Master of Human Relations
Online Courses


HR 5033:  Leadership in Organizations

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Change starts in the eye of the beholder.

Course Overview

Much is written about leadership.  It is one of the most researched topics in organizational theory, behavior, and development.  Understanding the correlates of effective leadership is the Holy Grail of much of what is characterized as executive training and development.

This course deals with the issue of leadership and predictors of the effective leader.  It will cover traditional approaches to leadership study to establish a theoretical foundation for students.  There will be, for example, consideration of the role of leaders vs. role of managers, trait theory, behavioral theory, power and influence schools of thought, and situational leadership thinking.  Attention will be paid to the differences between transactional vs. transformational leadership.  Leader competencies and behavior will be addressed, e.g., vision, participation, open communication style, trust, and empowerment. 

Fundamentally, however, this course is about the psychology of leadership.  All the customary approaches tend to assume the leader is psychologically healthy and rational.  The focus of this course is not to devalue this area, nor does it demean the characteristics of the idealized leader found in the mainstream leadership literature.

However, this course attempts to reveal other, less conventional thinking about leadership development and behavior.  The idea is to expand students' awareness of alternative, less traditional ways of thinking about this topic.

Course Objectives

  • Learn various theories of leadership
  • Be able to put together an overall model of leadership based on "principles" of ideal leader behavior;
  • Develop a sense of their own leadership style based on the use of assessment instruments and feedback discussions in class;
  • Understand women's leadership patterns;
  • Learn how personality styles affect leadership in an organization;
  • Identify dysfunctional organizations and propose strategies for change;
  • Identify dominant personality styles of organizations;
  • Be able to construct one's own model of leadership and defend the choices made;
  • Propose leadership interventions in the case of dysfunctional or irrational individuals and/or organizations.

Required Texts

Kets De Vries, Manfred. The Leadership Mystique: A User's Manual for the Human Enterprise.
Prentice Hall, 2001.
ISBN 0273656201.

Hartman, Mary S.
Talking Leadership:
Conversations with
Powerful Women,
illustrated edition.
Rutgers University Press, 1999.
ISBN 0813525608.

Kets de Vries, Manfred.
Life and Death in the
Executive Fast Lane:
Essays on Irrational
Organizations and Their Leaders

ISBN: 0-7879-0112-1
252 Pages
August 1995,
US $36.00

Online readings,
as indicated.

Online course design and development:

Susan Nash, Ph.D.