Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thoughtful Thursday: Leadership Part One

As I believe you all saw, I am a Computer Science professor. We are in a College that has the business departments, as well as the Agriculture, Engineering Technology Departments. (It also has the new School of Engineering.) And universities and schools of business are accredited. And the accreditation agencies require "assessment." This simply is some check that the students are learning or gaining in other goals. So every two years College of Business asks a samples of its graduates to take an EFT multiple choice exam on various areas of business such as accounting, marketing, finance. We also have some of the faculty look at the case studies the Bachelors of Business students do for the Senior Capstone course -- do the students integrate all their other courses? do they use grammar properly.

a I serve on the Committee that handles all this. And one of the things we were trying to assess was "leadership." What does the leader on the case study team do? One way to do this was to simply ask the other students to rate the project team "captain." But was there a better way or a different survey? I volunteered to find out about this. In the course, I ran into several books, published many decades ago, on what leadership is, and the effects of different leadership styles.

And they helped answer questions about leadership, what makes a good leader, what affects do the The research involves surveys, and in a few cases interviews and observations, and comparing these to results. I will report in later submissions on the work of the Ohio State University Leadership Group, headed by Ralph M. Stogdill.

But in this submission, I cover some, probably random, selections.

setting the tone

An army group has both a Commanding OFFICER (CO) and high-ranking sergeans. If there was a Commanding Officer that was good, wouldn't the sergeants do well as well. Actually not. (In businesses, the leader chooses his subordinates. That is not true in the army.) Apparently, a CO can't "order" the other leaders to do a good job. A manager might choose good middle managers, but can't do anything to encourage them to do a good job. Selvin used a fifteen question test, which he found after factor analysis, broke up into three categories, positive emotions (I would follow this guy into combat), "tyranical" which I would interpret as authoritative "going to bat for men" but also included punishing at every opportunity and inducing fear. The last category was "vacillating " or inconsistency such as breaking promises and playing favorites. The latter two factors were themselves strongly correlated. Thus, there are four types of companies

PositiveTyranicall and vacillating
highlowPERSUASIVE or democratic
lowhigharbitrary, or just plain "bad"

Affect on the men

Those in a good leadership situation, persuasive, and were older draftees were much less likely to get drunk (13%) than any other group. Yong draftees were 31% likely to get drunk regardless of the leadership climate. Similar but less intense were for having anger attcks, "blowing one's top." And the arbitrary leadership leads to aggressive behavior in those who did not graduate high school and high rates of visiting wives or girl friends, seeing the chaplain and short term AWOL. (Remember that this study was done during the Korean War in Basic Training.)

definition of leadership

Does a team need someone appointed or annointed "leader" or "President" or "Commanding Officer." And that leader might choose to give the team options on what to do.

Some leadership assessment looks at who becomes a leader in a group where no leader is appointed. On of the "gifts" in gifted education is leadership--who might become leader if a bunch of kids are put together and given a group task. Watch them--who becomes natural leader. NPR had the author of "Good Boss, Bad Boss" talk and he said that in any group of three or more people, whether peple or animals, a leader emerges.

Thus in a group, someone might become:

  1. the formal leader
  2. a person who everyone identifies with and whose personality is most associated with peoples perception of the group
  3. If you survey the people and ask them who is the most influential-- determing what to do.
  4. who does the most to advance the group
  5. the person who sets the structure of how the group does things. (QUOTING from Gibb


Konrad Adenaur, a West German Chancellor was known for democratic leadership, but was very autocratic with his family.

Churchill, Truman and Roosevelt in World War II

As the Allied Armies and Eisenhower in particular were advancing into Germany, what would we (the U.S.) do with the Germans. The ideas were going around the White House. Roosevelt was telling exagerated stories about the Winston Churchill and Roosevelt would talk nonsense and reminisce. Mr. Hopkins, a Roosevelt advisor, would tell the two "leaders" to focus on that which their men were fighting and dying. (From Haiman, Group Leadership and Democratic Action page 119 quoting Robert Sherwood's Roosevelt and Hopkins.)

Morgenthau as Treasury Secretary lobbied first for something to be done to save the Jews in Europe during World War II--Roosevelt was inclined to emphasize winning the war--he did have information about the atrocities. And then Morgenthau was determined to have a relatively punitive peace against the Germans--which is what the emphasis of the book Conquerors Yet Morgenthau was unqualified to be Treasury Secretary, the "Brownie" of his time, a gentleman farmer.

As of August 25th, there was little planning on what do when the US won in Germany--like there was little before the Iraq invasion. Morgenthau was calling for Germany to be reduced to a 'land of small farms.' And while Americans were fighting and dieing, Secretary of War Stimson, Assistant Secretary of War McCloy and Morgenthau flew to Saranac club for an August holiday. And later the President were in their home at Hyde Park and motored to have "tea" with the Morgenthaus at their home.

And Morgenthau wanted to close down the Ruhr and sell all the machinery that could be moved and wreck the rest--damn the unemployed Germans. Secretary of War Stimson on the other hand was pushing Christian kindness towards the Germans and ensuring due process before shooting anyone--Stalin wanted 50,000 to die after "drumhead court martials."

Page 193 of Beschloss' book has James Dunn, third in the State Department, sneaked a document past his boss and Roosevelt taking advantage of Roosevelt getting sick. He said, 'I can't remember if I signed it. I have no idea what I signed.' A battle of documents over a dying President.

When told that Europe needed coal from Germany, the President suggested appointing three German businessmen to supervise the mines and if they didn't succeed, simply "shoot them." Morgenthau handed him a document revoking it.


  1. Hanan C. Selvin, The Effects of Leadership The Free Press of Glencoe, Illinois, 1960
  2. Michael Beschloss, The Conquerors, Simon and Shuster, 2002

For Future Thoughtful Thursdays

  1. Malcolm G. Preston and Roy K. Heintz, "Effects of Participatory vs. Supervisory Leadership on Group Judgment" Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology XLIV, 1949, 345 to 3355
  2. Cecil A. Gibb "Leadership" in Gardner Lindzey (ed) Handbook of Social Psychology Addison Wesley, 1954.
  3. Morris L. Cogan "Theory and Design of a Study of Teacher-Pupil Interaction" Harvard Educational Review 26, 1956, 315 to 342.
  4. A. Paul Hare, "Small Group Discussions with Particpatory and Supervisory Leadership" Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology XLVIII, 1953, 273 to 275
    reprinted n A. Paul Here et al. eds. Smalll Groups
  5. Michael Argyle , Godfrey Gardner and Frank Cioffi, "The Measurement of Supervisory Methods" human Relations X 1957 295 to 313
  6. Robert F. Bales and Philip E. Slater "Role Differentiation in Small Decison-Making Groups" in Talcott Parsons and Robert F. Bales Family, Socialization and Interaction Process Glencoe ILL The Free Press, 1955
  7. Robert L. Kahn and Daniel Katz, "Leadership Practices in Relation to Productivity and Morale" in Cartwright and Alvin Zander, Group Dynamics, Evanston ILL, Row, Pearson and Company

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