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The following article
was written by Coleman Patterson and
appeared in the Business section of the Abilene Reporter-News.
remains a key skill to develop, October 14, 2007, 2D.
Explore the books in the business section
of any popular bookstore and you will find a seemingly endless array of books devoted to
leadership and management development. Some
of those are self-help books, others try to sell a particular course or method of
leadership development, and others are more theoretical in nature.
In addition, there are a variety of
leadership development courses offered through colleges and universities, community
education programs, and business development and consulting firms. The reason that there is so much attention paid to
leadership development is that effective leadership is critical to all types of
organizations and because it is so complicated. From
an academic perspective, leadership development requires training in psychology,
sociology, management, economics, political science, history, critical thinking,
communication, ethics, and other fields that provide insight into the understanding of
human behavior in individual and group work environments.
The study of leadership from the perspectives of those disciplines takes
considerable time and effort.
As beings living in the times of the most
remarkable discoveries and inventions that mankind have ever known, we like to think of
ourselves as cutting edge in all realms of science and discoverythis
includes leadership studies and development. However,
the ideas that people need to study philosophy, history, and human nature before assuming
positions of responsibility in society is nothing new.
Plato (428-347 B.C.) wrote in The
Republic that the solution required to break the reciprocal nature of tyranny and
democracy in an ideal society is leadership education and development.
Until philosophers are kings, or the
kings and princes of this world have the spirit and power of philosophy, and political
greatness and wisdom meet in one, and those commoner natures who pursue either to the
exclusion of the other are compelled to stand aside, cities will never have rest from
their evils. Plato continued that line
of reasoning by stating,
There will be discovered to be some natures who ought
to study philosophy and to be leaders in the State; and others who are not born to be
philosophers, and are meant to be followers rather than leaders. He goes on to explain that the philosophers of
which he spoke are those who love knowledge, are averse to corruption and ambition, and
seek truth, justice, courage, and temperance. Only
after years of training and education, are Platos philosophers prepared to govern
Regardless of whether people intend to
lead organizations or local, state, and national governments, they should seek training
and education to accelerate their leadership abilities.
Rather than learning simply through personal experience and trial and error,
would-be leaders can learn leadership philosophies and skills more rapidly and efficiently
through education and training. Training
programs should expose participants to the rules, principles, and philosophies of
leadership, teamwork, and organization as well as provide opportunities for skill
development in communication, critical thinking, problem solving, conflict resolution,
creativity, and persuasion and influence. Leadership
development is just as important today as it was 2,400 years ago in the time of Plato.
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