Northcentral University Podcast Series

CAVO Ep. 21 Special Edition: Insights on Leadership Development

October 08, 2020 Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D.
Northcentral University Podcast Series
CAVO Ep. 21 Special Edition: Insights on Leadership Development
Chapters
Northcentral University Podcast Series
CAVO Ep. 21 Special Edition: Insights on Leadership Development
Oct 08, 2020
Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D.

Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D. joins us to discuss his new book, Daily Leadership Development: 365 Steps to Becoming a Better Leader.  Dr. Riggio is the Henry R. Kravis Professor of Leadership and Organizational Psychology at Claremont McKenna College. His research interests center on charismatic and transformational leadership, nonverbal and verbal communication skills, and the development of leadership potential across the lifespan. Dr. Riggio has published nearly two-dozen authored or edited books and more than 150 articles and book chapters. He has also served as a consultant to dozens of organizations, large and small, across the business, education, and non-profit sectors. He is the co-editor, along with Georgia Sorenson, of the Routledge/Taylor & Francis book series: Leadership: Research and Practice.

Show Notes Transcript

Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D. joins us to discuss his new book, Daily Leadership Development: 365 Steps to Becoming a Better Leader.  Dr. Riggio is the Henry R. Kravis Professor of Leadership and Organizational Psychology at Claremont McKenna College. His research interests center on charismatic and transformational leadership, nonverbal and verbal communication skills, and the development of leadership potential across the lifespan. Dr. Riggio has published nearly two-dozen authored or edited books and more than 150 articles and book chapters. He has also served as a consultant to dozens of organizations, large and small, across the business, education, and non-profit sectors. He is the co-editor, along with Georgia Sorenson, of the Routledge/Taylor & Francis book series: Leadership: Research and Practice.

Melody Rawlings:

Welcome to the Center for the Advancement of Virtual Organizations' special edition podcast Insights on Leadership Development, I'm Melody Rawlings. And today we are joined by Dr. Ron Riggio to discuss his new book Daily Leadership Development. Dr. Riggio is the Henry R. Kravis Professor of Leadership and Organizational Psychology at Claremont McKenna College. His research interests center on charismatic and transformational leadership, nonverbal and verbal communication skills and the development of leadership potential across the lifespan.

Dr. Riggio has published nearly two dozen authored or edited books, and more than 150 articles and book chapters. He has also served as a consultant to dozens of organizations, large and small, across the business, education and nonprofit sectors. He is the co-editor, along with Georgia Sorenson, of the Routledge/Taylor & Francis book series Leadership: Research and Practice. Welcome Ron, and thank you for taking the time to come and chat with us about your brand new book, Daily Leadership Development: 365 Steps to Becoming a Better Leader.

Ronald E. Riggio:

Well, thank you, Melody. Thank you for inviting me.

Melody Rawlings:

Thank you. One of your books that has meant so much to me is one that you coauthored with Bernard Bass entitled Transformational Leadership. I used this book throughout my content courses in my doctoral program, and it really informed my perspectives on leadership, which was reflected in my coursework as well as in my practice as an educator. So your new book is in a very unique format, laid out in daily leadership lessons. So tell us what sparked your interest in writing the book and in this format.

Ronald E. Riggio:

Well, first, developing as a leader is hard work. And so the idea is that you need to work on it daily. And so the idea behind the book is what can you do in a few minutes every day to continue to work on your leadership? So, that was one inspiration. The other inspiration actually comes from Claremont here, because this is the home of Peter Drucker, who's considered the father of modern management. And Peter Drucker, there's a book that he co-authored called The Daily Drucker and basically has short excerpts from Drucker's writings. And so I've had that book and I've used that book a lot and I thought, "Wow, wouldn't it be great to have sort of a daily leadership book that helps people develop their leadership capacity?"

Melody Rawlings:

Well, that's great. And most of us do recognize Mr. Drucker or Dr. Drucker. And so I find the format of the book so easy to engage with. And as you and I discussed before the podcast began about how busy everyone is. And I will say that, for me, for sure. And it's just so easy to digest in one or two pages for each day. So yeah, I just love the new format.

So, I'm currently reading the book and found it to be very thought provoking, for example, I read on day 69 and 70 about the awesome responsibility of leadership where you discuss the way we think of leaders impacts our daily lives. You encouraged readers to think of how their own responsibilities of leadership and how it affects others. But I'm afraid that we often don't take time to really reflect on this. And this is just one of the many challenges of leadership development. What do you see as the greatest challenges for leadership development overall?

Ronald E. Riggio:

I think one of the biggest challenges right now is that we focus too much on leader development. So we focus too much on the people who have the leader roles and we don't focus enough on leadership development. And let me clarify that, leader development is where we identify people as leaders, managers, whatever, or identify people as high potentials. And then we put all of our energy and effort and training into those people. Where leadership development really refers to building the leadership capacity, the shared leadership capacity of teams of leaders and followers together.

