This blog is designed for posts of general interest to leadership educators.  ALE members have access to the discussion board for posting items like job announcements or engaging in less formal dialogue.
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  • 18 Jul 2014 9:00 PM | Greg Gifford

    While many in our Association were gathered in San Antonio this past week, we were saddened to hear of the passing of noted leadership scholar and educator, Dr. James MacGregor Burns.

    Like most of you, I have read the work of Dr. Burns and certainly have used his scholarship as a foundation for both teaching and research. I consider Dr. Burns one of the "founders" of the field of leadership development because he was instrumental in helping leaders differentiate between management and leadership when he wrote about "transforming" leaders. It is truly incredible to think about the broad impact that Dr. Burns had on the field of leadership both as a researcher and a practitioner.

    The Association of Leadership Educators joins a community of leadership educators and scholars around the world that celebrates and remembers the life, the accomplishments, and the impact of Dr. James MacGregor Burns.
    For more about the life and many accomplishments of Dr. Burns, these articles appeared in the New York Times and the Washington Post.

    How has Dr. Burns impacted your teaching, research, or practice? Feel free to add your comments, memories, and thoughts below.

  • 01 Jun 2014 12:30 AM | Eric Kaufman
    Excitement is brewing in San Antonio, and the NBA Finals are just the warm-up.  We are quickly approaching the annual ALE conference, which is a fabulous opportunity for leadership educators to exchange ideas and focus attention to future opportunities.  I am personally facing new roles with both distance education and residential learning programs, so I look forward to gaining insights from other conference participants.  The formal sessions will likely be helpful, but the discussions between sessions are often the most valuable.  We anticipate many first-time attendees at the conference, which helps ensure the discussions are always fresh and new.  We also have a fantastic line-up of keynote speakers!  If you have not yet registered for the conference, I encourage you to do so today! 

    The ALE conference always marks a transition with the leadership of our membership organization, and I am excited about the talented group that has been elected to the 2014-15 Board of Directors.  I have no doubt they will continue to advance the association's mission, "to strengthen and sustain the expertise of professional leadership educators," and make further advances with our vision, "to set the standard for leadership education."  The success of ALE, though, depends on widespread involvement and participation among the membership.  Please consider serving on a committee.  Your involvement will benefit the association, but you are likely to gain first-hand benefits too.  To get started, share your interest with me or any of the board members.

    Yours in service,
    Eric K. Kaufman
    2013-14 ALE President
  • 18 May 2014 5:51 PM | Eric Kaufman
    The following individuals will be inducted into these positions at the close of the 2014 ALE conference.  Congratulations and thank you to everyone involved!

    President – Kelleen Stine-Cheyne, Texas A&M University

    Vice President – Jennifer Moss Breen, Bellevue University

    Past President – Eric Kaufman, Virginia Tech University

    Secretary – Daniel Jenkins, Southern Maine University

    Treasurer – Greg Gifford, Federal Executive Institute

    Awards & Recognition Director – Kerry Priest, Kansas State University

    Marketing & Public Relations Director – Stephanie Hilliard, Texas A&M University Health Science Center

    Member Services & Communication Director – Gaea Hock, Mississippi State University

    Resource Development Director – Robin Peiter Horstmeier, Horstmeier Consulting LLC

    Site Selection Director – Natalie Coers, University of Florida
  • 27 Apr 2014 8:54 PM | Eric Kaufman

    The ALE board met in January to engage in strategic planning, and I am long overdue in highlighting many of the outcomes.  One key outcome was the new ALE vision statement, which we shared in February, and that vision is driving us toward six strategic priorities for the years 2014-2020:

    1.    Create an inclusive community.

    a.     Tactics include defining our marketing audience and increasing emphasis on programming for professionals outside higher education.

    2.    Create purposeful opportunities for member engagement.

    a.     Tactics include facilitation of connection opportunities between conferences and developing Priority Area Research Teams (PARTs).

    3.    Enhance online engagement among leadership educators.

    a.     Tactics include improving electronic resource sharing and enhancing ALE’s presence on LinkedIn.

    4.    Advance the scholarship and practice of leadership educators.

    a.     Tactics include defining the relationship with the Journal of Leadership Education and expanding awards and recognition opportunities.

    5.    Deliver high quality, innovative conferences.

    a.     Tactics include committing to a consistent framework and prioritizing diversity in selection of conference presentations.

    6.    Invest in the future of ALE through collaborative and strategic relationships.

    a.     Tactics include adopting of a strategic fundraising plan and defining our role with the Inter-association Leadership Education Collaborative.


    While I am pleased with this framework, the process of crafting these priorities into a manageable action plan is proving to be even more challenging than I had anticipated.  As you might imagine, part of the issue is that ALE is run almost exclusively by volunteers, and our full-time employment limits the amount of time we can devote.  The good news, though, is that the ALE membership is growing, which means the volunteer base is expanding.  Yes, we expect that ALE board members to facilitate the efforts, but the board cannot do it alone.  Many of you are already contributing to committees for conference planning, awards, marketing, etc.  If one of these strategic priorities appeals to you, please let me know so that I can connect you with others who are interested in advancing ALE in the same way.  Together, we can ensure ALE sets the standard for leadership education!

