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Month: August 2020

8/25 Blog Post

Through the readings of Concepts of Leadership: The Beginnings and The Meaning of Leadership, both written by Bernard M. Bass, it was interesting to read about the different meanings of leadership and leaders themselves, as well as how they maintained their power. In Concepts of Leadership: The Beginnings, Bass talks about how different stories and myths were created about different leaders, and that helped civilizations. Bass mentions the story Beowolf and others which were used as explanations for why various leaders had their power in society. In the same reading, Bass continues to talk about how leaders got support from the common people. The preferred way was if the leader gained this respect through popularity, but if this couldn’t be accomplished, the leader needs to create power through violence and anger. 

This connects to the reading The Meaning of Leadership since Bass talks about the many different definitions of leadership. He continues to mention the confusion that the word “leadership” has with it. Continuing on this, Bass states that the definition of leadership is dependant on the environment it is said in and has to do with the ability to getting the compliance of the people in which you are “leading”. Overall, it was fascinating to read Bass talk about how the terms “leadership” and “leader” have different meanings depending on the person one would talk to. Hence it is important to consider the person someone is with when mentioning in the idea of who is a leader and who is not.


8/25 Blog Post

The three readings for this class all relate to one another, as they each focus on the meaning of leadership and the role of history in leadership and the humanities. However, I am going to focus on the two Bass readings. I found Bass’ definition or lack therefore most interesting in his writing “The Meaning of Leadership”. He states that “leader” was a part of the English language hundreds of years before the word “leadership” was even recognized. This then relates to incorrect assumption that leadership is an innate ability that all leaders possess. Bass then unpacks this assumption and instead argues that actual definition of leadership can depend on the institution that it belongs to, thus always changing.

Bass goes on to list some of the many understandings of leadership: an exercise of influence, a personality trait, a differentiated role, a power relation, etc. While these definitions alone could help to define the concept, he emphasizes that most times it is a combination of these ideas that actually define a specific type of leadership. Personally, I have found it difficult to describe what Leadership Studies actually is when asked by peers and family members that are unfamiliar with the area of study. Bass has helped me to understand more easily how to accurately describe what I am learning to these skeptical people.

In Bass’ article titled “Concepts of Leadership,” he expounds on the idea that leaders are everywhere and are not necessarily what we would consider to be the “typical” leader. The “typical” leader being a king, priest, chief, etc. He states that with leadership comes responsibility and references Hegel’s Philosophy of Mind, where Hegel says that in order to be a successful leader, one needs to serve as a follower first. Subsequently, only then the follower becomes the leader and can understand his or her own followers. This idea stood out to me the most as it is the key to great leadership that many often do not consider.


Pierce Kaliner Blog Post 8/25

In Bass’ “Concepts of Leadership” I found it very interesting to compare and contrast the styles of leadership from then to now. Leadership styles now are obviously vastly different to the times of the Ancient Greeks and Romans. For instance, “The Odyssey advises leaders to maintain their social distance.” While maintaining a social distance is obviously a good idea during Covid times it’s more difficult to lead when not seeing people face to face in the modern day. The best leaders interact with their followers thus allowing them to gain more appreciation and approval from their people. This is best demonstrated by modern Presidents of the United States using their bully pulpit in order to gain more approval of the people.

In contrast there are certain parts of history that stay true today when defining successful leaders. Specifically when defining heroic leaders, “The Greeks admired and thought were needed in heroic leaders were (1) justice and judgement (Agamemnon), (2) wisdom and counsel (Nestor), (3) shrewdness and cunning (Odysseus), and (4) valor and activism (Achilles).”  Those are many of the qualities that Americans look for in wartime leaders. This is usually when a President has their highest approval ratings because they display exactly the qualities the Greeks say are necessary for a strong leader. 


Concepts of Leadership Blogpost

As stated previously, only the histories of Great Men were written until recent history, which was mainly exaggerated or exemplary stories of kings, rich people, or unusually talented individuals. It was interesting to me to compare leadership stories and values of the modern-day to those of the past, especially those in Ancient Greece. The older stories of Agamemnon, a crucial fighter in the Trojan War, and Nestor, known for his foresight and intelligence, became long-lasting guides for their society’s leaders. Today, we still strive to follow the same leadership principles outlined by these stories, but we associate these values with people living today or in extremely modern history rather than passed down legends. I think this fascinating difference is a result of living in a fast-paced and connected world as well as in a society that values its possible future over its history.

