Over the past few months I have been teaching two online courses that deal with change and innovation and as I re-read all the course material and work with my students in these course I am continually reminded that change and innovation within an organization is dependent upon leadership. More specifically, I am reminded that leadership or the lack of effective leadership can severely limit innovation. In his book A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix, Edwin Friedman argues that leadership has such a significant impact that:
When creative, imaginative, and self-starting members of any organization are being sabotaged rather than being supported, the poorly differentiated person “at the top” does not have to be in direct contact with the person being undercut. In fact, neither even has to know that the other exists.
Most of us at one point have worked in such an environment, and as I encourage my students to consider Friedman’s writing in the graduate course EDUC 651: Leading Continuous Improvement of Digital Learning I am also convicted that I do not want to be the type of leader in this course who gets in the way of the creative, imaginative, and self-starting learners.
Friedman draws parallels between families and organizations and points to the similarities in the roles of leaders in both places. He argues that leadership in ones family will have a direct correlation to ones leadership in a broader setting so I am further convicted into considering how well I am leading my family.
The exciting part of taking students through ideas like Friedman’s is that I get to reconsider how well I am functioning as a differentiated learner and over the next several weeks I will be reflecting on these thoughts in my blog.