Currently viewing the tag: "leader"

Leadership researcher, Fred Fiedler, has looked at the complex relationship between intelligence and leader effectiveness in his Cognitive Resource Theory. Fiedler focuses on two important leader variables: intelligence and experience. What this research shows is that under normal circumstances more intelligent leaders are more effective. This makes sense as intelligent leaders are better able to analyze problems, consider alternative courses of action, gather information, etc. However, under crisis conditions, Fiedler finds, more intelligent leaders are actually LESS effective. What predicts success in a crisis is experience. Highly experienced leaders immediately initiate well-practiced leader behaviors and get the group moving. More intelligent leaders, try to figure things out and the delay creates less efficient and successful leadership under time constraints. –Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D.

Fiction Writing Prompt: Use internal monologue to show the intelligence of the leader in your story.

Journaling Prompt: What characteristics do you respect in a leader?

Art Prompt: Intelligent leadership

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about leadership and intelligence.

Photo Credit: Loving Earth on Flickr

Facts, Bullying, CIL, Reveln

Arrogance is characterized by a pattern of behavior that demeans others in an attempt to prove competence and superiority. Silverman says this behavior is correlated with lower intelligence scores and lower self-esteem when compared to managers who are not arrogant.

…Silverman warns that “yes” replies to these other questions raise red flags and signal arrogance.

  • Does your boss put his/her personal agenda ahead of the organization’s agenda?
  • Does the boss discredit others’ ideas during meetings and often make them look bad?
  • Does your boss reject constructive feedback?
  • Does the boss exaggerate his/her superiority and make others feel inferior?

Left unchecked, arrogant leaders can be a destructive force within an organization… –Science Daily

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write about an arrogant boss through the eyes of a victim of his or her bullying.

Journaling Prompt: Write about the worst boss you have ever worked for.

Art Prompt: Arrogant Leader

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Inform your audience about how to recognize arrogant leaders and the devastation they create.

Photo Credit: Tatiana12 on Flickr

Walmart CEO and President on Building Customer Trust and Loyalty

…imagine that business experts, such as other CEOs, are asked to comment on the reputation of the chief executive of a company. They are keenly aware of whether the company has recently been thriving or failing. As we saw earlier in the case of Google, this knowl­edge generates a halo. The CEO of a successful company is likely to be called flexible, methodical, and decisive. Imagine that a year has passed and things have gone sour. The same executive is now described as confused, rigid, and authoritarian. Both descriptions sound right at the time: it seems almost absurd to call a successful leader rigid and confused, or a struggling leader flexible and methodical.

“Indeed, the halo effect is so powerful that you probably find yourself resisting the idea that the same person and the same behaviors appear methodical when things are going well and rigid when things are going poorly. Because of the halo effect, we get the causal relationship backward: we are prone to believe that the firm fails because its CEO is rigid, when the truth is that the CEO appears to be rigid because the firm is failing. This is how illusions of understanding are born. -Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow

Fiction Writing Prompt: Use the halo effect in a story.

Journaling Prompt: How have you experienced the halo effect in watching the news?

Art Prompt: Halo Effect

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Write about the halo effect as it is playing out in current events.

Photo Credit: Walmart Corporate on Flickr

 Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini in Munich, Germany

While charisma may inspire more people to like you, the personality trait should not be confused with moral goodness. History’s biggest villains, such as Hitler, Mao and Mussolini, were all known for their alluring personalities. “These were all visionary charismatics, people who had total conviction in their beliefs,” says Fox Cabane. “Humans are hard-wired to dislike uncertainty, so when they come across someone who shows none they find it very hard to resist.”  –Orion Jones

Writing Prompt: Write a story, scene or poem about an evil charismatic leader.

Journaling Prompt: Write about an experience where someone you know used charm and charisma to manipulate others.

Art Prompt: Evil Charisma

Photo Credit: Marion Doss on Flickr

5 presidents

Some people are natural leaders, but it’s important to know whether their leadership derives from a motivation of service or narcissism.
“Narcissism can sometimes be useful in a leader, says Nevicka. In a crisis, for instance, people feel that a strong, dominant person will take control and do the right thing, ‘and that may reduce uncertainty and diminish stress.’

“But in the everyday life of an organization, ‘communication — sharing of information, perspectives, and knowledge — is essential to making good decisions. In brainstorming groups, project teams, government committees, each person brings something new. That’s the benefit of teams. That’s what creates a good outcome.’ Good leaders facilitate communication by asking questions and summarizing the conversation — something narcissists are too self-involved to do.

“Nevicka says the research has implications beyond the workplace — for instance, in politics. ‘Narcissists are very convincing. They do tend to be picked as leaders. There’s the danger: that people can be so wrong based on how others project themselves. You have to ask: Are the competencies they project valid, or are they merely in the eyes of the beholder?'” –Science Daily

Writing Prompt: Create a character sketch for both a servant leader and a narcissistic leader. How do they differ?

Journaling Prompt: Write about leaders you have worked with and their motivations.

Art Prompt: Narcissistic leader

Nonfiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about narcissistic leaders in politics and how to spot them.

