Tips on Writing a Leadership Research Paper

When you are asked to write about leadership, you should clearly understand that a professor reading your research paper assesses not only your ability to gather information and analyze it but also your personal approach to leadership.

Due to this you should be truly careful when choosing examples for your paper and making conclusions, as they might give a clue on which kind of leader will you be in the nearest future. Here are some timely tips which will help you write a leadership research paper at the highest level of quality, emphasizing your own abilities and perspectives.

Leadership Research PaperRule #1. Know the Difference between Complicated and Complex Case Studies

To look like a real professional, you should choose engaging and even gracious case studies to prove your point or to base your analysis on. At this point, it is critical to see the difference between complex and complicated situations. If something is complicated, it means it is different, it requires more resources to be solved: more time, more people, more money. If something is complex, it means that you are in the middle of what is called “spaghetti situation”  with numerous stakeholders and options for actions. This situation cannot be solved solely by adding more resources. The goals of each stakeholder should be defined, and only then actions should be taken. Both options are good for your leadership research paper, just make sure you know which one is in front of you and how you should approach it.

Rule #2. Don’t Use a Beaten Trail

For what it’s worth, you should take it seriously — your professor is not eager to read another research paper on Henry Ford or Ogilvy. Use fresh role models if you have to mention them because it is hard to find even a teenager not aware of leadership style Steve Job used. It is important to show that you can dig deeper than the first page of the Google search because otherwise, your leadership paper will look too shallow and hardly interesting for anyone reading it. More of it, it won’t be interesting for you to write it if you don’t find some fresh ideas and examples to evaluate. Originality is not only about anti-plagiarism, but it is also about looking for the newest ways to deal with not original problems and tasks. You can use as examples successful cases from Kickstarter, the best stories from Silicon Valley and discover new leaders of the developing countries.

Rule #3. Always Leave Room for a Doubt

You might find it amusing, but a real leader always leaves room for unknown and unexpected. The theory of “black swans” has proven to be the most valid one in the current economic situation, and you shouldn’t sound too much sure in every decision you offer for the particular case study as a leader. Give options, acknowledge that there might be moments of uncertainty and point out the possible options for dealing with them. This approach will show to your potential reader that you are a professional and experienced specialist or at least can think like one.

Rule #4. Don’t Forget about Three Key Leader’s Features

No matter which side of leadership you cover, it is important not to forget about three qualities every leader should possess:

  • Clarity of thoughts and communication. Leaders’ thoughts are clear and concise the same as the way they express them. Even if a leader has perfect, successful ideas but can’t deliver them efficiently to the team, they will just be gone in vain.
  • A leader should see more in people than they try to show. Also, he or she should be able to make right decisions in the situations of uncertainty.
  • Personal integrity and devotion. An individual can’t lead if he or she lacks integrity and is not fully involved in the process.

When dealing the leadership case studies or a research paper, you should emphasize these qualities.

Rule #5 Cut on Drama, Add more Substance

Writing papers about leadership students often forget that they are not writing a novel and start using free space describe the horrible business situations and a heroic leader solving them. Decrease the level of drama in your paper and add substance: facts, working schemes, measurable results, etc. It is important to focus on measurable factors because thanks to them you can truly show the efficiency of the particular type of leadership. If possible, choose case studies which have some numbers from the very beginning, not only qualitative descriptions.

This is not an exhaustive list of rules and principles which a student should use when writing this type of the academic assignment. However, even if you keep in mind only these five, they will be quite enough for coming up with a research paper which your professor will truly appreciate.

About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.

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