A. Tymon

University of Portsmouth (UNITED KINGDOM)
Some concepts that are taught in higher education and executive education are more demanding than others for the learning facilitator. For example: contentious issues; complex multi-faceted theory; sensitive and values-based perspectives are more difficult to surface and explore than technical knowledge. Yet facilitating learning in such topics is necessary for deep level transformational learning (Mezirow, 1991), which is the desired outcome of many training, development and educational interventions. In order for such concepts to be openly discussed they first need to be shared, but traditional methods such as asking participants to verbalise their values and beliefs are fraught with difficulties. At the very least socially desirable responses are provided but there is also the risk of refusal, hostility and closed minds.

This paper reports on the use of drawing as a way to overcome some of these difficulties. Although such methods are used extensively in other educational environments, within business school and executive education settings this is a relatively innovative teaching technique. The example explored here has been used with many hundreds of university students and business executives on leadership courses and programmes over the past 5 years and involves participants working in small groups to create a drawing of a leader. The drawings are then discussed, compared and contrasted to demonstrate Implicit Leadership Theory (ILT) (Eden & Leviatan, 1975) and the Romance of Leadership (RoL) (Meindl, Ehrlich & Dukerich, 1985). These two leadership theories are by their nature difficult to teach as they are both based on unconsciously held beliefs that covertly influence behaviour. Traditional teaching methods, of such embedded beliefs, often results in superficial or surface learning, whereas meaningful leader and leadership development requires deeper or transformational learning (Hall, 2004; Krauss, Hamid, and Ismail, 2010).

The practical contribution of this paper is to share lessons in using a teaching method that can support learning and development of implicit beliefs and deeply held values that could be used in multiple contexts. Academically this paper adds to the literature in the under-researched field of arts-based teaching within business schools and executive education.

The paper explores: the concepts of ILT and RoL; why both are important and difficult to teach; and the disadvantages with the use of more traditional methods. It goes on to explain the potential benefits of the exercise and highlights some of the practical challenges for teacher and learners. The paper concludes with recommendations for successful use of the exercise so that others may adopt such a technique more easily.