Are leaders born or are they made? Is leadership art or a science? Can you be introverted and be a leader? These are the types of questions graduate students in the Human Development Institute’s (HDI) Leadership course recently discussed in the Developmental Disabilities Graduate Certificate.
“Leadership is an art, and if you know about art, art is always changing and leaders must be open to learning new knowledge about leadership as well,” said Tony Dotson, Director of University of Kentucky Veterans Resource Center.
When Dotson first heard of the opportunity to teach a class on leadership fundamentals for the Human Development Institute’s Graduate Certificate in Developmental Disabilities, he leapt at the opportunity to share his leadership experiences with the students.
“Leaders don’t necessarily have to be subject matter experts, but they should know a little about a lot. This ensures they are comfortable talking about any aspect of their organization,” said Dotson, who has a military career of twenty-six years as a Lieutenant Colonel of Military Intelligence in the U.S. Army as well as educational experiences in the Educational Leadership Studies doctoral program at the University of Kentucky.
The purpose of this Graduate Certificate in Developmental Disabilities is to prepare professionals from a variety of disciplines to play a leadership role in providing services and supports for people with developmental disabilities and their families. As part of HDI’s Graduate Certificate, HDI 604 is an interdisciplinary leadership seminar that provides a base of core knowledge and experiences in leadership and group facilitation.
Dotson was quick to point out the role of the follower as well when talking leadership. “People are different and respond differently to leadership,” he said. “One of the biggest mistakes leaders make is to assume everyone will adjust to their leadership style. The more you know about what motivates your followers, the more effective you will be as a leader.”
Practicing professionals from a broad range of disciplines who wish to further their education and experience in the disability field will also benefit from HDI’s Graduate Certificate. The courses are held in the Conference Room at the Human Development Institute’s Mineral Industries Building, located on campus at 120 Graham Avenue.
Dotson ended by encouraging students in the course to be lifelong students of leadership. “Some of the best leaders I ever worked for were always willing to learn more about their craft. As leaders we need to be good listeners and observers of human behavior.”
“Passion leads to energy and energy helps you fulfill your vision,” Dotson said. ”Caring is essential to good leadership. I’ve found caring is the conduit for good leadership.”