Leanne Atwater

Leanne Atwater, PhD
Leadership Professor, Scholar, Author
Editor, The Leadership Quarterly

Applied Leadership Development:  Nine Elements of Leadership Mastery is the book I hope many of you have been waiting for.  As a business professor for over 25 years, I have taught Management and Organizational Behavior, Human Resources Management and Communication at the graduate and undergraduate levels.  There are hundreds of textbooks available to choose from on these topics and all integrate scholarship with practice.  The challenge is merely selecting one.  

In the past 6 years, however, I have been challenged with developing courses on Leadership Development for undergraduate and graduate students.  I say challenged in part because the “right” book for this class has not existed.  When it comes to books designed to guide personal leadership development, there are two types. The first are practitioner-based guides written by actual

(often retired) leaders in business, government, or specific professions. These consist of leadership lessons and competencies learned “in the field” from experience, observation, and reflection. The other type consists of research-based, and more academic, books that extrapolate leadership lessons from empirical research on leadership and leader development.  This book, Applied Leadership Development, is unique in that it combines the two approaches in one volume.  

As a scholar, I cannot in good conscience rely solely on the books written for practitioners and managers with minimal reference to the scholarly literature and yet the books written for scholarly audiences lack the application necessary for actually engaging students in the process of leadership development.  

Al Bolea and I embarked upon writing this book because we were both teaching leadership development in universities and in corporate settings without the appropriate book to get our messages across.  Each of us was using bits and pieces from other sources and integrating our own material.  

Our book combines significant experiential lessons with the applicable scholarly literature.  Thirty-eight excerpts from the leadership, psychology, sociology and management literatures support the vast experiences and lessons learned by Al in his many years of experience in leadership positions, as a leadership coach and trainer.  Professors, managers and consultants now have an excellent book they can choose.  This book also includes writing, thinking and doing assignments to promote the essential elements of leadership mastery.   

Leadership Development is a very popular course across campuses ranging from the top universities to junior colleges and online universities.  Even Harvard is offering a Program in Leadership Development as an alternative to their Executive MBA.  Some of these courses rely on the scholarly type of books mentioned above, while others integrate some scholarly writings of their choosing with a book for a managerial audience.  We have now provided professors with a solution to the research/practice dilemma by providing a one-of-a-kind integration.

Examples to illustrate how the book is constructed include a discussion of the corporate nod and excerpts about groupthink and conformity bias; discussions of exemplary leaders and an excerpt about authentic leadership; an inadequate investigation of an explosion on an oil rig and a description of the conformity bias;  a discussion of poor autocratic decisions and an excerpt about the process model of decision making and optimal levels of participation in various decision contexts;  the ramifications of a failure to consider one’s intuition and an excerpt about how intuition works.  These are only a few examples of how practical experience and scholarship are intertwined in this book to put the why to the what.   

We hope you find this a perfect solution to teaching Applied Leadership Development in any context.