Leadership Curriculum Study – CET Technology Leadership Course
The purpose of this study is to review leadership curriculums offered in leadership programs being taught in organizational leadership and business leadership classes in universities and colleges across the United States. A list of course titles and course topics from these curriculums will then be used to model the Technology Leadership course of the Center of Entrepreneurial and Technology CET Undergraduate Leadership program. Transformational leadership of high-level CEOs will be the primary focus of this class. A list of key transformational leadership characteristics, Table 1, has been assembled by the author of this report, which will be blended with the topics found in the research. The leadership lessons that will be taught in the CET class will originate from the combination of transformational characteristics, and the leadership information provided in this study. With leadership topics identified, the content of the individual lectures in the CET class will be designed to focus on these key areas.
The Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology (CET) program offers an undergraduate two-semester class promoting entrepreneurial focus in the College of Engineering – Industrial Engineering and Operations. The first semester class is designed for upper-level and graduate students exploring key entrepreneurial concepts to the high-technology world. This class, described as Engineering Entrepreneurship, includes topics of an entrepreneurial perspective, start-up strategies, business idea evaluation, business plan writing, introduction to entrepreneurial finance and venture capital, managing growth and delivering innovative products. The course is designed to prepare technical and business minded students for careers focused on entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship and high technology.
The second semester class, which is the focus of this study, takes the science and structure of the entrepreneurial start up company into the development of a business and a winning organization with the insertion of leadership and team development skills and the proliferation of the characteristics of transformational leadership by the CEO. This course entitled Technology Leadership explores key management and leadership concepts relevant to the high-technology world. Topics include the firm’s key operations, strategic issues, and transformational leadership including personal leadership and organizational management. The course topics will be coupled with real world success stories and experiences of senior business executive lecturers with significant track records. This course prepares technical and business minded students for careers focused on executive track careers in high technology.
It is the intention of this class to offer students insights into transformational leadership characteristics. James McGregor Burns (1976) defined two different types of leadership, transactional and transformational. The transactional leader is defined as the manager whose responsibilities are task oriented, controlling follower behavior through corrective action and achieving the corporate goals with execution of the plan and measurement of the results. The transformational leader, on the other hand, sets the direction and establishes the human development approach for the company. This leader sets the vision and mission statement for the company; is an innovator, a change agent, establishes the company culture, the values, and ethical standards. The transformational leader is looked upon for guidance. This executive builds the trust of his followers, presents the long term plan, and is chartered with the need to create and staff the teams that will allow the company to win. Warren Bennis and Joan Goldsmith (1997) defined these two leadership types, “A good (transactional) manager does things right. A (transformational) leader does the right thing.”
As the visionary, the innovator/creator, the team builder, and the emotional backstop of the company, it is the transformational leader that moves the businesses forward. Transactional managers also have relationship responsibilities within their organization and as such must exhibit some of the same transformational leadership characteristics as the CEO. However, it is the transformational leader who sits at the top of the organization and leads the company with vision and innovation. Our CET class will study CEO’s responsibilities and transformational leadership characteristics.
Curriculums of Universities and Colleges Researched
This study researched the leadership programs of different universities and colleges with the intention of identifying leadership curriculum elements. It is the intention of the author to focus on aligning the CET Technology Leadership class with leadership features and characteristics that are similar to those taught in other university leadership programs. These other educational institutions focus entire semesters on the fine points of select leadership approaches. The CET program is chartered with exposing these key elements of leadership, which will be presented by industry experts who will share their experiences and wisdom. This approach will bring the most important definitions of transformational leadership to the students coupled with real world explanations and examples that will add an element of reality to the tasks of the CEO. It is one thing to talk about the importance of managing change, but what was needed in those leadership moments that our lecturers have experienced is to identify the success of change. The real understanding and knowledge will come from the stories of these experiences.
This study included a Google search of the curriculum content of organizational leadership and business leadership programs of 54 different universities and colleges. Table 2 shows the list of the different schools surveyed and the educational programs (undergraduate, masters, or doctoral) offering the leadership focus. Table 5 shows the data that was collected from the research. The study identified curriculums at the undergraduate (8% of the findings), doctoral (20%) and the master’s (70%) degree level. There was a mix of on-ground (in classroom) programs with mostly college age students and on-line programs with mostly adult learners. The information collected came from degreed program. Some information was collected from supporting programs offering leadership concentration classes. At the undergraduate level, more emphasis was placed on the overarching courses in business statistics, fundamentals of marketing, rudimentary accounting, finance, and economics. The doctoral level programs had significant focus on theoretical issues. The majority of the class leadership topic information came from master’s programs in organizational leadership and MBA programs with direct focus on leadership.
A total of 32 different topical areas in leadership were identified across the programs, which is detailed in Table 3. The frequency of occurrence of the different topic areas is provided which provides some insight on the relative importance of the different topics as applied by these schools to their programs. These different topics can all be related to a variety of transformational leadership elements, the key focus for the CET Technology Leadership class.
