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ED 275 037 





EA 018 885 

Baugher, Shirley L. 

The Multidisciplinarity of Leadership. 
Oct 86 * 

14p.; Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the 
Society of Educators and Scholars (11th, Louisville. 
KY, October 10-11, 1986). 

Speeches/Conference Papers (150) — Viewpoints (120) 
MF01/PC01 Plus Postage. 

♦Administration; Curriculum Design; Educational 
Trends; *Putures (of Society); Higher Education; 
♦Leadership; leadership Qualities; *Leadersh\p 
Training; Synthesis; *Theories 
* Interdependence; Management Skills 


Recent research has shown that leadership and 
management are different and that leadership education programs have 
traditionally trained managers. This paper reviews the basic 
leadership theories, asks questions about future leadership, and 
™i?! S t J e f aarnin 9 experiences that produce effective leaders. The 
paper s intent is not to create a theory of multidisciplinarity, but 
to synthesize the leadership studies of other researchers and 
teachers. Six theories are summarized: (1) the trait theory, viewing 
leadership as a natural endowment; (2) situational theory, grounded 
m small group research; (3) organizational theory, focusing on 
specific skills withm typically bureaucratic organizations; U> 

£!£i n ?£! ri f!{ ? n ??»P a "ing skills such as persuasion and conflict 
resolution; (5) holistic, visionary theory; and (6) ethical 
assessment approaches. A seventh view acknowledges all six theories 
and blends them within a broader context of existence and meaning. 
The paper next traces the evolution of leaders as specialists, and 
asserts the need for general ists for the new information environment. 
Various disciplines .re briefly examined for their past contributions 
to leadership theory and their potential for developing a new 
leadersnip training curriculum for higher education. Appended are 
eight references. (MLH) 

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presented to the 
Society of Educators and Scholars 
October 10-11, 1986 
Louisville, Kentucky 

Shirley L. Baugher 
Assistant Dean, College of Home Economics 
Minnesota Extension Service 
48 McNeal Hall 
University of Minnesota 
1985 Buford Avenue 
St. Paul, MN 55108 
(612) 698-8263 

I recently read that a leader must give guidance to unity and multiplicity 
with no extraneous parts. That seems an appropriate definition of the 
leader's role. Leadership has become one the of the most talked about 
topics of this decade. The literature now generally agrees that leadership 
and management are different and that leadership educational programs have 
traditionally trained managers. What will the leaders of tomorrow need to 
know to manage complexity in a competitive and cooperative world and how do 
we educate them? 

The objectives of this paper are to review the basic theories of 
leadership, to ask questions about leadership for the future, and finally 
to examine the learning experiences that individuals may need to embrace to 
identify as developing leaders. My hope is that the questions in this 
paper will stimulate those of us that are responsible for creating those 
learning experiences to examine our own work and to ask questions of 
ourselves, I would also add that I have not "created" or developed a theory 
of multidisciplinarity of leadership. I have synthesized the work of 
several researchers and teachers on the topics of leadership and the 
development of leaders. 


Proposals regarding leadership present a series of contradictions, and 
tensions. Any proposition put forward from one standpoint about leadership 
is almost immediately subject to qualifications on the other side of the 
ledger. In thinking about leadership, it seems that for every truth there 
is a balancing truth; in the appreciation of leadership, for everything 

there is a seascn. What seems effective in one era is less effective in 
another. So, leadership is complex and difficult to assess and measure. 

One confronts such issues when we begin to think about the commonplace 
notions of 1 eadershi p— 1 i ke the concept of the charismatic leader or the 
born leader. 1>e following will serve as a brief review of the theories of 
leadership, which^ave been grouped into six categories. 

The trait theory of leadership, rooted in biology, states that leaders 
are born and not made. Leadership is seen as a natural endowment; it 
cannot be created. There are extremes of the theory. One states that 
there are born leaders and the rest of us are followers. The other extreme 
is that everyone is a leader and that he/she leads in different ways. The 
Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator is based on traits with the premise 
that everyone can discover and nurture their own types or traits. 

