Leadership Core Curriculum

I-LEAD’s core leadership curriculum, which provides the foundation for both accredited programs available through Harcum College, as well as non-credit education and training initiatives, integrates critical leadership skills, knowledge and disciplines. I-LEAD’s curriculum was developed over a decade of work with literally thousands of community leaders across Pennsylvania. This unique leadership studies curriculum is divided into eleven formal course areas: Effective Dialogue, Negotiation, Creative Leadership, Systems Thinking, Public Systems, Private Systems, Speaking as a Leader, Political Leadership, Group Dynamics, Ethical Leadership, and Understanding Technology.

Effective Dialogue involves the interpersonal dimension of a system of integrated leadership skills, addressing special skills required to achieve shared vision and team learning. In this course, participants consider and practice listening and reflecting; appreciating human diversity, identifying mental models; negotiating and resolving conflicts; advocating and communicating, orally and in writing; and finally, using communications technology to enhance and empower dialogue. In Effective Dialogue, students learn and practice a continuum of dialogue skills from intense listening and reflection to powerful advocacy through the use of media and advanced technology. The learning promoted through the Effective Dialogue courses is based on the work of Fisher and Ury, M. Scott Peck’s work on community building, on the writings of Lao Tzu, and on many diversity training models.

Resolving Conflicts, Building Relationships, Negotiating introduces students to the interpersonal skills required for successful negotiations, relationships, conflict resolution and team building. Through interactive exercises, role-playing, and facilitated discussions, students explore negotiation paradigms, concepts, and algorithms; techniques to build relationships; and conflict resolution strategies.

Creative Leadership This topic area provides insight into the principles of creative leadership, including the difference between reacting and creating, the use of structural tension to achieve vision, and the relation of motivation and group dynamics to vision. The learning promoted through creative leadership is based, in large part, on the work of Peter Senge, Robert Fritz, M. Scott Peck, and Stephen Covey.

Systems Thinking involves the creative dimension of a system of integrated leadership skills, covering several critical skills involved in the practice of creative leadership. The skills in this course include visioning; personal mastery, with a focus on creating structural tension and recognizing structural conflict; achieving shared vision; systems analysis and recognizing systems dynamics; strengths theory; team building, team learning, and building community.

In Public Systems, students engage in team learning regarding local, state, and federal governmental organizations. Students master the structure and functioning of public institutions through topics in advanced civics, policy-making, and the civil and criminal justice systems. Upon completion of the Public Systems courses, students will not only understand how their local, state, and federal governments function, but also who their public leaders are, and how these leaders make policy. Students will also gain a practical, working knowledge of the role of the court system and other governmental agencies in maintaining public order and resolving disputes.

In Private Systems, students learn about and consider the critical roles played by freely acting private sector organizations, including nonprofit and other charitable institutions. Private Systems addresses free-market principles of economic development, and considers case studies regarding the development of small businesses. It also provides a vehicle for students to learn about the local economy’s interdependence on the regional, national, and global economies. Finally, these courses address the role of nonprofit and charitable organizations in maintaining and improving community quality of life.

Speaking as a Leader introduces students to the interpersonal skills required for effective public speaking in a leadership context. Through interactive exercises, role-playing, and facilitated discussions students explore the content and structure of leadership messages; practice speaking as a leader; and learn to analyze their own and other leadership messages.

Political Leadership introduces students to voting, elections, and campaigns. Students examine and assess the process entailed in political campaigns and the work of political parties in contemporary U.S. politics.

Group Dynamics explores the fundamentals of organizational behavior and group dynamics, with an emphasis on theory and practice developed through the Tavistock Institute. Students are also introduced to the theory of emotional intelligence as a means of understanding individual and group behavior, and organizational learning theory developed by Peter Senge and others. Topics covered include the history and theory of organizational dynamics, the concept of emotional intelligence and literacy, organizational learning theory, and organizational operation and planning.

Ethical Leadership provides a conceptual framework for exercising ethical decision-making within a leadership context. Students survey the development of ethical thinking, and core concepts in ethical decision-making; and explore the nexus between ethical behavior, decision-making, and basic leadership competencies. The focus of this course is on personal and collective ethics functioning in a corporate or institutional setting, and its effects on operations, planning, decision-making, and policy development.

Understanding Technology goes beyond the stereotypical concepts and phobias that may hinder the ways in which adults learn about and use computers and technology, updating some old mental models, and creating new ones to help negotiate the rapidly-changing landscape of technology today. It demonstrates that with a small amount of knowledge, used consistently over time, students are empowered to accomplish a large number of tasks and apply these skills to new situations. More importantly, with this foundation and the ability to find information more effectively, students are able to continue learning new things and keep up with the products, skills and tools they will need. They learn about the fundamentals of computer functions within a Windows environment, such as computer hardware, equipment and software, and computer applications, utilizing open source and Microsoft products. In addition, the curriculum goes beyond the basics, providing examples of the practical applications of technology and technological innovations.