Professional and Alumni

Focus on Leadership


A leadership project, Reflective Human Action, initiated in 1995 has remained on the cutting edge of leadership theory and practice. Frances E. Andrews and Dorothy I. Mitstifer, working with Marsha Rehm and Gladys Gary Vaughn, developed the theoretical foundation and wrote the module, Leadership: Reflective Human Action.

The work of Terry (1993) and Drath and Palus (1994) led the authors to develop the definition below.

Leadership is:

"an active, mind-engaging process of MEANING-MAKING in a community of practice."

Andrews, F.E., Mitstifer, D.I., Rehm, M., Vaughn, G.G. (1995) Leadership: Reflective Human
East Lansing, MI: Kappa Omicron Nu.

Terry says that leadership is taking "responsibility for ourselves in concert with others, . . . [creating] a global commonwealth [a self-governing group] worthy of the best that we human beings have to offer"(1993, p. 275). Drath and Palus (1994) describe leadership as a shared human process: leadership is meaning-making in a community of practice, i.e., "a group of people with a shared history of doing something, usually work, together" (p. 4). "Leadership is intimately connected to processes of group . . . and even species-wide integration and togetherness and ultimately to communal survival, growth, and enhancement" (p. 13). Thus, leaders do leadership.

The Kappa Omicron Nu mission, empowered leaders, reflects the intention of the organization. The mission or outcome of the program and activities of the organization is an ambitious one; members are challenged to make this mission a life-long quest. The adjective, empowered, in this connection is defined as "focusing . . . energy in . . . [one’s] Circle of Influence. . . . it’s acting with integrity to create the environment in which we and others can develop character and competence and synergy (Covey, Merrill, & Merrill, 1994, p. 238). Block (1987) talked about empowerment as "enacting the vision."

Block, P. (1987). The empowered manager. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Covey, S. R., Merrill, A. R., & Merrill, R. R. (1994). First things first. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Drath, W. H., & Palus, C. J. (1994). Making common sense: Leadership as meaning-making in a
SPACEcommunity of practice.
Greensboro, NC: Center for Creative Leadership.
Terry, R. (1993). Authentic leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.