Leadership in Historical and Theoretical Context

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Running Head: LEADERSHIP

Leadership in Historical and Theoretical Context - Lance Armstrong

Leadership in Historical and Theoretical Context - Lance Armstrong
Leadership can be described as the nature of the influencing process and resultant outcomes. It can be explained by the leaders disposition, behaviors, and skills, as well as their follower’s perceptions and the context in which the influencing occurs (Stork, Leadership course document). There are many different theories of leadership styles and discussion about their ability to inspire, motivate, influence, and persuade. We have read about many leaders who – through their strong leadership qualities – emerged as a source of change or revolution in their times. Some great leaders of the past include Napoleon, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, who at their times brought about significant changes in their circumstances, led their followers, and influenced them in such a way that their actions became inline with the desired purpose (Wren, 1995). The role of time and place did play a significant part in their leading and influencing the people. In this paper, I will discuss not only the influence of time and place on the formation and emergence of Lance Armstrong as a leader, but also how his leadership style has changed over time, specifically as a result of his ability to adapt to a crisis - his battle with cancer (Bennis & Thomas, 2007).

Although leadership qualities can exist in people from birth, that doesn’t mean that everyone who has such qualities and capabilities will become a successful leader. Many people do not become a leader because of the absence of opportunity, time, place, and situation. With a vision, hope, and determination, Lance Armstrong changed the course of his life and emerged as a leader and a great influencer. In 1996, at age 25, Lance Armstrong was at the peak of his success and achievement as one of the world’s best cyclists, when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. The cancer spread to his brain, necessitating two brain operations, the removal of the affected testical, and a grueling course of chemotherapy and radiation (Armstrong, 2001). The cancer forced him to reevaluate his life. Before cancer, he sometimes figured he was so much more powerful than that of his teammates and as a result, Armstrong tried to win many of his races on his own, without working as a team, he wound up losing to men he could have easily beaten had he been willing to cooperate with the others on the team (Carmichael, 2005). The turning point was his battle with cancer. He asked himself if he survived, who exactly he intended to be as he was not happy with the man he had become at that point (Armstrong, 2001). By the time he finally received the news that he was cancer-free, he had become a truly different person. He was able to transform his crucible experience into a lesson that provided him with a greater understanding and appreciation of self, new insights, and quality of mind. True leaders create meaning out of difficult events or relationships. Leaders come out of these experiences with something useful, such as a plan of action, new insights, or a sharper focus (Bennis & Thomas, 2007).

Prior to cancer, Armstrong never would have thought of founding a cancer organization, but with his new perspective on life, survivorship became the core of his vision and he launched the Lance Armstrong Foundation. He wanted it to be a place where people could go to for cancer information of the most personal and practical kind. The main purpose was to provide medication and treatment, after recovery services, public learning and awareness, and remedial and technical research funding (Armstrong, 2001). With the inspiration from Armstrong’s own cancer fight, since 1997 the Lance Armstrong Foundation has contributed millions of dollars to cancer research and will continue to fund cancer research for years to come (Rodriguez, 2002)....
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