Using Authentic Leader Dilemmas to Teach Micro-Influence Making

Designing learning experiences that mimic real-life contexts has always been a challenge for leadership educators. As a result, many educators in leadership courses rely on studies of leadership perspectives, self-assessment activities, and textbook case analysis. However, many educators also successfully design micro-level processes and interactions that offer students the opportunity to experience the dynamics of power and influence whereby they practice leadership.  Others explore the daunting challenges of placing  students in various organizations to practice leadership. This latter type of practicing leadership is often full of challenges because of the reluctance of organizations to allow practicing students in decision making processes.  In this paper, I present a two-week teaching segment in which leader dilemmas are used as inputs for practicing leadership in micro-level processes. The segment is designed in such a way that it mimics real life group dynamics, problem solving, and decision dilemmas. The objective is to provide a context wherein students practice micro-influence making as they experience the complexity of group life and, at the same time, learn to reflect on their learning, emotion, and the potential capacity to lead and follow.