Inventory of Leader Sternness (ILS)

Inventory of Leader Sternness (ILS)

W. David Winner (Regent University, USA) and Rushton S. Ricketson (Luther Rice Seminary & University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2172-5.ch011
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Abstract

The Inventory of Leader Sternness (ILS) is a new leadership construct designed to measure sternness in an adult self-directed leader. Sternness, as a leadership construct, is derived from the writings of Sun Tzu in The Art of War as proposed by Carr, Coe, Derrick, and Ponton (2007). Winner (2008) developed the ILS to measure three co-occurring behavioral intentions of sternness: (a) a willingness to establish obedience through rewards and punishments within limits, (b) consistency in actions to ensure good behavior through rituals and respect, and (c) a determination to do the difficult tasks of leadership. The ILS is a valid and reliable instrument for use in the assessment of sternness in an adult self-directed leader.
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Background

The Inventory of Leader Sternness (ILS) is designed to measure sternness in an adult self-directed leader. Winner (2008) defines sternness as a behavioral syndrome described by the presence of co-occurring behaviors, (a) a willingness to establish obedience through rewards and punishments within limits, (b) consistency in actions to ensure good behavior through rituals and respect, and (c) a determination to do the difficult tasks of leadership. Leader sternness is a new leadership construct derived from the writings of Sun Tzu, an ancient Chinese general who operationally defined leadership in The Art of War (Carr et at, 2007). Sun Tzu (as cited in Cleary, 2000) defined leadership as “a matter of intelligence, trustworthiness, humaneness, courage and sternness” (p. 44). Similarly, Gagliardi (2002) asserted:

For over two thousand years, people have preserved and treasured Sun Tzu’s famous treatise on war for one reason: its competitive methods work extremely well. As the first of the military classics, The Art of War offers a distinct, non-intuitive philosophy on how to discover a path. This philosophy works in any dynamic environment where people find themselves contesting with one another for a specific goal. (p. viii)

McNeilly (1996) reported the modern impact:

Today, Sun Tzu’s appeal has extended beyond the military realm into the world of business. Because business by definition deals with competition, Sun Tzu’s principles are ideally suited to competitive business situation. In the United States and Europe, The Art of War has been quoted in numerous books on strategy, organization and competition. Many of its more striking verses have been the lead-in for countless business articles. (p. 5)

Krause (2005) continued, “In the latter half of the twentieth century, The Art of War became a worldwide management phenomenon. Understanding and using Sun Tzu’s principles is now a requirement for everyone who wants to succeed in business anywhere in the world” (p. 2). Wu, Chou, and Wu (2004) agreed, “We know that the principles of Sun Tzu’s, The Art of War, can be applied in today’s business operations” (p. 397). Li (2000) asserted, “Sun Tzu’s work is a treatise on leadership--by one who aspires to be a leader in war management for the eyes of a leader in state governance” (p. 3).

Wu et al. (2004) performed research to test the relationships between the principles of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War and the key success factors of an organization. The study concluded by stating, “The results of the canonical analysis indicate that Sun Tzu’s principles of situation appraisal, strategy implementations and strategic control had significant influence on KSFs [key success factors]” (p. 406). The implication from this study is that principles of Sun Tzu have been found to have manifest positive relationships with success factors when used in an organization. This supports the suggestion of Carr et al. (2007) that the five factors mentioned in Sun Tzu’s definition of leadership (intelligence, trustworthiness, humaneness, courage, and sternness) are applicable to today’s leaders.

Prior to the study by Winner (2008), no instrument existed to measure sternness in an adult self-directed leader. The ILS is based upon recent research identifying the characteristic behaviors of sternness (Adams, 1963; Ames, 2000; Bandura, 1986, 1997, 2006; Chen, 1994; Cleary, 1989, 2000; Gagliardi, 2004a, 2004b; McNeilly, 1996; Michaelson, 2001; Michaelson & Michaelson, 2003; Wong, Maher, & Lee, 1998). This literature review asserts that sternness is a behavioral syndrome described by the presence of co-occurring behaviors. The three behaviors are (a) a willingness to establish obedience through rewards and punishments within limits, (b) consistency in actions to ensure good behavior through rituals and respect, and (c) a determination to do the difficult tasks of leadership.

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