Alumnus Scott Whiteford: the sociology of leadership

Photo Credit: Scott Whiteford
Thu, 04/18/2019 - 12:28

Dr. Scott Whiteford earned his M.A. (2000) and Ph.D. (2004) from the Department of Sociology at the University of Nebraska—Lincoln after graduating Magna Cum Laude in Sociology from Luther College. At Nebraska he wrote a dissertation about drugs and crime (“A cluster -analytic study of adolescent substance use: Investigating the drug -crime relationship”). He translated his methodological skills and knowledge of sociological theories to a career in an applied setting as Director of Leadership Development and Analytics for Talent Plus, a company with headquarters in Lincoln. He enjoys analyzing leadership talent, human behavior, and social structures. His work involves studying leaders, their teams, and their organizations through quantitative and qualitative processes.

Scott combines individual, interactional, and collective levels of analyses in his work. His work involves focusing on leaders, growing teams, and implementing strategies for teams to work together for cohesive efforts to create desired outcomes. At the organizational level he helps to create norms and cultures of success based upon insights from sociology and positive psychology.  His work gives him opportunities to analyze data to create solutions that are valid and that do not discriminate based on age, race, and gender.  He combines sociology and psychology (and is active in the American Sociological Association and the Society of Industrial/Organizational Psychology) to use the science of selection to develop leaders and grow organizations.

Scott lives in Oregon, yet visits Lincoln for his work with Talent Plus, and returns in the summer to teach Sociology of Leadership for the department. His class focuses on leadership from a sociological perspective. Leadership is essential to the success of groups, organizations, and companies. The sociological perspective of leadership incorporates aspects of business, psychology, economics, and historical studies. Most disciplines focus primarily on the leader, their talents, knowledge, and behavior, but crucial to the study of leadership from a sociological perspective is understanding how leaders thrive in groups, organizations, society, and throughout history. This course focuses on what sociology has to contribute, and how this is relevant when, discussing topics such as stratification, race, gender, education, and government, and focus on the intersection of individual leadership talents, group dynamics, social structures, and time and place. This class is important for future leaders, those interested in careers in business, sociology, psychology, economics, and history as it will provide a more holistic understanding of leadership. He also supports current sociology PhD students through the Scott C. Whiteford Graduate Student Support Award.