Quotable Mumford
A collection of insightful & memorable offerings from the work of Dr. Mumford.

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Book Review: Leadership 101

Leadership 101


Leadership 101 by Michael D. Mumford, Springer Publishing Company, 2010, 304 pp. ISBN: 978-0-8261-1134-0 $20.00

Because so many seek to understand leadership, we have sought to provide a road map for individuals to continue on to more in-depth study. In doing so, we have addressed what leadership is and the assumptions that are often made about it, so that novice leadership scholars will have an adequate foundation upon which to build their understanding of leadership concepts.  (p.  xiii)

This excerpt, from the Preface, concisely presents a description of the book as well as the characteristic that makes it significant; it is a valuable resource for novice leadership scholars, precisely because the content is extremely well considered for this audience.

Although the book is presented in eight chapters, it essentially consists of three sections. Chapters 1-3 provide important introductory information into the history, perspectives and methods of leadership research. Chapters 4-7 focus on specific leadership topic areas, like skills and behaviors, and situational factors, and what outstanding leadership means. Chapter 8 provides a look at the future of leadership research.

The focus represents Professor Mumford’s background in Organizational Psychology. While each chapter is written by a different author, Mumford’s work is by far the most frequently cited in the text. Bernard M. Bass, another organizational psychologist, and preceded Mumford as the editor of Leadership Quarterly, is also frequently cited. This is presented as a strength of the text.  Bass and Mumford are among the most valuable voices on the topic of leadership. And Mumford’s dedication to scholarship insures that the book presents relevant research on and highlights assumptions from views supported by empirical evidence.

In discussing Mumford’s theory on outstanding leadership which suggests leaders can be characterized as charismatic, ideological, or pragmatic, a view of Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation is presented. There is no doubt that Lincoln was a morally courageous leader, and the Emancipation Proclamation would seem to be the act of an ideological leader. However, the book points that this document only freed in states at war with the Union; slaves were owned in other states. This highlights that the details of the Emancipation Proclamation were based on a situational analysis, including political and military strategy, as much as on ideology. For this reason, the Emancipation Proclamation can be regarded as the act of a pragmatic, rather than an ideological leader. This doesn’t make Lincoln’s act less significant or courageous, it demonstrates Lincoln’s determination to free the slaves in a manner that would not jeopardize the war effort. This example, is interesting, thought provoking, and clearly draws distinctions between ideological and pragmatic leaders.

As the title suggests, the book is intended to be a textbook.  The end of each chapter includes key terms and phrases, review and discussion questions, supplemental readings, and individual and group activities. The discussion questions and the activities are well suited for Buffalo State’s International Center for Studies in Creativity course CRS 635 Creativity and Change Leadership. Additionally, Chapter 3 Methods in Leadership Research would be ideal supplemental reading for CRS 580 Creativity Assessment: Methods and Resources.