A. Leadership education. While the debate over whether effective leaders are born that way or can learn these skills, the fact remains that even natural-born leaders need some help in understand the dynamics involved in teams. All of the U.S. military branches of services recognized this need early on and established service academies to help train their future leaders, but people in business, academia and other professions also have relevant leadership education available as well.
According to Barker and Rost (2000), the content of leadership education courses required for the 21st century should address three general categories: (i) the evolution of social change and development, (ii) the processes that influence social development, and (iii) the dynamics of human nature in change processes. These authors add that, "Leadership education is aimed at producing citizens for a democratic society" (p. 3).
B. Continuing education. Many professions require continuing education credits to maintain credentialing and privileges for practice; for example, lawyers and healthcare practitioners must complete a set number of credit hours each year for this purpose. While all professions may not mandate it, the individual pursuit of continuing education in any field should be regarded as a sound business investment, just as the provision of such training by organizations makes good sense. Because of the importance of having effective leaders in any organizational setting, it is vitally important for them to remain cognizant of changes and innovations in their field, as well as in allied fields that may impact their industry.
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Today is an excellent time to be a professional in search of continuing educational opportunities, though, because of the explosion in adult education classes designed for this purpose, particularly in online forums of various types. In this regard, Jarvis (2002) reports that, "Adult and continuing education is changing at a tremendously rapid rate in this contemporary, urban world," and the purposes for which adult leaders are seeking continuing education have changed in fundamental ways in recent years (p. iii).
Likewise, Beaudoin (2002) points out that, "The proliferation of instructional technology in the past decade, particularly in higher education settings, is having a profound impact on how teaching and learning now occurs, and is transforming the means by which institutions reach and support an emerging worldwide market across time and distance" (p. 131). This author adds that because it is so important to organizational and individual success, continuing education has a well developed format concerning not only to the planning and management of continuing education activities, but also insights in the area of leadership (Beaudoin, 2002).
C. Types of education. Because every business situation is unique, leadership is taught in a variety of ways across many disciplines. According to Nirenberg (1998), "Most schools of business typically include the study of leadership as part of a survey of organizational behavior (OB) theory and not as a course in its own right. By all accounts, though, there are continuing and adult education opportunities available for virtually any vocation and avocation today through community colleges and online learning forums and even busy professionals can take advantages of these services.
More importantly, though, effective leaders need to be well-rounded individuals with a basic understanding of how the business world works and what makes people behave the way they do. The types of education required for these complicated purposes are clearly a lifelong endeavor because they must continue to be updated and refined, and the more variety in the educational services taken over the course of a individual's career, the more effective leader that person will likely be.
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