Happy Autumn and happy reading as you crack the digital cover of the 2017 special issue of the Journal of Leadership Education (JOLE) entitled, Leadership Education Amid Conflicting Ideologies – Turning BIG!,(Bad?) Ideas into Creative and Innovative Solutions

The global citizens of 2017 are “living in contested spaces and precarious places [and] there is growing frustration with the status quo” (Noble, 2015, p. 43) and, indeed, the clashing ideologies and problems of the twenty first century demand unprecedented levels of creativity and innovation to solve given the complexities of contemporary societies. Ergo, innovation, “the capacity to generate ideas…that are novel and useful” (Chan, Fu, Schumm, Cagan, Wood, Kotovsky, 2011, p. 1) is the basis for this special issue.

McNutt (2015) reminds us that “Unlike the past 35 years, we know that from now till 2050 and beyond, the world will become far more globalized facing challenging issues such as population growth and ageing; the expansion of urban centers; global warming and climate change; the depletion of natural and other resources, including potential food shortages; rapid technological advances; changing economic dominance; and far more interdependence among nations than currently exists. Therefore, it is incumbent upon leaders today to take charge and be proactive to ensure that the leaders of tomorrow are equipped with the resources, skills, and tools needed to adapt to these ever evolving challenges” (p. 39).

Equipping the leaders of tomorrow is what we, as leadership educators, do. And while we do it well, we must never lose sight of the fact that our field is multifaceted and organic. The fluctuation and changing tide is why journals such as this are so important. They provide us with new and exciting content and the inspiration we need to carry on when we struggle. This special issue is organized into two sections: Section One – Learner and Educator Engagement and Section Two – Organizational Engagement, Strategies, and Innovations.


Section One – Learner and Educator Engagement

 Section One opens with Andenoro, Sowcik, and Baiser discussing a five-year study that explores the impact of an interdisciplinary course on the development of global capacities, complex adaptive leadership, socially responsible agency, and systems thinking. In this course, divergent learning methods were used to challenge students to serve as stewards of their own knowledge and facilitators of their own learning. This is followed by Burbaugh and Kaufman who have determined that, 1) networking is an antecedent to social capital, 2) skill building and personal growth approaches to leadership development are significant predictors of networking ability, and 3) networking ability is a significant predictor of social capital.

The third article in the Section One (Stover & Seemiller) highlights the findings of a quantitative research study that used the ASSIST Inventory to measure approaches to learning (surface, deep, or strategic) for undergraduate students enrolled in an Organizational Leadership program. While the students demonstrated a preference for deeper approaches to learning, many are still using surface approaches. Strategies to address this conundrum are also provided. Friedel, Cletzer, Bush, and Barber then jump in to share information about an emerging perspective, Eco-leadership, that suggests that leadership is a collective process involving both the leaders and followers in terms of co-creating leadership. A riveting discussion ensues about youth and their attitudes and beliefs surrounding systemic and hierarchical thinking with respect to problem-solving styles.

In the fifth article in Section One, Goryunova and Jenkins walk us through “upping the game” of global leadership education by increasing learning engagement and knowledge retention through the utilization of innovative digital technology. And finally, the sixth and final article in Section One written by Guramatunhu Cooper and Lyons emphasizes the value of the life experiences of leadership educators and how their personal narratives can be leveraged to provide impactful experiences in leadership courses.


Section Two – Organizational Engagement, Strategies, and Innovations

Nelson and Squires launch section two by acknowledging the increasingly complex problems that organizations face and the need to examine the problems through multiple perspectives to find the best solutions. They proffer that adaptive leadership with its focus on collaborative problem-solving is particularly useful, especially when addressing the needs of multiple stakeholders within organizations. Rosch, Spencer, and Hoag then propose a comprehensive model for mapping the shape and optimizing the effectiveness of leadership education in campus-wide settings. The four-level model is highlighted by the inclusion of a philosophy statement, a set of competencies, and a plan for assessment and evaluation.

Herndon and McCline tackle leadership as a way of being and moving forward in the news industry which is in a state of “chaotic transition.” Capitalizing on Hesselbein’s (2010) work that centers on leadership as a matter of how to be (not how to do) and that of Joseph (2012), the authors illustrate how leadership as a way of being can serve as a teaching model in newsrooms that require new thought processes in terms of their organizational structure to accommodate the needs of a new generation of information consumers.

