TED as Resource: David Logan speaks on Tribal Leadership

In a previous blog post I mentioned that it is possible to learn about leadership informally through resources like TED. The following is a brief summary of a TED talk which provides some insightful advice for aspiring leaders whom wish to improve and increase their influence in the world through how they interact, lead by example, and inspire the people around them.

In contrast to Dudley’s (2010) previously posted TED talk and the notion that leaders don’t have to think that they can “change the world” to be leaders, Logan (2009) asks, “How, exactly, do we create this world, “shattering,” if you will, innovation?” In his TED Talk, Logan (2009) illustrates what he refers to as the, “…five kinds of tribes that humans naturally form – in schools, workplaces, even the driver’s license bureau”(TED, 2009). According to Logan (2009), each of these tribes exits in a hierarchal level (five being the most optimal) of self and group understanding and perception of their place in the world which determines their potential agency within it:

1. Life Sucks
2. My Life Sucks
3. I’m Great (and you’re not)
4. We’re Great
5. Life is Great

Logan’s (2009) call to action is for people to recognize the culture, the self, and the group talk of the tribes that they belong to. He then encourages them to challenge themselves and others within their tribes to “elevate” to the next hierarchal level of tribes. In other words, if you recognize that you belong to a group of people that are consistently trying to “one-up” one another (level three), you, as a “tribal leader” would avoid trying to singularly acknowledge your personal accomplishments in isolation. Rather, to move from a level three tribe to a level four, you would collect the successes of your group to support and promote the argument that, yes I am great, but so are you and you and you and as a collaborative team (or tribe) we have more power and a greater potential to make the world a better place. Logan (2009) suggests that the more tribes that continue to elevate to the next level, the more likely world “shattering” innovation is possible.

Putting this talk into the context of adult learning, I love the idea that, not only has someone who has accessed the TED talk as a resource learning from it, but they can pass the learning on either through sharing the talk or, as stated, leading by example. It can be argued that learning happens this way frequently in workplaces, schools, homes, the coffee shop, I could go on and on. Informal learning is the most difficult to accurately measure, but I’d argue that as the idea of demonstrating leadership skills becomes more compulsory, and resources to develop these skills and understanding become so accessible, informal learning will be the number one way in which more leaders are developed and the innovation that Logan (2009) speaks of will take place.


David Logan: Tribal leadership. [TED Talk]. (2009, March). Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/david_logan_on_tribal_leadership.html


Blog as a Tool and Resource for Leadership Development

ImageAnother resource and tool for leadership development in adult learning is the blog. Blogs are interesting in that not only can a blog, like this one, be intended to be used as a forum for dialogue about a topic like leadership, they can also be accessed by someone just casually searching the net trying to find information about leadership. The cartoon above, for example, was taken from a blog titled, “ What Ed Said” with the tag line: A blog about learning. The purpose of the cartoon is to challenge people in the field of education to identify and understand what type of leaders they are with the added hope of encouraging some transformational change I am sure (Sackson, 2013).

While the cartoon in the blog is an example of a simple resource to understand leadership, blogs can also be used as complex experiential learning tools in formal learning environments. Raffo (n.d.) looks at the use of blogs in her, “…exploratory study [which] adds to the literature education as it relates to experiential learning and reflective learning in an online environment” (p. 39). Raffo (n.d.) concludes that, “Blogging provides the benefits of a shared learning community and gives students the opportunity to become skilled reflective thinkers (and leaders) while transforming or deepening their understanding of leadership”(p. 49).

Simply stated, the blog serves as an accessible and interactive resource and tool used in formal, non-formal, and informal learning contexts. While it is a good idea to exercise a bit of caution in accessing any old blog to use as a source for research, I would argue that, for the most part, blogs offer a variety of perspectives and will be continued to be accessed, for good reason, in the facilitation of learning be it for leadership development or otherwise.


Raffo, D. (n.d). Blogging as a reflective tool for leadership development: An exploratory study of leadership practicum grounded in the relational leadership model. Delta Pi Epsilon Journal. 54(2) (Fall 2012), p. 39-51

Sackson, E. (2013). What kind of leader are you? [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://whatedsaid.wordpress.com/page/2/

