Compelling Topics in Leadership

Leadership Theories:

  • Chapman and Sisodia (2015) define leadership as the value they bring to people. The author’s primary guiding value is that “We measure success by the way we touch the lives of people.” This type of leadership practice stems from treating their followers the similarly to how someone would like their kids to be treated in the work environment. This type of leadership relies on coaching the leader’s followers to build on the follower’s greatness. Then recognition is done that shake employee to the core by involving the employee’s family so that the employee’s family could be proud of their spouse or parent. The goal of this type of leadership is to have the employee seen, valued, and heard such that they want to be their best and do their best not just for the company but for their co-workers as well.
  • Cashman (2010) defines leadership from an inside-out approach to personal mastery. This type of leadership style is focused on self-awareness of the leader’s conscious beliefs and shadow beliefs to grow and deepen the leader’s authenticity. Cashman pushes the leader to identify, reflect and recognize their core talents, values and purpose. With the purpose of any leadership is understanding “How am I going to make a difference?” and “How am I going to enhance other people’s lives?” Working from the leader’s core purpose releases more of that untapped leader’s energy to do more meaning work that frees the leader and opens leaders up to different possibilities, more so than just working towards a leader’s goals.
  • Open Leadership Has five rules, which allow for respect and empowerment of the customers and employees, to consistently build trust, nurtures curiosity and humility, holding openness accountable, and allows for forgiving failures (Li, 2010).  These leaders must let go of the old mentality of micromanaging because once they do let go of micromanagement, these leaders are now open to growing into new opportunities. This thought process is shared commonalities with knowledge sharing, if people were to share the knowledge that they accumulated, these people would be able to let go of your current tasks, such that these people can focus on new and better opportunities. Li stated that open Leadership allows for leaders to build, deepen, and nurture relationships with the customers and employees.  Open leadership is a theory of leadership that is customer and employee centered.
  • Values-based leadership requires four principles: self-reflection, balance, humble, and self-confidence (Kraemer, 2015). Through self-reflection, leaders identify their core beliefs and values that matter to the leader. Leaders that view situations from multiple perspectives to gain a deeper understanding of the situation are considered balanced. Humility in leaders refers to not forgetting who the leader is and where the leaders come from to gain an appreciation for each person. Finally, self-confidence is the leader accepting themselves as they are, warts and all.

Ethical Behavior

No one wakes up one day and says they will be unethical, however, small acts can build up to unethical behavior (Prentice, 2007). This conclusion on ethics is similar to a slippery slope argument. Understandably, unethical people and unethical actions aren’t equivalent to evil people or evil actions (Prentice, 2007). As stated by Chapman and Sisodia (2015), “Ethics is people.” Ethics usually involves and revolves around people. However, good intentions are not enough to ensure ethical behavior (Prentice, 2007). Thus, Prentice outlined how unethical decisions could be made:

  • Obedience to authority: following orders blindly
  • Conformity bias: observing others in a group and conforming to consciously or unconsciously
  • Incrementalism: the slippery slope argument
  • Group think: pressures to not stand out from a group consensus
  • Over-optimism: irrational beliefs led by a strong tendency of optimistic beliefs
  • Overconfidence: irrational beliefs led by a strong tendency of confidence
  • Selfserving bias: gathering information that only strengthens one’s views or self-interest and discarding challenging viewpoints
  • Framing: how a problem or situation is framed can yield different results
  • Sunk costs: continual consideration and loyalty to a bad idea, just because a significant amount or resources have been poured into the idea
  • The tangible, the close and the near term: having something tangible that is near you and close by weights more than those that are separated by distance or time or in the abstract
  • Loss aversion: people prefer not to act for fear of losing something
  • Endowment effect: people getting attached to something

Power and conflict

“‘Leadership is difficult.’ Inherent in any leadership challenge is stress. Stress comes from the environment, interpersonal conflict, the nature or amount of work, or simply the uncertain of what lies ahead.” (Shankman, Allen, & Haber Curran, 2015). Best teams can fall apart easily, due to conflict, if the conflict is not handled properly (Kraemer, 2015). Thus, when a conflict breaks, there are five strategies that people could use: forcing, accommodating, avoiding, compromising and collaborative; but usually, people tend to gravitate towards one or two of them (Williams, n.d.).

