“Leadership is an art…”

We are excited about the start next month of  “The Art of Leadership Certificate Program” which is designed for those who wish to develop a foundation for becoming a highly effective leader. The in-depth program includes ten modules focusing on many aspects of leadership and participants will take the the Myers Briggs Type Indicator Assessment and receive two hours of private leadership coaching with co-instructor Joe Synan.

Joe is president of the consulting firm, Leadingwell Associates and a past president of the American Leadership Forum. We asked him a few questions about the class and just how it is one can teach leadership.

Instructor Joe Synan

Some people say leadership can’t be taught. How do you respond to that?
Based on my experience, leadership is much more like art. In fact, I might go as far as to say that leadership is an art. I believe art can be taught. If you hold your brush this way and use the paint that way a painting will result on the canvas. The research on effective leadership clearly points out that leadership is “a practice.” Leadership is not born. The research demonstrates that effective leaders have a wide variety of innate personalities.

When you teach, you purposefully use the term “leadership practices” instead of “leadership skills.” What is the distinction?
Stated most simply, someone who effectively implements the best practices of leadership is an effective leader. It is so straightforward. If you do what effective leaders do, you will be an effective leader. Of course, repeated practice leads to a developed skill. So, in some ways leadership practices lead to leadership skills. But the focus of this workshop is on learning about and committing to the practices of effective leadership.

How do you distinguish “management” from “leadership”?
In our curriculum, there is a careful distinction between the two concepts:
Managers – do things right; leaders – do the right thing.
Managers focus on – efficiency; leaders focus on – effectiveness.
Managers manage – business processes; leaders lead – people.
Management is an activity of the – mind; leadership is an activity of – heart.

This program includes two hours of free coaching from you for each participant. What can one expect from those two hours?
This course requires each participant to undertake a very specific leadership initiative. This leadership initiative is an effort to personally enhance their practice of leadership. In our coaching sessions, we focus on what areas of leadership the individual would like to enhance. Then we talk through what they need to do differently to be a better practitioner of this leadership. The role of the coach is to help them identify where it is they can be a more effective leader, and then to help them to identify what they will do differently. Their leadership initiative will be an attempt to put this different action into practice so that they will be a better leader.

These two hours are usually divided so that there are two independent conversations. One will be at the outset of their leadership initiative, helping them define what it is they will pursue. The second hour is usually towards the end of their efforts to try and do something different. This coaching is to help them in these efforts and to help them see how they have developed and grown as an effective leader.

UPDATE: For a list of our upcoming professional development classes, go to gscs.rice.edu/profdev/

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