Title: Leadership Reflection
Details of task:
Provide an overall concluding discussion of the course which draws together your major observations about leadership as studied during the semester. This exercise should be written in the first person (I did, I learned, I will). Take your leadership definition from week one and discuss how your ideas have changed or been reinforced over the semester. What is your definition of leadership now? What have you learned about leadership through this subject that is of benefit to you and/or your organisation? What implications do your studies of leadership have for you in the future? What more do you need to learn or do? How will you develop your own leadership knowledge and skills? Do not merely summarise each week’s readings. Instead, explain how the readings, class activities, discussions, films, and your observations have helped you understand and apply leadership concepts to your work or life experiences and/or goals, and where you will go from here to learn more and become a better leader. Where are your developmental opportunities? How will you improve where improvement is needed?
Word limit: 2,500 words
Although you need to write in the first person, this is an academic essay and should be referenced in the normal manner.
In week one, before we commenced the lessons, I had a completely different definition of leadership in mind. I always thought that a leader was someone who would just have to sit down and be worshipped and served by servants or those inferior to him. The leader was the person who had the authority to give rules and others would have to obey no matter what. This is why, while growing up, my friends and I always wanted to be leaders. It seemed like it made one king over other children. However, after starting the lecturers, my views on leadership have changed drastically. For instance, instead of being served, I have come to learn that leadership is the ability to influence a group towards achieving a vision or set of goals. Many more views on leadership have changed over time, and this has given me the realization that there is so much more to it than I initially thought. This paper will feature all these changed views, as well as the major observations I have made on leadership, with regards to the topics I have studied during the semester.
How my Ideas have been reinforced over the Semester
Considering my initial definition of leadership, and what I have come to learn, it is clear that one thing in common is that the leader influences actions from the group. A big difference, however, is that my previous view was that the leader commanded and forced the followers who had no choice but to obey. From my studies, I have come to realize that a leader is supposed to have the ability to inspire confidence and support in his followers as they work towards achieving the goals (Ahmed, Reaburn, Samad & Davis, 2015). This has reinforced my idea of a leader who only sits and gives orders, waiting for tasks to get done. Another view of leadership that I had initially was that anyone can become a great leader. It all depends on whether you have had quality management education or not. However, from the YouTube video I watched in the second week, individuals who were offering modern thoughts on leadership had a different perspective. This makes it clear that not anyone can make a good leader, as leaders are born, not created. Studying management cannot create leaders; instead it only creates conditions which promote the leadership qualities of a person (Dries & Pepermans, 2012). Therefore, this is reinforcement on my leadership view. There can be poor leaders who lack the qualities required, and these are people who often lead to destruction of organizations.
From my studies, I have come to learn that a great leader has vision, identity, and passion. Even in Historical times, leaders were considered the most important individuals of a group, but still they were expected to behave and lead with order and reason. A manager cannot be a leader, but a leader can also be a manager. Hence, the view I had that a leader was like the ancient kings, has all been misplaced. This is because the leader is supposed to act responsibly by influencing followers to act in ways that will lead to the achievement of goals, and not for his personal benefits (Anca & Dumitru, 2012). A leader needs to have more than just the power to command, as a matter of fact, this kind of leadership is rarely recommended. He also needs to possess the skills of making the right judgment with regards to planning, organizing, directing, and controlling the organization. These are qualities of a manager, which further enhance the effectiveness of a great leader.
My Present definition of Leadership
My present definition of leadership is completely different from what I initially used to think. Now, when asked to define leadership, my response would be the ability to positively influence members of a group to participate actively and productively towards the achievement of a set goal, while also encouraging and supporting them along the way. I settled for this new definition as I have come to learn so much from my lectures throughout the semester. For instance, I have come to learn that a leader is supposed to influence actions by positively relating to the employees, and not by forcing and commanding them (Brown & Treviño, 2014). He is not supposed to make them feel worthless or inferior in the process of leading. As a matter of fact, the leader is not supposed to be passive, but instead he should also participate actively in the process of achieving the set goals of a group. Encouragement and support is very important for employees as it also motivates them by making them feel valued. On the other hand, commanding and looking down on employees only leads to lack of motivation due to the negative feelings they get. Therefore, leadership is determined by the kind of relationship that the leader has with his or her followers.
The things I have learned about Leadership that are of benefit to me and my Organization
I am grateful for the leadership lectures I have attended as I have managed to learn a lot of things about leadership that are of benefit to me and my organization. First, I have come to learn that there is no leadership behavior that is specific or universal. From an activity we handled in week 4, about considering the various situations that a leader may be involved in, I realized that varying leadership behaviors are required for different situations (Pressentin, 2015). For example, after an earthquake, the leader may need to portray supportive behaviors as his or her followers will be shaken and stressed from the situation they have just experienced. In such a case, the leader needs to consider what the people need, show concern for their wellbeing, and create an environment where they will feel encouraged to work harder to get them out of the mess they are in. In another situation whereby employees are new and do not know what is expected of them, a directive leadership is important. This leader tells them what to do, and may even show them what to do. Therefore, one leadership behavior or leadership style cannot be effective for all situations. This is why a great leader needs to be capable of adapting his leading style to a specific situation.
Second, I have learned that as a leader my personal values can also influence my leadership role. This is because my values may not be the same as the value of others. These personal values are usually determined by our parents, religion, neighborhood that one grows in, and even friends (Anca & Dumitru, 2012). For instance, one personal value that I have is never to speak rudely to others, no matter their age. This is so because my parents raised me to believe that this is what is expected of me at all times. Unfortunately, for someone else, this may not be part of his or her personal value. If I become a leader who could speak any how to employees, then I would also encourage such behavior amongst them since they will get used to it being a part of the organization value. However, it is best to also consider the values of others so as to come up with a value system that is applicable to all employees.
