After more than 20 years of teaching at the intersection of creativity and leadership, as well as 10 years in non-profit leadership positions, Dr. Tony Middlebrooks has co-authored and released Discovering Leadership: Designing Your Success, with James L. Morrison, a professor of public policy and administration at the University of Delaware, Scott J. Allen and Mindy S. McNutt. The foundational leadership text will be used across LEAD100 course sections and beyond at the University of Delaware, as well as adopted by other universities across the country.
“What I most want to share is the importance of getting some leadership content no matter who you are, or what field you are in, so you can have some understanding of the important role leadership can play in that field and the individual’s role in it,” said Dr. Middlebrooks.
The need for the text was borne from the need for a comprehensive, practical introduction to leadership in the market. Accomplished leadership thought leaders focus on aspects of leadership like decision making, conflict resolution and habit making, but Dr. Middlebrooks wanted to take a different approach to digging deep into philosophies and theories. “Students do not realize how important leadership can be to their future success,” noted Middlebrooks, “They needed a more accessible text with ideas they could apply right away.”
“No other leadership text on the market focuses on design thinking, creativity, creating a culture of innovation, or entrepreneurial leadership,” said Dr. Middlebrooks. “They are uniquely important but tend not to be in leadership texts. We wanted to create a practical and foundational introduction to leadership that spoke across multiple fields. And even though it is a textbook, I do strongly feel that anyone could pick it up, read some of it, and take something away to apply to their working and personal worlds.”
The four-year collaborative writing process started off similarly to how students start group projects on campus today: with a Google doc shared among all authors. After some early work, that quickly changed, and Dr. Middlebrooks focused on producing the text with a design framework in mind. The unique textbook was rolled out for the spring 2019 semester at the University of Delaware, being used in the aforementioned LEAD100 course as well as the cross-listed course, LEAD/ENTR253.
“The leadership ideas from the text will be utilized across your time at the University, future classes as students further explore leadership,” said Dr. Middlebrooks. “This saves students money and also gives them a building block to grow themselves as leaders through their college experience.”
Dr. Middlebrooks wants students, and all readers of the book, to have a focus on their own profound takeaways and what it means to improve one’s leadership.
“If there was one big takeaway, it is the understanding that leadership can be learned. If everyone got a little dose of leadership and creativity (Middlebrooks’ other scholarly focus), they could run organizations more effectively, innovate more efficiently, solve problems more creatively,” said Dr. Middlebrooks. “And we're not necessarily talking about making the next iPhone, we're talking about day-to-day challenges like how you figured out a way to schedule your people more efficiently.”
The release of the textbook has been long in the making for Dr. Middlebrooks, and has provided the longtime leadership educator with some pause at this point in his career.
“I spend a lot of time thinking about how to translate information into a pedagogy that connects with students, and how to create tools that help them engage the real world with new concepts, but after teaching a class five or ten times, that information just goes into a file and disappears,” said Dr. Middlebrooks. “This text is the culmination and compilation of my career and interactions with students, my favorite stories and examples; it’s 20 years of leadership stuff all in one place.”
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About Tony Middlebrooks
Tony Middlebrooks, Ph.D. creates tools, explores and teaches at the intersection of leadership, innovation, creativity and design as Associate Professor and Director of the Siegfried Leadership Initiative for Horn Entrepreneurship at the University of Delaware. Dr. Middlebrooks has created and taught more than 35 different courses for all collegiate levels, as well as numerous experiential abroad programs. He presently teaches leadership theory and practice, decision-making, creativity and innovation, and social entrepreneurship. He received both the University of Delaware Excellence in Teaching and Excellence in Advising Awards, and regularly helps faculty develop their teaching.
About Horn Entrepreneurship
Horn Entrepreneurship serves as the University of Delaware’s creative engine for entrepreneurship education and advancement. Built and actively supported by successful entrepreneurs and thought leaders, Horn Entrepreneurship empowers aspiring innovators and entrepreneurs as they pursue new ideas for a better world.