Design is a fundamentally human activity - people have been designing tools and environments for millennia.   Leadership is a social phenomenon that has been observed since ancient times.  

  The study of design is an emerging discipline (Margolin, 1989; Buchanan & Margolin, 1995; Cross, 1999; Bayazit, 2004) that integrates the arts and sciences (Cross, 1982; Pugh, 1982).   Leadership Studies is a broad, integrative field that currently draws theories, models, principles and perspectives from the arts, social sciences and humanities.  

  In its broadest sense, design is concerned with nothing less than the transformation of the (natural) world and the reordering of human social relationships (Dilnot, 1982).   Leaders intend and produce change at personal, organizational, social and cultural levels - and the changes they produce may also affect technology and material culture.  

  Designers serve clients.   Leaders serve followers.  

  Design is a practice (Schon, 1983; cf. Cross, 2001 and Doloughan, 2002) -- requiring intentional focus, learning, development, application, reflection, and conscious improvement over time.   Leaders may become intentional about reflecting on, growing, and owning their leadership practice. (Cf. Drucker, 1954 and Zahra, 2003). Self-leadership may be viewed as designing oneself as a designer of change.  

  Designers and their clients begin the design process aiming to bring to realization a design intention (Nelson, 2001).   Leaders and followers intend real changes (Rost, 1991). They pursue change with the purpose of realizing a shared vision.  

  Design has an emergent quality - the final product cannot be fully known at the outset of the design process. When conditions and constraints change, designers re-design.   Leaders and followers begin with a shared purpose and vision that becomes more and more explicit as it becomes operationalized and realized in a dynamic, changing context. (Cf. Heifetz, 1994)  

  Designers co-design with other designers.   Effective leaders collaborate with other leaders and followers; leadership is shared / connective / distributed (Pearce & Conger, 2002; Lipman-Blumen, 1996; Gronn, 2002).  

  Designers communicate with other designers through models, blueprints and other forms of signification. Their success depends on their ability to create and interpret meaning (Kazmierczak, 2003).   Leaders manage meaning (Bennis & Nanus, 1985), frame meaning intentionally (Fairhurst & Sarr, 1996), and lead with meaning (Pava, 2003).  

  Designers use and re-use design patterns (Alexander et al., 1977).   Leaders are guided by leadership principles, models and theories.  

  Design is concerned with the fit and appropriateness of a product within the larger environment in which it will be used (Nelson & Stolterman, 2003).   Leadership is context-specific. The leader is the one who understands the law of the situation (Follett 1940, 1973).  

  There are good designs and bad designs.   Leadership can be used for good or evil.  


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