Leadership and learning are considered as two important topics for any research. One topic is related to how people learn and other topic is related to how people lead. This paper connects these two lines and state the relationship shared by these two phrases. Learning is defined as process which brings both personal and environmental experiences, and also influence or modifying the knowledge, skills, values, attitudes, and behavior and world views of an individual. Learning theories develop the criteria which describe the way through which learning process takes place. The major and most influential learning theories include behaviorist theories, cognitive psychology, constructivism, social constructivism, experiential learning, multiple intelligence, and situated learning theory and community of practice (Brown & Posner, 2011)..
This paper defines the three concepts of Phrase “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way”, and the concepts of this phrase are knowing, going and showing. All three points are described with the help of learning theories by providing the examples of leadership. Lastly, paper is concluded with brief conclusion.
Organization learning is considered process of creating, retaining, and transferring knowledge within an organization. It is necessary for leaders to learn, understand, and implement new approaches on time to time. This can be understood through theories stated below:
This perspective of learning was developed in the early period of 1900s, and it becomes dominant in the 20th century. The basic idea behind this theory is that learning must include changes occurred in the behavior because of the acquisition, reinforcement and application of associations between stimuli from the environment and how individual respond to these changes. This theory mainly focuses on behavior of the person in changes circumstances. This can be understood through example, in context of leadership this theory mainly considers the actions of leaders and how leaders behave (Infed, n.d.).
As researcher shifted their focus from traits to behavior at that time they also shifted their notion from leader to leadership which became dominant style of approaching organizational leadership during the period of 1950s and early 1960s. Researchers paired different types of behavior were grouped together and labeled as styles. This theory stated that some particular leadership styles are effective but not every leadership style. This theory further states that some functional behavior of successful leaders include determination of goals, motivating the employees for the purpose of achieving the determined goals, effective communication, ability to interact in effective manner, builds team spirit in the employees, etc. (IML, n.d.).
This theory was introduced in the period of later 1950s and contributed in the way which is away from the concept of behaviorism. Now, individuals are not judged on the bases of their responses to particular external conditions, as stated by behaviorists. In this theory learning is considered as process of acquisition of knowledge under which individual is recognized as information processor who not only absorbs the information but also conducts cognitive operations on it and also stocks the information in their memory. Therefore, this theory provides the methods of lecturing and reading textbooks, and it describe the learner as passive recipient of knowledge by the teacher.
Generally, argument is stated that for ensuring effective leadership it is necessary to consider the capacity of individual to respond to the complex situations in adaptive manner. This capacity of the individual mainly relies on the capability of individual to adopt new skills and strategies for dealing with the situations of complexity and change.
Fred Fiedler (1967) introduced the theory of cognitive psychology and this theory brought the approach of leadership in another phase. As stated by Fiedler, effective leadership requires two factors that are the situation and the leader’s orientation to the work group. Particular parameters of situation such as degrees of control, certainty, and predictability of the situation are considered as most important parameters of effective leadership. Two leadership styles are identified by Fiedler, and these two styles are relationship motivated and task motivated. Both the styles are based on measure of personality which is known as Esteem for the Least-Preferred Co-Worker Scale. This can be understood through example, a person who gives a negative rating to a poor co-worker is the kind of person for whom success of any task is more important, and such person is labeled as task motivated. In case leader provides positive rating to the least preferred co-worker then such leader is more concerned with the interpersonal dimensions as compared to task dimensions of the situation, then such leaders are known as “relationship motivated.”
Those leaders who are task motivated were considered as effective leaders in two kinds of situation. First in case of high control and in this case predictability was ensured through corporate group or clear task. It must be noted that those leaders who were relaxed and calm are able to provide direct and serious focus on successful achievement of task. Such groups are considered as effective group. Secondly, in case of crises when there was low control then in such case situation requires firm and directive style of leadership, which can only be supplied by task motivated leader.
However, in case of moderate control which was characterized by an uncooperative group or an ambiguous task, in such case task motivated leaders become anxious and get concerned with quick solution. In some cases they are even excessively critical and punitive. In such cases, it is effective to adopt relationship-motivated leader because of their consideration, participation, and open style. Leaders who deal with the problem of low morale and able to create the environment, which is suitable in solving group problem and decision making are considered as effective leaders in such situations (Pratch, n.d.).
This theory was introduced in the year of 1970s and 1980s which give rise to the idea that learners must not considered as passive recipients of information, but learners were those people who construct their knowledge actively while interacting with the environment and also by reorganizing their mental structures.
In this theory learners are considered as sense makers and not only those who record the given interpretation. This theory shifts the approach from the “knowledge-acquisition” to “knowledge-construction” metaphor. Increase in evidence support the constructive nature of learning and this nature is line with and backed by the earlier work of influential theorists such as Jean Piaget and Jerome Bruner. However, there are number of versions of constructivism, and common factor in this is the learner centered approach is teacher becomes the cognitive guide of learner’s learning, and not only the transmitter of knowledge.
This theory states that knowledge must be constructed in the mind of the lecturer. In other words, concept is based on the fact that individual must construct and build their own meanings in their mind while understanding the reality and the world in which they live. In short, knowledge is made and not acquired and it is built like structure instead of simply recorded in the mind.
In context of leadership, constructive leaders always consider a way which facilitates the learning process instead of directing the process, and this approach is based on the belief that knowledge comes from within the individual. These leaders facilitate the learning by directing various questions towards the learners for the purpose of building the knowledge of the consumer, by interacting with the others. However, the biggest issue with this type of leadership is those learners who are not able or unwilling to take responsibility of their own education. Leaders must overcome with this issue for the purpose of creating the knowledge (Lynch, 2016).
In the period of late 20th Century, view related to constructivist theory was further changed by increase in the concept of situated cognition and learning, and this concept mainly highlights the important role played by context, especially social interaction. Criticism against the processing of information makes the learning stronger. In context of leadership, this theory is considered as important and strong approach. The most current literature is mainly directed towards the use of social constructivism in educational organizations, and it is also used by leaders of the organization at both inside and outside of education sphere for the purpose of getting growth and effective communication. This can be understood through example, leaders and use the metaphors to further understand the followers which also allowed them to make their own knowledge as an individual learners and also help them in adapting new and innovative concepts (Billsberry, 2009).
After considering the above facts, it can be said that there is direct and strong relationship between the leadership and learning. Leaders must learn the things and concepts on continuous basis, and keep update themselves in lieu of new technologies and innovations. Leader cannot ensure effective leadership if he stops learning. Therefore, it can be said that for ensuring effective leadership, leader must learn the things on continuous basis.
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