#Change11 #CCK12 Leadership in Networks Part 3

This is a re-posting of my previous post on Thought Leadership, and the responses to comments here.

What is Thought leadership? Thought leadership is based on the power of ideas to transform the way we think.  It is also based on the natural dispositions to challenge to the status quo.  Thought leadership can range from small suggestions about a minor working practice to revolutionary changes in strategic direction.

Thought leadership is an activity measure that examines whether current papers are building on the more recent discoveries or on the older discoveries in a field.

An agent is considered a thought leader if it is building on the more recent discoveries in its field.

Vanessa writes in this post on thought leadership:

But it is not their joining patterns which are most interesting; it is what they do and what they value while engaging online that really matters. The overwhelming majority of respondents (95%) told us that the primary reason they participate in online communities is to gain access to thought leadership they could not find otherwise.

Professionals understand and are acting on the core value propositions of an online community: a 24X7 platform to exchange ideas, learn from thought leaders and connect with peers, rather than simply watching and comparing notes. Professional networks and online communities support the age-old traditions of thought leadership, intellectual debate and the pursuit of both practical and theoretical knowledge to help make us more skilled in our work, illuminate our thinking and shape us into better men and women.

Is emotional intelligence essential for thought leadership? In accordance to the argument presented here on Thought leadership, EI is not essential for thought leadership.  There has been research indicating that more managers value emotional intelligence over IQ in organisations.

Is emotional intelligence important in the cultivation of thought leadership?  I would argue that certain degree of emotional intelligence is necessary for individuals, as any ideas or thoughts once conceived and developed would still need to be spread and propagated through certain media, networks in order for them to “live a life of its own”.  A sense of self awareness, confidence and control is necessary not only in the conception of ideas and development of knowledge, but also in the communication and “broadcast” of ideas in the network or community.  It is also important to understand the relationship betweenleadership and emotional intelligence, where managing one’s emotion and understanding others’ emotions are closely linked to effective leadership.

I found thought leadership useful in networked learning, in particular when applying this concept in the case of networked organisation and community leadership.  Thought leadership has none of the managerial overtones of organising action, executing tasks, making decisions or coordinating effort toward achieving joint goals.  In fact, there might not even be joint goals in the small groups or communities.  Instead, the emphasis could be the creation of new knowledge and development of innovative ideas through builds and bounds of ideas, conversation and dialogues.  In this context, thought leaders are not empowered, not given authority to make decisions.  They are, rather, what Hamel (2001) calls revolutionaries, employees who challenge the status quo and press for change. (see Thought leadership)

It is further noteworthy to contrast such thought leadership with the elements of effective leadership as summarized in  leadership and emotional intelligence – development of collective goals and objectives; instilling in others an appreciation of the importance of work activities; generating and maintaining enthusiasm, confidence, optimism, cooperation, and trust; encouraging flexibility in decision making and change; and establishing and maintaining a meaningful identity for an organization.

Would thought leadership in networks require some or all of the 5 elements as mentioned above?  Would there be collective goals and objectives in networks or communities?  I don’t think that is the case.  Rather, there may be connective goals and objectives in small groups, though such goals and objectives may be different from that in organisations.  Thought leadership does not necessarily lead to decision making, but I would argue that encouraging flexibility in decision making and change is a core concept in thought leadership, since a thought leader could also be a formal leader in an organisation setting.

Does thought leadership require the establishment and maintenance of a meaningful identity for an organisation, a community, or a network?  This is where I think more researches are needed to explore.

Photo credit: Flickr

#Change11 #CCK12 Leadership in Networks Part 2

Here is a follow up of my post on Emotional Intelligence and Leadership.  I would like to create more posts on it, as it deserves more reflections on how those concepts are applied in different contexts, and how the theories evolve over different periods of time.

The authoritarian approach seems to be highly applicable in the early half of the 20th century, followed by the democratization and a more people centred supportive approach towards leading in a team setting in the 1970s till 2000s. The Theory X, Y and then Z seems to provide a good set of assumptions about human behavior, and thus leadership styles that are appropriate in matching those assumptions. There seems to be a trend, in that there are still a traditional belief that human are inherently behaving as depicted in Theory X, that is they dislike work, and are motivated only by incentives or money, and need to be disciplined and coerced to follow the directions laid out by the leaders.

