Leadership (Self-Leadership & Team Leadership)

Leadership refers to a person's ability to guide and inspire themselves as well as others to act. Writers, speakers, knowledge workers . . . engage in leadership when they plan activities and resources, resolve conflicts, and reorganize aims, team charters, and works flows. Learn about the core competencies required to succeed in self leadership and team leadership.    
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Leadership refers to a person’s ability to guide and inspire themselves as well as others to act. Learning leadership skills and styles are key to workplace success.

  • Self-leadership refers to the dispositions and processes people employ to re-direct, self monitor and evaluate their own thoughts and actions. Self-leadership involves self-talk and self-coaching. Self-leadership may involve moderating one’s emotions in response to difficult rhetorical problems and critical feedback.
  • Team-leadership refers to the processes involved in assigning, supervising, coaching, evaluating, and inspiring the work of others.

Related Concepts: Critique; Mindset, Growth Mindset, Intellectual Openness; Professionalism & Work Ethic; Resilience; Self-Regulation & Metacognition

The discussion below focuses on Team-leadership. This discussion is chiefly informed by

  • the comprehensive review of literature on collaborative problem solving conducted by Maria Elena Oliveri and her colleagues at ETS (Educational Testing service).
  • Ray Dalio’s Principles for Life and Work.

Leadership Embodied: On the Actions of Leaders

Leaders are engaged. Curious, leaders seek solutions to problems. They innovate, disrupt, and transform ways of thinking and doing things. When facing obstacles, leaders research what thought leaders are doing. They have a deep understanding of Information Literacy. They are well read. They listen to podcasts. They seek out other leaders and are open to new ideas ideas.

Leaders are recognized by their actions. For instance, a leader can

  • identify (independently or in consultation with others) a vision of the future;
  • inspire others to support and advance the vision;
    • use communication channels/tools (e.g., Slack, Twitter, Google Docs) to empower all team members to see the evolving group vision and contribute accordingly;
  • identify and secure personnel and material resources necessary to obtain a vision;
  • inspire and motivate others (e.g., by engaging in ethical behavior, by empowering diverse opinions, by making evidence-based decisions);
  • adjust and revise a vision in response to obstacles and failures;
  • empower, acknowledge, and celebrate the works of others;
  • create a meritocracy
  • distinguish fact from opinion.

Setting tasks and holding people accountable are required leadership skills. Leaders are, after all, the people we look up to for guidance, However, this does not mean that leadership is the same as telling someone what to do or how to do it. In fact, those behaviors when exercised to the extreme can be boorish and autocratic. Rather, leaders are responsive. They listen to their team.

After sincere efforts listening to all points of view, leaders follow their own judgment even when this means the leaders may lose their leadership platform. When necessary leaders will make decisions and choose paths that are unpopular. Yet they are strategic about which battles to fight. Flexible, sometimes they will go along with the will of their team or community. Learning Leadership skills and styles are essential for life and workplace success.

Team Leadership Competencies

In the context of Writing Studies, six core competencies are associated with Leadership:

  1. Resource Management
    • organize personnel resources,
    • prioritize tasks and activities via a reasonable schedule,
    • allocate time material resources?
  2. Task Management
    1. Define responsibilities and expectations
    2. Share defined roles, tasks, outcomes across the team
  3. Performance Management
    1. Track individual group member’s progress (e.g., Progress Reports, Project Management software, F2F meetings).
    2. Reward clear thinking
  4. Crisis Management
    1. Reorganize when faced with obstacles such as negative client feedback
  5. Conflict Management
  6. Vision


Leadership is a new topic at Writing Commons. Hence, it is underdeveloped, and we are looking for authors to help us develop resources to help writers in academic and workplace settings be productive co-authors.

Based on your experiences as writing faculty in higher education or professional settings, what resources or pedagogical activities can you recommend to help students advance their self-leadership and team-leadership competencies?

Please see Contribute for details in how you can work with us to reach an international audience of students and teachers.

Works Cited

Model of Collaborative Problem Solving. Source: Oliveri, M., Lawless, R., & Molloy, H. (2017). A Literature Review on Collaborative Problem Solving for Workforce Readiness. GRE Board Research Report Series and ETS Research Report Series, 1-27. Doi:10.1002/ets12133