- Research and report on a "leadership event" in history. Using Kouzes and Posner's Model the Way and Inspiring a Shared Vision, analyze and explain how these aspects of K&P concepts can be attributed to the leadership in the event. 5-7 pages
- I haven't finished yet (I still need about two pages), but I'd like to get some feed back because I feel like this paper is just a bunch of ramblings that are going nowhere... I still need to finish going over parts of Inspiring a Shared Vision and write a conclusion, and any critiques would help. Thanks.
Henry Street Settlement House
Throughout time humanity has made attempts at accurately defining and developing leadership. In James Kouzes and Barry Posner's The Student Leadership Challenge, Kouzes and Posner presents five main practices that prosperous leadership embodies; Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable Others to Act, and Encourage the Heart (Kouzes and Posner 10). Each practice exemplifies what makes leadership successful through explaining the relationship between leaders and their constituents (Kouzes and Posner 36). One accomplished humanitarian who illustrates both aspects of Model the Way and Inspire a Shared Vision is Lillian Wald, a devoted social worker and nurse of the poor as well as the founder of the Henry Street Settlement House.
The promise of American freedom spread widely during the late 1800s as millions journeyed to the nation of opportunity and wealth in a desperate attempt to obtain better lives (City life in the Late 19th Century). However, the life of an immigrant during the late 19th century was anything but opportune. Many immigrants found themselves poor upon arrival and ended up living in alarmingly crowded tenements within the cities. With such close living quarters and unsanitary conditions, diseases often spread rapidly. These harsh living conditions and lack of appropriate health care caught the sympathetic attention of Lillian Wald, inspiring the young upper class nurse to combat social issues while caring for the poor within the Lower East Side of New York City (Wald 1-8).
While living within the lower class area of the Lower East Side of New York, Wald's experiences and observations of the impoverished around her helped Wald to clarify her own values. Clarifying Values is one of the main steps in Kouzes and Posner's practice of Model the Way. According to Kouzes and Posner, values are defined as "enduring beliefs about how things should be accomplished." (Kouzes and Posner 32) Wald genuinely believed that in order to aid the impoverished, certain fundamental social facts needed to be recognized, that the lower class has the right to quality nursing care within their own homes (Wald 26-27). She presented an authentic and unique vision that was "consistent in word and deed." (Kouzes and Posner 31)
Through depicting a clear mission, those around her were able to wrap themselves into Wald's goal. Kouzes and Posner explained that leaders must make sure that there is a shared set of values so that followers have something that connects them all together (Kouzes and Posner 36).According to Joseph C. Rost, "[l]eadership is an influence relationship among leaders and followers who intend real changes that reflect their mutual purposes." (Rost) Wald garnered the support of not only the nurses and physicians she worked with but also gained the loyalty and respect of the local community through her values to help the impoverished Lower East Side. Leadership is not only about a leader who leads but also about the followers the leader leads.
Wald also made her values clear to those around her and did not let the social structures of the time limit the effect of her mission. This aspect of Wald personifies another facet of Model the Way. According to Kouzes and Posner, "the leaders who are admired most are those who believe strongly in something and are willing to stand up for their beliefs." (Kouzes and Posner 30) Wald persisted in her mission to help the Lower East Side despite the lower living standards or the objections of friends and family and in doing so set revolutionary standards of social reform and nursing care for the impoverished. (Wald 286-290)
Furthermore, Wald's persistence and personal experience illustrates her credibility. As presented in The Student Leadership Challenge by Kouzes and Posner, "credibility is the foundation of leadership." (Kouzes and Posner 29) If the community of the Lower East Side disbelieved Wald then they would not have believed in her mission nor taken any part in engaging in Henry House Settlement activities or programs. However, due to Wald's credibility, she was able to not only amass a nursing staff of two-hundred and fifty by 1916, but also accumulated the support of the local community and was serving over thirteen hundred patients a day at the Henry House Settlement in the Lower East Side of New York (Syndicated Column).
Another aspect of Model the Way is Set the Example. According to Kouzes and Posner, leaders need to set the example and "practice what they preach." (Kouzes and Posner 37) Lillian Wald set the example by actively caring for the unhealthy and not taking payment for services rendered from those who could not afford a charge (Wald 28-29). By "doing the right thing," Wald used signal-sending opportunities to assemble nurses willing to help the poor for little or no pay (Kouzes and Posner 37). Actively nursing the ill, educating Lower East Side residents on germs, as well as setting up and running Henry House settlement were some of the activities that Wald participated in actively that helped to set the example. (Wald 20-44)
From the very beginning stages of the Henry Street Settlement House, Wald had a very unique vision of what the organization would become. According to Kouzes and Posner, one aspect of the practice of inspiring a shared vision is to envision the future (Kouzes and Posner 51). Kouzes and Posner describe leaders as 'possibility thinkers', people who can picture a future bigger than what currently exists (Kouzes and Posner 51-52). Wald's vision for the Henry Street Settlement House was to reform social and economic structures while nursing the ill (Wald 5-12). Through nursing and education, Lillian Wald envisioned a social and economic revolution.
"Envisioning the future begins with passion, feeling concern, or as inspiration that something is worth doing." (Kouzes and Posner 53) Before embarking upon the creation of the Henry Street Settlement House, Wald was torn by the living condition of one family she tended to within the Lower East Side (Wald 4-9). Almost immediately Wald sought for a solution to the appalling conditions for which this family and thousands like them lived. After immersing herself within the area, Wald and her colleague, Mary Brewster, developed a clear vision towards which they could actively work (Wald 8-15).