Watkins, Earnhardt, Pittenger, Roberts, Rietsema, and Cosman-Ross follow with a deep dive into the nature of complex systems that include technological advances and globalization in addition to network and social complexities. They share a model for leadership education designed to develop leaders who understand the nature of complex systems yet reliably use their ethical value systems, emotional intelligence, and resiliency to adapt to emergent situations.

Finally, in the capstone article in this special issue, Sowcik, Andenoro, and Council address one of the “Biggest (Baddest) and Best Ideas Ever” -- using the power of humility to mitigate the disconnect between the constructs of creativity and effective leadership. Their article encourages the community of leadership educators to look inward and carefully examine the environments we create to develop leaders.

It is my contention that as the social landscapes around the world shift during the turbulence of the twenty-first century, it is imperative that we remain diligent in the protection of our common humanity. Certainly, arrogance has been tolerated in some leaders; Steve Jobs of Apple and iPhone fame and fortune, for example, is perhaps the best example of arrogance in leadership being tolerated (Eragula, 2015). But, “Given its potential importance…humility may offer a new lens through which to view and understand the leadership process” (Morris, Brotherdidge, & Urbanski, 2005, p. 1325). Humility, after all, serves several functions: 1) it may influence leaders to behave in manner that is primarily other-enhancing, rather than self-enhancing and, 2) the possession of humility shields people from needing to receive public adulation and, in fact, may actually cause people to shun that attention (Morris, Brotherdidge, & Urbanski, 2005). Humility not only creates spaces for other to contribute, it also creates spaces for learning (Prime & Salib, 2014).     

In the end, Johansson (2004) contends that we can learn from one another by effectively breaking down barriers and through what may very well be discomforting ideas, begin looking at the world through different prisms. It is imperative that leadership educators work collaboratively and imaginatively to strategize and foster new ideas to support creative and innovative solutions to myriad problems.      

My hope is that through reading and reflection we can begin challenging some of our previously held assumptions and purposefully, carefully, and very intentionally expand our personal and professional horizons. So much so that we will begin weaving a new tapestry of understanding that honors individual values and convictions while at the same time, embracing the much needed flexibility that allows for kindness, respect, compassion, empathy, civil discourse, and positivity in our day-to-day interactions. Yes, we can most certainly learn from one another and advance our profession as we do “leadership” and engage in “leadership education” as we help the leaders of tomorrow step up to meet the challenges that lie ahead.

In closing, I would like to extend my thanks and gratitude to those who worked with me and supported me as I endeavored to produce the 2017 JOLE Special Issue: Dr. Jackie Bruce (JOLE Editor); the Editorial Advisory Board (EAB), Drs. Adrian Popa, Kathy Hollywood, Carly Speranza, Dave Rosch, and Marilyn Bugenhagen; and, last but not least, the JOLE copy and publishing team, Sara Brierton, Angela Bush, and Daniel Collins.


Best wishes,

Donnette Noble, Ph.D. – Guest Editor, 2017 JOLE Special Issue

Associate Professor – Organizational Leadership

Heller College of Business – Roosevelt University, Chicago, IL

Immediate Past President – Association of Leadership Educators



Chan, J., Fu, K., Schunn, C., Cagan, J., Wood, K., Kotovsky, K. (2011). On the benefits and pitfalls of analogies for innovative design: Ideation performance based on analogical distance, commonness, and modality. Journal of Mechanical Design. DOI: 10.1115/1.4004396

Eragula, R. (2015). Humility in leadership. Advances in Economics and Business Management, Vol. 2 (8): pp. 786-789.

Hesselbein, F. (2010). An audio recording as interviewed by Debbie Kennedy, August 10.

Johansson, F. (2004). The Medici effect: Breakthrough insights at the intersection of ideas, concepts, and cultures. Harvard Business Publishing: Brighton, MA.

Joseph, J. (2012). Leadership as a way of being. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

 McNutt, M. (2015). Section II: Future leadership drivers, issues, and context. In Sowcik, M., Andenoro, A., McNutt, M., & Murphy, S. (Eds). Leadership 2050: Critical Challenges, Key Contexts, and Emerging Trends (p. 39). Emerald Publishers: Bingley, UK.

 Morris, J.A., Brotheridge, C.M., & Urbanski, J.C. (2005). Bringing humility to leadership: Antecedents and consequences of leader humility. Human Relations, Vol. 58 (10): PP 1323-1350.

© 2015 Association of Leadership Educators

Go to top
JSN Boot template designed by JoomlaShine.com