Leadership is a fascinating subject for a class paper. There are many aspects of leadership that may pique your interest as you narrow down possible topics. You should have no trouble finding resources for your paper because leadership has been researched extensively. Learning about leadership theories, styles and skills can help you understand what it takes to be effective if you're in charge of a project, team or student organization now or in the future.
Researching leadership styles would help you understand how a leader’s approach to people and situations impacts morale, organizational culture and productivity. Your paper could focus on a typology of leadership styles. For example, Lewin’s seminal theory suggests that leadership styles fall on a continuum from autocratic to democratic. Blake and Mouton’s managerial grid categorizes leadership style according to whether a leader concentrates more on task completion or relationship building. Or you could examine Fielder’s contingency theory or Hersey and Blanchard’s situational leadership theory; both suggest that leaders must be adaptable because there isn’t a leadership style that works well in all situations.
Gender Differences in Leadership
If you like controversial topics, you may enjoy writing about the role of gender in leadership. According to Phillip Lewis, author of “From Boardroom to Whiteboard: A New Generation of Leadership,” studies of gender difference in leaders have produced mixed results. Lewis notes that some research suggests that women in corporate leadership are more caring and less controlling than their male counterparts. By contrast, other studies show that women adapt stereotypical male behaviors when rising in the corporate ranks. Examine gender stereotypes that women leaders may face when exercising power. For example, female leaders interviewed by Forbes Woman revealed that many women leaders are painted as strident, manipulative and intimidating.
You could write a paper on the timely topic of organizational leadership and delve into classical and neoclassical theories of how leaders can adroitly manage businesses, schools, agencies and nonprofit organizations. For example, Joe Zolner, senior director of Harvard's Institutes for Higher Education, suggests that leaders can apply Bolman and Deal’s four-framed leadership model to analyze organizational challenges from a structural, human resource, political and symbolic perspective. Other organizational leadership topics that are especially relevant today include transformational leadership, cross-cultural leadership, team building, organizational restructuring, strategic planning and goal setting.
Case Study of Influential Leaders
Much can be learned from writing about the lives of leaders who made a far-reaching difference in the world. Your paper could focus on notable individuals such as Mother Teresa or Mahatma Gandi. In addition to identifying the personal dispositions, values and skills that have made them iconic, you could examine what life experiences and societal forces shaped their leadership philosophy and success. You could also attempt to answer the often-debated question of whether leadership ability is innate or learned behavior. Interviewing important leaders on your campus or in the community could provide insight into how leaders make decisions, resolve ethical dilemmas and supervise others.
- Leadership: Theory, Application, & Skill Development; Robert Lussier and Christopher Achua
- Educational Administration: Concepts and Practices; Fred Lunenburg and Allan Ornstein
- From Boardroom to Whiteboard: A New Generation of Leadership; By Phillip V. Lewis and Marilyn Hermann Lewis
- ForbesWoman: The 10 Worst Stereotypes About Powerful Women
- Harvard Graduate School of Education: Professional Education
- Concepts in Leadership; Jonathan Gosling, et. al.
Dr. Mary Dowd is a dean of students whose job includes student conduct, leading the behavioral consultation team, crisis response, retention and the working with the veterans resource center. She enjoys helping parents and students solve problems through advising, teaching and writing online articles that appear on many sites. Dr. Dowd also contributes to scholarly books and journal articles.