Think about Oz and the love you may have for the 1939 movie or the 1900 book portraying the story of the Wizard of Oz. Or, you may have read one or more of the thirteen Oz sequels written by L. Frank Baum (1856-1919). But, few realize that there are a set of lessons for developing leadership abilities based on the story’s content and the history, life, and times of the story’s creative and entrepreneurial author—a man who served in roles as actor, breeder of rare chickens, director, gardener, lyricist, merchant, movie producer, philatelist, photographer, playwright, printer and newspaper publisher, salesman, theater manager, window dresser, and, of course, celebrated author. Enter The Way of Oz: A Guide for Wisdom, Heart, and Courage and its roadmap for leadership development and travels down the yellow brick road of life.
Now, imagine the characters of Oz bearing special symbolism for learning, loving, serving, focusing on the future, and humility. You might imagine the associations: the Scarecrow for wisdom and learning, the Tin Woodman for heart or loving, the Cowardly Lion for courage and service, Dorothy for leadership and a focus on the future, and the Wizard for humility and related virtues. For the purposes of this short essay let’s focus on Dorothy and her character as a metaphor for a future focus and leadership. At end we’ll see how a focus on the future and leadership are tied inextricably to the characteristics imbedded of the other major players of the Wizard of Oz masterpiece.
Dorothy in The Way of Oz is the leadership person—the character with a focus on the future—the character who brings out the best in others through understanding, heart and her own courage—all cast in a spirit of kindness and service. And, with Dorothy’s savvy about personal and institutional planning, diversity, sustainability, scientific and political understanding, and personal responsibility—she is a character who makes significant differences in the lives of others—men, women and creatures alike! Dorothy in The Way of Oz also knows how to detect and deter life’s wicked witches, both of the internal (e.g., self-doubt, imposter syndrome) and external (e.g., aggressive, manipulative and envious co-workers, friends or family members) varieties.
Through The Way of Oz, we learn about Dorothy’s approach to personal planning, involving integrated learning and scholarship, personal environmental scanning, selective volunteerism—all while drawing on the wisdom of teachers and mentors, and connecting learning and wisdom through caring and service.
The 21st Century Dorothy also understands institutional strategic planning and its components: vision, mission, environmental context, goals and objectives (directed through implementation strategies and articulated challenges), group oversight and shared understanding, and benchmarking integrated with periodic reporting and results-driven revisions of plans.
In The Way of Oz, Dorothy accentuates the best in colleagues and institutions through her understanding of the mosaic model of diversity and the importance of science and political insight for developing policy and actions related to sustainability. She is also wise in her comprehension of secular democracies and their power to serve our worldwide community.
On the “personal responsibility front,” Dorothy of The Way of Oz is empowered by determination, persistence, priority consciousness, critical thinking, and complex reasoning—all with ethics in the lead. She is also able to manage life’s time—systematically and sensibly.
Our modern Dorothy’s focus on the future is powerful because it is cast through an archetypal story written by a man who, despite his foibles and frailties, knew how to relate to others in unique ways. In other words, Frank Baum made a difference and The Way of Oz can make a difference in many peoples’ lives—particularly in the area of leadership development.
Thus, the Way of Oz approach to leading, involving personal planning, integrated learning and scholarship, personal environmental scanning, and selective volunteerism, fortified by organizational strategic planning, an understanding of diversity, science and political insight to guide decisions about sustainability, and personal responsibility—all with ethics in lead—prepares one for a life of personal and professional fulfillment. These elements of the Way of Oz and the new book of the same name—enriched by the creative graphics of Dusty Higgins and video content portraying leadership roles of students, faculty, and staff in universities as one segment of society—can make a significant difference in lives of seekers and future leaders of our world community. Many have found—in these thoughts—the true magic of The Way of Oz. Consider joining us!
Below are the main characters in The Way of Oz as conceived by Dusty Higgins. See if you can identify them all?
About the author:
Robert V. Smith serves as Provost and Senior Vice President at Texas Tech University (TTU). He has oversight responsibility for fourteen colleges and schools, along with the libraries and several other academically related units and programs.
He is the author or co-author of more than 320 articles and nine books. The Way of Oz: A Guide to Wisdom, Heart, and Courage (Texas Tech University Press, 2012) is available in hard cover, paperback, and electronic versions in all electronic formats. You can find out more about Robert Smith and his book at http://www.thewayofoz.com/index.htm
This material is copyright protected. No part of this document may be reproduced, in any form or by any means without permission from weLEAD Incorporated. Copyright waiver may be acquired from the weLEAD website.
