TED Talk: Drew Dudley Speaks on Everyday Leadership

In his TED Talk, Dudley (2010) seeks to redefine leaders as “regular” individuals who go out out of their ways to improve each other’s lives . His story of changing a life through a silly gesture that he doesn’t even remember reminds us of how, as individuals, we are continuously affecting the lives of others without even realizing it. Dudley (2010) argues that, rather than consider leadership about changing the world, “We need to get over the fear of how extraordinarily powerful we can be in each other’s lives.”

Dudley’s (2010) definition of leadership is interesting in that it disassembles the binary and power dynamic of leader and follower. Rather, his definition identifies all people as leaders and denotes a bit of accountability to boot. It could be argued that Dudley’s (2010) rhetoric is reminiscent of the humanist perspective of lifelong learning from the 1970s where, “…lifelong learning was advocated…as a model that would promote a better society and quality of life and allow people to adapt to as well as control change (Dave, 1976, Lengrand, 1970 as cited in Rubenson & Walker, 2006, p. 174). That all people are responsible to contribute to creating a better society is emphasized in Dudley’s (2010) call to action, “ We have made leadership about changing the world and there is no world, there is just six billion understandings of it and if you change one person’s understanding of it, one person’s understanding of what they are capable of…one person’s understanding of how powerful and “agent for change” they can be in this world, you have changed the whole thing.”

To further situate Dudey’s 2010 TED Talk in the context of leadership, civil society, and adult education, democratic participation, not just through voting, but through engagement could easily act as criteria for holding the world’s “everyday individuals” as accountable leaders. After World War One, educators,”…realized that thinking people were much more able to play a part in the wider life of society…it was reasoned that only by having a thinking and educated people that a democratic society could be accomplished…” (Jarvis, 1983, p. 9 as cited in Mirth, 2003, p. 38). Almost a century later, how many people are truly engaged in their democracies? Is it possible that Dudley’s talk and, perhaps TED as a community are symbols of a changing perspective of involvement in society as “educated people” and everyday leaders? What are your thoughts?


Drew Dudley: Everyday leadership. [TED Talk]. (2010, September). Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/drew_dudley_everyday_leadership.html

Mirth, D. (2003).The marginalized role of non-formal education in the development of adult education. The Canadian Journal for the Study of Adult Education, 17(1), 19-45. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/docview/203166112?accountid=14656

Rubenson, K., & Walker, J. (2006). The political economy of adult learning in Canada. In Fenwick, T., Nesbit, T. & Spencer, B. (Eds.) Contexts of adult education: Canadian perspectives (173-186). Toronto: Thompson Educational Publishing, Inc.


What is Leadership?


What is leadership? While leadership may be recognizable, it is difficult to define. It is said that leadership lacks a universal definition: “There are almost as many definitions of leadership as there are leadership theories – and there are almost as many theories of leadership as there are psychologists working in the field” (Day & Antonakis, 2012). The definition of leadership is changing as the world of leadership development is evolving. Leadership is no longer believed to be born or innate, and there is a large focus on the development of leaders within organizations. We are slowly moving away from the time of the “heroic” or individual leader, and moving toward a new and more innovative approach in order to tackle the challenges of the future (Petrie, 2011).

Currently, the most common methods for leadership development include: training, job assignments, action learning, executive coaching, mentoring, and 360-degree feedback (Petrie, 2011). These methods focus on an individual leader and defining and developing the competencies of a leader in these individuals. However, as the environment is changing the skills that leaders must embody are also changing which creates a need to come up with stronger developmental methods. Some of the key traits that used to define leaders, for example being controlling, will actually begin to work against leaders of the future.

This change in environment is due to several future trends including increased information available, business systems become interconnected, organizational boundaries are diminishing and roles are changing, new technology is being introduced and relied on in the business world, new generations have different values and expectations in the workplace, and globalization will continue to increase into the future. While the focus of leadership development is shifting from solely possession of competencies, things such as adaptability, self-awareness, boundary spanning, collaboration, network thinking as well as creativity, the ability to think strategically, manage change effectively, and be comfortable with ambiguity are all skills that will be valuable and looked for in future leadership roles (Petrie, 2011).

The focus of future leadership development is collaboration. Development should focus on building networks of leaders. This leadership aims to connect diverse groups of leaders (Tener, Scearce, Kim, Rivera, Holley, Goldstein, Anklam & Chaux, 2012). With a more volatile and unpredictable environment in the future, one single leader cannot possibly have a solution to every problem that arises. The focus is on a power in numbers, and organizations need to invest in individual capacity, team capacity, organizational capacity, network capacity, and system capacity (Petrie, 2011). Leadership development must shift from a mindset of “what is a leader” to “how to be a leader” (Petrie, 2011). While currently development is focused on horizontal development, or competency development, leadership should now be developed through vertical development which focuses on the stages individuals progress through as they make sense of their world (cite future trends). Innovation will also be heavily relied on in order to enable leadership roles to take the form of networks and together solve more complex problems.

