The fifth and final lecture in the St. Norbert College Distinguished Lecture Series entitled, “The Ambiguity of Leadership,” will be presented by Dr. Eliot Elfner, Professor of Business Administration at St. Norbert College, on Saturday, March 5, at 9 am at the Door Community Auditorium (DCA).
Dr. Elfner provided a first person description of his lecture topic on leadership. “When I first began teaching as a TA in grad school, I noticed that the book we were using covered several topics related to leadership. The literature reported in our text discussed much research on the concept of leadership, but little was definitive. Chapter Three discussed Authority, Power and Influence. It said that influence was the ability to modify or change the behavior of another. Power was the maximum ability to exert influence. Authority was the legitimate right to exercise influence. Fourteen chapters later, in Chapter Seventeen, leadership was defined. It was the exercise of social influence.
“I was confused! How leadership, power, authority, and influence differed was not clear to me. Subsequently, I researched over fifty different definitions of each of these words. Clearly the literature was not in agreement about the similarities and differences among these terms. Each was defined in terms of the others by many different authors. No independent definitions of these concepts were found. Upon consideration, I felt that instead of four separate managerial processes, we were dealing with a single one. It was merely necessary to label it properly, define it clearly and concisely, and explain how the process worked. I call that process simply Influence. It can be conceptualized to explain all the behaviors usually ascribed to the topics of Authority, Power and Leadership.”
Dr. Elfner grew up in Madison, Wisconsin, where he completed his undergraduate and graduate schooling at UW-Madison. There he earned his BSME with an Industrial Engineering option and entered the workforce in the Fox Valley in the paper converting industry. He returned to UW-Madison for his MBA and then came to St. Norbert College as an Assistant Professor of Business Administration in 1971.
Dr. Elfner now holds a Ph.D. from UW-Madison in College and University Administration and served as the Chair of the Social Science Division (now a position titled Associate Dean) from 1996-2003. He is currently a Professor of Business Administration teaching the senior Capstone Business course in Business Policy and Strategy and the Production/Operations Management course. As a long time student of management and leadership, Dr. Elfner has often discussed the topics with students, colleagues and with friends who have served as guest lecturers in his classes.
All lectures begin at 9 am and are free and open to the public. The DCA Lecture Series is sponsored by Dahl Law Firm, LLC and Ross Estate Planning and is partnered with DoorCountyDailyNews.com. Ecology Sports Base Camp will provide refreshments for purchase. Please, call our box office at 920.868.2728 for more information, or visit our Web site at www.dcauditorium.org for full lecture topic descriptions.