    Eric K. Kaufman

    2013-14 ALE President

  • 31 Mar 2014 12:51 AM | Eric Kaufman
    Are you familiar with the Lemony Snicket series on All the Wrong Questions?  It is the story of young Lemony Snicket’s apprenticeship, where he starts by asking all the wrong questions.  (The first book in the series is one I bought for my son last Christmas.)  Sometimes I wonder if I am asking the wrong questions, and I find myself getting frustrated by others who seem to be asking the wrong questions.  However, I need to be forgiving of those doubts and frustrations, because I believe it is better to start with the wrong questions than no question at all.  In fact, I have been intrigued by the notion of “leading with questions,” and I was pleased to find a book by this title a few years ago.  There is now a revised and updated version of Leading with Questions: How Leaders Find the Right Solutions by Knowing What to Ask.  I don’t have the new edition yet, but it is on my list, because I feel like I am still in the apprenticeship stage of leading with questions.  While I continue to explore the right questions to ask, one thing I can do is promote a questioning culture.  I need to admit, “I don’t know.”  Furthermore, my goal is to encourage questions from others and emphasize the process of asking questions and searching for answers rather than finding the “right” answers.  Will you help me with this?  In the near future, I anticipate sharing a draft of the Association of Leadership Educators’ strategic plan, and my hope is that it will be a useful guide for the association and board of directors over the next few years.  However, it will contain few answers.  Instead, the document will outline strategic directions, which will surface many new questions.  I am grateful for those that pose questions and embrace the journey of searching for the answers.  I believe that process is core to our role as leadership educators.
  • 26 Feb 2014 5:22 PM | Eric Kaufman
    I am pleased to announce that ALE has a new social media coordinator, Kati Ingerson!  Kati is the 4-H Youth Development Extension Educator for Marshall County, Indiana. She attended Ball State University where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations and Advertising.  Kati then went to North Carolina State where she earned a Master’s Degree in Extension Education with a focus on leadership.  Her interest in social media started as an undergrad while learning the ins and outs of successful public relations/advertising campaigns that utilized social media.  While at NC State, Kati had the opportunity to combine her social media interest with her passion for leadership by completing research that involved both.  In 2012, she attended the ALE conference in Key West and presented a poster on Leadership on Facebook and delivered a presentation on Leadership in the Twitterverse. In her current roll, Kati worked with the Marshall County 4-H program to double their social media presence, which has led to increased communication and better connections with youth members and their parents.  We are excited to have Kati Ingerson as our new social media coordinator!
  • 10 Feb 2014 11:03 AM | Eric Kaufman
    ALE has a new vision statement! "The Association of Leadership Educators' vision is to set the standard for Leadership Education. ALE will be the leading resource for the exchange and development of quality ideas, scholarship, and practice that impacts the field of Leadership Education. ALE establishes the bridge between research and practice in Leadership Education through an inclusive and engaging community of dynamic leadership educators, committed to consistently growing, thriving, and advancing the field of Leadership Education."

    Let us know how you are contributing toward pursuit of this vision.  Your insights will help us as we finalize our strategic plan for 2014-2019.
  • 31 Jan 2014 12:34 PM | Eric Kaufman

    I am in the process of facilitating a new, graduate-level, academic course on "Leading Teams through Change.”  It is the type of class I wish I had as a student, because it is relevant to so many of my past experiences.  What about you?  Are you currently leading a team through change (or being led through change)?  As leadership educators, we cannot afford to sit still.  Times are changing, and much work lies ahead.  I am glad to take this opportunity to highlight a few examples within the Association of Leadership Educators (ALE).

    The ALE board met in early January to engage in strategic planning for the association.  We started with a retrospective of where ALE has been over the last 25 years, which led us to a better understanding of who ALE serves and why.  From this, we crafted a shared vision for the future, one in which we set the standard for leadership education.  ALE will be the leading resource for the exchange and development of quality ideas, scholarship, and practice that impacts the field of Leadership Education.  ALE establishes the bridge between research and practice in Leadership Education through an inclusive and engaging community of dynamic leadership educators, committed to consistently growing, thriving, and advancing the field of Leadership Education.  We will accomplish this through news strategic imperatives that we will be sharing with the membership in the coming months.  We welcome your ideas and feedback.

    One of the primary opportunities for all ALE members to make our vision a reality is through our annual conference.  Are you preparing a submission?  Proposals are due March 1st, and you can find all of the details on the conference website.  Kelleen Stine-Cheyne and the entire conference planning committee have been working tirelessly to ensure a high quality experience in San Antonio.  I suspect one of the highlights will be the educator workshops, which are a chance for more active, in-depth participation in innovative educational practice.  I always look forward to the research sessions too, particularly the posters on emerging research.  I cannot think of a better way to fulfill this year’s conference theme, Visions of Leadership: Reflecting on the past, focusing on the future.  The key to the success of the conference is quality presentations, so put your proposal together now, and encourage your colleagues too!