And we know that the very best leaders are successful because they engage followers in the process. And so we often think that leaders do leadership, but that's not right. It's leaders and followers together create the leadership. And so I think we really need to focus more and more on how do you engage followers and get them to be partners in the leadership process.

So there's a lot of that in the book. There's actually lots of lessons about followers and followership and then the shared leadership capacity. You need a plan. And I think this is important for people who are thinking about their own leader development. So a big part of the beginning of the book is that there are several models of leadership in there. And the idea is that some models, some theories, and in your case, Melody, you talked about being inspired by transformational leadership. And there's a lot on transformational leadership in the book, but there's also servant leadership as a model, more shared leadership models, relationship models. And the idea is to find that model that fits you and your own personal leader development and use that.

Melody Rawlings:

That's great advice, for sure. And it makes me think of too, when we think of leaders, we often think of people in leadership roles or in positional leadership, when in fact we're all leaders in some way in our lives, whether it's leadership within our family or leadership within our church or our community, whatever it is, and in whatever level that we're at within the organization, because leadership is about influence.

And most of us, even if we don't realize it, we do influence someone else or others. So, yeah, I love what you had to say about that. And, I would like to shift for just a few minutes and talk about, and get your perspective on the virtual workplace as a result of COVID and the major shift to the virtual environment, what are your thoughts on the similarities and differences in regard to leadership development in the virtual environment?

Ronald E. Riggio:

Yeah, well, we've always been moving into the virtual environment a little bit. So, a lot of things have not changed. Many leaders were already doing their leadership virtually if they're in distributed teams that are geographically distant from one another, for years, I've been doing Zoom meetings with my research teams, because they're all around the world. But the change is now leaders are doing virtually all of their leadership online, doing it all virtually with people working from their homes.

But the common thread in all leadership is that it's all about communication. And I think what a good leader needs to do to lead in the virtual environment is think about different communication modalities. How are you communicating? What channels are you using? And it's really about choosing the appropriate communication modality for the situation.

So ,for example, Zoom one-on-one conversation or FaceTime or something like that allows that sort of personal connection, even though you're not co-located, you're distant from one another. But other kinds of communication, I think, leaders need to focus on things like sending regular emails to the whole team. And one of the things I often tell my students when we're talking about leadership and particularly about communication is it's almost impossible to over-communicate. People need to be reminded, they need reminders. They need to hear repetition of important messages. And so, I think leaders, one of their real primary jobs, and it has always been their job, is to communicate. And the challenges that we have now in the virtual workspace are really communication challenges.

Melody Rawlings:

No doubt communication is vital, and it is even more vital, I think, in the virtual environment, as you noted and importance of repetition and seeing things more than once, just so that they stay and they click is, I know at least, I'll speak for myself, so often it's easy. I may see something, but then there are so many things going on all the time. It's easy to forget about it. And I'm always thankful when I see it again as a reminder. So that whole piece on communication is just vital. So I know you've been writing books on leadership for many years, and I'm curious, what's your favorite leadership topic and why?

Ronald E. Riggio:

Well, you mentioned it already. I think I've been writing a long time on charismatic and transformational leadership. So, that's still one of my favorites. And let me explain a little bit transformational leadership. One of the ways I think about it is I call it charisma plus. So these are leaders who are inspirational, they're positive role models, but they're also able to connect with followers and they establish good working relationships with them.

And the way that they lead is through empowering followers and delegating responsibility to them. But also transformational leaders will push their followers to be creative, to be innovative, to think outside the box. And it's a good model to follow for leader development. And as I mentioned, it's in the book in detail and it's one of many models.

Another thing that I've become more and more interested in is the issue around ethical or good leadership versus bad leadership. And so there are some interesting findings there. And some of our work is uncovering this. So, for example, when you ask people to name the qualities or characteristics they want in a leader, the majority of people will mention positive characteristics. They want their leaders to have honesty or integrity. They want them to be responsive, empathic, supportive.

But there's a subset of individuals who will mention what we call anti-prototypical qualities. For them, leaders should be manipulative, pushy, self-centered, aggressive. And so what that means is that while most of us want positive or other oriented qualities in our leaders, some want that strong, tough individual who's going to fight.

And what I find that I think is so fascinating about leadership is there's lots of these dichotomies associated with leadership. So some people want the supportive person, some people want the tough guy. And if you think about some of our classic movies where the hero is the tough guy who gets pushed to limits and then attacks. And so, it's sort of puzzling why people favor one sort of leader versus another. So those are a couple of the things that I'm interested right now.