Kraemer (2015), illustrates the example of Campbell Soup, a company that recruited and grew in size with employees that were not aligned with the company’s values, and eventually, these people got promoted. These newly promoted ill-fitted employees were unequipped to create the best teams, and a few bad apples and negative influences almost destroyed the company, because of their concentration on short-term goals rather than long-term goals by increasing the price of their products above the value of private-labeled store brands. The CEO had a lot of changes to make to turn that company around and with change brings conflict. Williams (n.d.), illustrates an example of a conflict where Shaun Williams didn’t handle conflict appropriately, used physical forcing during a football game, which got his team penalized heavily, cost the team the game, and ended the team’s season. However, constructive conflict and trust are needed to openly and honestly have engaging relationships (Cashman, 2010).


Trust is multidimensional and is key to build all types of relationships between teammates, partners, and oneself. Trust is key to help build the best team, where teammates can have a constructive conflict on each other’s ideas to achieve innovation (Cashman, 2010; Kraemer, 2015). This is because all relationships are built on trust, and it takes just one inauthentic or untrustworthy action to ruin the relationship (Shankman, Allen, Haber-Curran, 2015). Once trustworthiness is lost, it takes time and hard work to regain it. Now, for being the best partner to someone that person must be truly committed to the other person’s success as well as their own while building trust along with mutual respect towards each other’s experience, and working towards long-term collaboration are key (Kraemer, 2015; Shankman et al., 2015). But, trust and belief in oneself are needed to get oneself from a fixed mindset into a growth mindset (Cashman, 2010; Sivers, 2014). Trust is key for a person to be authentic, vulnerable, and personal mastery (Cashman, 2010). Trust in oneself is the first thing that must occur prior to being able and open to trusting others. Trustworthiness attracts other people to believe in and follows their leader (Shankman et al., 2015).

Cashman (2010) and Shankman et al. (2015) state that engendering trust amongst people is by living authentically to oneself and trusting in oneself. To build up trust in oneself Shankman et al. (2015) suggested to: follow through on your commitments and being open and vulnerable to others by exposing your flaws in a positive way.

Important aspects of Emotional Intelligence

There are four aspects of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management (Bardberry, Greaves, & Lencioni, 2009; Help Guide, n.d.). It is important to recognize emotions felt and how it leads one to act, which is known as self-awareness (Bardberry, Greaves, & Lencioni, 2009; Goleman, n.d.; Help Guide, n.d.). Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler (2002), analogized how emotions are formed by talking about emotions as if it were an arrow. The analogy goes that the facts are described as the feathers of the arrow and providing stability to the arrow. Note that some arrows may have many feathers and others don’t, but these feathers are tied to the shaft of the arrow, which helps build a story. This story that is built on the facts, guide us to the point of the arrow, which points in the direction towards the emotions that are felt. Everyone can have different facts to the same scenario, thus would form different stories. Thus different people would react differently emotionally to the same situation.

Therefore, it is important to understand and recognize what emotions are being felt and what are the stories that have led to this emotion (Goleman, n.d.; O’Niel, 1996; Patterson et al., 2002). Remembering to question the facts are a great way to diffuse certain emotional responses to make good life decisions, thus known as self-management (Bardberry et al., 2009; Help Guide, n.d.; O’Niel, 1996; Patterson et al., 2002). O’Niel’s 1996 interview also informed the readers that learning and emotions are strongly connected to the prefrontal cortex. Consequently, if strong emotions are felt and not dealt with, there is little bandwidth to focus on learning. Furthering the need to understand and being in control of one’s emotions. Plus, without self-awareness and self-management one cannot master social awareness and relationship management, because if one cannot understand themselves how that person can seek to understand others or be understood (Bardberry et al., 2009).


  • Bardberry, T., Greaves, J., & Lencioni, P. (2009). Emotional Intelligence 2.0. San Diego: Talent Smart.
  • Cashman, K. (2010) Leadership from the inside out Becoming a leader for life. (2nd ed.). San Francisco, Berrett-Koehler Publishing, Inc.
  • Chapman, B. & Sisodia, R. (2015) Everybody matters: The extraordinary power of caring for your people like family. New York, Penguin.
  • Goleman, D. (n.d.). Emotional Intelligence. Retrieved from
  • Help Guide (n.d.) Improving emotional intelligence (EQ): key skills for managing your emotions and improving your relationships. Retrieved from


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