilitate this strategy in leadership education contexts. We argue that leadership should be the discipline where TBL functions at an exemplary level. Thus, in addition to example activities for in-class and online TBL, we offer a structured process that includes guidelines for setting expectations among student teams, promoting and creating a culture of feedback, and providing opportunities for peer evaluation.

In Chapter 14, service-learning is offered as vehicle for various forms of community engagement that, through intentional practice, can enhance experiential learning and reflection in the context of leadership. There is specific coverage in this chapter on the critical considerations leadership educators should keep in mind when using this pedagogy, including common challenges, congruencies, and tensions related to the intersections of service-learning and leadership. This chapter also provides a brief history of service-learning as a pedagogy.

In Chapter 15, we provide a comprehensive look at the many assessment-based instructional strategies available to leadership educators. We begin with an exploration of self-assessments and personality tests which, if used properly, provide unique opportunities for interactive learning due to the personal connection of the results to the learner. Equally, in our coverage of peer-assessments and observation instruments, we illustrate how these tools provide structured opportunities for evaluating, exploring, and providing feedback on the leadership of others.

Chapter 16 includes the most interactive instructional strategies in leadership educators’ toolboxes, including role play, simulation, and games. Surprisingly, these are some of the most infrequently used strategies in leadership education, perhaps because of the challenges associated with facilitating each one (Jenkins, 2012, 2013). To address this underuse, we provide tangible facilitation blueprints to empower leadership educators to provide these important instructional strategies that, when coupled with a structured debrief, provide learning environments where students can try out and apply leadership skills and behaviors in a space insulated from the real world. This chapter is also chock-full of examples.

Finally, in Chapter 17, we illustrate the myriad art forms available to teach leadership, ranging from visual to performing arts, including examples of painting, music, theater, poetry, and digital storytelling in leadership education. In this chapter, we discuss the transformative effects of art-based leadership education in that it allows for students’ knowledge creation through the transformation of experience whether in the constructivist sense, where learners are guided through a creative art experience building new art or creating in a performative environment, or in the interpretivist sense, where learners are the arbiters of the meaning they attach to particular forms of art.

Together, the sections of this book offer a comprehensive approach to leadership education that integrates curricular and co-curricular educational contexts and provides a plethora of resources for teaching, learning, and assessment as well as related scholarship. Our hope is that the book is accessible to leadership educators and that they might refer to it frequently as a resource for using a particular instructional strategy, as a process refresher for doing assessment or debriefing a learning activity, to view examples of different leadership curricula, or to engage in the scholarship of teaching and learning in leadership education contexts. We hope readers will find our book useful and practice leadership education with intentionality. And, at a minimum, we hope that the book incites the same intellectual curiosity that inspired us to write this book around what’s possible in leadership education as we transform our learners’ experience into leadership knowledge creation and understanding.

Interested in purchasing The Role of Leadership Educators: Transforming Leadership? Visit the Information Age Publishing website to learn more and order your copy today! http://www.infoagepub.com/products/The-Role-of-Leadership-Educators


Crosby, B. C. (2017). Teaching Leadership: An Integrative Approach. New York, NY: Routledge.

Jenkins, D. M. (2012). Exploring Signature Pedagogies in Undergraduate Leadership Education. Journal of Leadership Education, 11(1), 1-27. Retrieved from http://journalofleadershiped.org/attachments/article/109/Jenkins.pdf

Jenkins, D. M. (2013). Exploring Instructional Strategies in Student Leadership Development Programming. Journal of Leadership Studies, 6(4), 48-62.

Jenkins, D. M. (2016). Teaching Leadership Online: An Exploratory Study of Instructional and Assessment Strategy Use. Journal of Leadership Education, 15(2), 129-149. Retrieved from http://www.journalofleadershiped.org/attachments/article/431/v15i2jenkins0462.pdf

Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Komives, S. R., Dugan, J. P., & Owen, J. E. (2011). The Handbook for Student Leadership Development. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Parks, D. S. (2005). Leadership Can Be Taught. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

Perruci, G., & Hall, S. (2018). Teaching Leadership: Bridging Theory and Practice. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar.

Wisniewski, M. A. (2010). Leadership and the Millennials: Transforming Today’s Technological Teens into Tomorrow’s Leaders. Journal of Leadership Education, 9(1), 53-68.

About PAUSE for Pedagogy

PAUSE for Pedagogy aims to connect leadership education theory to practice and seeks to take lessons learned in the classroom to expand our theoretical knowledge of teaching and learning. Written for both the experienced educator and those new to the profession, this column will add tools to readers’ pedagogical toolboxes. Most columns are accompanied by a video interview with the author exploring the ideas raised in the article in more detail. The series is edited by Lisa Endersby and Dan Jenkins, members of ILA’s Leadership Education Member Interest Group. Have you implemented an innovative practice in your leadership education? Contact Dan and Lisa at pauseforpedagogy@ila-net.com

Dan Jenkins Photo Dan Jenkins is Chair and Associate Professor of Leadership & Organizational Studies at the University of Southern Maine. He received his doctorate in Curriculum & Instruction (Higher Education Administration) from the University of South Florida. Dan has published more than 30 articles on leadership education and assessment and is an associate editor for the Journal of Leadership Studies. Dan is also a past Chair of the ILA Leadership Education MIG, Co-Chair of the ILA Leadership Education Academy, and enjoys numerous volunteer roles with the Association of Leadership Educators. Follow Dan @Dr_Leadership.

Lisa Endersby Photo Lisa Endersby is a speaker, educator, and storyteller exploring the intersecting realms of technology, leadership, and assessment in higher education. Her current role as an Educational Developer at York University involves supporting faculty in exploring and implementing innovative best practices for teaching and learning. Her doctoral work examines the relationship between professional identity development and communities of practice. Lisa also volunteers her time as the EDC Institute Coordinator for the Educational Developers' Caucus (EDC). Lisa can be reached at lmendersby@gmail.com.

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