Leadership for the 21st Century – Winter 2011 Essay 3 Assignment: Adaptive Leadership

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Leadership for the 21st Century – Winter 2011

Essay 3 Assignment: Adaptive Leadership

As a part of your final project, you’ll write an adaptive leadership paper. This was introduced in an earlier handout on the final project. Here you’ll find more detailed guidelines and ideas, as well as an updated schedule.

Your 4-6 page Adaptive Leadership paper is an integrative assignment that shows both your communication and small group skills, and your skills in writing effectively in an academic format. In the essay, you’ll explore the following questions:

    1. What are my aspirations as a leader?

    2. What was the “gold” that I learned through this group experience and this class as a whole that will help me on this leadership path? What changed for me?

    3. What concepts or ideas about leadership were challenged? What assumptions and/or issues about leadership surfaced in your group that needed to be attended to?

    4. What leadership skills and key concepts from our texts were important “new learning” for me? (Cite passages using MLA format.)

    5. How did others in my group view me as a leader? (Cite from your peer reviews.)

    6. What conflicts arose in my group and how did I engage with them?

    7. What authority dynamics were present between me and other group members?

    8. How did I help to create a “holding environment” for my group’s larger purpose?

    9. Using the balcony method (Heifetz) to reflect on myself as a leader, what would I do differently next time and why?

Due Dates
  • Rough draft: Monday, March 14. Bring extra copies for your group to review.

  • Revised draft: Wednesday, March 16.

  • Final: Monday, March 21. TWO COPIES are due, no folder required.

Format: Follow format guidelines in the class syllabus.

Develop a thesis about your own leadership, or your learning as a leader. It should be arguable – you should be able to show evidence for it. Since it’s about you, it’s not necessarily debatable, but like any thesis it should be interesting, bold, and focused. The thesis is the main idea for the paper and will help hold all the elements together.

Structure and Writing

This essay synthesizes writing about your own life experience with citation from texts. Each paragraph should be focused on a single main idea. Some of these might be PIE structure, if you have a lot to say about a text. More generally, paragraphs should show the following:

1. A topic sentence or point – the main idea of this paragraph.

2. Evidence for this idea – from texts or from life. Specific references (to a line from a book, a scene from a film, a moment from a group meeting, a realization you had) are usually more effective than broad, general statements.

3. Explanation, discussion, or argument, showing why this moment, or this book, film, etc., was important to your learning.

4. Transition to the next idea.

As with any college essay, we’re looking for clear, effective writing. That means focused sentences that say exactly what you mean, and clean copy that is relatively free of errors of grammar, spelling, punctuation, or logic.
Documenting Sources

The essay will include discussion of texts (books, films, articles, lectures, etc) that have been most important to your learning as a leader. Each text you use should be:

  • Introduced briefly in your essay.

Example: The film Taking Root: the Vision of Wangari Maathi showed me that…

  • Cited in-text using MLA style.

Example: In the film, Maathi says “we must remember the earth…”

  • Listed in your Works Cited page, following the last page of your essay, in proper MLA style and alphabetical order. Consult the MLA information page at the Loft web site: https://library.northseattle.edu/instruction/citation or the class handout.

Works Cited.

List in alphabetical order. Note the hanging indent. Examples:

Frozen River. Dir. Courtney Hunt. DVD. Sony Pictures, 2008.

Le Guin, Ursula K. Always Coming Home. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001.

Nieto, Leticia, et al. Beyond Inclusion, Beyond Empowerment: A Developmental Model to Liberate Everyone. Olympia, Washington: Cuetzpalin, 2010.

Lister-Reis, Jane. Lecture. North Seattle Community College, Seattle. 12 Feb. 2010.


This paper will be evaluated as part of your final project, which is 15% of you final grade. The evaluation will be based on the following criteria:

  • Does the essay meet the requirements of the assignment as described above?

  • Is the thesis statement arguable, focused, clearly worded, and interesting?

  • Does the whole essay show evidence for the thesis, supported by evidence and argument from both texts and your experience?

  • Does the essay show thoughtful reflection on leadership and on your own development of skills? (See detailed list of questions above).

  • Do paragraph structures show logical organization, good focus, and effective transitions?

  • Are texts cited correctly both in the essay and in the Works Cited?

  • Has the essay been carefully edited for grammar, spelling, and punctuation?

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