I am teaching a class this semester on assessing and developing leadership styles.  It is part of our masters of organizational leadership curriculum, so to be true to my style and the expectations I have of graduate students, I gave the assignments without any format parameters.

I developed my course requirements the same way I would give projects to my staff: “Here is what I am trying to accomplish; here is your part in this; here is the day it is due; see me if you have any questions.”  I never tell my staff that I want 500 words or a minimum of 10 pages or to use Times New Roman 12 point font, so I left those parts off my syllabus as well.

And I was amazed at how uncomfortable some students were with this ambiguity.  They had most recently been in a class with someone on the other side of the spectrum — who outlined his requirements with great detail — and it made for a hard adjustment for them.

It also made for a great class lesson for me.  Should the staff (i.e.: class) adjust their style to meet the preferences of the leader (i.e.; teacher), or should it be the other way around? Is your style as a leader different than your style as a follower?  

Hum…there are no right answers to the above.  Hopefully these questions gave the students fodder for their next journal entry and maybe they are thought provoking for you too.  

It’s not enough to just know your style; you need to know when and how to use it. 

— beth triplett

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