Leadership in the Military


In the military, adult education is described as a “process that mandates individual growth, maturity, and learning in order to achieve the collective goals of the organization” (Zacharakis and Van Der Werff, 2012, p. 90). In such way, this is comparable when developing leadership skills where the leader hopes to achieve a goal collectively with its members. Adult education in the military is currently incorporating leadership skills as one of their key learning objectives. Higher ranking staff members found that there is a positive relationship between leadership skills and critical thinking skills. The characteristics of critical thinking skills and leadership skills were very similar and that they both possess the attributes of being “open-minded, patient, and confident…flexible and creative…and realistic in the way they worked and communicated together to troubleshoot the problem while keeping their goal in sight” (Zacharakis and Van Der Werff, 2012, p. 96). In the military, “the group’s leader, is to first set forth and explain the learning objectives or goals, then facilitate the learning through dialogue and critical questioning with the understanding that there may be multiple pathways toward the set goal or establish outcome” (Zacharakis and Van Der Werff, 2012, p. 91). Within the military workforce, members hope that through dialogue and critical questioning, adult learners are able to learn better from their peers and teachers. Hence, military education is increasing and teachers are eager to incorporate critical thinking skills into their leadership development and learning. In this way, they are able to hone their communication skills when members are communicating instructions, ideas and emotions with one another. Overall, the main goal of the military workforce is to strengthen the overall capacity of their organization through leadership development and conduct more research in the future.


Zacharakis, J., & Van Der Werff, J. A. (2012). The future of adult education in the military. New Directions For Adult & Continuing Education, 2012(136), 89-98. doi:10.1002/ace.20038

Citation: (Zacharakis and Van Der Werff, 2012)

Leadership Development: In the News

Leadership matters and businesses are taking notice. An Accenture study found that companies with strong leadership grew 900% over ten years, compared to those who were poorly led and only grew 74%. This is a substantial difference that highlights the importance of leadership development. The following are two examples of what businesses and educational institutions are doing to improve leadership skills in adults. Lastly, for those of you interested in hearing more about the change in leadership in business, take a look a a recent video from the Globe and Mail posted below.

Unilever Leadership Development Centre


Recently, leadership development can be found frequently in the news. Univlever just opened their second Four Acres leadership development centre located in Singapore. The first centre, Four Acres London, has been in operation for over 60 years. They believe in developing world talent and training future leaders for their company. Their focus is on the changing environment of business and developing leaders who are ready for the 21st century.

Read more: http://www.eco-business.com/news/unilever-launches-leadership-centre-Singapore/

New Degree: Bachelor of Business Leadership and Commerce

A university in Australia, Macquarie University, is launching a new degree in 2014: Bachelor of Business Leadership and Commerce. Student’s need to graduate with better leadership skills and abilities, and this undergraduate degree is what many businesses have been asking for. This program is also aware of the changing world of leadership: “The degree provides a holistic understanding of what it takes to be a capable, adaptable and inspiring leader in today’s fast changing business environment”.

Read more:  http://prwire.com.au/pr/37814/business-calls-for-graduates-to-develop-leadership-skills

From Heroic Leader to Shared Leadership

In this video, the Globe and Mail sits down with Ed Lawler from the Marshall School of Business at USC to discuss the change in leadership from the individual leader to what he likes to call “shared leadership”. Take a look at the link below!

View: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/careers/management/video-forget-the-hero-leader-you-need-a-company-of-leaders/article12041041/

Non-Formal and Informal Education of Leadership in Business


As leadership evolves, there is a growing importance in non-formal leadership development. When it comes to developing leaders, real-life experience plays a large role. As Marshall Goldsmith has commented, “many of our leadership programs are based on the faulty assumption that if we show people what to do, they can automatically do it” (Petrie, 2011). Leadership should be taught within the workplace. One assumption that Knowles stated about adult education was that adults like to learn what they can immediately apply (Palacios, 2013). When teaching leadership within the workplace, leadership can not only be practiced immediately but is also expected to be applied immediately. A major component of leadership within the workplace involves a specific fit with the company’s organizational culture, and each company will require different competencies and skills in their leaders. Also, as we move into the future, competencies that make a strong leader will be constantly changing and adapting to the current environment (Hernez-Broome & Hughes, 2004). There are many elements of leadership that cannot be taught through the classroom, especially with the new trend of collaborative leadership, adults must gain experience and grow within the workplace. Formal education is no longer the most effective approach to leadership development, and in fact, the classroom is becoming the least critical element for leadership training (Petrie, 2011).

There are many forms of non-formal leadership include mentorships, coaching, development workshops and seminars, short courses, action learning, and 360-feedback (Petrie, 2011). Of course, some methods of leadership development are favoured over others, and it is believed that teaching and learning leadership should be an ongoing process, not just a course or seminar (Hernez-Broome & Hughes, 2004). The application of leadership competencies in one’s specific business organization is a key element to the success of developing leadership: “State of the art leadership development now occurs in the context of ongoing work initiatives that are tied to strategic business imperatives” (Petrie, 2011). Vertical learning is another important aspect, and involves CEO’s of businesses to get involved in coaching and mentoring their employees in all levels of the company. The CEO of P&G, the top ranked company of 2013 for leadership, says that he believes in teaching leadership from within and dedicates a large portion of his time to teaching and coaching employees (Donlon, 2013). In Asia, leading companies in building leadership found that real life experiences in practicing leadership are what lead to the fast development of leaders, and found classroom style learning to be less effective (Ramakrishnan, 2013).