I think there are still many questions and assumptions about leadership, especially in an online and network environment, where such leadership is different from that of organisational leadership significantly. For, instance, how would power and influence be exercised in networks, when there is no “formal authority” and “roles and responsibility” associated with “leaders” and “followers”? Also, would network leaders be able to “direct” others who are their fellow weak ties? I think evolutionary leadership could be interesting to observe and analyse under the existing era and climate, where formal and informal leadership meets in networks, and where leadership might be defined in very different ways when the power, status and influence are distributed, and that leaders might need to practice as servant leaders (under servant leadership, as shared  here and here) and negotiate in order to exercise their influence in the networks.

Here I have also reflected on leadership and the principles involved in it.

In this transformational versus servant leadership:

“The transformational leader’s focus is directed toward the organization, and his or her behavior builds follower commitment toward organizational objectives, while the servant leader’s  focus is on the followers, and the achievement of organizational objectives is a subordinate outcome.  The extent to which the leader is able to shift the primary focus of leadership from the organization to the follower is the distinguishing factor in classifying leaders as either transformational or servant leaders.”

Leadership is then an emergent practice where cooperation and collaboration are shared among the peers, leading the network forward in achieving the goals or vision, rather than a “leader’s” practice in the networks. This is where every one would become a leader, when practising his or her PLE/PLN in learning alone or with others.

#Change11 On motivation

What could I learn from this wonderful post of motivation?

Would these principles on What demotivates workers be applicable in the case of motivation of learners and educators in online courses?  Just replace the word of workers by learners, and we will get a wonderful set of guidelines on What demotivates learners:

Hype: A failure to acknowledge the real difficulties the learners face.

Futurism: Pointing down the road at “difficult or impossible future goals” and not at the tangible achievement of learners’ recent efforts.

False democracy: Inviting learner’s input when the leader (educator) already made up his/her mind.

“And that’s a key point: in addition to demotivating talented workers (learners and educators), an opaque and dictatorial leadership style can silence innovation from below, leaving the leader in charge of coming up with all the great ideas. Nobody’s that good – not even Steve Jobs.”

So, motivation could be a critical success factor in distance education and online learning.  What is needed is to explore the assumptions behind those factors – the intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

Will explore motivation and leadership in another post.  Forthcoming!

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence: What is it? Why is it so important? What are the implications?

I enjoyed reading this Emotional Intelligence and Business Success available here.  Thanks to efrosyni77 on Twitter for the link.

I found the results useful:

“The results of this study indicate that companies should place greater emphasis on developing the attributes of emotionality (capacity for relationship skills, empathy, emotional perception and expression) and self-control (capacity for controlling emotions, urges, and managing stress) when hiring new managers or promoting persons to higher positions of leadership in the organization.”

This also reflects the importance of developing Emotional Intelligence among educators and learners, and the feeling, perceptions and emotions whilst learning in social networks.

How does emotional intelligence relate to the divided brain?  Is emotional intelligence still a myth in neuroscience?  Would emotional intelligence require both sides of the brain to function well?

Not sure if these are of interests to our fellow MOOC Changers.

Would emotional intelligence lead people to become smarter, wiser?   May be, in accordance to the research findings.  But again, there are still many assumptions here, when the definition of what Emotional Intelligence is is still emerging at this digital age.  How does emotional intelligence impact on educational leadership?

#Change11 Managing Technology – my response to Tony Bates

Here is my response to Tony’s post on Managing Technology – discussion so far:

Hi Tony,

I have responded to your posts via What sort of changes are required in our education system and followed up with another post on Educational Leadership.

