What Would You Choose?

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Introduction In the five years I have worked at the Career Education Department (CED) at Thompson Rivers University (TRU) it has felt like our department is in a rowboat, full of strong rowers, but all paddling in a different direction with multiple and conflicting end goals in sight. Compared with Ernst Shackleton’s calamitous expedition to the Antarctic in 1914 the CED has a relatively easy course supporting students in their career success. We have individuals on our team with career development expertise that genuinely care for students’ career futures. We may not have the charismatic leadership Shackleton provided his crew, but we do have highly effective leaders when the circumstances are right. So why does it feel like we are in a directionless rowboat when we could be in a world-class ship sailing towards our potential? I believe there are multiple reasons for this, much of which have to do with leadership. We have a team going through significant change (situation) with three presidents in two years; a new Dean, Chair, staff, and programming; and a global labour market crisis. In addition we have unrealistic and conflicting expectations of our Chair (leadership), and our followership (the department) is often ambiguous, opportunistic and divisive. Using a complexivist approach, focusing on modern theories of leadership, such as John Kotter’s work on leadership and management; James Burns’ and Bernard Bass’ writings on transaction, transforming and transformational leadership; and Fiedler's Contingency Model has helped me better understand our multifarious, and at times dysfunctional, dynamics and has provided potential solutions to consider. Why Use A Complexivist Approach to Analyzing the CED? As we sat in... ... middle of paper ... ...cational Management Administration & Leadership , 38 (3), 374-393. Pearson Canada Inc. (2010). Contingency Leadership Theories: Fiedler Model. A-29 to A-33. Prince, H. T. (1995). Moral Development in Individuals. In Wren, Thomas J (ed.), The Leader's Companion: Insights on Leadership Through the Ages (pp. 484-491). New York: The Free Press. Thompson Rivers University. (2008, July 9). Retrieved July 25, 2010, from Collective Agreement Between Thompson Rivers University and the Thompson Rivers University Faculty Association April 1, 2004 to March 31, 2010: http://www.tru.ca/trufa/collective_agreement/TRUFA_Collective_Agreeement_2004-2010.pdf TRUFA October Newsletter. (2006, December). Retrieved July 25, 2010, from Thompson Rivers University: http://www.tru.ca/trufa/newsletter/2006-7/October06.htm Yukl, G. (2010). Leadership in Organizations. USA: Prentice Hall.
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