Thinking and Learning about Leadership by Thomas E. Cronin

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In his article “Thinking and Learning about Leadership” Thomas E. Cronin expresses his own thoughts about the leadership, namely about the importance of teaching and learning it in American colleges and universities. Generally, the author claims that there are many thoughts about the issue and different writers on leadership have various opinions regarding the importance of such an education and the origin of leaders.

The article consists of three parts. Thomas Cronin begins with the introductory paragraphs, where he explains that nowadays leadership is widely discussed as it has double nature. Different people think differently about the leadership and it is not surprising, because it can serve both to encourage people to do something or organize some work effectively and to repress and manipulate. Then the author explains that his following thoughts are strongly subjective and are based on his own ideas and studies, as well as on his own interpretation of the writings of other authors.

The second part of an article goes under the heading “Teaching Leadership”. The author raises important questions, like “Can we teach people to become leaders?” He tells about the existence of different points of view on whether people are born leaders or they are taught to be them. In this very part, Thomas Cronin presents a set of reasons why the American educational establishments are not sure that teaching leadership is necessary. Among the mentioned reasons is the belief that a person should be “a natural leader” but not a made one. The contradiction of the idea that leadership is the elitist phenomenon to cultural values of American society, the existence of element of manipulation in the concept of leadership, a probability that the given skills and knowledge will serve for bad, the absence of clear understanding of the notion “leadership” and some others. The final tenth reason represented by the writer covers the idea, that only creative people can become leaders, but it is almost impossible to teach people to be creative.

The article “Thinking and Learning about Leadership” continues with the author’s thoughts regarding the learning about leadership. In Cronin’s opinion and in my opinion as well people cannot be taught to be leaders. However, they can be exposed to leadership and learn many interesting and useful information about the discussions over the issue, the styles of leadership, its theories and strategies. Moreover, it is quite possible for American students to learn about the existing contradictions and paradoxes of leadership and find out everything about the prominent world’s leaders, both positive and negative ones. Cronin stresses that the biographies of well-know leaders will be very useful, as students can discover some necessary traits of character in themselves and show what it means to be a model leader. In a word, a would-be leader learns to manage his thoughts, time, routine, character and business with the help of obtained knowledge and realizes that the responsibility he takes on is too great.

The article ends with the paraphrasing the words of John Adams, the second American president. The main idea of these words, to my way of thinking, is that the study of leadership is necessary for people who want their children and grandchildren to live in a free and independent society.

After reading the article many thought crossed my mind. It is clear that the majority of ideas, expressed by their author, are reasonable and they are supported by evidence and numerous examples. Throughout the article, the readers notice the names of world’s famous leaders, including American presidents, well-known dictators and even gangsters. I think that the main objective of Thomas E. Cronin was to show how ambiguous the concept of leadership is and why many educational institutions question the necessity of its study. Although many thoughts and ideas about educating would-be leaders exist, no one can say for sure if people can be taught to be leaders or they should be born with some natural predisposition to it.

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