Situational theorists state that leadership is teachable to all that want 
to learn. The theory is grounded in small group research and states that 
different leader behavior is needed for different groups, dependent upon 
their maturity level and the complexity of the task, in different 
situations. The training in this theory revolves around diagnosis of the 
situation and small group process skills. 

Organizational theory focuses on the specific skills within roles in the 
organization. This theory was developed for large hierarchial and 
bureaucratic organizations. For example, all of the managers in the 
arganization need to know how to communicate. How are the communication 



skills different at the entry management level, the middle management 
level, and at the upper level? A task analysis of the functions within 
each role is conducted and a matrix of skills for each behavior at 
different levels evolves. Often when the roles are analyzed, one is 
analyzing positions— admini strative positions. The theory does not allow 
for the diagnosis of informal leadership within the organization. 

There are sets of theories that have been categorized into Power theories. 
Power may or may not be positional. Barbara Kellerman, in an edited 
volume, Leadership: Multidiscipl inary Perspectives , simply defined the 
leader as the one "who makes things happen that would not happen 
otherwise". If leadership is defined as making a difference, then 
leadership education would include the skills of persuasion; conflict 
analysis, utilization and resolution; political strategizing; organization 
and manipulation for vested interests; and the assessment of opponents and 
the development of winning strategies. A second power theorist says that 
the role of the leader is to empower people to do their own work. Skills 
for empowerment would include community organizing and coalition building, 
according to Kellerman. 

Recent writings have grouped another set of theories into vision theories. 
The leader must be able to scan for current -trends , create a vision of the 
future, and point people toward a meaningful future. Within these 
theories, the discussion of intuition and holistic systems thinking has 
been validated. 

Ethical Assessment theories address the problem of the moral evaluation of 

leadership. James MacGregor Burns insists that leadership in inherently 
ethical. Burns stated that the ethical use of power must be combined with 
a vision of human need tied to basic human aspirations. 

Robert Terry, Director of the Reflective Leadership Program at the Hubert 
Humphrey Institute of Policy at the University of Minnesota, is in the 
process of developing a theory of leadership he has identified as the 
Seventh View of Leadership. Very simply, he acknowledges the contribution 
of the six subsets of theories described above, but places them in a 
broader context of existence and meaning. In other words, all leader 
behaviors take place in an environment or existence and must give meaning 
to the larger world. 


Given the theories of leadership, how do we address leadership for the 
future? The literature indicates that leadership and management theory are 
closely tied to the social and economic transitions of the era. One may 
study the development of leadership theory and track the trends within a 
society. Michael Maccoby, in The Leader , traced leadership theory with 
social work ethic history. His premise follows: In Seventeenth Century 
America, the Protestant ethic reflected Calvinist and Quaker Individualism. 
The social character was disciplined, distrustful, self righteous, and 
independent. Caution and moderation were important. From a sense of 
service, business evolved to a factor that could be controlled by the 
individual. The farmer and the craftsman were productive and 



individualistic and the spirit of early America combined faith and industry 
with science and technology. 

The beginning of the nineteenth century saw a frontier and industrial 
revolution. An entrepeneurial spirit explored new frontiers with daring 
and speculation. The first entrepeneurs were merchants, not manufacturers, 
who were involved in a commercial rather than an industrial context. As 
industrial empires evolved, the new leader was entrepeneurial and tough - 
to build and survive in the competitive jungle. 

As the empires were built, so were hierarchial bureaucracies. Leader 
success was no longer entrepenurial , but depended upon administrative 
competencies to manage the large systems that were built. The social 
character adopted organizational status characterized by moving up the 
ladder, solving problems, and managing others. People uprooted and moved 
to obtain organizational status. The social character took on an aura of 
loneliness. Leaders, in their rootlessness, took on a sense of detachment 
and used persuasion, enthusiasm, and the promise of success to motivate the 
people they managed. 