The challenge of non-formal leadership education is deciding the right way to develop and teach leadership. The over reliance on formal education, such as MBA programs, is partly due to the fact that it is unknown what experiences best prepare individuals to be leaders (Ramakrishnan, 2013). Also, it may be easier and takes less internal resources for companies and to send their employees to a course versus teaching employees themselves. However, it is important that companies overcome these hurdles so that they can develop effective leaders. They must realize that the focus of leadership should be developing the competencies that will work within the organization. The aim of leadership should be to create authentic leaders that will accomplish the company’s goals. It is said that: “leaders should not be accountable for demonstrating a particular set of behaviours but rather should be held accountable for desired outcomes” (Petrie, 2011). In turn, companies need to foster organizational environments that nurture and reinforce the desired behaviors of leaders (Petrie, 2011).

The main form of informal education within the workplace is observation and working with another leader to follow his or her vision (Mathews, 2012). It is important for CEOs to set good examples for their organizations and to surround their employees with influences that will allow them to succeed and take on roles of leadership. CEOs are leaders, and they must believe that their employees can become leaders and provide them with opportunities to learn from other leaders within the company (Crisp, 2013).


Crisp, D. (2013, July 2). [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://www.hrreporter.com/blog/strategic-hr/postprint/2013/07/02/3-keys-to-developing-effective-leaders

Donlon, J. P. (2013, January 12). 40 best companies for leaders 2013. Chief Executive. Retrieved from chiefexecutive.net/40-best-companies-for-leaders-list

Hernez-Broome, G., & Hughes, R. L. (2004). Leadership development: Past, present, and future. Human Resource Planning, 24-31. Retrieved from http://home.mycybernet.net/~taylors/Publish/leadership development.pdf

Matthews, P. (2012). Leadership and learning. Training Journal, , 60-63. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1027547960?accountid=1343

Palacios, C. (2013). Andragogy. Retrieved from http://blogs.ubc.ca/adhe412may2013/andragogy/

Petrie, N. (2011). Future trends in leadership development.Center for Creative Leadership, Retrieved from http://www.ccl.org/leadership/pdf/research/futureTrends.pdf

Ramakrishnan, M. (2013, July 05). How top asian firms develop good leaders. The Business Times. Retrieved from http://www.stjobs.sg/career-resources/workplace-success/how-top-asian-firms-develop-good-leaders/a/126822

A Postmodern Perspective: Diversity, Power Dynamics, and Leadership Development


A discussion about leadership development in adult education would be incomplete without surfacing the influence of systemic power dynamics in society. Any good adult educator will tell you that, in creating, planning, and designing courses, workshops, seminars etc., the power dynamics of society and in the learning facility (even in cyberspace) need to be considered. For example, “In our everyday world, men are commonly accepted in positions of leadership. This is evident in every facet of our society. Men compose the majority of our national and local leaders. This accepted and assumed power transfers to the workshop setting. So what happens when a workshop leader is a woman?” (Johnson-Bailey & Cervero, 1997, p. 44-45).

The power dynamics of gender are changing overtime. Forty years ago, “…women accounted for about 5% of managers in organizations (Schein, 1973)…[in] 2009,  According to a 2009 report by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, women held about 40% of management jobs in the United States; however only 2% of organizations listed in the Fortune 500 had CEOs that were women” (as cited in Coder & Spiller, 2013, p. 21). That we have acknowledged power dynamics in society in the context of leadership development represents the postmodernist perspective that beliefs surrounding who in society is capable of quality leadership is affected by socio-political values, but this awareness is far from complete.

