The Call to Leadership
Alliant’s Resident Leadership Expert Helps Us Explore our Doctorate in Leadership Program
Last year, Alliant launched a leadership training program for its employees called PRIME. A few of us filled out applications and became part of a year-long program geared toward developing us into effective leaders at both the micro and macro levels. The launch of the program was a two-day workshop led by our resident leadership expert Dr. Gil Brady. Brady is a professor in our PhD in Leadership program, offered in partnership by our California School of Professional Psychology and California School of Management and Leadership.
Having been a part of the Alliant community for nearly two years, I am very well acquainted with our program offerings…or so I thought. During lunch on the first day of our PRIME workshop, Dr. Brady joined our table for lunch and I casually asked him “So, are you an OP guy?” OP standing for Organizational Psychology, which I assumed was the most relevant subject matter when training within an organization. His answer: “No, I’m a leadership guy.” So he explained that he had received his PhD in Leadership from the George Washington University and dedicated his role at Alliant to developing our students into the next generation of leaders in their own rite.
Needless to say, I felt the need to follow up with Dr. Brady after our workshop and ask what a “leadership guy” really is and does. Not only out of pure curiosity, but as our Leadership Doctoral Program grows, I felt the need to better understand what motivates our students to choose that path.
Of course, the first thing I asked him became: what is leadership from the academic perspective? We all know a leader when we see one, and we can mostly recognize the tenets of leadership, but what does it mean in a classroom and at the doctoral level.
Dr. Brady answered that question as open-mindedly as one can expect: “It depends.” Dr. Brady explained that it depends on what view of leadership you take and that can change from university to university and program to program. “My doctoral degree is from GW, where the view of leadership is that if you understand how to build and maintain a learning community, then you are leading properly – think Peter Segni – the fifth discipline. So, if we take a look at Alliant, there is incorporation of that idea, and that is why I feel comfortable here, but we also add a very important aspect to the model, which is the impact that diversity has on an organization and community.” Of course, this came as no surprise from an institution that is built on a foundation of valuing multiculturalism and diversity, after all it is one of our four pillars. But it also seems quite practical in our increasingly globalized society.
As Dr. Brady puts it “Studying leaderships is not just how a group learns together, it’s also about the makeup of the group, and asking ourselves how are we able to leverage the diversity that we have in our community; are we able to see creating a more diverse group as a productive step?”
With the easy opener out of the way, I just had to ask the question that was presenting the biggest challenge: Can you really teach leadership? Isn’t leadership a skill, or talent, or innate gift that you can only develop through time and experience? The answer better explained that, not only does the program cultivate one’s own leadership abilities, but it arms the students with the ability to recognize and further instill tenets of leadership in their organization, professional networks, and communities beyond.
“When we learn, the opportunity is: the more theory I have upon which to reflect on my practice, the more meaningful my learning might be… if I know about authentic, transformational, and servant leadership, then I have a deeper pool to reflect on my practice, and am therefore better able to impart these leadership practices, and spread them throughout my communities.
So much of leadership is about understanding yourself- what triggers you, what worries, inspired you, motivates you, grabs your attention. And so, the other benefit of schooling is that you can become more aware of yourself while leading— and that is invaluable,” says Brady.
Lastly, I asked Brady “What professional path can one take after our PhD in Leadership?” His answer was succinct: students of leadership generally take three paths- consulting, an academic career, and working within an organization within their leadership and leadership development efforts. Brady has done all three, and has undertaken a career of transformational leadership, from which each student in our Doctorate in Leadership program benefits, and from which they will impart a lasting impact in the field of leadership and beyond.