Leadership and Democracy



Political Science 132            Fall 2009

LEADERSHIP and DEMOCRACY: Theory, Practice, and Purpose

Professor John DiIulio   

Mr. Joseph P. Tierney   Mr. Chuck Brutsche   Mr. Josh Power

Course Description: Power in American society is distributed among diverse leaders in government, business, and the nonprofit sector.  “Leadership” is a radical idea that arose in modern democratic societies.  Focusing on leadership in the United States, Penn undergraduates in this course:

  • explore the concept’s historical meanings and popular usages
  • evaluate competing academic and quasi-academic “leadership theories,” empirical as well as normative
  • examine assorted claims about leadership “best practices” in different organizational settings and sectors
  • engage in various individual and group “leadership self-assessment” exercises
  • interact with two guest speakers, each of whom is the subject of an in-class interview and a “leadership practice” case study 
  • compose a personal three-to-five-year “leadership theory, practice, and purpose statement”

Required Books: The six books listed below were ordered for this course via the university bookstore:

Doris Kearns Goodwin, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln (Simon and Shuster, 2006).

Peter G. Northouse, Leadership: Theory and Practice, 4th edition, paperback (Sage Publications, 2006).

Martin E.P. Seligman, Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Change Your Life (Vintage, 2006).

Michael Useem and Warren Bennis, The Leadership Moment: Nine True Stories of Triumph and Disaster and the Lessons for Us All (Three Rivers Press, 1999).

Nicolo Machiavelli, The Prince (1513).

Chris Lowney, Heroic Leadership: Best Practices From a 450-Year-Old Company That Changed the World (Loyola Press, 2005).

Grading Policy: There are six graded course components which together sum to 1,000 possible points.  Final letter grades for the course are based on a curve: the median point total is set at B+, such that half of all students receive a final letter grade of B+ or higher.  The five graded course components are as follows:

  1. Ten brief recitation response papers (30%: 300 points, 30 points each). They are graded 30-26/30 (excellent, like an “A”), 25-21/30 (good, like a “B”), 20-16/30 (satisfactory, like a “C”), 15-11/30 (poor but satisfactory, like a “D”), and 10 and below/30 (unsatisfactory, like an “F”). 
  2. Two recitation response essays (12%: 120 points, 60 points each).  Longer and more demanding than the recitation response papers, the first recitation response essay is due on October 20, and the second one is due on November 24.  Each is graded 60-53/60 (excellent, like an “A”), 52-45/60 (good, like a “B”), 44-37/60 (satisfactory, like a “C”), 36-29/60 (poor but satisfactory, like a “D”), and 28 and below/60 (unsatisfactory, like an “F”).
  3. Individual participation in a dozen recitations including group exercises (18%: 180 points, 15 points each).  Each recitation meeting results in one of three grades: 15 (participated well), 12 (participated satisfactorily), and 9 (attended but did not participate satisfactorily).
  4.  A three-to-five-year “leadership theory, practice, and purpose statement” (10%, 100 points).  The plan is due December 8.  Each plan is graded 100-91 (excellent), 90-81 (good), 80-71 (satisfactory), 70-61 (poor but satisfactory), or 60 or below (unsatisfactory: must revise and resubmit on December 11 for a maximum possible grade of 71).
  5. Midterm: An in-class, four-answer, 100-item, multiple-choice first-half examination (15%: 150 points) on October 27 covering all course material through October 20.
  6. Final: A four-answer, 100-item, multiple-choice examination (15%: 150 points) covering all course material from November 3 through December 8, as scheduled by the Registrar.

     The vast majority of students are great people who take their course requirements seriously, behave with respect toward both their instructors and their peers, and avoid any violations of the university’s academic integrity and student conduct policies. Still, experience dictates spelling out in advance the following strictures:  

  • Punctual recitation attendance is strictly required and all written work is due in recitation. There are no excused absences and no extensions on written work except for documented (before or after the fact) medical reasons or other emergencies: work for other courses, extra-curricular commitments, travel, and job interviews are not acceptable reasons for missing recitations or failing to hand written work in on time. 
  • Except as specified (see 4 above), there are no revisions or rewrites under any conditions. 
  • Any first unexcused absence from recitation or missed written assignment results in an automatic loss of 50 points and any second unexcused absence from recitation or missed written assignment results in an automatic loss of the previous 50 points plus another 150 points.  Any third unexcused absence from recitation or missed written assignment results in notice to the College and an impending course failure regardless of student performance on all other graded components.
  • All Penn undergraduates are governed by the university’s published policies regarding academic integrity and conduct.  Although a mercifully rare occurrence, serious violations (including serious first and only time violations) do occur.  Per Penn’s policies, once detected and documented, the case is referred to responsible university officials for possible disciplinary action.


September 15

Leadership, Democracy, Lincoln...and You

DiIulio, “Teaching Note: Leadership Secret Number 23,378”

Useem and Bennis, introduction and chapter 1 (Roy Vagelos)

Northouse, introduction

Goodwin, introduction and chapters 1-11

Recitation paper (Hardcopy due by NOON on Friday, September 18th to the front desk of Leadership Hall, 3814 Walnut Street): Do you like to lead, and do you lead like Lincoln? Summarize Goodwin’s Part I account in relation to your own initial surmises about you as a present or potential leader.  400-600 words (Note: Each recitation paper must givethe exact word count on page 1, and all pages must be numbered!)