    You may have noticed recent improvements to the Journal of Leadership Education (JOLE), and there are more on the way.  We have been increasing our investment in JOLE in recent years, and with good reason.  JOLE provides a forum for development of the knowledge and practice of leadership education; it promotes a dialogue that engages both academics and practitioners.  I saw the need for this first-hand in an editorial review of a submission I co-authored for another journal.  My co-authors and I chose that particular journal, because we believe the readers need to know more about the leadership education opportunities in their field (and they are not likely to be JOLE readers).  The comments we received back said, “The paper is well-written and well- referenced….”  However, “My experience has been that leaders are born not made!!!!”  While this comment left me frustrated with the lack of appreciation for leadership education, a follow-up comment left me confused: “You don't become a ‘project leader’ without considerable field experience.”  Huh?  If leaders are born, not made, why would they need so much experience before being placed in a leadership role?  I know ALE members value and promote experiential learning, and I thought the manuscript highlighted opportunities for applied leadership education.  Bottom line:  We need a high quality journal to showcase the work that we do, and I am glad that JOLE is taking steps every day to advance its prominence and reputation.

    So, what can ALE members do to strengthen and sustain the expertise of professional leadership educators?  Beyond contributing to the conference and the Journal, you can nominate yourself or others for one of the ALE awards.  Those nominations are due May 1st.  Are you willing to get more involved?  We are currently accepting nominations for ALE board positions.  Please consider becoming more involved with YOUR professional organization, the Association of Leadership Educators.  As expressed in the quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, “You must be the change that you want to see in the world.”  This is a message for all of us and something I want my students to aspire toward as they engage in leading teams through change.

    Eric K. Kaufman

    2013-14 ALE President

  • 26 Nov 2013 2:40 PM | Eric Kaufman

    As I prepare for the strategic planning session that will occur during the ALE board meeting in January, I am finding it helpful to think about the development of the association over the last 25 years.  The idea for ALE emerged during the late 1980s out of a need for professional development among those who were working with leadership programs.  The Association formed as a result of annual leadership development seminars where participants recognized the need for information sharing regarding leadership research, teaching, and practice.  ALE was formalized in 1990 at the third annual seminar. The first official ALE conference and annual meeting was held in Denver, Colorado, in 1991.  A decade later, the leadership of ALE intentionally sought future guidance for the future of ALE, and they published their findings in the quarterly newsletter.  Some of the comments seem representative of the time, while others are strikingly similar to input collected over the last few years.  It is amazing how strengths and weaknesses of our association endure.  As the ALE board develops goals and strategy for future success, the ideas must be grounded in a quality member experience.  A new book by Hickman and Sorenson (2014) promotes The Power of Invisible Leadership: How Compelling Common Purpose Inspires Exceptional Leadership.  While I believe ALE has benefitted from this “invisible leadership,” I believe we can do better.  What ideas do you have for continuing our leadership odyssey?


    Eric K. Kaufman

    2013-14 ALE President

  • 24 Oct 2013 10:34 PM | Eric Kaufman

    Do you like college football like I do?  If I am not careful, it can consume an entire Saturday, but I didn’t used to be such a fan.  I used to believe that the game was a matter of having the biggest, strongest, and fastest players on your team.  (I never fit into any of those categories, so I never played organized football.)  However, I am increasingly impressed by the importance of coaching, strategy, and decision-making under pressure.  Much of the success on game day is heavily dependent on the preparation in the off-season and the time between games.

    Over the years, my ideas about the success of ALE have also evolved.  When I joined the association ten years ago, ALE’s value seemed to be solely dependent upon quality conference presentations.  Behind the scenes, though, the association leadership was making some strategic decisions.  The Journal of Leadership Education launched in 2002 as a forum for further development of the knowledge base and professional practice of leadership education.  In recent years, I’ve noticed further efforts to strengthen and sustain the expertise of professional leadership educators.  We now have webinars throughout the year, highlighting both new and time-tested approaches to success in leadership education.  For example, Barry Posner highlighted the Student Leadership Challenge, and Dan Jenkins explored signature pedagogies in leadership education.  We’ve also increased the regularity of communication with members by supplementing the quarterly newsletter with The Fast Forum newsletter and social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter.  Through intentional recruitment efforts, we have connected more with areas of leadership education that deserve a stronger presence in ALE, including the military and corporate consultants.  Moving forward, I am confident the National Leadership Education Research Agenda will drive the association’s work to advance the scholarship of leadership education.  In many ways, it can serve as a “playbook” for ALE members (and others) that want to engage in applied scholarship and further define leadership education as a discipline.

    While I believe great football teams depend heavily on a superior playbook, coupled with high quality coaching, those are not enough.  The reason I watch college football is because I know the games are won on the field; the players are the ones who fulfill the potential for success.  In the same way, ALE depends upon its members.  Right now, we have a team of members working on various committees.  Also, many of you are beginning to work on your proposals for the 2014 ALE conference.  If you want to become more involved, contact one of the ALE board members.  Success depends upon each of us contributing our talents and strengths.  Thank you for your membership and your contributions to the success of ALE!


    Eric K. Kaufman

    2013-14 ALE President


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