Leadership Category Clusters
With the different leadership topical areas identified through the transformational leadership characteristics volunteered and the curriculum elements from the study, transformational leadership topic clusters were identified. Eight different leadership category clusters were identified. These clusters were then linked to the curriculum elements from the study and then also linked to the transformational leadership characteristics defined by the author. These eight leadership topic clusters define the target leadership topics for the CET Technology Leadership class.
The eight topical leadership categories are defined in Table 4 in the first column. Each category presents a unique view and dimension of transformational leadership. These categories contain several leadership components that are listed as the transformational leadership characteristics, and the curriculum elements as found in the research. The second column of this table, presents the different curriculum elements as found from the research, which are aligned within the clusters topics. Finally in the third column of this table, the original transformational leadership characteristics are also aligned with the clusters. A review of each of the clusters will help to detail the leadership approaches for this class. The lecturers will be assigned specific leadership concepts that they will define and describe through the presentation of their personal experiences.
Company Focus – The transformational leader, the CEO, is responsible for establishing the mission statement for his or her organization. This mission statement is developed from the vision of the leader. The vision creates the horizon that defines where the company is targeting to go. The leader sets the long-term perspective for his company. This vision may change as the company evolves with the myriad of events that will take place. The leader is the visionary for his team. The leader also sets the operational as well as financial goals for the company with detailed product plans and pro-forma yearly financial budgets and targets. These goals must be clear and understandable as corporate policies will be structured in a way to meet them. Operational goals will include setting quality standards for products and services and quality interaction standards for the relationships with internal and external stakeholders. The leader is responsible as being the lead innovator in the company as his ideas set the direction for the work teams as they create unique, market winning products and features. Ultimately, the transformational leader is responsible for the success of the business. This requirement is defined in the definition of winning. The CEO task at the end of the day is to win.
Relationships – One of the most important elements of transformational leadership is the ability of the leader to establish meaningful and workable relationships with all stakeholders, both the inside and outside the company. The leader must be candid and authentic with his team. A clear path must be identified for the workers and the organization. Critical thinking, focusing on higher-order thinking will aid in developing clear communications that will uncover different points of view and will open the ability to speak with different views and levels of disagreement. This approach will sharpen the corporate plan. A key technique that will build strong relationships is found in the understanding and use of emotional intelligence. The ability of the leader to understand both personal emotions and employee emotions adds to the ability to create strong relationships. The emotional component also adds to the impact throughout the company from the power of positive emotional energy.
Team Structuring – For the organization to function successfully, solid teams are needed to bring different talents together to meet the stated goals. The CEO surrounds himself with a very smart and talented team and sets an example of solid team building within the organization. Building teams takes focused and dedicated leadership whereas the formation of isolated silos is result of poor direction. The development of successful teams is also based on the establishment of a high level of trust by employees for their leader and their fellow workers. Team building includes the use of empowerment and assigning responsibility that make teams highly functional and proactive in their pursuit of goals. These functions make the individual team members feel like they are the heart of the organization. The transformational leader takes the time and care to mentor and teach the employees. As an encourager to employees, the leader promotes creative and aggressive action with the understanding that making mistakes is part of the learning exercise. As a mentor, the leader imparts a solid dose of wisdom that shows up when difficult situations develop. Team members look to the experience of the leader to help navigate through stormy times.
Follower conflicts – This element of leadership is associated with the dealing with difficult situations and with difficult employees. Transformational leaders need to have solid techniques in place to deal with disgruntle individuals in difficult circumstances. A strong tool to deal honestly with employees would be the ability to be candid and authentic in communications. Transparent and consistent communications will make directions clear and critiques of situations understandable when problem solving is needed. Another important tool dealing with internal and external disagreements is having strong negotiations skills. A strong leader will be able find a path to a mutually acceptable outcome with the ability to listen, learn, and offer reasonable plans and suggestions and provide creative solutions. Transformational leaders provide contingent and situational leadership. Depending on the situation, a strong autocratic approach might be need to offer a strong hold on the controls of the company or if the situation calls for moving forward with a more democratized form of leadership the leader is called upon to promote more teamwork. Depending on different contingencies, a different leadership approach along the spectrum of firm to endearing leadership types will be in order.
Organizational focus – One critical skill of a transformational leader is the ability to act as a change agent for his company. Knowing when to change and how to change takes considerable thought and reliance. On many occasions, known facts are mixed with the wisdom of a gut feel and are usually surrounded by high levels of uncertainty. The ability to actually effect a change of the organization or team takes courage, patience, and a solid plan. Resistance to change is common as it is never easy to change the status quo, so the leader will have to strategize and implement a change plan. Organizations today have flat authority structures with fewer layers of management allowing for quicker decisions and less bureaucracy. Teams and departments are smaller than in the past creating more active participation in decision-making.
