Lisa Podolsky and Leadership
One of the many reasons I love teaching LEAD 212: Group & Team Leadership is because the topic is so applicable to real life. The year 2020 was the ultimate modern case study in group dynamics and leadership. We saw how impactful and effective groups of people can be when working toward a common goal, such as the science and medical professionals, social and economic justice activists, and everyone who simply stayed home and wore a mask. We also saw how negative the consequences could be when groups and collectives weren’t in sync and leaders abdicated their responsibilities: mass confusion and anxiety, prolonged coronavirus surges, preventable deaths, racial injustice, economic hardship. Both the positive and negative outcomes we saw weren’t coincidences or best explained by chance, and the students in the LEAD 212 class understood. In their final presentations they applied groupthink, social norms and conformity, power and influence, social identity, and more, to how 2020 played out. They made the connections between leadership successes and failures and group outcomes. Their analyses give me hope that with the right tools the next generation can use the principles of leadership to shape a better world.