The rapid expansion of leadership programs has thrown the dearth of suitable primary texts into sharp relief. Instructors forced to cobble together course materials from multiple piecemeal sources will find their much-needed solution in Leadership Theory . JOHN P. DUGAN is an associate professor in the higher education graduate program at Loyola University Chicago, where he teaches student development theory, leadership, and multiculturalism for social justice. He is the principal investigator for the Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership, and the co-editor of The Handbook for Student Leadership Development, Second Edition (Jossey-Bass, 2011) .
Leadership. Few words elicit simultaneously such a wide range of conflicting understandings and feelings. It is a concept that both provokes and appeases. It is both desired and detested. Indeed, the concept of leadership is almost impossible to escape in our contemporary context. Across nearly every form of media the terms leader and leadership are bandied about, sometimes as a clarion call for what is most absent and needed in society and other times as a harbinger of the most compelling of social ills.
Despite being almost omnipresent in contemporary discourse, so little time is directed toward unpacking what is really meant by the terms leader and leadership. We default to the assumption of a shared understanding despite clear evidence that we may be operating from different conceptualizations altogether. In our relationships, our communities, our places of worship, our work environments-in nearly every aspect of our lives-the theme of leadership is at play. And yet ... to what extent do we invest in examining our assumptions, comparing our perspectives, and converging around a shared meaning.
The purpose of this book is to foster dialogue about how we understand, experience, and enact leader roles and leadership processes through the exploration of leadership theory. A remarkable gap exists between the knowledge generated from the formal, academic study of leadership and its translation into everyday practice. This is at least in part attributable to the ways in which the formal, academic literature on leadership reflects a "story most often told" or dominant narrative that is frequently disconnected from and/or incongruent with people's lived experiences. Thus, the focus of this book is not just on exploring the architecture that informs our understandings of leadership but also on cultivating the perspectives necessary to engage with theory as a critical learner.
WHAT THIS BOOK OFFERS
The marketplace for leadership education, training, and development is growing at an exponential rate. This is evidenced in the increasing number of academic programs, community seminars, and corporate training opportunities, many of which draw on a flourishing body of scholarship on leadership theory. Leadership theory represents a particularly important area for intervention given the foundations it provides for both research and practice.
There is no shortage of books distilling the content of leadership theory. This book, however, is unique in a number of compelling ways. It offers an alternative approach to learning leadership theory that is developmental in nature and grounded in critical perspectives .
That the book is developmental means its goal is not to expose readers to the most expansive breadth of theories possible or encourage rote memorization and regurgitation. Acquisition of knowledge on a broad range of theories is important, but the process of learning how to learn about leadership theory offers greater additive value. Therefore, the organization and content of the book focuses on building readers' capacities to meaningfully interpret, evaluate, and apply theory-a process that can then be replicated as new theories emerge.
Part of the developmental approach taken in this book involves the infusion of perspectives derived from critical social theory. Critical social theories are concerned with understanding the flow of power in society, how this contributes to social stratification, and ways in which we can create more democratic and equitable social arrangements. The use of critical perspectives is a direct response to scholarly calls for greater attention to issues of justice in leadership theory.
The developmental approach and integration of critical perspectives work in tandem to position readers as critical learners of leadership theory. Readers are situated as valid knowers in t