External Interfaces – Today the globalization of business makes it essential for leaders to have a clear understanding of doing international business and working with diverse employees from different cultures. With the continuing advancement of computers and online communications the world clock is becoming a scheduling tool and asynchronous decisions using emails, text mails and social media contacts makes communications more demanding. The need to clearly understand global marketing becomes an essential element of measuring market share and penetration. Understanding international business processes is a requirement in the world of international commerce. Two of the most important sets of external stakeholders are customers and competitors. The transformational leader must be a customer advocate and also know what strategies will be important in dealing with the competition. Finally, workers today are demanding that their companies be socially responsible for the environment and for the communities where the companies are located.
Spiritual Issues – There is a social element referred to the spiritual side of leadership that focuses on the values and morals that are an important part of transformational leadership. The CEO is responsible for the establishment of the corporate culture that defines what it is like to work in the organization. The history of the company, the stories of the past, the competitive battles, the evolution of products, the dress code, entertaining events, all define the atmosphere of the company. The transformational leader is responsible for the feeling of camaraderie of the organization. Group presentations presenting company performance can be rallying moments. The walk around the company with a cup of coffee to show a level of human interaction and create a socially acceptable workspace will improve the culture. Setting the values and moral character of the organization is very visible to the workers. A strong value system makes the working atmosphere friendly, safe, and acceptable. The concept of servant leadership, where the leaders are first servants and second leaders also affects the role of the CEO. There is a strong message in servant leadership where high levels of leader trust and loyalty are a result of taking care of the workers.
Personal Attributes – There are different leadership styles that are based on the business situation that come from within the transformational leader. The concept of different leadership moments that call for either a firm reign or a more democratic approach means that the transformational leader must be adaptable based on the circumstance of the situation. The leader must be flexible and understand which styles might be most appropriate. Some leaders have a personal aura that defines a high level of charisma seen and felt by both workers and outside stakeholders. The use of any of the many forms of power is an important tool depending on the situation. The successful leader has a risk orientation, a minimal level of internal conflict and has a high level of persistence and perseverance to make moving the company forward possible. The transformational leader is highly competent, is technically savvy, and has a passion for knowledge. Finally, the transformational leader is a warrior which is evident within the company.
This study identifies leadership categories that will be part of the Technology Leadership CET Class. The different elements will focus on characteristics that will be consistent within the approach of other organizational leadership and business leadership programs. By emphasizing these areas of leadership, the students of the CET class will be exposed to appropriate transformational leadership concepts that will create a solid platform on which to build winning organizations with their entrepreneurial ideas and dreams.
There are many characteristics of leadership that are important. These characteristics point to the many responsibilities of the CEO. Leadership and Entrepreneurism intersect at a point where the science and ideas of products and services are formulated and honed to a viable level and then solid leadership is needed to commercialize and launch winning businesses with winning teams. To create a successful company the entrepreneur must move from the technical to the human side, where employees and teams move the pieces that will create the revenue and wealth and ultimately grow the business. One word seems to exemplify the key task of the CEO. His job is to win.
Jack Welch provided insight into leadership in his book Winning (2005). He writes that when he was asked, “what does it feel like to win?” his response was simple. “Winning in business is great because when companies win, people thrive and grow. There are more jobs and more opportunities everywhere for everyone. People feel upbeat about the future; they have the resources to send their kids to college, get better health care, buy vacation homes, and secure a comfortable retirement. And winning affords them the opportunity to give back to society in hugely important ways.” He concludes with “Winning lifts everyone it touches – it just make the world a better place.” Jack devoted his career to creating a winning organization at GE.
For young entrepreneurs, it is important to build the right teams, to have strong transparent and candid communications with their employees and truly motivate their workers. They need to show vision, be creative and know when change is needed and how to make change work. Transformational leaders understand their employees, and all the other stakeholders. They have a sense of social responsibility, are not afraid to use the best that technology can offer, and they do the right things. The CET class will point to leadership characteristics that win.
Leadership Characteristics Reviewed:
Believes in high quality of the products and the company
Believes in meeting commitments
Believes in people – company cheerleader
Builds employee motivation
Can be charismatic
Empowers others – makes followers of feel like the heart of the organization
Establishes a vibrant culture
Expresses minimal internal conflict
Has a high level of humility
Has a high level of perseverance
Has a high level of persistence
Has a passion for knowledge
Has a sense of meeting social responsibilities
Has a strong negotiation skill
High energy and action orientation
High level of competence
High level of emotional intelligence
High risk orientation
Highly flexible – believes is that mistakes are part of learning
Is a contingent and situational leader
As a customer advocate
Is a global thinker
Is a mentor and a coach
Is a servant leader
Is a warrior
Is a winner
Is an environmentalist
Is responsible for the success of the organization
Is technologically savvy
Has a long-range perspective
Offers a high level of candor and transparency to the organization
Cease himself as a change agent – Challenger of the status quo
Self and organizational promoter
Set core values and ethics, has high moral conviction
Superb communication skills – private and public
Understands and uses power effectively