So, in the 21st century, more women (not enough, but more) consider themselves leaders. Besides gender as a dichotomy (also a misconception); however, there are other assumptions about identity groups and leadership embedded in societal laws, morals and belief systems. It is the responsibility of the developer and or facilitator of a leadership development course to reveal the influence of these beliefs, and acknowledge subjective value systems and potential internalized oppression at the outset of becoming leaders, especially leaders who inspire other leaders. Hyater- Adams (2010), suggests that, “…transformative narratives, can be used to help unpack and re-script assumptions, attitudes, values, and biases of leaders as they operate in systems of privilege” (Abstract). It could be argued that the use of narratives could be used outside of the formal learning environment as well. As has been demonstrated throughout the posts on this site, leadership development happens in multiple settings be them formal, non-formal, and informal, and the belief or oversight that it escapes societal influences and historical legacies of systemic oppression is a misnomer and a regret, but I am sure it exists and is often times not addressed within these settings. Hopefully, as time progresses, more people will recognize the subjective nature of defining the characteristics of leadership in society. Until then, I challenge you to surface your values and beliefs about what makes a leader and how diversity plays a role within them.


Coder, L., & Spiller, M. (2013). Leadership education and gender roles: think manager, think “?” Academy Of Educational Leadership Journal, 17(3), 21-51.

Image retrieved from http://www.futurity.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/gender_leaders_1.jpg

Johnson-Bailey, J., & Cervero, R. (1997). Negotiating power dynamics in workshops. New directions for adult and continuing education, (76), 41-50.

Hyater-Adams, Y. (2010). Learning diversity and leadership skills through transformative narratives (TM). Journal of Critical Organisation Inquiry, 8(4), 208-232. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/869068934?accountid=1343

Global Change: How Technology and Economic Climate Changes Approaches to Leadership Development

As has already been mentioned on this site, the demand for local and global leaders continues to grow exponentially. Not surprisingly, in a survey of literature to determine how leadership development for adults has changed overtime, it became apparent that global change, specifically, the increased use of information technologies combined with the shifting economic climate has influenced approaches and access to leadership education.

It should be noted here that change is not something embraced naturally and therefore it is expected that there be resistance to the increase in use of technological devices in adult education in general, be them different teaching styles or uses of the internet. “Conservative and strongly traditional institutions may at times struggle to make the changes that are necessary to keep up with the demands…Implementing new technologies can provide solutions to academic issues in higher education” (Stewart, Harlow, & Debacco, 2011, as cited in Johnson & Radmer, 2013, p. 275). In other words, as demands for certain skills and aptitudes go up, institutions are required to use the devices available to them to cater to societal needs and leadership development has been identified as one of those needs.

There are numerous resources available through the internet used in formal and non-formal learning environments. It could be argued that, because leadership development sources are so accessible, informal learning is likely taking place as well. From Major Open Online Courses, to TED Talks, to You tube videos, to leadership presentations posted online, to Blog sites, the resources are endless, just type leadership into a search browser and you are on your way. Even an image search can yield results and spark ideas and understandings of the changing definitions and ideas surrounding leaders and leadership attributes.

This easy access to resources could not have come at a better time. Although there is uncertainty and even controversy surrounding some of these resources the pros tend to outweigh the potential cons, “Whether or not MOOCs are really disruptive technology… they can be a great resource for low cost professional development for your faculty and staff” (Roland, 2013). Again, it is important to recognize here that the demand for professional and personal development is high and that innovation and ingenuity are assets for adult educators and those interested in engaging in leadership development.

Accessibility aside, the internet is not the only resource used for professional development in the context of global change. Nikolou-Walker (2012), who recognizes that, “… the majority of businesses today seek ways in which they can work smarter within the perimeters of their valuable, but, nonetheless, limited, resources” (Abstract), promotes a work-based learning approach to leadership development and concludes that while, “… within WBL, the leadership role is not as “clear-cut”,… The informality of the learning/teaching environment allows the leadership role to successfully “change hands”, without any detriment to the overall learning/teaching taking place” (Conclusion, para. 2). In other words, as new ideas emerge regarding the benefits of different styles of learning facilitation, there is no escaping the skepticism that comes with indications of change.

To close, although non-conventional, the combination of demand, new perspectives on adult education and learning, and access to resources is changing the face of leadership development arguably, and hopefully, leading to the rise of our much needed local and global networks of leaders. Now go google leadership… I dare you;)


Image retrieved from http://www.scoilchriostriportlaoise.ie/uploads/technology.jpg

Johnson, C. S., & Radmer, E. (2013). Making the case for transformational learning through technology-mediated environments. Academic Research International, 4(2), 275-279. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1353301091?accountid=1343

Roland, J. (2013). Harness the power of Moocs to provide staff development in the cloud. Retrieved July 7th, 2013 from http://edcetera.rafter.com/harness-the-power-of-moocs-to-provide-staff-development-in-the-cloud/

Nikolou-Walker, E., & Curley, H. (2012). An examination, evaluation and analysis of work-based learning leadership within a higher education setting. Higher Education, Skills and Work – Based Learning, 2(2), 186-200. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/20423891211224810