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CLS Class Highlight – Leadership in History

abraham lincoln's leadership in history

What class?

LSAL 5403: Leadership in History

Why is it cool?

Who are some of the most inspiring leaders you know? Is it your boss, a parent, a friend? It may even be someone whom you have never met, but whose words have touched you in some way. For centuries, prominent leaders have ushered large groups of people into new ages for their respective societies. For better or worse, history has shown that individuals of authority can be powerful forces for change in the world.

Leadership has been defined as the action of leading a group of people or an organization. What this definition fails to do, however, is define the particular traits and actions that elevate ordinary people to the status of leaders. Characteristics of great leaders are harder still to pinpoint. Leadership in History tries to do just that by looking at leadership in different historical contexts.

This class is cool because it analyzes the basic principles of leadership using prominent examples drawn from history – including Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, Adolf Hitler and Nelson Mandela, to name a few. It discusses the lives and circumstances that led to each leader’s rise to importance, and then challenges the students to discern patterns between them and test categories of leadership along the way. The students consider why some leaders succeeded and others failed, as well as the relative importance of personality, circumstances and differing leadership characteristics and styles. When they leave the class, every student will understand what it takes to motivate a large group of people to action, success or change.

This class inspires students interested in leadership studies to learn about the distinguishing characteristics of significant historical leaders. Leadership in History introduces them to the individuals whose leadership skills changed the course of history to create the world we live in. Most importantly, the students of this class leave with a clear understanding of what led these people to success or failure, and of the leadership skills that continue to be be useful in the modern world.

See what else is offered by the College of Liberal Studies.

Mary Wuestewald
Mary Wuestewald specializes in digital and content marketing at OU Outreach. In 2015, she earned a master's degree in Strategic Communication from OU’s College of Journalism and Mass Communication. She currently contributes to Insight magazine, the CLS blog and CLS social media efforts.

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