Maccoby labels the ethic of the decade of the Nineties as the ethic of 
interdependence. The new social character is flexible about social 
arrangements and willing to experiment with new relationships at work and 
in the family. They are committed to the development of self and others in 
terms of health, life long learning, adventure, and enriching experience. 
There is a strong need for meaning and meaningful relationships at work. 
No longer are directions or orders followed blindly; the new character will 



give his/her best when they perceive principles of equity, concern for 
human dignity, and individual development based on mutual respect and 
voluntary cooperation. Harlan Cleveland, in The Knowledge Executive , 
labeled this ethic as the Fairness Revolution. The most arresting trait of 
information resources is that is is inherently accessible and, once 
accessed, unlocks other resources. In the industrial era, poverty was 
explained and justified by shortages of things; there just were not enough 
minerals, food, fibers, etc. In an information society, the physical 
resources are joined at center stage by information— a r. ,urce very 
difficult to hoard. The fairness revolution embraces life long learning, 
principled problem solving, and sociotechnical innovation. 

A conclusion to be drawn from these and other authors is that we have 
developed leaders as specialists through the evolution of theory. Leaders 
become specialists at analyzing the situation, or at decision 
maki ng/probl em solving and we have developed specialized curriculums to 
train them. The new information envirunment— undermining old means of 
control, reducing the relevance of ownership, and placing the knowledge 
necessary to make decisions into everyone's dimensions—requires a 
non-specialized leader. Cleveland labels the task of the leader for the 
future as the "get it all together" role that requires a generalist. 


Leadership for the future is a critical issue in an international, 
politicized, and technological society facing human and moral dilemmas in 

new frameworks. At a recent meeting at the University of Minnesota, we 
were discussing yet another creation of a "Center" for study. We realized 
that within the last year we had created four Centers for various :ssues of 
study. We then discussed the rationale for the creation of so many 
centers; the current structure of a highly specialized environment will 
not allow us to research (and teach to) critical issues in a 
multidisciplinary method.. and so we create a center to allow us to cross 
the boundaries of the disciplines. No field of study calls for a more 
difficult and daring crossing of disciplinary borders than does the study 
of leadership; no field suffers more from narrow specialization. 

Social psychologists have the longest tradition of serious study about 
leadership. The results of their scholarship has been criticized by 
scholars from other disciplines stating that they have accumulated a vast 
amount of data; however their conclusions have been labeled as trivial. 
The major problem in the social psychological literature has been the lack 
of longitudinal data. Most of the studies have been of contemporary 
experiments or the collection of data about an organization as it operates 
at the moment. Social psychology is also criticized for not utilizing the 
human development literature in its study of leadership. 

Psychoanalytical studies have looked to formative, early childhood 
experiences and a range of individual relationships to explain individual 
behavior in social settings. 

Management has been a multi disci pi ined field that has used the applied 
social sciences to explain organizational behavior and economics in order 

to understand the behavior of persons in decision making^rbles within 
corporations. The management field has been criticized for collecting case 
data, only on management skills. The data are important however, in that 
it allows an analysis between the strategies of leadership and the tactics 
of management. 

The study of politics in political sciences has tended to study 
leader/follower interaction in the larger society. Many of the studies of 
power comes out of the political science research. The study of leadership 
in political science has been out of vogue for the last twenty to thirty 
years and has only recently returned as an interest to political science 
schol ars. 

Sociology has been more interested in explaining group behavior in relation 
to general theories of society than in accounting for the nature of 
leadership in groups. Small group sociologists have looked at the 
emergence and behavior of leaders in relation to followers in diverse 
social settings ranging from public agencies to the military. 

Historical questions are critical to understanding leadership. The 
challenge would seem to be to test some theoretical explanations about the 
nature of leadership across historical periods in a manner which would 
explore the richness of the world and social transitions to include women 
and minorities, the poor, etc. 

Philosophy has the longest history of interest in leadership. The study of 
philosophy provides an opportunity to give conceptual clarity to the 


dialogue and allows the behaviors of leaders to be analyzed with regard to 
general moral principles to assess the ethical quality of leadership. 