One idea that particularly stood out to me in Concepts of Leadership was the extreme importance of myths to make subordinates. Although the author applied the idea that “the greater the socioeconomic injustice in the society, the more distorted the realities of leadership – its powers, morality and effectiveness” will be to mythology, I attempted to apply this to real life. The first example that came to me was North Kora, a country where they not only see their leaders as faultless but as untouchable gods. Instead of utilizing their position in their government to raise people from poverty (inflicted by their government and history), North Korea uses the facade of their myths to control, manipulate, maintain power. Although most/many governments utilize some form of myth/historical basis to preserve power, North Korea was the most striking example of this practice in combination with socio-economic injustice in real life that I could think of.


Leadership as a Broad Concept

In Bernard Bass’s Meaning of Leadership, he touches on the idea that there is no concise and rigid definition of “leadership”. Professor Bezio mentioned this same issue on the first day of class, and I am curious to see how we start to broadly define it throughout the course.  “The meaning of leadership may depend on the kind of institution in which it is found”, this quote from the article hones into the idea that leadership looks different in every situation, every institution, and every person. There is no way to have one simple definition.

Bass’s Concepts of Leadership illustrated that the leadership qualities that society values has changed overtime, and will continue to. In my Leadership and the Social Sciences class we discussed that there are many cognitive, interpersonal, and personality traits that all prove to be important to have as a leader. These include integrity, self-confidence, wisdom, expertise, authoritarianism, passion, and many more. The historical views of leadership discussed in this article from time periods as far back as B.C. times seem to emphasize power and authority as the most necessary traits to have to become a successful leader. 

In today’s society I believe we value more than just law and order and power within our leaders. As followers, we want to relate to our leaders on a more personal level and follow them because they are passionate, not simply because they seem to be powerful and mighty. 



Bass’s article, “Concepts of Leadership: the Beginning” stuck out to me most out of the readings. Besides learning a definition for leadership, we read about how leadership’s definition has evolved through history.

One quote that stuck out to me was, “the study of leadership rivals in age the emergence of civilization, which shaped its leaders as much as it was shaped by them.” This reminded me of the podcast, because professor Bezio talked a little bit about people learning from example scenarios in history. I believe leaders learn from previous leaders mistakes, or even their strengths, and then lead a certain way because of that to an extent.

The other thing that stuck out to me was how generalizations of leadership are still being found today. This reminded me of how professor Bezio said in her podcast that the great person theory has been disproven. Many people who have the qualities of a great leader, never lead anything in their life. I found these two points to tie together in the sense that, while some may have certain principals for a what a leader needs, many common people can share these qualities as well.

Along with that, Bass wrote about West Point’s fundamental principal today which is, “by first serving as a follower, a leader subsequently can  best understand his followers.” This was interesting because it goes along with the fact that common people can be leaders and there are untold histories about them that need to be shared. Through the concepts of leadership from an early time that Bass discusses, we can see how there is no set definition or generalization of what a leader must have. With history, we can learn what worked and what didn’t and where to go from there; evidently, leadership’s definition is still changing today.


Why History Matters- Maggie Otradovec

“All people and peoples are living histories.” This simple sentence at the beginning of the second paragraph in Penelope J. Corfield’s article answers the overarching question: why does history matter? Corfield then goes on to point out obvious examples of this “living history,” including languages spoken, traditions and religions practiced, and even the use of technology that another person made. Corfield states that “understanding the linkages between past and present is absolutely basic for a good understanding of the condition of being human.” 

    Every individual, whether consciously done or not, seeks out their history. Sometimes it is as obvious as creating your family tree. Other times it is as simple as asking your parents or grandparents about their lives before you were born. I dug deeper into my own history by exploring and submitting a DNA sample to 23&Me. I had no idea that I was 0.9% Spanish and Portuguese. I learned so much from just a little saliva in a tube. However, stopping there would only give me part of the story. In order to fully appreciate where you can from and how you became the person you are, you have to understand the context of when your ancestors lived. 

    In a broader sense, understanding history and historical topics on a global scale can help you understand why the world is the way it is today. History is every moment (ever), from when the earth was first created (whether it be divinely or scientifically) to every time someone tried to invade Russia in winter. One can look at history and learn from the mistakes and triumphs of people who lived before them. Any opportunity for education is not “bunk,” it is something that should be valued and appreciated. When you learn from the mistakes and triumphs of history, you can better understand both human nature in its essence and where we are going as a species. 


