by Andreas Hahn
Dr. David L. Bradford from Stanford University came to the University of La Verne on Tuesday to hold a faculty leadership seminar and talk about his new book, “Power Up: Transforming Organizations Through Shared Leadership.”
Dr. Bradford’s visit and speech in the “Coffee, Cake and Conversation” program was organized by the Department of Public Administration and was sponsored by the School of Business and Global Studies.
In a luncheon featured in the President’s Dining Room, Dr. Bradford shared ideas from “Power Up.”
In the book, he and his co-author, Allan Cohen, showed how to adopt their earlier developed “leadership system based on reciprocal behavior between managers and subordinates.”
After an introduction by Dr. William Relf, dean of the School of Business and Global Studies, Dr. Bradford illustrated his concept of shared leadership. It is based on the idea of leading as a team rather than through the leadership of individual persons.
Dr. Bradford pointed out that shared leadership creates a “team that feels a sense of psychological ownership.”
He said management meetings should deal with the question of “how are we doing as a team and how can we improve.” In addition, Dr. Bradford said that team leadership also includes decision making on the foundation of consensus and agreement.
An estimated 30 guests from the School of Business and Global Studies, individual University departments, various regional companies and representatives of the cities of La Verne and Irwindale attended Dr. Bradford’s presentation.
A faculty leadership seminar held later in the day dealt with teaching people how to become better leaders. Dr. Bradford shared syllabi, class notes and anecdotes from his MBA classes at Stanford with faculty members of ULV, Cal Poly Pomona and Chapman University.
Dr. Bradford’s visit concluded with a public discussion between Dr. Carol Sawyer, who teaches in ULV’s Master of Science in Leadership and Management program, and Dr. Bradford. The two discussed some of the background and purpose of “Power Up.”
The discussion was later opened to audience members for questions or comments. Dr. Bradford tried to dispel objections that his concept of shared leadership and responsibility implies an abolition of leaders or leads to anarchy.
“Shared leadership uses knowledge and skills that were not used so far,” said Dr. Bradford. Leaders were still needed to built the conditions for exciting work and create a system that guarantees that work gets done.
Tracy Stoddard, a senior organizational management major at ULV, came to the discussion because her night class was cancelled. Instead, her professor advised the class to attend the conversation. She had not heard of neither Dr. Bradford nor of his book before.
“I was impressed. He has a lot of good ideas; I will buy his book,” said Stoddard about Dr. Bradford’s presentation.
Jerado Blue, a junior public administration major, was also told about the conversation by one of his professors.
He said he may buy Dr. Bradford’s book because it includes inside perspectives about management styles. Still, however, Blue was not totally convinced of the author’s shared leadership concept.
“It requires cultural changes in organizations and probably any situation I know of,” said Blue.
Asked about his impressions of his stay at ULV, Dr. Bradford said, “I really enjoyed it.”
Dr. Bradford is a senior lecturer in organizational behavior in the MBA program at Stanford, and researches leadership and characteristics of high-performance teams at the executive level. He has worked with leaders in a variety of companies and firms, including Levi’s Strauss.
In 1973, Dr. Bradford was one of the founding members of the Organizational Behavior Teaching Society (OBTS), for which he was an executive director.
OBTS is an organization for professors of behavioral science with the purpose of enhancing quality, teaching and learning. In June 1998, ULV hosted the annual meeting of OBTS for more than 300 guests.