Mastering inner leadership skills, knowledge, techniques, methods, and abilities asks leaders to intervene in the life and actions of all stakeholders with whom they work. Practicing this kind of leadership involves both leader and led in experiences that change their attitudes and behavior and the values that support such change. Leadership of others is, essentially, a teaching activity resembling coaching as much as anything else (Lombardi, 2000). In their coaching role, leaders go beyond normal pedagogy, or the mere imparting knowledge, and a context (Klenke, 1996) within which that knowledge can be integrated into the learner’s cumulative wisdom. Leaders in the middle of the corporation impart knowledge and context, of course, but they also do more. They engage participants in activities that let them work with, manipulate, and experience that knowledge in actual—insofar as is possible—or simulated situations and with problems and issues reminiscent of real life.
Inner leaders not only inform but also excite workers. They deal with their followers individually according to the followers’ specific needs and capacities. These leaders coach them as they grow, develop, and change. They encourage and create situations within which individual followers can practice taking independent action in successfully accomplishing group goals. Obviously, then, leadership (and by extension, leader training and development) is best understood in its practice in situational contexts that are as real as possible. The activities and other learning tools included at the end of each chapter have been selected to describe and to simulate the attitudes and actual situations in which leaders function. Dealing successfully with the values, ideas, problems, and situations embedded in these activities asks the reader to exercise skills and to use values and knowledge that real-world leaders typically use to resolve them.
Implicit in each activity—and explicit in some—are values commonly held by practicing leaders and their core of followers. Thus, the information and activities presented are designed to illustrate both the real world of leadership, the values and attitudes leaders adopt, and the problems and issues they encounter on the job (Badaracco and Ellsworth, 1989). The specific leadership techniques presented in subsequent chapters define and elaborate both the mindset and the expertise leaders employ in successfully leading their followers.