I shared Rita’s views as we got such findings through our research.  Should “we” use a LMS such as Moodle Forum for the discussion?  This seems to be a matter of preference, both for facilitators and learners.  In a MOOC, participants have often been “confronted” and challenged by the abundance of information, blog posts, forum posts, just to name a few.  This together with the facilitators’ recommended readings, or artifacts would mean a lot to most novices, if not more for the veterans.  So, I don’t think you have failed in connecting with “us”.  Rather, your prompts and provision of generous resources have led me to re-think about the significance of forum sharing when the focus lies with more open sharing.  As I have participated in most of the MOOCs in the past, I have accustomed to posting via blogs, rather than forum.  Our previous research on Blogs and Forums as learning and communication tools also revealed the idiosyncratic nature while learning in MOOC (refer to: Roy Williams, John Sui Fai Mak and Jenny explored people’s preferences for blogs and forums in our paper, which we presented at the Networked Learning Conference in 2010).  The power issue is, however, a significant factor in determining whether the participants would really like to engage with the conversation, as too much “perceived power” would undermine one’s confidence, autonomy as revealed in participants’ feedback.  I also think this relates to the topics itself, in terms of its sensitivity and impact of the voices of participants on their work and institution.  This may be a subtle issue, but as Jeffrey has asked, why were there so few MOOC participants posting and sharing their views?

I have subscribed to your blog, and so have been deeply interested in every post you created.  I have also posted comments and created posts in relation to the areas that you mentioned.  May be, I could have related to my past posts in response to this important topic.

Finally, I am not sure if there are “selfish bloggers” out there in MOOC.  I am sure that I would like to share in whatever platforms that suits.  However, in past MOOCs, I have realized that this could be challenging, as posting in forum “alone” could be like talking with myself.  Is that selfish too?  Obviously, most of us as educators would like to share in an open manner, but this is only my assumption.  May be I don’t know whether forum is still the best way to share in a critical discourse, on such a sensitive, though important topic.  Who are the audience?  The administrators who would make the decision to change, or the educators?


#Change11 What sort of changes are required in our education system?

This week’s topic and presentation on Managing Technology by Tony Bates sounds interesting to me.

Slides of Managing Technology to Transform Teaching by Tony Bates.

Recording of the Managing Technology To Transform Teaching Blackboard

Jenny responded with her post in Is our education system in crisis?  Others who have responded to Tony’s topic included:

Jenny mentions that it may come from within and without.  If it is coming from within, then “it is crucial that we can facilitate change from within – mainly by empowering people and inspiring them with a powerful and shared vision.” Matthias shares that change may come from within and the salient technological affordances cannot be prescribed by some higher power.  I couldn’t agree more on this, as I do see blogging and wiki allow for full autonomy for learners, thus liberating the learners to share his or her views and have such voices heard. 
As I have shared in my previous post on Future of Education and Online LearningFuture of Education, and Future of Higher Education Part 3, I do think there are needs for changes in Colleges and Universities in response to the urge for better and cost-effective education in most developed countries.   
These urges were also the result of ubiquitous use of new and emerging technology (including information and communication technology) in various areas of business and industries, some of the schools, and the rapid development of social media and the related tools during the past ten years.  These, coupled with the demand of more highly skilled and knowledge workers in society in many countries, both developed and developing ones, have created a demand of a more technology based working, educational environment where a great education has become an important benchmark for global competition.  

Governments are also looking for an agile, more cost effective and responsive education system to serve their society, and community.  This creates an enormous pressure both for the education authority and institutions to strive for better way of educating its population, so as to add value to their social capital – the people, which is one of the most valuable assets in the world.  
“Can universities or colleges change from within, or do we need new institutions for 21st century learning?”

I think universities or colleges can change from within, and would also benefit much from the changes from within.


As shared in my previous post, change usually involves three aspects; people, processes and culture.

People: Who are the people initiating changes?  Would the changes be initiated from the top or would they be initiated from the bottom (grass roots – staff and learners) level?   From a historical perspective, we witnessed most successful changes were initiated from the top, though there had been some “emerging” cases where changes were initiated by the grass roots, or those not based on the “formal institutions”

Culture: Has there been much changes in the education culture?  We seemed to have accustomed to the teaching as the main way of educating the learners, especially in a school setting.  In an online environment, we may be having a very different culture, where education is taking up a totally new form – with peer-to-peer learning, facilitated by volunteer scholars and educators – like that with University of the People, Wikiversity, or the provision of resources in the form of  Free Online Courses and MIT Open Courseware.