Third, I have also learned that to ensure the best outcome for my organization, I need to adopt an ethical leadership. This is because the ethical leadership will involve shared principles and values of all people in my organization. This approach will also ensure that all decisions I make are focused on equity, fairness and impartiality. This is also important as it will encourage me as a leader, to do the right thing, set a good example to employees, and generally demonstrate personal morality (Brown & Treviño, 2014). This will positively contribute towards the formation of an organizational culture that is effective and applicable to all.
Fourth, I have also learned that a leader does not necessarily have to be at the top of the hierarchy as most people assume. Every individual in the organization can be a leader. Therefore, people from different levels should be given the chance to exercise their leadership skills, and the person at the top of the hierarchy should be willing to learn from employees too (Dries & Pepermans, 2012). Similarly, the leader does not have to be male, even females can be great leaders. This is because I have come to learn that the things people say about women and leadership are not entirely true.
Fifth, from my lectures, I have noted that as a leader, there is no end to learning. This is because new situations are arising every day, and the world is also changing. A leader needs to always update his skills so as to ensure readiness when there is a need to deal with various situations that may arise. Therefore, even after graduating and owing my certificate and position in an organization, I will still need to consider leadership seminars, on-the-job training, online learning and more to further grow my skills and knowledge in leadership.
The Implications that this Leadership studies has for me in Future
In future, this leadership studies will enable me to perform even better at my role as a leader due to many factors. First, through the week one lecture, I have managed to correct my definition of leadership. Therefore, in future, I will not be a leader who commands and demands free services from my followers. Instead, I will be a leader who treats them fairly, and engages in a positive relationship with them (Wu et al., 2015).
Second, I have realized that there are different types of leaderships for specific situations. For example, in week 4 and 12, I learned about different styles and approaches of leadership. Some styles of leadership are expected to work only where employees are under stress, in a boring working environment or even if the environment is hazardous. Others, on the other hand, are supposed to work when a task is complex and the employee is inexperienced. Similarly, I have also learned that as a leader, there are different leadership theories that I can use to improve productivity from employees. These include; authentic and transformational leadership.
Third, the study of leadership has enabled me to know the various skills and attributes of a great leader. Therefore, in future, I will be able to exercise such attributes, hence promoting better performance from my employees. For example, the traits may include; hard working, flexible, open and direct, and also honest and ethical.
Fourth, in week 11, I learned that one can be a leader of either for profit organization, or non-profit organization. The competencies required for either one of these positions differ in the sense that the goals may also be different. For profit organizations are focused on gaining financial returns, while not for profit do not focus on such financial benefits. This is why the competencies required are still similar, yet important in a completely different hierarchy (Anca & Dumitru, 2012). For example, among the top competencies that both require are honesty, team player, and developing others. However, a not for profit organization does not require self confidence in its leader with much urgency as is the case with for profit organizations.
The things that I still need to Learn or do
Despite my already increased knowledge on leadership, I still feel like there are certain things that I still need to learn and do so as to further perfect my skills in this field. My lectures have been about definition of leadership, examples of the styles that are effective for specific situations, the required leadership attributes, and also the various approaches to improve performance of followers. I still need to learn more about how to know when to change my leadership style or approach, how to analyze employees upon recruitment so as to determine the type of leadership I need, and also how to deal with various organizational challenges that I may face as a leader. All these are important in my learning as having the knowledge of various leadership styles do not necessarily mean that I will know when to use them. There is also the issue of how to change from one style to the other without affecting the quality of work from my followers.
How I will develop my own Leadership knowledge and Skills
From the week 10 lecture, we discussed various methods that a leader can use to constantly enhance the link between learning and leadership. These are the same activities that I will borrow for use in my own leadership knowledge and skills development. First, I will consider my areas of weakness and handle a special project or assignment on that area so as to further identify any knowledge that I may have missed. This will help to shed more light on the issue. Second, I will consider applying for an external training program which I can attend part time. Here, I will be able to deal with areas that I feel weak on, such as how to transition from one leadership style to the other. Third, I will choose a mentor from one of the people who I know are great leaders. This will enable me to learn from them, as I will seek their advice whenever I have an issue that I need to address.
In conclusion, this leadership studies has helped to improve my knowledge on various factors that I will need to become a great leader too. I have learnt about various leadership styles and approaches that are appropriate for leading different types of followers. I have also learned about how to develop my skills and knowledge further, and why it is important to constantly learn despite being employed.
Ahmed, E., Reaburn, P., Samad, A., & Davis, H. (2015). Towards An Understanding Of The Effect Of Leadership On Employee Wellbeing And Organizational Outcomes In Australian Universities. Journal Of Developing Areas, 49(6), 441-448.
Anca, V., & Dumitru, D. D. (2012). Leadership – A Key Factor To A Succesful Organization – part I. Studies In Business & Economics, 7(3), 179-189.
Brown, M., & Treviño, L. (2014). Do Role Models Matter? An Investigation of Role Modeling as an Antecedent of Perceived Ethical Leadership. Journal Of Business Ethics, 122(4), 587-598. doi:10.1007/s10551-013-1769-0
Dries, N., & Pepermans, R. (2012). How to identify leadership potential: Development and testing of a consensus model. Human Resource Management, 51(3), 361-385. doi:10.1002/hrm.21473
Pressentin, M. (2015). Universal Leadership Approaches & Cultural Dimensions: The Expression of Asian Leadership Traits. Amity Global Business Review, 1019-38.
Wu, L., Kwan, H., Yim, F., Chiu, R., & He, X. (2015). CEO Ethical Leadership and Corporate Social Responsibility: A Moderated Mediation Model. Journal Of Business Ethics, 130(4), 819-831. doi:10.1007/s10551-014-2108-9