Leadership’s Obligation to the Humanities

My first week on campus was a dream. Beyond the ability to share a living space with like-minded people of similar age to me, I had the opportunity to get to know one of the most beautiful campuses in the country. However, for all the beauty the University of Richmond has to offer, the amount of goose poop often turns the brick-lined sidewalks into minefields. The feces, while annoying, serves as a reminder — a history if you will — that geese call this campus home too. While humans often do so in a more sterile way, Penelope L. Corfield reminds us in All people are living histories – which is why History matters that we too leave our marks on history. In order to leave a better mark than our geese neighbors, Corfield encourages us to study history. In the process, we connect ourselves to the shared story of humanity by gaining an understanding and appreciation of the factors that shape our society which prevents us from living destructive lives. Thus, the study of history helps us add to humanity in a helpful, rather than harmful, way.


Like history, leaders have a shrewd role in helping us live connected, positive lives. In Bernard M. Bass’s Concepts of Leadership, he asserts that leaders have “rights and privileges, duties and obligations.” Certainly, among a leader’s obligations is an understanding of how history leaves a scar — for better or for worse — on our institutions, jobs, and personal lives. Thus, excellent leadership requires an astute understanding of and appreciation for the humanities. This does not mean that all leaders exhibit said qualities. As Corfield notes, Henry Ford — who undoubtedly was a leader in the automobile industry — claimed to find history “bunk”, or useless. However, later in his life, Ford collected antique automobiles, suggesting that he did, after all, understand the impact history had on his industry and, furthermore, his role in shaping that history. That understanding, whether or not it is explicit, ties leadership and the humanities together in an inseparable bond.



The Value of History in Leadership

Defining Leadership in a short and concise manner is next to impossible.  The word has developed over the years, and in many places did not even exist until just a few hundred years ago.  Bernard M. Bass emphasizes the sophisticated nature of the word, and he helped show me why we have leadership studies courses here.  There are many ways in which people throughout history try to define leadership, and  this little article makes me wonder if we can correctly identify the word, and if certain groups see different meanings in the same word.


Bass drives home one of his central arguments that history presents a variety of types of leaders, but the study of Leadership is more than just history.  Leadership Studies is a deeper and more extensive look into society and how leadership is created and executed.  Although leadership studies is much more than just learning about leaders, the value of learning the past should not be diminished.  Thousands of years of history books help to expand our knowledge of what makes a “good” leader, and with the knowledge of the past hopefully we can build a better future led by educated people that also understand the pieces of leadership that can not be understood by reading about previous leaders.


8/24 Blog Post Aine Clancy

Throughout the article, Concepts of Leadership: The Beginning, Bernard M. Bass references many influential leaders throughout history and how their ideologies from the past shaped and defined modern leadership techniques that are still prevalent today. Referencing Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Greek mythology, and other historical topics, Bass discusses how knowing the history of these leaders is important to understanding the basis of leadership roles today. This connects with the article, “Why History Matters” by Penelope J. Corfield because this article dives into the idea that understanding the people of the past and our history is the best way to effectively change and live in the future. 

However, while listening to the blog post today, we dove into the idea that historiography. Historiography is the concept that history is often mistold and corrupted to show the side of the winners because those are the people in charge of telling the stories of the past. This is an important thing to remember when thinking about the ideologies of the effective leaders of the past and what has lasted the test of time as meaningful ideologies. For example, Michavelli’s The Prince has many controversial standpoints of violence for absolute control within it, but it is still considered an important book for strong and controlling leaders, as Hitler is known for quoting his ideologies. Therefore, it is important to remember the influence ideologies have had in the past and their outcomes.


8/24 Blog Post Sophia Picozzi

I really enjoyed the reading by Corfield which explained how the great importance of History is, in large part, due to the fact that all ordinary and common people are “living histories.” I never truly thought about History through that lens before and was surprised and saddened that I hadn’t before. To hold the mindset that every ordinary person’s actions or behaviors are both results and causes of historical events and patterns is very eye-opening and introduces new self-importance or meaning. It certainly made me rethink my actions and overall life in a way that gave more value to my seemingly small blip of existence. This new outlook an attitude toward History can definitely tackle some of the objections to the subject which Corfield mentions. Instead of focusing on the winners or the most influential people throughout history (which is, in fact, biased), emphasizing the importance of the common people can instill a newfound responsibility in the public to their nation or to the world as a whole. It can make people really rethink their actions and consider the long term or short term consequences of them.

