10/29/2013 10:55 am ET Updated Dec 29, 2013

Considering Leadership in the 21st Century

I begin a sabbatical from my position as the President of Marymount California University with hopes to identify and address certain leadership theory questions that present themselves to both my sector (higher education) and modern society.

The first months of my sabbatical provide me the opportunity to reflect on my own personal leadership experiences and catch up on the literature, especially as it relates to the study of resilience, well-being, disruptive innovation, environmental scanning and technology.

After these two months, I return to the University to fulfill my responsibilities and to continue to thread out my research, both through my teaching of a graduate leadership course and the University leadership lecture series. I will then complete my sabbatical next summer with the hopes of sharing my findings with others through written and multimedia presentations.

Before I began this journey, mentors urged me to devote the early weeks to rest and reflection. I have done so and have included a much-needed wellness component into my daily routine. I am now feeling rested and able to take on the questions I have about leadership in our modern era, including:

  • Technology and Information: Acquiring information may longer be a barrier for leaders, but how do they interpret data when it is coming in faster and in greater quantities? How do they develop organizational capacities for reflection and learning in our information age?
  • Resilience: What are the attributes of demonstrably resilient organizations in an era where the pace of change seems to be escalating so quickly?
  • Well-Being: How do leaders create and sustain environments where members of the organization can develop their own personal sense of well-being?
  • Disruptive Innovation: What do these two words really mean? Do they represent a way to interpret an accelerating change dynamic? Or are they our attempt to make sense of increasingly chaotic times?
  • Environmental Scanning: How do leaders successfully interpret and navigate local, regional, domestic, and international trends and policy dynamics when developing a coherent and effective case for change to their community?

Over the next year I will share my reflections on this experience through this journal. I have been blessed with many leadership development experiences in the last thirty years, but this will be my first sabbatical. I am grateful to the University and my family for affording me this opportunity that I hope will serve a greater good both inside and outside of higher education.