September 22

Lincoln, Purpose-Driven Leader?

Goodwin, chapters 12-25

Useem and Bennis, chapter 5 (Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin)

Recitation paper: If forced to characterize given leaders as either “mainly goal-directed” or “mainly purpose-driven,” which characterization would you choose for Lincoln, which would you choose for Chamberlin, and which would you apply for now to you? 400-600 words 

September 29

Leadership Traits, Skills, Styles, and Situations

Northouse, chapters 2, 3, 4 and 5

Useem and Bennis, chapter 8 (Nancy Barry)

Recitation paper: What’s your present interpersonal “style,” what’s your present “traits and skills” profile, and how does yours compare to Nancy Barry’s?  500-700 words

October 6

Leadership “Theories”

Northouse, chapters 6, 7 and 8

Useem and Bennis, chapter 6 (Clifton Wharton)

Recitation paper: Which, if any, “theory,” contingency, path-goal, or leader-member exchange, does Clifton Wharton’s leadership legacy with TIAA-CREF illustrate “in action,” and which, if any, of these “theories” did you find intuitively plausible, or analytically illuminating, or both, and why? 500-700 words

October 13

Leadership and Principal-Agent Theory

DiIulio, “Principled Agents,” Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 1994

Useem and Bennis, chapter 2 (Wagner Dodge)

Northouse, chapters 9 and 10

Recitation paper: You wake up tomorrow as Penn’s president, determined to be a “transformational leader” who favors a “culture-building” approach to the organization’s “principal-agent” dilemmas, and intent on getting tenured faculty to function ever more as “principled agents”: what’s your plan?  600-800 word

October 20

Leadership Practice Case Study I

Lowney, chapters 1 and 2

Recitation paper: This week’s paper is actually two separate written assignments:

(a)    conduct independent research related to the to-be-assigned/announced leadership practice case study, and write a paper giving your best take on it (300-400 words), and

(b)    begin thinking about your personal three-to-five year “leadership theory, practice, and purpose statement” by reacting to Lowney’s account of “What Leaders Do” (300-400 words) 

October 27

In-Class Midterm Examination

>No reading assignments this week

>No written work this week

>No recitations this week

November 3

Leadership and Positive Psychology

Seligman, all except chapter 15

Northouse, chapter 11

Useem and Bennis, chapter 3 (Eugene Kranz)

Recitation essay: Describe, analyze, and evaluate Seligman’s ideas, data, and arguments about “learned optimism” (a) in relation to lecture material, recitation discussions/exercises, and what you have read so far in this course; (b) in relation to your own preliminary leadership traits and skills self-profile (revisit your September 29 recitation paper); and (c) in relation to how you suppose you might fare in your first post-Penn role as a “position leader” were it to occur in an “optimistic organization” small enough for you to know all your bosses and most of your position peers by name, but too large for you to know most who work for or “under” you by name. 1,200-1,600 words

November 10

Leadership: Gender, Religion, and Culture

Northouse, chapters 12 and 13

Useem and Bennis, chapters 4 (Arlene Blum) and 9 (Alfredo Cristiani)

Lowney, chapters 3, 4, and 5

Recitation paper: Compare and contrast the leadership practices of Blum, Cristiani, and Loyola, and continue to flesh out your three-to-five-year statement by ruminating about which of these three leaders could best serve you personally as a “leadership development” model, and why.  700-900 words

November 17

Leadership Practice Case Study II

Lowney, chapters 6, 7, 8, and 9

As with the previous leadership practice case study week, this week’s paper is actually two separate written assignments:

(a)    conduct independent research related to the to-be-assigned/announced leadership practice case study, and write a paper giving your best take on it (300-400 words), and
(b)    continue thinking about your personal three-to-five year “leadership theory, practice, and purpose statement” by reacting to Lowney’s account of “Heroic Leaders” (300-400 words)


November 24

Leadership Ethics

Northouse, chapter 14

Useem and Bennis, chapter 7 (John Gutfreund) and revisit chapter 1 (Roy Vagelos)

Lowney, chapters 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11

Recitation essay: Regarding John Gutfreund, Roy Vagelos, and any two other leaders we have discussed in this course(your choice), which, if any, would you say “led like a Loyola,’ and what is your own personal take on “leadership ethics”? 1,200-1,600 words

December 1

Leadership Purpose

Machiavelli, entire

Recitation paper:  Compare and contrast the ideas about “leadership theory, practice, and purpose” offered by Machiavelli and Loyola: beneath certain seemingly obvious differences, how different are they as guides to what leaders can and should do? 700-900 words

December 8

Abe, Ignatius, “Nick”...and the Leader in Your Mirror (Past, Present, and Future)

Goodwin, chapter 26 and epilogue

Useem and Bennis, conclusion and “Leader’s Guide”

Lowney, conclusion

Seligman, chapter 15

Recitation: Each student submits his or her three-to-five year “leadership theory, practice, and purpose statement.” 1,500-2,000 words