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University of Glasgow

Data-Driven Leadership Skills Course 1: Leadership Narrative

University of Glasgow via Coursera


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This course will explore the theme of 'Authenticity' in leadership by introducing you to the history of leadership theory going back to Ancient Greece. We will establish how traditional leadership became so important. We will also explore how traditional leadership began to unravel when leadership went scientific. We explain how this new data-driven approach to leadership showed that leadership qualities alone do not explain leadership.


  • The Leadership Legacy
    • Before we can think about leadership in the 21st Century, the Information Age, we need to think about what people thought about leadership in the past. Why? Because the legacy of these ideas about leadership live on to a large extent. If you have any sort of leadership training, or perhaps read a book about leadership, the chances are you have been exposed to powerful narratives about heroic leaders and authority. Perhaps your current view of leadership is heavily stereotyped? Perhaps the organisation you work for prefers 'traditional' or 'old school' leadership. These paradigms still exert influence; sometimes for good and sometimes for bad. In any case, this module will explain where these views come from and what conditions leaders dealt with. This will help you to understand why we are still dealing with legacy leadership styles, how thet can help, and what new situations call for a different approach.
  • The Death of Leadership
    • Some claim that leadership, as a concept, is in decline and may no longer be important. However, this may be a little premature or even naive. Leadership has always been important but authority and centralised decision-making are very recent, perhaps ephemeral, developments. As you move through this narrative of leadership, you will learn how leadership is changing. Due to the data deluge and hyper connected work places, high degrees of centralisation are becoming a thing of the past. Many firms are favouring more networked and less hierarchical approaches . Additionally, the introduction of social science in the 20th Century has radically shaken up some of the romantic ideas about leadership.
  • The Rise of Agility
    • So far we have explored the origins of traditional leadership and how this changed in the 20th Century. In the 21st Century we see the birth of a new business model: agility. Agility, like a lot of management and leadership ideas, has its roots in the military. The US military actively researched and developed ways of becoming more agile in the early 21st Century. Many other prominent military powers already embraced agility, especially in NATO. But what is agility and how does it relate to data? In this module, we will learn about agility in leadership.

Taught by

Matt Offord


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