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The Next Faithful Step

GM522: Leadership in Context

Winter 2013, Scott Cormode


The purpose of this course is to teach students to lead God's people. We will use your field education internships as a context for learning. The course describes the multiple layers of leading and gives students the opportunity to understand leadership by relating it to the work they are doing in their ministry setting. The ministry context also provides a proving ground that allows students to experiment with the lessons taught in the classroom.

Course Format

The class on Tuesdays & Thursdays from 1-3. Attendance is mandatory;absences will hurt your grades. Indeed, students missing more than two days will not pass this class. The first part of the class session will normally focus on learning concepts about leadership, while the second part will revolve around case studies designed to (a) teach you how to reflect on ministry situations, and (b) give you practice applying the class's concepts to ministry situations. Announcements happen at the beginning of the class period.

Weekly Assignments

You will be expected to complete the day's reading before the day of class. You should take notes and reflect on the reading; simply reading the words is not enough. Each week you will write a 700-word (one single-spaced page) reflection paper on the week's reading.  The short paper should have three parts. It should (a) discuss a particular idea from the reading (or in some cases, the previous class period), (b) explain why the idea is important, and (c) explain some specific thing you will do differently for having learned this idea.

It is important that you pay attention to your writing style on these papers. I am NOT looking for off-the-top-of-your-head reflections. Please think through what you have to say, then pick a theme for the paper, and then stick to that theme throughout the paper. People sometimes hear me refer to these assignments as "reflection papers" and think that it is enough to jot down random and disconnected thoughts prompted by the reading. You will want to write something more coherent than that. As you can see, you will probably have to write a rough draft of the paper in order to figure out what you want to say and then go back and re-write it so that the ideas flow properly. (As to grammar, see "Scott's Four Rules for Writing")

Please email in the paper by midnight on the night before class. I will then spend the next morning reading the papers to prepare for class. There are two reasons for the reflection papers. First, it makes you a better learner because it provides an opportunity to reflect on the readings and to synthesize the material. Second, it makes me a better teacher because I will know from reading your reflections what issues matter most to class members and what concepts may need special attention. Please email the papers to Michaela O'Donnell Long at [email protected]

Communication To Students

If I need to communicate to the class, I will send an email to the class list as posted in Portico. Please make sure the right email address is listed for you in Portico. NOTE: I will NOT be keeping track of the email addresses you use to send me papers. It's your responsibility.

Scott's Four Rules For Writing

Students often ask about style and format for writing.  I will admit upfront that I don't really care much about grammar.  I care, instead, about communication—about how well you make your point.  So, here are the four rules I use to evaluate good writing.  I ask you to have one main point and stick to it.  Here's the kind of writing that will keep you from wandering off your point:

  1. Every sentence should have one but only one main verb.
  2. Every paragraph should have one but only one main idea
    —preferably summarized in the first sentence of the paragraph
  3. Every paper should have one but only one main point.
  4. Every paragraph should support the main idea of the paper.


It is important to me to be available to students.  I am in my office most days during the quarter.  If the light is on, feel free to knock.  Usually I can accommodate you right there.  If it is more convenient for you to make an appointment, call me (626-304-3773) or send me email ([email protected]) so we can set something up. My office is located on the first floor of Slessor Hall.

Required Texts

  • Bolman, L. and Deal, T., Reframing Organizations (Jossey-Bass, 2008) ISBN 978-0787987992 ($36)
  • Collins, J,
    • Good to Great (HarperCollins, 2001) ISBN 0066620996 ($16)
    • Good to Great and the Social Sectors (HarperCollins, 2005) ISBN 0977326403 ($8.37)
  • Cormode, S. Almond Springs Casebook (published online at
  • Course Pack of Articles (available on Moodle)
    • Argyris, C., "Teaching Smart People How to Learn" Harvard Business Review
    • Collins, J. and Porras, J., "Building Your Company's Vision," HBR
    • Cormode, S., "Multi-Layered Leadership," Journal of Religious Leadership
    • Dykstra, C., "Evaluation as Collaborative Inquiry"
    • Ely, R. and Meyerson, D., "Theories of Gender in Organizations," in Research in Organizational Behavior
    • Heifetz, R., "The Work of Leadership" HBR
    • Heifetz, R., "Mobilizing Adaptive Work," from Heifetz, Leadership without Easy Answers (Harvard University Press, 1994)
    • Peterson, E., "Throw me into the sea!" in Under the Unpredictable Plant (Eerdmans, 1992)
    • Senge, P., "The Leader's New Work," Sloan Management Review
    • Wuthnow, R., "The Crisis in the Churches," in Financing American Religion

Final Exam

Yes, there will be a final exam in this class.  In the last few weeks of class, I will give you a list with about a hundred words or phrases on it.  These are ideas we have discussed in class. From that list, I will put ten on the exam. You select eight of them to write up for your exam.  For each question, you will write out (a) what does it mean? (b) why is it important? And (c) how does it apply to the church or a religious nonprofit? You will have two hours to do the exam – or, if English is not your first language, then you will have three hours. Oh, and, yes, I do encourage you to form study groups.

Weeks 1–5
Wk Tuesday Thursday
  • Syllabus
  • Almond Springs Episode 1
  • Peterson, "Throw Me into the Sea"
  • Wuthnow, "The Crisis in the Churches"
  • "What they didn't tell me in Seminary"
  • Almond Springs Episode 2
  • Argyris, "Teaching Smart People to Learn"
  • Dykstra, "Evaluation as Collaborative Inquiry"
  • Almond Springs Episode 3
  • Bolman & Deal, Reframing Organizations
    Structural Frame
  • Skim Chapters 3-5 using the handout as a guide
  • Almond Springs Episode 7
  • Bolman & Deal, Reframing Organizations,
    Human Relations Frame
  • Skim Chapters 6-8 using the handout as a guide
  • Almond Springs: "The Chemical Solution"
    (This file is located on the Moodle site for this course)
  • Bolman & Deal, Reframing Organizations
    Symbolic Frame
  • Skim Chapters 12-14 using the handout as a guide (NOTE: You will likely need to read more in this section than in previous ones…)
  • Almond Springs Episode 11
  • Cormode, "Multi-layered Leadership"
  • "Multiple Agendas & Competing Commitments"
  • Almond Springs Episode 10
  • Collins, Good to Great, Chapters 1-4
  • Collins, Good to Great and the Social Sectors
    Read the whole monograph
  • Heifetz, "The Work of Leadership"
  • Heifetz, "Mobilizing Adaptive Work"
  • Heifetz, "The Work of Leadership"
  • Heifetz, "Mobilizing Adaptive Work"
Weeks 6–10