So, there is data from each of these disciplines, framed in their own 
disciplinary and empirical methods. As James McGregor Burns pointed out, 
"Markedly lacking in work on leadership is both empirical and theoretical 
follow-up that would explicate, expand, validate or perhaps invalidate 
ajor work that has already been published." Burns has posed theories that 
stresses the interrelationship of leadership initiatives and the raising of 
follower's consciousness and of follower's responsiveness in terms of 
hierarchies of wants, needs, hopes, expectations and demands, as well as 
values; the human and moral implications of helping followers rise to 
higher levels of moral development and the consequences in turn for their 
leaders; the role, in all this, ot the processes of confrontation and 
conflict; and the consequences for better understanding of the nature of 
social change and historical causation. Burns points out that much of his 
work had to oe conceptualized rather than analyzed. The posed 
conceptualization is certainly multidisci pi inary in nature. 

Can we teach leadership from a multi-disciplinary perspective? America is 
especially good at training experts - specialists and managers who are 
almost always one segment leaders. Can we train multi-segment leaders who 
have a global perspective? 

Thomas Cronin in Thinking and Learning About Leadership , stated that 
students cannot be taught to be leaders. He proposed that they can be 
exposed to leadership, the discussion of leadership skills and styles. 

strategies, and theories. Individuals can learn about the paradoxes, 
contradictions and ironies of leadership which are central to understanding 
the diversity and dilemmas of problem solving necessary to get 
organizations to function. Cronin summarized the needed components of a 
curriculum as would-be-leaders must constantly learn that they have more to 
give than they have ever given, no matter how much they have given. 

Harlan Cleveland, in The Knowledge Executive , suggested a core curriculum 
for the leader in the knowledge environment with the following elements: 
Education in integrated brainwork: the capacity to synthesize for the 
solution of world problems; basic science and nUr hematics - elementary 
systems analysis and computer technology are included in this concept; 
education about social goals, public purposes, the costs and benefits of 
openness and the ethics of citizenship; a capacity for self analysis - 
through the study of ethnic heritage, religion and philosophy, art and 
literature; and the achievement of some fluency in answering the question 
of, "Who am I?"; some practice in negotiation, in the psychology of 
consultation, and in the nature of leadership in the knowledge environment. 
He concluded, "The leader must develop a global perspective and an attitude 
of personal responsibility for citizenship in an interdependent world." 

There is not a question of the multi-di sci pi inarity of leadership. There 
is a question of the ability of universities to provide the experiences 
necessary for individuals to explore and practice the multi-disciplinarity 
nature of leadership. The problem of relating disciplines to advanced 
understanding of complex human and leader realities is rarely discussed in 
a rigorous forum. 


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It is a certainty that higher education must address the issue of educating 
leaders in a multidiscipl inary curriculum. Those responsible for designing 
programs will be challenged by the existing structures and resources which 
serve as barriers to this purpose. If we are in a state of crisis with 
regard to leadership in the future, as the literature states, then we face 
a challenge of time. The chal leges are an opportunity for those who dare 
to create cross-disciplined teams of researchers and educators to design a 
protocal for the multidi scipl inarity of leadership. 

- n - 


Burns, James Macgregor. Leadership . New York: Harper & Row, 1978. 

Cleveland, Harlan. The Knowledge Executive . New York: Truman Talley 
Books, 1985. 

Cronin, Thomas E. "Thinking and Learning About Leadership". Presidential 
Studies Quarterly. Volume XIV, No. 1., Winter, 1984. 

Kellerman, Bart ra. Leadership: Multidiscipl inary Perspectives . New 
Jersey: Prentice-Hall , 1984. 

Maecoby, Michael. The Leader . New York: Ballantine Books, 1981 

Spitzbervj, Irving T., Jr. "Questioning Leadership". Unpublished paper, 
Council for Liberal Learning. Washington, D.C., 1986. 

Terry, Robert. The Seventh View of Leadership . Humphrey Institute, 
University of Minnesota, Book in Progress, 1986. 

Thompson, Kenneth W. The Dilemmas and Antinomies of Leadership : White 
Burke Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia, 1985. 


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