Working Paper | HBS Working Paper Series | 2010

Course Materials For: 'Being a Leader and the Effective Exercise of Leadership - An Ontological Model'

by Werner H. Erhard, Michael C. Jensen, Steve Zaffron and Kari L. Granger


This course is designed to leave students being leaders and exercising leadership effectively as their natural self-expression - rather than attempting to learn the characteristics, styles, and skills of noteworthy leaders, and then trying to remember and apply them where appropriate. The course is not designed to merely leave the students with knowledge (that is not designed to leave students knowing about leaders and leadership and able to cogently discuss the issues surrounding leader and leadership). Rather, the course is designed to give students actual access to being a leader and the effective exercise of leadership. Our promise to the students is that if they honor their word to fulfill the requests we make of them they will leave the course being leaders and exercising leadership effectively. The course material is based on our work over the last seven years in developing a course of the same title at the University of Rochester Simon School of Business (which course is now also taught at the US Air Force Academy, was delivered in June 2010 at Texas A&M University Mays School of Business, and at Erasmus Academie Rotterdam in June 2009, a version of which is taught at the Erasmus University Law School). The course is still under development and will be for several more years. The research project that led to the creation of this course (and the papers and slides on leadership that are part of the course) originated from our interest in laying the foundations for a science of leadership. We agree with Warren Bennis (2002, p. 2) and Joseph Rost (1993, p. 8) who conclude respectively: "It is almost a cliche of the leadership literature that a single definition of leadership is lacking." and "The scholars do not know what it is they are studying, and the practitioners do not know what it is they are practicing." Taking on the question of what leadership is required us to get into what it is to be a leader and what it is to exercise leadership effectively as a lived experience, rather than as a description, explanation or a theory. Getting to the core of being a leader and the actions of effective leadership led naturally to tackling the task of actually creating leaders and the natural laboratory for exploring that question was the classroom. Mark Zupan, Dean of the U. of Rochester Simon School of Business and his colleagues provided us the five-year laboratory to do this and the course was created. For the full introductory paper to the course (the 6th of six pre-course readings): Introductory Reading for Being A Leader and the Effective Exercise of Leadership: An Ontological Model see: A directory to all six of the pre-course readings can be found at:

Keywords: Curriculum and Courses; Leadership Development; Research; Science; Attitudes;


Erhard, Werner H., Michael C. Jensen, Steve Zaffron, and Kari L. Granger. "Course Materials For: 'Being a Leader and the Effective Exercise of Leadership - An Ontological Model'." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 09-038, October 2010.