Leadership Through a Humanistic Lens

The Human Dimension of Learning: Interpersonal and
Social Competence
In addition to the inner, or personal, dimension of leadership development,
it is imperative to also consider the social dimension of leadership. Leadership is a social phenomenon and interpersonal in nature, thus requiring
engagement with others in the process of leadership through “initiating,
building, and maintaining relationships with a variety of people who
might differ from oneself in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, social class,
or political agendas” (Hogan & Warrenfeltz, 2003, p. 79). Thus, there is a
need to develop interpersonal or social competence, which can be viewed
through multiple theories of learning (e.g., cognitive, social learning, constructivism), including behavioral skill building. Leadership development
involves growth in one’s knowledge, beliefs, skills, and ultimately behavior.
For instance, one objective for skill development may be an increased ability
to engage others in the movement, goal, or cause. This often requires that
an individual be skilled in activities such as understanding what motivates
others, recognizing others’ strengths and needs, managing group dynamics,
building meaningful relationships with others, managing conflict, and
empowering and inspiring others. For example, a fraternity president
tasked with eliminating hazing will have to be aware of group dynamics,
navigate competing factions, and ultimately communicate a better reality to
members. Or, a nonelected group leader of an academic project will need to
quickly determine strengths of each member, communicate a clear vision,
and empower team members to own their individual parts.
Discussed throughout this volume, learning about leadership is a multidimensional and complex process. Fink’s (2013) taxonomy for significant
learning presented in Chapter 1 highlights different forms of meaningful
learning. One form of learning, the human dimension, clearly aligns with the
personal and social aspects of leadership reviewed in the previous section.
Concerned with the “important relationships and interactions we all have
with ourselves and with others” (Fink, 2003, p. 44), the human dimension
of learning prioritizes intrapersonal and interpersonal learning.