Melody Rawlings:

That's really interesting. And because I would be one of those who would probably focus on the positive and not on the subset that you mentioned. So that's just, it's really interesting. And I know through the years, as an educator, researcher and author, there are many stories I'm sure that you could tell, but what are your greatest lessons learned on leadership?

Ronald E. Riggio:

So, I think the greatest lesson, and this connects to what I was just talking about in terms of good and ethical leadership, but when, I think, it comes to good leadership, really character matters. So, we really do want to have leaders who are of good character. And so I think that's very important.

The other thing that I think is a great lesson is that leadership is really more about the followers than it is about the leaders. And I think if leaders realize that, if they realize that important role that the followers play in that co-creation of leadership, then they're going to be more effective.

And so I think that we need to change the frame a little bit, because so much of the leader development is focused directly on the leader. And really what we want to do is we want to broaden that when we talk about leadership development, we want to include the followers, we want to include the organization or the purpose, if it's a social movement. So we have to look more broadly beyond just leaders, looking at leaders, followers, context, organization, situation, all of those factors.

Melody Rawlings:

Why do you think there's that tendency to definitely look more at leaders than the followers? Why do you think there's a tendency not to really consider followers so much?

Ronald E. Riggio:

Yeah, well, there's a famous leadership scholar, Jim Meindl, talked about the romance of leadership. And what he was basically saying was that we put leaders up on a pedestal and that's interesting too, particularly in the United States, because we consider ourselves to be a democratic society. We were founded, and the revolution was about getting rid of kings and monarchs.

But if you think about it, we really do put some of our top level leaders, whether they be presidents or other elected officials or CEOs, we put them up on a pedestal. And so there's this interesting dichotomy that we have. So we revere our leaders, we build statues to them, we put them up on pedestals. On the other hand, we sometimes like to watch them fail and we like to knock them off their pedestals. And I think that's something unique about the US, the American culture.

Melody Rawlings:

That is really interesting and makes us sound, as a culture, just kind of fragmented, all over the place in our thinking. So it's just interesting what you said and to really think about that. So do you have any final thoughts or tips to leave with us today?

Ronald E. Riggio:

Yeah, I think, leadership does matter. It definitely matters. But so does followership. And I think a couple other things, we need to hold our leaders accountable. We need to make sure they're working for the common good and not for themselves. Getting back to that good versus bad theme. And we have to realize too, that we all play a part in leadership. And you suggested that. And in terms of simply voting, by maybe taking grassroots action to try to make changes, to accomplish shared goals, some of us are going to be naturally wanting to step up into leadership positions. Others of us are going to get recruited.

But in any case, it's important to work on that leadership. It's not something that comes naturally to people. That's a myth. So, development is essential and even the very best leaders, the very top level leaders realize that they need to continue to work at it, to get better. Leadership is very complex, takes a lot of work.

Melody Rawlings:

Well, that's great advice. And I'm sure our listeners will really give that some thought. And I want to be clear about your book. So the book is entitled Daily Leadership Development: 365 Steps to Becoming a Better Leader. So would you share with our listeners where they can purchase your book?

Ronald E. Riggio:

Well, right now the book is only available at Barnes & Noble. So if you go to Barnesandnoble.com, you can order the book. There was a purpose for that, is I published it through Barnes & Noble because I could keep the price low. So I really wrote this book with my students in mind too, and they're already spending a lot on textbooks. So we kept the price as low as we possibly could for a hardcover book.

I am working on an ebook version of it, but I think it's the kind of book, the reason I had it published in hardcover is it's the kind of book I think you want to keep on the nightstand and you want to keep with you for a long time, because you want to keep referring back to it. And so I wanted something that was a little bit sturdy.

The other thing I can mention too is, at the end of the book, and there are also links to assessments in the book, but the last day, day 365, when you get there, Melody, it'll say, "Stay in touch." And there I give suggestions on how you can continue your leader development after you've completed the book and also stay in touch with me.

And so I have a Psychology Today blog that's called Cutting-Edge Leadership, and I will continue to put tips and ideas up on the blog. And I have a website Riggioleadership.org. So the idea is I want to engage with the readers and not just have them purchase the book, but stay engaged with me to continue their leadership development going on into the future.

Melody Rawlings:

Well, that's awesome. And I know our listeners will really appreciate that. And I really appreciate the fact that you made this so affordable for students and anyone else. And also the fact that this does lend itself to a hard copy, as you said, just to be able to pick it up before retiring for the evening and on the bedside and be able to read it or carry it with you, maybe when you're not having or taking a computer or a tablet.

So I can really appreciate the flexibility and the cost as well. So, Ron, thank you so much for joining us in support of The Center for the Advancement of Virtual Organizations at Northcentral University, we truly appreciate your insights and know our listeners will benefit from your experience and expertise and this new book. Thank you so much.

Ronald E. Riggio:

Thank you, Melody.