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Q1. 70 Points
Understanding Human Behavior is critical to organizations - discuss the benefits of self evaluation/self assessment as it relates to leaders today.
Self-evaluation or assessment is paramount in understanding human behavior in an organization. In order to improve skills, a leader needs to perform a self-assessment to determine strengths and weaknesses.
Robin Sharma once said “Leadership is no longer about the size of your title, but the strength of your impact”. Accordingly “your impact” largely depends on leadership skills. Robin Sharma. https://www.facebook.com/theofficialrobinsharmapage/photos/a.10150107495570040.292989.105875750039/10152252602695040/?type=1 [accessed 7 April 2014].
There are various tried and tested methods of performing a self-assessment, each of which test various leadership dimensions. Amongst other techniques used are Leadership Steps Assessment (LSA) (Clawson, 2000:4), Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and 360 degree tools.
Due to vast cultural backgrounds, during testing circumstances people instinctively tend to fall back on their meme’s. In order to understand this, leaders need to comprehend why people behave the way they do. It is thus important for leaders to move beyond intellectual intelligence and expand their emotional, social and change intelligence.
The REB model and VABE theory assist leaders in expanding their knowledge of themselves and their impact in an organization. By understanding our values, assumptions, beliefs and expectations (VABE’s) we also understand humanistic, optimistic and democratic values. When we understand our VABE’s we take cognizance of others and start to comprehend why people behave the way they do. This in essence allows us to interact, communicate, develop and manage conflicts more effectively.
The REB model can better be described using the ABC model (Ellis: 1993) and enlisting the REB model into observable and unobservable events. Observable events can be described as a catalytic event which relates to something that happens in your surrounding environment. This event leads to a reaction which is an “emotional response” to your VABE’s. Unobservable events are our instinctive, religious and natural values, assumptions, beliefs and expectations experienced after observing a catalytic event.
Leadership requires one to understand their own perspective of the world & its surroundings, as well as how others perceive the world & its surroundings. Each individuals perspective will be defined by their own VABEs and also external contributing factors. As a leader, this is extremely important to understand because how do you want to lead others if you don't understand their interpretation of the world and the surrounding environments? As a leader understanding your own VABEs as well as others VABEs allows you to communicate and interact more effectively, thus allowing you to look past social differences.
To improve strengths leaders need to nurture talents, gain sufficient knowledge and improve or gain skills. A good leader would also require a good degree of ethics allowing them to remain impartial, however fully involved in matters.
As the visionary, good leaders will take the time to convince others on why it would be important to complete a certain task orobjective, in order for them to comprehend and be self-motivated towards its successful completion. In order to execute this, leaders must place themselves in the shoes of others, thereby assisting others to willingly add value to an organization.
Leaders need life experiences and circumstances (good or bad) to evolve into “Authentic Leaders”. It is impossible for leaders to experience all walks of life, therefore it is equally essential for them to remain prepared (on their feet so to speak). Leaders need to consult case studies of past and present leaders and investigate amongst others downfalls, conflicts and or resolutions, good or bad decisions made, etc. One does not need to reinvent the wheel as life lessons have already taught us where we have faltered, where we have waivered and where we have succeeded. Leaders need to use this as a learning and preparation tool. As a leader, you cannot only rely on your "Leadership Traits". “Authentic Leaders” are shaped when preparation meets situational circumstances meets their already developed intellectual, emotional, change and social intelligence.
Q2. 30 Points:
Prejudice can be hurtful and destructive - discuss how you can personally reduce prejudice in your workplace - please provide an example.
What is prejudice? “The word prejudice refers to prejudgment, or forming an opinion before becoming aware of the relevant facts of a case.”
Prejudice reflects back to our VABE’s. A lot of times when one does not understand oneself and others, you automatically (instinctively) lead to prejudice assumptions. By promoting prejudice, you are in fact inhibiting growth and promoting counter productivity because you choose to judge before determining the facts.
I will refer to an example in my current position as Head: Electrical & Mechanical Engineer in consulting engineering and project management firm.
Under normal circumstances in order to level the playing field and avoid prejudice, all government related projects are allocated according to a process of public tender, subsequent adjudications and eventually awarding of contract. In irregular situations some projects are regarded as urgent and to prevent delays therefore bypass the normal process of public tender, in contrast to be processed by way of a closed invitational tender system. The closed invitational tender system involves the invitation of a list of contractors carefully selected by the principal engineer.
The process automatically eliminates incompetent bidders as only contractors with a proven track record are enlisted, invited and selected from.
As the Head of the Electrical & Mechanical Engineering department, I can be unethical and promote prejudice in the workplace by only enlisting companies which I like without properly assessing their track record amongst other facts. This would effectively mean that any companies which for one or other reason I do not favour, would not be enlisted and therefore not stand a fair chance of competing against others for the contract.
The prejudice approach above would result in the following:
- Inhibition of growth towards smaller companies
- Counter productivity as certain companies would be overloaded with work whilst others would have little or no work
- Inequality towards companies not listed as they would be labelled as incompetent
In order to prevent or reduce prejudice in the workplace the list of companies chosen are circulated within the firm for inputs and comments from relevant parties, ensuring that the onus is not placed upon one individual to choose from.
Furthermore contractors are also technically assessed at the end of each project in order to categorise them according to the latest performance. Contractors who do not consistently perform are therefore also automatically eliminated.
Irwin/McGraw-Hill (2007) Organizational Behaviour and Management
Prentice Hall (2008) Leadership in Organizations
Clawson, James G. (2000) Leadership Steps Assessment
Myers, Isabel Briggs with Peter B. Myers (1995) Gifts Different: Understanding Personality Type
Ellis, A. (1993) Reflections on Rational Emotive Behaviour