Term Paper: Building Leadership Capacity

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Building Leadership Capacity

Fiedler has developed a Cognitive Resource Theory and has written about it in a couple of articles, both reviewed here, assuming intelligence, experience and other cognitive resources create leadership success. When cognitive capabilities are not enough to predict leadership success, other abilities must be able to be utilized. Stress also impacts decision-making abilities (Fiedler 1986, p. 1).

Cognitive Resource Theory says that: 1. A leader's cognitive ability contributes to the performance of the team only when the leader's approach is directive. Leaders need the knowledge and skill that other team members do not have. When they know more, they need to be able to tell people what to do, rather than ask team members to do things and then hope they agree. When they do not know as much as others on a team, they need to be non-directive, facilitating an open forum where others may contribute and the best ideas are implemented (Fiedler 1986, p. 1).

Stress affects the relationship between intelligence and decision quality. Low stress allows intelligence to be fully functional and contribute optimally. However, in high stress situations, natural intelligence can have a negative effect in that an intelligent person looks for rational solutions, when what is needed is "instinct" or "gut reactions" to make decisions, which is an unfamiliar approach for one who seeks intelligent solutions. This is a situation which may be one of the causes of stress. Another reason intelligence is not helpful in high stress, is that the leader often wants to think about the problem, which leaves the group to make instantaneous decisions (Fiedler 1986, p. 2).

3. Experience is positively related to decision quality under high stress. In a high stress situation, when intelligence is impaired, experience with similar situations may help a leader react appropriately without having to think hard. Experience with other decisions made under stress contributes to better decision-making overall, for a leader (Fiedler 1986, p. 3).

4. For simple tasks, leader intelligence and experience is irrelevant. Giving subordinates simple tasks without direction or support is an indication of how good the leader is, for decisions about simple tasks are easy to make for subordinates without any further support (Fiedler 1986, p. 4).

Cognitive Resource Theory (CRT) arose out of dissatisfaction with Trait Theory. Fiedler linked CRT with his Least Preferred Co-worker (LPC) Theory, and suggested that high LPC scores drive directive behavior. One important idea coming out of CRT studies is that intelligence aids the group in low-stress situations, and experience counts during high stress times (Fiedler 1987).

Dr. Paul Gade's presentation to the Department of the Navy Human Capital Strategy, entitled "Cognitive and neural sciences basic research: harnessing talent for complex environments workshop; in support of the Department of the Navy Human Capital Strategy about identifying, assessing and assigning quality personnel in the Army" draws heavily on cognitive resource theories, in that he emphasizes recognizing aptitude and abilities and then encourages developing creativity-based measures of adaptability and flexibility. Leadership development in teams requires flexibility, he says, stating that leaders arere a product of the organization or unit's norms, routines and role definitions, and learning and orientation is the key for leaders.

In his presentation he proposes learning with adaptive simulation training, since virtual simulations are easily modified with new tools, models and methods recently developed, since experience is important for leaders (Gade 2-6)

In line with cognitive training, Speck's best practices when professional development is designed for educators were listed in his article in ERS Spectrum in 1996. He states that "Adults will commit to learning when the goals and objectives are considered realistic and important to them. Application in the 'real world' is important and relevant to the adult learner's personal and professional needs." He goes to say that adults resist learning things that they consider an attack on their competence, so they need to control how, where, when and what they learn, understand that it is relevant to their needs and how to apply what they learn to the work they do. Peer support and teams of learners modify the "judgmental" aspect of having to learn something new. Adults also need feedback on how they are doing, as well as opportunities to practice what they are learning, so that there is a movement from understanding to application. This process is difficult for adults and follow-up on application of what has been taught may be necessary (Speck, pp 36-37).

Ann Lieberman (1996) has an informative article on the subject of what Professional Development really is. As she points out, almost all teachers are required to rethink their roles, opportunities or responsibilities yearly. As the success of a school depends on the quality of the teachers, their advancing knowledge and skills leads to higher standards. As technology, practices and approaches change and improve, professional development strategies within the school must also support them and provide time for teachers to learn them.

Creating an ongoing learning culture is the goal of a school that wishes to improve and advance. Teachers feel that they are improving individually and working within a flexible, inspirational group that fosters new ideas and accepts change. While education may also be obtained from outside classes and brought into the culture, there are new and challenging requirements that require new knowledge and development of skills within the group.

The author mentions networks of specific groups of teachers which have their own agendas: These networks unite teachers in causes and provide opportunities that individual schools cannot. Partnerships between schools is also promoted. The schools share ideas, expertise and resources. Lieberman also suggests the teachers and school become involved in National, State and Local reforms in education. The article concludes with the concept that "success hinges on the extent to which teachers change their roles, responsibilities and practices to be more effective" and how much they are supported by their leaders and programs (Lieberman, p. 7).

Lifelong learning, it has been found by Marcia Conner, in a whitepaper presented by WAVE technologies, is the critical tool for the information age. Adults cannot stop learning at a certain age and hope to keep up with information, be they leaders or instructors. While the information age was supposed to bring more leisure, adults have found that they have to use any spare time to keep up with the information forthcoming. Learning how to learn is the problem adults face. In order to enter the Knowledge age, one must learn how to strengthen the brain in order to find new ways to gain information. "Adults spend more time making new arrangements than forming new sequences," says Conner (Conner, p. 7).

Individuals have different learning styles, and the author outlines perceptual modalities, information processing and personality patterns, which are ways that the body utilizes the brain in order to learn. Active learning is the way the brain ultimately remembers - learning by doing. Interaction uses the social action of education in a group. Therefore, adults have a harder time learning computer programs, because it takes individual concentration and practice, not group learning, in order to master them. Individuals are motivated by different things and it is up to the individual to discover what motivates or discourages them (Conner, p. 18). "Educational Psychology is the branch of psychology focused on the development of effective teaching techniques and the assessment of learners' aptitudes and progress" (Conner, p. 19).

The author looks at various kinds of psychology and analyzes them. Behavioral psychology, she says, can change behavior through extrinsic motivators: rewards, punishments, incentives. Stimulus-response is the technique, based on B.F. Skinner's theories from the 1930s. Cognitive psychology is the school of thought that says information is acquired, retained and retrieved for use if it is constructed by the learner, is relevant and built upon prior knowledge. "Cognitivists are concerned with the study of individuals' perceptual processes, problem-solving abilities, and reasoning abilities" (Conner, p. 20). Discovery and experience puts knowledge gained into a pre-existing conceptual framework in adults.

Constructivists say that when we learn, we test what we have learned in order to form mental structures which are elaborated upon until a structure that is complete is accomplished. Stimuli is not part of the constructivist's reason for learning (Conner, p. 21).

Humanist psychology focuses on reflection on personal experience as a result of intrinsic motivation. This is how one plans, understands oneself and others, and realizes relevance. Self-analysis, learner evaluation, team building and peer learning use various tools and approaches. The author then analyzes each of these psychologies in a more detailed way, coming to the conclusion that Humanist practices are most effective, but that each philosophy is goal based. This brings her to stating that in order to meet goals, programs must complete the loop of goal keeping, learning and practice (Conner, p. 33).

Michael Kroth and Patricia Boverie recently did a study entitled Life mission and adult learning which investigated how adult learning and life mission are related. This qualitative, exploratory study was to generate theory through studying… [END OF PREVIEW]

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