Hello, ESPers worldwide!
It has been almost 1 year since the ESP project leader profiles were announced in April 2015. In this TESOL Blog post, you will read the 14th ESP project leader profile! It is my pleasure to take the stance of Schön’s (1983) reflective practitioner as I share with you my own story about the “creation” of the ESP project leader profiles. My hope is that this account will inspire you to become a project leader in the ESPIS and elsewhere!
Kevin Knight, PhD, MBA, MPIA
Associate Professor, Kanda University of International Studies, Japan
How would you define leadership?
Leadership is a conceptualization with various inputs and is socially constructed. (See Knight & Candlin, 2015.) I view leadership as a creative activity that involves 1) communicating to create a vision, and 2) communicating to achieve a vision. (See this TESOL Blog post in 2013.) My conceptualization of leadership above is very easy to teach to my undergraduate students in Japan, especially in the context of project leadership where the students are responsible for creating and achieving their socially-responsible visions. Further, my conceptualization of leadership is reflected in the creation of various ESPIS projects, including the ESP project leader profiles.
Tell me an ESP project success story. Focus on your communication as a leader in the project. How did you communicate with stakeholders to make that project successful?
Project: The ESP project leader profiles
Background: Christopher Candlin, in his role as my doctoral thesis supervisor, guided me in such a way that I came to see things in terms of cause-and-effect relationships. In view of such relationships, my purpose in this profile is to explain (or account for) why and how the ESP project leader profiles were created. The ESP project leader profiles were launched after two other projects. The first was an ESP PowerPoint project (Knight, Lomperis, van Naerssen, & Westerfield, 2010). The second was the “TESOL ESPIS Community Discussions 2011-2012” about which I (Knight, 2013) wrote:
A new way for the members of the TESOL International Association to communicate was created with the launching of the TESOL Community Network (i.e., online threaded discussions). The English for Specific Purposes (ESP) group in TESOL took advantage of this new community network to create the ‘TESOL ESPIS Community Discussions 2011-2012’ for the professional development of its members and non-members on a global scale. (pp. 23–24)
In sum, the two ESP projects above gave me the experience of creating in collaboration with ESPIS colleagues.
The Vision: As I write in another TESOL Blog post, I was inspired by the comments of the ESPIS chair, Jaclyn Gishbaugher, about the ESPIS Open Meeting at the 2015 TESOL convention in Toronto. Jackie writes that her discussion group came up with the following idea: “regular profiles of ESP practitioners to share what people are up to and compare projects.” In addition, as my doctoral research was on leadership conceptualization and leadership communication for the purposes of leadership development, I could see the value of exploring the professional communication of ESP project leaders for the professional development of ESP practitioners worldwide!
Communicating to Achieve the Vision: In an email dated 5 April 2015 sent to the other members of the ESPIS steering board, I wrote:
I would love to do profiles on your ESP work. In fact, I was thinking that I could approach this from a different angle. For a profile, I would ask 2 questions:
- Define ESP in your own words. [Note: ESP was later changed to leadership.]
- Tell me an ESP project success story. Focus on your communication in the project. How did you communicate with stakeholders to make that project successful? (I would break this down into questions such as “Who were the stakeholders?” to make this easier to answer.)
In this way, I would hope to capture 3 things:
- The ESP practitioner’s conceptualization of leadership
- The details of the project
- The communication with stakeholders in the project
I think that this approach would be new. We usually “label” ESP in advance, and we do not usually focus on the importance of communication in this way in ESP. However, the communication aspect itself is extremely important.
There are many experienced ESPers here. I need volunteers to get this going. Kristin or Jaclyn, would either of you be willing to be first?
Kristin volunteered! I also informed the TESOL board of directors about the proposed project and contacted ESPIS leaders outside of the steering board.
The ESP project leader profiles to date are as follows:
- May 5, 2015: ESP Project Leader Profile: Kristin Ekkens
- June 2, 2015: ESP Project Leader Profile: Charles Hall
- July 14, 2015: ESP Project Leader Profile: Ronna Timpa
- August 11, 2015: ESP Project Leader Profile: Evan Frendo
- September 8, 2015: ESP Project Leader Profile: Jaclyn Gishbaugher
- October 6, 2015: ESP Project Leader Profile: Anne Lomperis
- October 20, 2015: ESP Project Leader Profile: Ethel Swartley
- November 3, 2015: ESP Project Leader Profile: David Kertzner
- December 1, 2015: ESP Project Leader Profile: Margaret van Naerssen
- December 15, 2015: ESP Project Leader Profile: Marvin Hoffland
- January 12, 2016: ESP Project Leader Profile: John Butcher
- January 26, 2016: ESP Project Leader Profile: Karen Schwelle
- February 23, 2016: ESP Project Leader Profile: Esther Perez Apple
- March 8, 2016: ESP Project Leader Profile: Kevin Knight
A former ESPIS chair, Shahid Abrar-ul-Hassan, suggested in an email to the ESPIS membership that I extend my search (as far as I can globally) for ESP project leaders. I agreed! Shahid’s profile will be published next month, and if you are an ESP project leader, please contact me!
I would like to share with you one final thought. When I joined the ESPIS, the chair, Karen Schwelle (see her profile above), nominated me to do the ESP PowerPoint. I accepted and reached out to the community for help. That was my first step. So my advice to you is to take that first step, become a project leader, and remain committed to achieving the vision!
All the best,
Knight, K. (2013). Online professional development for ESP global community. The Journal of Kanda University of International Studies, 25, 23–47.
Knight, K., & Candlin, C. N. (2015). Leadership discourse as basis and means for developing L2 students into future leaders. In P. Shrestha (Ed.), Current developments in English for academic and specific purposes: Local innovations and global perspectives (pp. 27–50). Reading, UK: Garnet.
Knight, K., Lomperis, A., van Naerssen, M., & Westerfield, K. (2010). English for specific purposes: An overview for practitioners and clients (academic and corporate). PowerPoint presentation submitted to Alexandria, VA: TESOL Resource Center.
Schön, D. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. London, England: Temple Smith.