Organizational Leadership was the my first course at Gonzaga and provided an introduction to the traits, thought processes, expectations, and outcomes of leading. In this course, I began to explore what I wanted and did not want to be as a leader, my expectations for leadership, and I began crafting my own vision of leadership.
I found Freire's work to be the most challenging. As a white, middle-income male, The Pedagogy of the Oppressed,
truly challenged my worldview. I began to understand the different approaches and worldviews that people use and I began to understand the role of oppression in crafting the world. This book was specifically included in the curriculum to challenge students and I found this approach effective.
Wheatley's book also provided a great introduction to the challenges that organizations face in today's world. Her works helps leaders discover how to lead in a chaotic world and introduces the idea that organizations are living things that grow and respond to the challenges they face. I have dog-eared and written on more pages in this book than any other in my program and I frequently return to Wheatley's sage advice regarding the direction of organizations.
- Freire, P. (2000). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York, NY: Continuum.
- Kouzes, J. M. & Posner, B. Z. (2008). The leadership challenge (4th edition). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
- Palmer, P. J. (2007). The courage to teach. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
- Wheatley, M. J. (2006). Leadership and the new science: Discovering order in a chaotic world (3rd edition). San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler.
- Yukl, G. A. (2009). Leadership in organizations (7th edition). Paramus, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Leadership and Imagination was a formational experience in my leadership journey. Until this course, I imagined myself as just another student sitting at a computer. Our class took advantage of every opportunity to build our relationships; online, in the classroom, and a few late nights bonding over cocktails in Spokane. It was in this class that I first realized I was in the company of great leaders and leaders-in-training. When I visualize my time at Gonzaga, I see the faces of my classmates from ORGL 502 and I am thankful for many continued friendships that developed from this time online and in Spokane.
The class began like all others, with an online component where the students began to interact and learn about our course. The course culminated with a three day residency on Gonzaga's campus in Spokane, Washington. I traveled to Spokane in February of 2012 and was greeted by snow and rain as I emerged from the warm airplane. I arrived on a Wednesday and the classes did not start until the next day, so I used the evening to meet up with half a dozen of my fellow classmates at a local bar. We spent hours getting to know each other, talking about our experiences in life that brought us to Gonzaga and our hopes for the weekend. The next evening we began class with an introduction from the faculty and our first session, Leadership and Art. I will not go into much detail, in case you're reading this in preparation for your time on campus, but every session was meaningful and challenged me to think about leadership in different ways. The class ended in the early evening and we again went out to explore Spokane as a group. My classmates probably spent as much time out socializing and getting to know each other as we did inside the class. Friday started with Leadership and Music, followed by Leadership and Drama. Friday night was another long one, with many hours spent celebrating our new friendships. Saturday was a full day, with the heavy work of viewing God on Trial during the Leadership and Film course. This film provoked many powerful reactions and a lively discussion. Our weekend of classes ended with Leadership and Architecture and the opportunity to explore campus and find inspiration through buildings and negative space. My class spent our last night in Spokane as we had every other, deep in conversation and fellowship, and bar tabs, until the early hours of the morning.
Returning to Beaufort on Sunday, I immediately felt a sense of disconnection and loss at the absence of my new friends. Through the remaining two years of my program, I continued to nurture and develop the relationships that began in Spokane in 2012. I take away from my time at Gonzaga many of those friendships. Our class has met up once in North Carolina for a brief reunion and I traveled to Spokane in 2013 to watch five of my classmates graduate.
The only assigned text was Shakespeare’s Richard III, used in the Leadership and Drama segment of the course.
Methods of Organizational Leadership introduced the basic characteristics of quantitative and qualitative research design, including formulating clear questions and using existing research to inform research studies. Additionally, this course explored data collection methods and the influence of personal bias on research. We also explored ethical implications in research. Finally, I explored using knowledge obtained from organizational research within organizations. I used this new understanding of research in successive courses, including courses where I had to design and implement original research instruments.
I used this course to explore the available literature on telecommuting. As a home-based employee since 2008, I am intrigued by the changing nature of work and the impact of these changes on individual employees. In fact, I first entered the Gonzaga program with the hope that the curriculum would help me understand the power and challenge of leading as a home-based employee.
Organizational Communication provided an opportunity to explore the varied methods organizations use to communicate internally and externally. Finally, a practical class where I had the opportunity to put theory into practice.
This course began with a theoretical exploration of organizational communication and culminated with a communications audit of an organization. I chose to do my audit on Sea Island Presbyterian Church
. Beginning with a review of the communication tools used by the church, both for internal and external communications, I explored how the church presents itself to members, employees, and the community at large. I created a survey instrument to measure the effectiveness of communications and had the church leadership provide feedback about the efficacy of communications. I also completed in-person interviews with the staff of the church. The culmination of the course was the submission of my audit for review and ultimately, the delivery of the audit to the church.
I was pleased with the reception of my audit. The leadership and staff of the church internalized my recommendations and implemented some of my suggestions to improve the usefulness of their internal and external communications.
Organizational Ethics asked students to explore their own worldviews and to evaluate how those worldviews influenced our social, political, professional, and personal lives. This course challenged me to explore leadership as it relates to moral choices and to examine the influence of my own worldview on the moral decisions I make as a leader.
In this course we explored the origin of ethics, including the differing views of C. S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud. We explored our own ethical foundations and how we use our ethical worldviews to influence our decisions and actions. The discussed the role of ethics in leadership, explored different theories of ethics, and used these theories to examine ethical challenges in our workplaces and lives.