We are now in an era where leadership is being re-defined from a person’s role to a process. As Bill Gates once said: “ as we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others” (Meier, 2011). Leadership of the future will center around the question: “What conditions do we need for leadership to flourish in the network”? (Petrie, 2011). One of the largest changes in leadership will be the development process. Current methods are going to shortly become outdated, and the challenge will be how to cultivate leaders in a complex society, and also, how to change society’s view of the individualized leader and embrace the ways of collective and collaborative leadership networks.


Day, D. V., & Antonakis, J. (2012). The nature of leadership. (pp. 3-28). California, United States of America : Sage Publications Inc. Retrieved from http://www.sagepub.com/upm-data/41401_Day_Antonakis_introduction_to_the_nature_of_leadership2.pdf

Meier, J. D. (2011, Jan 19). Lessons learned from bill gates. Retrieved from  http://sourcesofinsight.com/lessons-learned-from-bill-gates/

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

Tener, B., Scearce, D., Kim, E. E., Rivera, G., Holley, J., Goldstein, N., Anklam, P., & Chaux, N. C. (2012). Leadership & networks: New ways of developing leadership in a highly connected world. Leadership For A New Era Series, Retrieved from http://www.leadershiplearning.org/system/files/LLCNetworkNLfinal4.pdf

Leadership in Distance Education

Leadership Keyboard

What is leadership in distance education? Leadership in distance education “is defined as a set of attitudes and behaviors that create conditions for innovative change, that enable individuals and organizations to share a vision and move in its direction, and that contribute to the management and operationalization of ideas.” (Beaudoin, M., 2003). The opportunity to allow students to study from anywhere is convenient and flexible and this study focuses on how students and professors can develop an asset that involves reflecting on their experiences and how they can become leaders in the future. Likewise, there was also a demand attention towards management within distance education leadership because it was “concluded that the field lacked a theoretical framework to guide [individuals] understanding of distance education practices…[and] management still appeared to be the most neglected” (Beaudoin, M., 2003). In order to have effective leadership skills, one must learn how to manage. On the contrary, research studies are searching for creative ways to make the distance education comparable to classroom-based instruction and offer more programs to students. There are ways to attract and develop new leaders into distance education and this is by “encourage[ing] mentor[ship] by senior administrators, attend[ing] professional meetings, seeking out relevant graduate courses, and keeping current with literature in the field” (Beaudoin, M., 2003). Likewise, advanced technologies play a significant role to deliver the various channels of media and the incorporation of media within learning can increase more potential students to partake distance education and researchers are looking to find the most effective delivery system “in aiding teachers to teach, and learners to learn” (Beaudoin, M., 2003).


Beaudoin, M. (2003). Distance Education for the New Century. Retreived from http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/summer62/beaudoin62.html.

Citation: (Beaudoin, 2003)

Developing Leadership in Nursing

Leadership in nursingLeadership in nursing_2
Research studies have found that leadership in nursing results in a positive impact on employee satisfaction and patient care. Nurses should develop and hone their leadership skills and put this into practice because it is vital to the profession and demands urgent attention. It is known that leadership education can be provided by universities, healthcare organizations, or hospitals. For example, institutions and healthcare organizations are seeking to provide leadership programs, workshops and professional education seminars for nurses. In nursing, the majority of the time the profession delivers management duties and this can be taught through education or training from the employer. There were some interesting findings that “effective leaders were found to have personality traits with innate components such as ‘openness, extroversion and motivation’ (Curtis et al., 2011, p. 345). As well, researchers found that “age was positively correlated with leaderships skills, as older and more experienced nurses were more effective leaders and previous leadership experience had a positive effect on leadership” (Curtis et al., 2011, p. 345). With some leadership experience, nurses are able to transfer their skills into their employment experience and this can play a positive role when they are faced with various scenarios with their patients. In formal education, leadership can be taught by the professors and the experience that the students gain can make a valuable contribution to developing their leadership skills.

What should be taught in leadership programs?

The need of leadership programs within nursing is needed because research studies found that “nurse managers, although clinically competent, lacked confidence in areas such as human resources, managing budgets, deputizing for senior colleagues and information technology” (Curtis et al., 2011, p. 346). Programs should concentrate on generic learning and not address issues/problems associated with clinical environments but should teach different techniques. Researchers found that nurses should learn the basic techniques and apply where it is applicable for certain scenarios. For example, it was known that “nurses must be provided with opportunities to reflect and apply new knowledge to practice, as this is essential for reinforcing theoretical learning” (Curtis et al., 2011, p. 346.) Hence, nurses can also learn from their challenges they faced within health care.


Curtis, C. A., Sheerin, F. K., De Vries, J. (2011). Developing leadership in nursing: the impact of education and training. British Journal of Nursing, 20, 344-352.

Citation: (Curtis et al., 2011)