Balancing the Leadership Equation: Know Yourself and Know Your Follower – A Modern Case Study of Metacognition and Servant Leadership

Balancing the Leadership Equation: Know Yourself and Know Your Follower – A Modern Case Study of Metacognition and Servant Leadership

Gillian S. Boice
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1049-9.ch002
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This research examines a modern case study and provides analysis of how a current, real-life, start-up company is offering a cognitive performance assessment tool to help individuals and organizations improve their learning and performance. Theoretical constructs of metacognition and servant leadership converge to assist in framing the analysis, and the case study builds on the implications for further research development in these theories. The author uses retrospective literature review to highlight the relevant emerging practice in the corporate and educational world. This qualitative study, with descriptive reporting, was accomplished by literature review and direct observations of this modern company. A pseudonym of KnowCom is used to protect the identity and proprietary of the actual company researched.
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The ancient adage from Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras of “know thyself” is an enduring concept and it remains relevant today. Most people agree that self-reflection is important to leader development in adults. In many leader development contexts the concept of self-awareness is a focal point. The US Army’s first mass produced pamphlet on Leadership, published in 1948, offers this cardinal truth about leadership: “No man reaches his full stature unless he knows himself and works for improvement” (DA PAM 22-1, p. 29). At West Point, a place considered to be the premier leadership institution in the world, the first leadership principle ingrained into first year students is “Know Yourself and Seek Self Improvement” (Bugles Notes, 2016, p. 1). The first year is dedicated to learning about oneself as a follower before being given the honor of leading others. Clearly, individual self-awareness remains a critical activity for any leader. From early trait, skills and behavioral theories of leadership, we still recognize that understanding the leader can’t be disregarded or abandoned.

Fortunately, rapid technological advances and globalization is creating another age of enlightenment within our culture that allows for an intense focus on the self. It is a “me centric” era. Our aging members of society and societal leaders---come from the “Me Generation,” a term Tim Wolfe coined for baby boomers in 1976. Our workers are Millennials, and they’ve been called the “Me-Me-Me Generation” by Joel Stein in Time magazine in 2013. Additionally, the newest members of society could be considered the “Selfie Generation,” as Charles Blow provides in the NY Times in 2014. With all this focus on the self, embracing self-awareness can come without hesitation for today’s strategic leader—young or old. It can prove to be a positive environment for developing leaders because of a willingness and openness toward self-reflection and self-assessment.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Metacognition: A higher level awareness and understanding of one's own thought processes developed by psychologist John Flavell.

West Point: A leadership institution at West Point New York, also known as the United States Military Academy.

KnowCom: A pseudonym used by the researcher to protect the name of the actual company observed due to the proprietary and patent rights of the actual company.

Servant Leadership: A philosophical, set of practices, and broadening leadership theory introduced by Robert Greenleaf that addresses the characteristics of a leader.

Strategic Leader: The leader that determines the future state, path, direction or desired activities of the organization.

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