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How To Be A Leader

By Philip E. Agre, Department of Information Studies

University of California, Los Angeles 

A profession is more than a job--it is a community and a culture. Professions serve society by pooling knowledge among their members and creating incentives to synthesize new knowledge. They also help their members to build networks, find jobs, recruit staff, find collaborators, and organize around the issues that affect them. In a world without change or innovation, professions would not be so necessary. But in a world where change and innovation are ever more intense, every occupation needs more of the institutions and culture of traditional professions such as law, medicine, engineering, education, librarianship, public administration, business, and architecture.

Every profession has leaders. In a formal sense, the elected officers of a professional society are the leaders of that profession. Because a profession is fundamentally about knowledge, however, the true leaders of a profession are the thought leaders: the individuals who synthesize the thinking of the profession's members and articulate directions for the future. Sometimes a profession will elect its thought leaders to official positions. But often the thought leaders prefer to lead through writing and speaking, cutting-edge projects, conference organizing, and dialogue. Leadership means both talking and listening, both vision and consensus. A leader builds a web of relationships within the profession and articulates the themes that are emerging in the thinking of the profession as a whole.

For the entire article go to:  http://polaris.gseis.ucla.edu/pagre/leader.html

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