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To define a leader, as previously read, one has to presume that an individual’s character is conducive to the environment for which he/she leads. However, that is not always the case. Sure, it is true that character, value, beliefs, skills, attributes and multi-faceted cultures are what dictates the outcome of a leader, but it does not necessarily mean that the individual will do well in all environments. Yet, we can assess from our studies (Hughes, et.al, 2012), that a leader who doesn’t do well in one culture, may do well in another.
All organizations possess different types of cultures (Bennis, 1999). These cultures consist of laborers, executives, etc. Yet, a laborer culture in an automotive industry may share similar commonalities with labor cultures of a different industry, and even though they are labeled with the same culture identification, will not encounter the same issues. Nevertheless, there will be similarities, but they will be experienced within a different set of circumstances. Though Bennis (1999) gave a significant amount of insight on culture and its influence on leaders, I still believe that it would be best to expand and redefine organizational cultures a bit further than the three cultures with subcultures.
Great leaders are made, says Vince Lombardi (n.d.) (as cited, Hughes, et.al, 2012), and we have heard this throughout history. As true as this is, leaders do not start out in their life that way. Each individual has been shaped by their own set of personal circumstances, situations, life beliefs, etc. Even more so, you can take 2 individuals, who shared the same set of parents, home, friends, community, values, schools, etc., and they will relate a different experience on what life was like growing up. Some will say that life was hard; another would say that it was the best ever. Therefore, this illustrates that all leaders, being humans, are shaped by such and possess predispositions to certain behavior. In addition, I ascertained how extremely important it is to understand that a leader will evolve into a different type of leader; this is dependent upon what the leader deems to be the utmost important factors of the position (Toegel, G., & Barsoux, J., 2012). If a leader is segregated from the people and numbers take precedence, then it is possible that this manager would likely see a definite change in their point of view (Bennis, 1999).
Throughout my years and my careers, I have witnessed several different types of leader personalities and traits. Ideally, I can conclude that my preferred type of manager/leader would possess the style of a country club leader that was mixed with a team leader. I view myself as a combination of both of these styles (Hughes, et.al, 2012). However, I have seen managers that completely base their authority in management on fear and intimidation. Threats and fear lie at the very core of this approach. I have referenced to this style of management as the dinosaur style of leadership that once dominated leadership many years ago - like the dinosaurs, may it fade away, as well.
It’s not uncommon to see leaders early on, take on roles that reflect their personality. I have decided that it is common for a leader to be discovered, usually, early on in their lives. Whether as a student, or a newcomer, usually are seen in roles that are conducive to their predisposition (Karkoulian, et. al, 2009). Self-discovery is the key. Personally, I never knew the power that existed within me until a relative told me repeatedly that I could sell shoes to a snake. I was in my early 20’s and didn’t quite know if this was meant as a compliment or insult. Then, some years later, I realized that whenever I felt passionate, highly regarded something, or had solid views on a matter, I was able to convey that message accordingly. This proved beyond measure that leadership is composed of passion, power, beliefs, views, communication skills, predisposition, etc. Though the list is very extensive, we have to analyze education and its effects on leader’s roles.
Education has been shown to be an effective means to success for all individuals. It is show or display of commitment for the future. However, this does not settle itself just in the form of formal education, but in school of life as well. Life skills consist of learning to do for one’s own self and to hold one’s own, so to speak. Learning occurs from birth and should continue until one is no longer able to do so. Leaders must apply their skills, proficiencies to their positions not only to complete the task at hand, but rather, to gain the trust and credibility of the co-workers. When this is established, there is a form of respect amongst the team. Unfortunately, when this is not the case, it is more than likely that the leader/manager will not like their job position, potentially suffer at the hands of irrespective employees and ultimately, lose their position.
Additional reflection needs to be incorporated into professional lives, including the follower and leaders respective positions. Reflection is something that needs to be performed ritualistically in order to engage in continual improvement. This involves looking at day-to-day business, and realizing what could have been done better; more efficiently and effectively (Hughes, et.al, 2012). In order to apply this across board can be challenging, due to the complexity of the nature of leading within an organization. As I always say, wherever there are people, there are going to be challenges and mistakes. This, in my opinion is not a negative statement but rather an acceptance on what needs to occur in order to keep the ship flowing smoothly.
Other areas of reflection should be of the leaders self. Self reflection takes a close look at one’s own goals, unwanted behaviors and patterns and gives/receives feedback. I find that feedback from co-workers, mentors, and managers, is the best way to see yourself from a different perspective. At times, I have witnessed specific dysfunctional behaviors, along with their detrimental effects to a leader’s authority and how it negates the respect sought. So, whenever possible, it is best to listen to feedback from co-workers, colleagues, etc., and see if their comments align with one another. Then, it is time to learn ways to disengage or cease the behavior.
At this point, we can see that it takes a lot of time, energy, focus, commitment to earn the status of a “great leader.” Though, not easy, it is a great accomplishment. It takes an ethical leader to truly value the followers and co-workers. If this is not made a part of the leader’s life, then where is the true success? It is very important to never lose sight of the value and importance of those whom one leads. For it is in the followers, that make a successful leader and vice versa.
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