Social Constructivism and Leadership
While most current literature is directed toward the use of social constructivism in educational organizations, it can be used by leaders of organizations both inside and outside of the educational sphere to bring about growth and communication. One example of this is in the use of metaphors to further the understanding of followers, which allows them to build their own knowledge base as individual learners, and adapt to new and expanding concepts.
Metaphors are a force through which people create meaning. This is done by using one element of experience to understand another. Metaphors in this sense include anything symbolic to a person, which can be used to better their understanding and enable them acquire new ideas or concepts.
The active use of metaphors can also help the leader move the organization toward social constructivism. Through the constructive use of language, the leader can explore the communication practices of followers and their individual roles in the building of meaning, through the process of social interaction.
Individuals in the organization make sense of things when they communicate; that communication is viewed in retrospect, sense is made out of it, and the meaning is kept as knowledge and used to achieve organizational effectiveness. The brain normally forms thoughts as outlines, prototypes, conceptual metaphors, conceptual frames, and conceptual blends. As a result, the thinking process is not just the systematic use of symbols; it is the brain’s process.
People find it hard to identify examples of rational practices within the organization, find rational practices that have worked out as well as predicted, or feel that the existing rational practices explain what goes on in the organization. Making the connection between organizational structure and its processes is done through process leadership, which is defined as that earned by any member of an organization to lead the organization or its parts forward.
Metaphors can facilitate change by providing a bridge from what followers are familiar with to the vision of the leader. They are particularly useful because they represent the existing organizational view as seen by individuals within the organization. Discovering the views of followers will help leaders learn which policies and facets of the organization are seen in a negative way. Armed with this information, all stakeholders can compromise and work together toward building an organization that meets their shared expectations.