I also found it interesting how, on the other hand, Bass focused on the other side of History and leadership by mentioning kings, dukes, Machiavelli, and countless other examples of people, mostly men, in important, great positions of power. He aimed to define and further understand leadership by focusing on how leaders were depicted throughout historical texts like the Bible. He consistently and solely mentioned the actions of the leaders and why or how they may have come to those decisions, while also focusing on the success or failure of their reign. Bass also emphasized the more negative, “hortatory” side of leadership where the leader dominates and exploits the “subordinates”. He places less emphasis on the “subordinates” or followers by even using negative tones towards them and focusing on the “heroes” or heroines”. In terms of history, it is very important to give those who didn’t have a voice or power in the past another chance by telling their story and learning valuable lessons pertaining to leadership and followership. I believe that Corfield’s outlook is more challenging than Bass’s and is a more efficient and overall better way to study History and leadership.


Kathrine Yeaw – Blog Post 8/24

Before reading “Why History Matters” I was already aware of the fact that it is, and needed no convincing. I knew history is important, but I knew it for mainly one reason; learning about our history helps us to learn from our mistakes/successes in order to go forward into the future. While reading this article I realized not only that there are people who still believe History doesn’t matter, or simply wonder why it does matter at all. 

Cornfield brings up the idea that History allows us to explore new topics without having to learn everything new again. She says about how “the human mind can and does explore much wider terrain than does the human body”. Not only does History allow people to have so much more information then what is put right in front of them, but it gives them a framework to understand and make sense of the information. I found this interesting because Cornfield highlights how it is the job of educationalists to have students analyze a subject fully by understanding the history of a topic and the ways it may have changed or been challenged. The idea that History is much more than past events that helps us learn, but how we can learn from how we are living in it now is important to realize moving forward. 


Maddie Orr; blog post 8/24

Throughout “Why History Matters” Cornfield discusses the importance of history in terms of understanding the true human experience and condition. History connects events, people, beliefs, and experiences to the present and students can create a larger, more critical view of things that happen today. When discussing why history is so important to study Cornfield says, “to study the subject for the invaluable in-depth analysis and the long-term perspective it confers upon the entire human experience”. Education allows people to gain knowledge about the world they live in and teaches how to build upon that for the future. Cornfield also brought up an interesting point that the human mind can do more and experience more than the physical human body. This shows the importance of education and history specifically where our minds are able to travel back in time to periods of evolution and to see change throughout the past. 

Last semester, I took a history class called Nazi Germany and a constant theme throughout the course was the importance of teaching difficult and horrific moments of the past to ensure that history does not repeat itself. Humans learn from the past and see different outcomes to behaviors. When encountered with similar behaviors or experiences humans adapt their responses based on their knowledge of the past. Cornfield’s article brought up many similar arguments showing the importance of teaching history in order to give people a strong and knowledgeable foundation to create change for the future. This can be done through a good educational system and compelling teachers who provide students a “vital collective resource” that teaches about the past and also promotes growth for the future. 


Concepts of Leadership-Sofia

In his article, Concepts of Leadership, Bernard M. Bass examines the history of leadership through various cultures and time periods. I found it especially interesting how he discussed  how the greater the socioeconomic divide/stress on a country or peoples, the greater the distorted “realities” of leadership are. In my own personal studies of history I have found this statement to hold true. When people are impoverished and have little educational background (due to socioeconomic divides and class structure) they are less likely to understand what “good”  leadership looks like. Therefore they are unable to notice unfair tyrannical behavior from their leaders. This creates a distorted sense of leadership for the people and for the leaders themselves. This leads to an even more unjust society with cruel/bad leaders. Another point Bass made jumping off of that is that to keep the leadership in check you must educate the leaders and the people in the ideals of good leadership. I believe that is why studying not only history but specifically leadership is crucial. If people can truly understand what good leadership is and looks like then they can evaluate their own leaders, or their own leadership.


