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Leadership: Limits and Possibilities

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This module is optional for students taking the BA Business Studies, BA Business Administration, BA Personnel Management and BSc Sports Management programmes.

BMG 302 Organizational Leadership provides an introductory overview of the organisational activities typically associated with leading and managing.  Leadership should be seen holistically as a process that effects all aspects of organizational life.  Leadership does not reside with a single individual or senior group it is a concept which involves everyone.  This is in part a reflection of organizational transformation and demographics.  Organizations have gained efficiency by reducing the workforce but this has impacted on ‘survivors’ with expectations that those staff remaining will assume more responsibility, be more accountable and be ‘engaged’  in discretionary work.  Also in relation to demographics the developing economies have an increasingly educated workforce that no longer expects (or accepts) command and control leadership. Thus concepts such as dispersed or distributed leadership are gaining momentum.  These conceptual models represent leadership as a process which does not clearly delineate leaders and followers but presents all organizational members as parts of the process.  This module will adopt a critical management perspective in its review of theoretical leadership positions.  We will look at case studies and critical events that highlight the fluidity of the leadership process.  Issues such as decision making, governance, ethics, values and culture will form part of the discussion.  The module will also review practical leadership skills and will offer an opportunity to practice coaching, conflict management, mentoring and performance reviews.  The module is thus both pragmatic in highlighting key leadership skills and conceptual in critiquing the processes and practices of leadership (and leaders).  You are advised to read national newspapers (such as The Times, The Guardian, The Telegraph) and to retain articles that reflect and review organizational leadership and leaders.  As a minimum you should complete the required reading each week from the recommended text.  To perform well you need to be reading widely – textbooks and journals.  It is expected that you will reference your work using the HARVARD system. 

Please note this one very important fact: whatever your chosen field of study, there is every possibility that in a very few years after graduating, you will have line management responsibilities and will therefore have to make decisions about your staff! This module is therefore crucial to your success in your future employment.

Module aims and objectives

The above introduction attempts to explain the rationale behind this module and thus to set in context the overall aims and objectives which are:


To develop knowledge and understanding about theories and practices of organizational leadership and governance;

To critique the multi-dimensional (social, political, cultural, structural and psychological) role of leadership; to explore the ethical and moral foundation of organizational leadership

To develop management techniques of decision making, leadership, conflict management, and communication.

Objectives: By the end of this module you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of module content;
  • Analyse the leadership and governance role through the use of empirical and theoretical frameworks;
  • utilise knowledge and understanding to discuss, debate and analyse complex issues;
  • appreciate and evaluate the complexity of the leadership and governance role and its consequences for decision making;
  • demonstrate autonomy and initiative in researching secondary sources appropriate to the learning objectives.

Teaching and learning methods

There will be one, one hour lecture/tutorial per week, as specified on your timetable. The schedule of sessions is attached. It is expected that you will attend all sessions and occasionally attendance may be monitored.

You should email me with any urgent module queries.

Please be aware that in order to be successful in this module, you will have to read around the subject, using the core text book and the reading list provided. Attendance at lectures will not be sufficient for you to pass. They will provide a starting point, but it is up to you to read further.

Use of the Student Portal

The Student Portal will be used for announcements, messages, articles of interest etc and so you should read this regularly. Powerpoint slides and some lecture materials may, as appropriate, be posted onto the Portal, but you should not rely on this as a regular feature of this module, neither should you rely on Portal materials as substitutes for lectures. Lectures will always contain far more than is posted on the Portal.

Assessment methods

Coursework 50%

Coursework will comprise an essay (one from a choice of three) to be handed in 9th December 2011.   The essay mark constitutes 50% of the total marks for this module. The word limit is a maximum of 2000 words using 1.5 line spacing with 12 Font size Arial. Please submit TWO paper copies of your assignment as samples will be sent to the external examiner.

Assessment criteria

The following assessment criteria will be used to mark your essay:

Essay Questions (Choose one from the following list)

 Consider the following headline:

‘As the best-selling newspaper appears for the very last time, the power struggle is just beginning’

The Independent on Sunday 10 July 2011

Consider this statement.  Use theories to explore the relationship between leadership and organizational power, culture and control. You should apply theories and case study examples drawn from the News of the World story to illustrate your answer.

Can leaders really manage change ?  Use case study examples to explore the connections (and disconnections?) between leadership and change theory.
Read the extract below from the  (Zoe Wood 19th April 2011)

New chief Philip Clarke said the supermarket was no longer leading the pack. The new boss of Tesco has ripped up the supermarket group's management rulebook by admitting it had taken its eye off the ball in the UK and promising a more "open" leadership style that would be honest about failure as well as success. In his maiden presentation as chief executive, Philip Clarke broke his predecessor Sir Terry Leahy's code of silence and offered up some self-criticism. He identified a "loss of form" at the UK chain and said that despite delivering the lion's share of its record annual profits of £3.8bn, it "had not been leading" the supermarket pack as it had in much of the previous decade.

And consider the following question:

Use theories of leadership to explore the connections between the behaviours, skills and traits of a Chief Executive and the success (or otherwise) of a multi-national corporation such as Tesco ?

 Examination 50%

There will be a 2 hour paper in the May examination period. The mark for this exam will constitute 50% of the marks for the module. You will have to answer one compulsory unseen question on a seen case study.  You will also answer one essay question from a choice of three. The case study will be given out two weeks prior to the exam without the questions attached.

Assessment criteria

The following assessment criteria will be used to mark your exam:

Case Study Questions

  • informed analysis of theory relating to the subject

matter that answers the question                                      (70 marks)

  • referencing of a range of relevant literature sources      (10 marks)
  • well-structured and coherent discussion                          (20 marks)

Academic offences

The University of Plymouth takes any attempt to breach its assessment regulations very seriously. Students found to have committed such a breach may face a range of penalties up to, and including, reduction of degree classification or recommendation to terminate studies. You will find details about academic offences on in the faculty undergraduate handbook and online.

Read through the information in the Faculty Undergraduate Programmes Handbook under ‘Assessment and Examinations Offences’, including the penalties for offences.  If you still do not understand what constitutes an academic offence, please consult the Student Support Office, your personal tutor or your programme manager. 

BMG302 Organisational Leadership

Academic year 2011/12

Module contents

w/c date

Autumn Term Contents


Tutorial/Self Directed

Lecturer *

Chapter Yukl




Introduction to the module.


Hilary Duckett





Perspectives on Leadership and Management


(Self Directed)

Hilary Duckett





Leadership Theory


Sybille Schifferman





Leadership and Followership

Essay Workshop Group A

Sybille Schifferman





Leadership Power and Influence

Essay Workshop Group B

Sybille Schifferman




Leadership and Culture

Essay Workshop Group C

Sybille Schifferman




Leadership and Change

Essay Workshop

Group D

Sybille Schifferman





Risk and Reputation

(Self Directed)

Guest Speaker

Garry Honey





Leadership and Organizational Development

(Self Directed)

Chris Reed Thomas





Positive, Ethical and Authentic Leadership

(Self Directed)

Hilary Duckett






Destructive Leadership

(Self Directed)

Professor Duncan Lewis




Reading week






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