Think about Oz and the love you may have for the 1939 movie or the 1900 book portraying the story of the Wizard of Oz. Or, you may have read one or more of the thirteen Oz sequels written by L. Frank Baum (1856-1919). But, few realize that there are a set of lessons for developing leadership abilities based on the story’s content and the history, life, and times of the story’s creativeRobert V. Smith Articles
Despite the hundreds of books, programs and websites devoted to leadership, the truth is that leaders can't be trained. Leaders need to be developed. Hopefully this doesn't seem like a simple matter of semantics, because it isn't.
Let me illustrate this distinction. Leadership is more about WHO you are than about what you do or what you know. Two executives can do and say the same things but get very different results - even when they do and say those things to the very same person! Although what you say and what you do are important, effective leadership is even more dependent on HOW you do or say those things. This explains why the actions of those two executives can elicit such different responses.
You can train people about what to say. You can train people about what to do. You can even show someone how to do and say those things. But getting them to change how they go about doing things and getting them to change how they go about saying things is a whole other story.
Leadership is about who we are, and it's this "how" of doing, saying, and being that defines who we are. I think a good deal of "who we are" is captured within the competencies of Emotional Intelligence, developed and made popular by Daniel Goleman. There are 12 EI competencies, with five of them being the one's that ultimately affect our effectiveness as leader. These five competencies are:
1) Coaching and Mentoring - The ability to develop others
2) Inspirational Leadership - The ability to develop a compelling vision and to lead with it
3) Influence - The ability to utilize persuasion
4) Conflict Management - The ability to resolve disagreements
5) Teamwork and Collaboration - The ability to build and guide teams
Let's briefly examine each one of these competencies with respect to training vs. development as it pertains to leadership.
Coaching and Mentoring
As a professional coach, I know many professionally trained coaches. They've gone through a curriculum of coach training from an accredited coaching school. And yet, although they have the necessary skills and knowledge to be a good coach, a number of them are really rather poor at coaching. Conversely, I've come across associates who are reasonably good at coaching, yet have never had any formal coach training.
How is this possible? How is it that someone with great coaching skills is mediocre at coaching? And how is it that someone without any formal training is very effective at coaching?
The answer of course, is in HOW they apply their coaching knowledge and skills. In order to be effective as a coach, one must, at the very least, be aware of one's own emotions, have control of one's emotions, be empathetic, and have good judgment. The reality is that each of those traits must either be developed or be natural to a person. They just aren't things that can be "trained".
Leaders need to be inspiring. They need to instill pride, they need to hold and communicate a vision, and they need to inspire an organization and its people to aspire to excellence.
Here's the challenge… People aren't simply inspired by the right words. The right words spoken by the "wrong" person will have only a minimal effect. In order for a leader to move others to action, he or she needs to be someone who others admire and respect.
How does someone garner the respect of others? It's obviously through our words and actions, but once again, "how" we say what we say and do what we do determine the impact those words and actions will have. "Who we are" is something that can be shifted and developed, but it cannot be "trained".
Effective leaders are influential. We influence people by our words and actions, but of course, it comes back to how we're viewed by others and how we do and say the things we do. Honing and improving those abilities comes down to development and not training.
Conflict and challenges are inevitable in business, and a good leader has the ability to diffuse and resolve situations as they arise. In order to be effective in this effort, a leader needs to have the respect and trust of those involved. How we conduct ourselves during these times is important, but even more critical is how we've conducted ourselves in the past. Establishing "who we are" takes time and is not something that can be trained - only nurtured and refined.
In order for a leader to successfully foster an atmosphere of collaboration, he or she must be good at the previous competencies - coaching, inspiring, influencing, and resolving. Clearly this ability once more rests on things best developed and not trained.
Now that we've made a case for leadership development and one against "leadership training", we need to address how this development occurs. Here's what has to happen:
1. An objective assessment of one's competencies needs to take place. Since "how" we do and say things is habitual, we're generally blind to our shortcomings.
2. No one needs to be excellent in every competency in order to be an effective leader. Based on the objective assessment of our leadership skills, we need to focus on one or two areas to target for improvement.
3. Enlist the help of one or two trusted associates to help point out (in a loving fashion, of course!) when we fall back into old patterns.
By being mindful of your words and actions, and being persistent in your efforts to improve, you'll find that over time - there is no "quick fix" for what we're achieving - your effectiveness and impact as a leader will increase. Not only should we strive to develop ourselves as leaders, but need to work to develop those around us. Ultimately, a great leader is someone who develops other leaders.
About the author:
Michael Beck is a Business Strategist and Executive Coach. For more articles on leadership, personal effectiveness and personal productivity, please visit www.michaeljbeck.com.
Despite the hundreds of books, programs and websites devoted to leadership, the truth is that leaders can't be trained. Leaders need to be developed. Hopefully this doesn't seem like a simple matter of semantics, because it isn't. Let me illustrate this distinction. Leadership is more about WHO you are than about what you do or what you know. Two executMichael Beck Articles
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