What sort of cultural changes is required in Universities and Colleges?

This requires a change in the way how people view Openness, Open Education, Open Educational Resources, and Digital Scholarship.

How to create and facilitate such changes? Leadership from within and without.

How about a change towards Servant Leadership based on serving other people as the fundamental principles when practicing leadership?

Process: Nothing will change unless the process of education is changed. However, this is easier said than done.  Why is changing the process of education necessary?  Currently there are Standards stipulated for Online Teaching and Programs:  Standards for Quality Online Teaching and Programs:

National Standards for Quality Online Teaching

National Standards for Quality Online Programs

Others skills frameworks include 21st century skills and Framework definition: Partnership for 21st century skills.

Aren’t these standards and frameworks good enough?  These standards are wonderful for school and online education, but would they be able to cater for the technology enhanced education and learning in social media?  I am not that sure on this.

Photo: Google Image

In my previous post:

The education system that we once cherished has been founded on an economic funding model, based on mass education, cost effectiveness and education efficiency for the particular nation, where a centralized education system is valued and mandated, and accreditation of education would only be granted if the course and curriculum are quality assured.  The current paper on Quality Assurance in Asian Distance Education: Diverse Approaches and Common Culture well illustrates the importance of quality assurance relating to distance education in those countries.

Now these paradoxes surfaced out of the education system posted new questions and challenges relating to (a) the values of traditional testing of knowledge based on rote learning, (b) the adequacy of grouping students, subjects against fixed curriculum, (c) the impact of new technology and social media on the nature and structure of formal education – in particular Higher Education, (d) the authenticity of learning at school with a curriculum based on content knowledge, with subject structure of – language and literacy, numeracy and mathematics, science, and information technology, arts and religion etc. (e) the need for new media literacies and their application in our daily life, or that in study or at work, in response to the changing needs and expectations from all those concerned – including employers, colleagues, customers, educators and peers, (f) the development of metacognitve, critical thinking and sensemaking skills that are often required to solve complicated and complex problems, individually and collectively, with technology as an affordance.

Photo: Google Image


Thought Leadership would also be required to facilitate those changes and tackle the challenges due to the changes.

See this wonderful presentation by Stephen Downes.  A great summary on MOOC, Connectivism and PLE.

#Change11 On Educational Leadership

What does educational leadership mean for educators?

Should educators be focusing on technology enhanced education and learning in colleges and HE?  How should the pedagogy be shaped, in response to the emerging social and technological landscape and most importantly the changing needs of learners and educators?

Should the pedagogy relate to how educators teach, and the strategies adopted? What should be the vision, mission and focus of educators at this digital era?

For those of us who are working in an educational institution, what are the challenges, in times of “crisis”?

I reckon the number one challenge is Leadership.

And leadership relates to pedagogy.

1. Which pedagogies would suit our and society’s needs and expectations, in times of rapid changes, in face of

– global and local financial crisis

– budgetary constraints on education and teaching

– technological affordances

– social developments

– global issues –  global warming, climate changes, ageing population, social equities

2. How should educators practice leadership?

As Jenny puts it nicely:

“Ultimately each person has to adopt the change for him/herself, but with the right leader and the right leadership style – and for me that is not a hierarchical style unless it is a crisis situation in which in case it might be needed/justified, such as in failing systems. But outside of a crisis situation ‘Distributed Leadership’ might be a better model, although other models might also be considered, such as ‘Servant Leadership’.”

Many theorists and researchers espouse Servant Leadership as a valid model for modern organizational leadership.  However, Servant leadership theory is still undefined and not yet supported by sufficient empirical research.  Servant leadership nevertheless offers the potential to positively revolutionize interpersonal work relations and organizational life.  Does it work in social networking?  How about its application in MOOC?  Has it worked?  And will it work?

I reckon it is fundamental for each educator and learner to adopt a leadership style that would be most conducive for leading the changes one would like to pursue.

Finally, I love these quotes.

“Success is not key to happiness.  Happiness is the key to success.  If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” Albert Schweitzer.