M. Childress Blog post 8/25

Wednesday’s readings sparked two thoughts for me. First, in Bass’ “Concepts of Leadership”, he points out that famous philosopher, Aristotle, believed in the need to teach the youth about leadership, yet some 2500 years later, we still struggle to find an accurate description or definition of leadership. However, I noticed two different leadership styles and goals emerging at different times throughout the reading. First, are the leaders who “create myths that allow dominance over subordinates” and use their power and authority to get what they want, or serve the mission they desire in a sort of narcissistic way. On the other hand, the Iliad describes a sort of servant leadership in which the leader that “serves me most, or serves his country best” is the most effective leader. Taoism takes this a step further to empower followers to believe that the successes were due to their efforts, and the leader’s role is to cultivate the self belief and confidence for his or her followers to succeed and thrive, I am very interested to learn more about these tactics, see how they have developed, and also how they have shaped the cultures they consist in. 


Concepts of Leadership 8/24

Throughout “Concepts of Leadership” Bernard M. Bass examines what forms of leadership have appeared throughout history in terms of time period and physical location as well as how different cultures viewed leaders. He uses the term “Purposeful Stories” to describe the way that leaders are remembered as time passes. It is interesting to think how a single decision made by a leader could be the basis of their entire legacy or the “stories” future people tell about them. The fact that leaders, at one point in time, were remembered solely through stories gives many historical  figures a sort of legendary ambiance that amplifies their accomplishments to an unattainable height.

It seems that throughout all points and places in history, great leaders were admired for their similar qualities and the positive effect they had on their followers. However, it seems the definition of what is a “great” leader has evolved with time through the changing of standards by the general public as well as the creation of new philosophical ideas. According to Bass, early leaders mentioned in the Old and New testament fell into categories such as “prophests, priests, chiefs, and kings”. While these figures were meant to demonstrate qualities that the entire population could employ to improve society as a whole, none of them were elected officials, but rather came into power through other means. These means included religious appointments, a  matter of blood right, or possibly both as can be seen with the belief in divine right to rule held within many monarchies. By today’s standards these leaders would be considered completely unjust and unfit to rule. It can be unfair to judge the leaders of the past by modern standards as it is highly possible that the leaders of today will be looked down upon by future generations. Looking at both the positive and negative qualities of past forms of leadership should alter the decisions we as a society make about who we put in charge as well as how leaders choose to lead. This is especially important as today in many places the people determine who is in power, instead of some other factor.



Mia Slaunwhite — Blog Post 8/24

As I read through “Concepts of Leadership” by Bernard M. Bass, I begin to reflect on the fact that in some of the oldest text discovered there is evidence of leaders and leadership. The article states, “Leaders as prophets, priest, chiefs, and kings served as symbols, representatives, and models for their people in the Old and New Testaments” (49)—I find myself reminiscing on the idea that there has always been a somebody who has a following/ and or a leader.

At my last college, I took a class on the Bible—history and literature. After taking that class I began to understand the differences between the power that the Roman army had above all else. Even though Jesus had apostles and followers; he was a leader to them, but the Roman army had more power, and Pontius Pilate, the man in charge are killing Jesus, had a sense of leadership. Although his power and leadership can be seen in many eyes as evil, he had the leadership power to be able to defeat.

Bass also suggests in his text that there are “leadership rivals” in times of civilization coming fourth (50). Again, we can see that through the Bible, but we can most definitely see the rivalry in everyday life. To become the caption of a sports team, to be elected as a chair or a president in an organization, working your way to the top of a business chain. We see rivalries every day and because of that now I see the importance of studying leadership and hopefully being able to determine how I can better myself for the moments I must be a leader.


Podcast Episode 1

Leadership and the Humanities Podcast

Episode 1: Leadership in History, Leadership and History

The subject and discipline of history is really the essence of the humanities. I don’t say this because I’m a historian—I’m actually not a historian…

Visit Blackboard/Podcasts for the whole episode…

Download here for the 10.30 class.

Download here for the 12.00 class.


Podcast Blog

This area is where students should submit–as comments–questions and observations about the day’s podcast.

WordPress does not have enough storage for the podcasts to be uploaded here, but they are all available in Blackboard. Please make sure you comment on the correct episode post so that Dr. Bezio finds it.

Each podcast will appear on Blackboard and here following the class prior (so at about 12pm on Mondays and Wednesdays for the following class).

(Note: Students who may be hard of hearing should contact Dr. Bezio for transcripts.)

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