Photo Credit: Beverly & Pack on Flickr


Sorry, the picture is completely unrelated. I just preferred to put up a geeky sci fi dog picture rather than one of John Stuart Mill. I’m sure John Stuart Mill is handsome, but, well, look at that poodle! How cool is that? OK, back to the word of the week:

avatar n. an incarnation, embodiment, or manifestation of a person or idea: he chose John Stuart Mill as the avatar of the liberal view. from Sanskrit avatara ‘descent’, from ava ‘down’ + tar- ‘to cross’.

Writing Prompt: Write an ode to your favorite avatar.

Journaling Prompt: Who has served as an avatar for you? Why?

Art Prompt: Avatar

Nonfiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Use the word of the day in whatever you write today.

Photo Credit: greg westfall. on Flickr



The Magician is a popular archetype in science fiction and fantasy, but you will see Magicians all around you once you know what to look for. One very popular Magician is Martha Stewart, who has turned her knack for creating a beautiful home into a booming business. In this quote, we read about a more traditional magician courtesy of Jean Auel.

“Mog-ur pulled himself up to his feet, then threw his staff aside. Wrapped in his heavy bearskin cloak, the magician was an imposing figure. Only the older men, and Brun, ever knew him as anything but Mog-ur. The Mog-ur, the holiest of all the men who interceded with the world of the spirits, the most powerful magician of the Clan. When moved to eloquence during a ceremony, he was a charismatic, awe-inspiring protector. It was he who braved the invisible forces far more fearsome than any charging animal, forces that could turn the bravest hunter into a quaking coward. There was not a man present who did not feel more secure knowing it was he who was the magician of their clan, not a man who hadn’t stood in fear of his power and magic at some time in his life, and only one, Goov, who dared to think of trading places with him. Mog-ur, alone, stood between the men of the clan and the terrible unknown, and he became part of it by association. It imbued him with a subtle aura that carried over into his secular life. Even when he sat within the boundaries of his hearthstones, surrounded by his women, he was not really thought of as a man. He was more than, other than; he was Mog-ur.” -Jean Auel, The Clan of the Cave Bear

Writing Prompt: Write a scene or a poem about a Magician.

Journaling Prompt: Who in your life embodies the Magician archetype? Describe how you relate to that person.

Art Prompt: Magician

Nonfiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience a story involving a friend who personifies the magician archetype.

Photo Credit: h.koppdelaney on Flickr


Mt. Rushmore

Last week we saw one of today’s most charismatic leaders, Steve Jobs, resigning from the company he built with his riveting way of communicating his vision. But was that charisma, or was it a determined professional who spent hours, unseen, rehearsing his presentations. Almost certainly it was the latter.

The research results suggest that charisma is sometimes an illusion. While managers can establish a reputation as a transformational, charismatic leader in a number of valid ways, managers can also gain the mystique of charisma by veiling how they accomplish what they do, like a stage magician. Prof. Morris, who leads Columbia Business School’s Program on Social Intelligence, elaborated on a point elucidated by this area of research, “Winning in business and political endeavors comes not only from performing well, but also from managing the interpretations that others make of your performance.” – Science Daily

Writing Prompt: Just like Steve Jobs, your writing charisma is based on the back story that only you will see. This is a prompt that encourages you to flesh out your characters and the world in which they live in ways that will never appear in your story.

Journaling Prompt: Write about how you use rehearsal (or don’t) to improve your charisma.

Art Prompt: Charisma

Nonfiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience how they can improve their charisma.

Photo Credit: jimbowen0306 on Flickr


I once worked for a large, respected agency that used a “management by crisis” leadership paradigm. All we ever did was respond to the latest crisis. If a new crisis popped up, we dropped the old crisis and focused on the new. No new initiatives ever got off the ground, despite a highly creative and enthusiastic team. Instead we did a lot of running around and putting out fires. I had bosses at that agency, but none of them were what I would call leaders. Ken Blanchard describes this problem well.

Leadership is about going somewhere. If you and your people don’t know where you are going, your leadership doesn’t matter. -Ken Blanchard, Leading at a Higher Level, Revised and Expanded Edition: Blanchard on Leadership and Creating High Performing Organizations

Writing Prompt: Who is the leader in your story? What is his or her destination / goal?

Journaling Prompt: Write about a leader you’ve known.

Art Prompt: Destination
Nonfiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Share your vision for where you are going with your audience.

Photo Credit: Calsidyrose on Flickr

team leaderWe’ve all met leaders, some good, some excellent, some execrable. The Leader is an important archetype in writing, so leadership is an important quality for writers to study. Here we have a very simple definition of one aspect of leadership that we can use in our writing.

Leadership is not something you do to people, but something you do with people. -Kenneth Blanchard, Leading at a Higher Level

Writing Prompt: Create a character sketch or write a scene about a leader.

Journaling Prompt: Write about your experiences with leaders who helped you grow as a person.

Art Prompt: Leader

Nonfiction / Speech Writing Prompt: Write about a leader you have known that exemplified this quote.

Be a leader and post your work or a link to it in the Comments section.

Photo Credit: torres21on Flickr