Self analysis of leadership skills and application

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

I have been employed in the Prison Service since January 1992, and been in a management position since March 1998.

I originally joined the Prison Service as an officer. However, I soon realised that I had the potential to progress into a management role, firstly as Senior Officer, and then quickly moved to Principal Officer and then my current position as a Governor grade.

My current position (Head of Business Change) is both challenging and rewarding, and has required me to analyse and vary both my management and leadership styles. I am a member of the senior management team within the establishment and therefore seen as a role model for more junior staff.

I have aspirations to progress to a more senior level. However, I realise that during this current period of economic uncertainty, promotion is unlikely to be in the near future. Bearing that in mind, I am acutely aware that I need to develop laterally in order to maintain motivation and remain ready for future progression.

What is Leadership?

There is confusion between the role of a manager and a leader. Is 'the person in charge' automatically a leader?

If you are managing other people, are you also leading them? What is the difference between the two?

It is widely accepted that managers are principally administrators; they write business plans, set budgets, monitor progress and performance, and they manage people.

Henry Fayol (1948) defined management as comprising of five elements:

To forecast and plan - examining the future and drawing up a plan of action

To organize - building up the structure, material, and human, of the undertaking

To command - maintaining activity among the personnel

To coordinate - binding together, unifying and harmonizing all activity and effort

To control - seeing that everything occurs in conformity with established rules and expressed command. Fayol (1948)

I see the coordinating element of Fayol's theory as partly fitting with the definition of leadership. All the other facets fit quite closely with the concept of management.

It seems reasonable then to pose the question, 'Do managers therefore possess Leadership skills?'

Leaders, persuade organizations and people to change. Most effective senior managers have a blend of management and leadership skills. And, quite often, both skill sets are necessary to run a successful business or team.

Typically, only the most senior managers in the Prison Service can set strategic direction. Setting the strategic direction is different from setting targets which are measurable. For example a target might be "We must carry out 180 searches in January."

Manager's control or direct people and resources in a group according to the principles or values that have already been established.

Leaders can effect change and set direction with a vision, a mission and operating principles that identify and communicate direction and values. In essence, effective leaders inspire people to change direction.

Tom Peters and Robert Waterman define leadership as:

"……meticulously shifting the attentions of the institution through the mundane language of management systems. It is altering agenda's so that new agendas get attention. It is being visible when things go awry and invisible when they are working well. It is building a loyal team that speaks more or less with one voice. It's listening carefully most of the time…'s being tough when necessary, and it's the occasional naked use of power - or the "subtle accumulation of nuances, a hundred things done a little better" as Henry Kissinger put it."

Peters and Waterman (1982)

10 Key Differences between a Manager Mindset and Leadership Mindset:

The following list provides 10 Core Competencies that define key differences between leaders and managers. Leadership skills tend to be flexible, responsive to change, and future-oriented.

Leaders set a standard of excellence - Managers set a standard for performance

Leaders seek employee commitment - Managers seek employee compliance

Leaders are proactive - Managers are reactive

Leaders create change - Managers maintain the status quo

Leaders take risk - Managers are risk-averse

Leaders are passionate - Managers are controlling

Leaders can create followers - Managers have subordinates

Leaders use personal charisma - Managers rely on bestowed authority

Leaders give credit - Managers assign blame

Leaders care about what's right - Managers care about being right

Orrell (2009)

This is thought provoking. I have been a manager for approximately 13 years and during this time I had given little thought to leadership until recently. Reflecting on this module has set me thinking about where I am and where I want to be. I believe that I have management skills, having proved this through performance over the past years, and in many ways leadership skills as well.

I can see how there is a need to have a blend of both, however, I also now appreciate that operating in what is predominantly a people focused organisation requires a high level of leadership skills.

A question still puzzles: can a manager exist without leadership skills?

"Leadership is different from management. It is not necessarily better than management or a replacement for it. Rather, leadership and management are two distinctive and complementary systems of action. Each has its own function and characteristic activities. Both are necessary for success in an increasingly complex and changing business environment."

Kotter (1990)

This would suggest that in order for someone to succeed in their organisation it would be beneficial to have a blend of both management and leadership skills as in reality one cannot co-exist without the other. Leadership is about setting a new direction for a group; management is about directing and controlling according to established principles. A manager maintains the status quo, and manages to a current set of inherent rules; whereas a leader creates an environment where a new initiative of continued developments of current principles can be implemented effectively. Without Leadership, a manager is more likely to maintain what is already in place rather than move an organisation forward with new initiatives. Not everyone inherently possesses great leadership skills, although it is suggested that these skills can be developed:

"Leadership, they say, can be learned - whatever natural endowments a manager brings to the role of leadership, they can be enhanced; nurture is far more important than nature in determining who becomes a successful leader."

Bennis and Nanus (1985)

Reflecting on my current position, and taking into account what I have already noted, leadership is vitally important in achieving both personal and organizational goals. I tend to believe that I am primarily a manager; which is in itself tough and challenging. However that does not mean that I do not possess sound leadership skills. Managers may lead by example, but I have demonstrated that I have the ability to lead both a team and lead on projects.

During 2008, I was identified to lead a team that would reprofile work within HMP Full Sutton. A reprofile considers the work which needs to be delivered within the establishment and then builds a staff framework to deliver this work.

The aim is to ensure that those resources available reflect the output desired, making the best use of staff and eliminating duplication and waste. The process itself is difficult, as in order to achieve the aim of the project, there needs to be a large element of change. I found that I could not merely utilise management skills, and had to quickly nurture both the team and wider staff within the establishment in preparation for doing things differently. My leadership skills were essential in delivering a clear message (vision), ensuring staff understood the reasons behind the change, and also when, and how quickly the project would be delivered.

The question I now ask is this management or leadership? What is important is that when I am given the opportunity to lead it is essential that I lead well. This module has given the opportunity to think about and understand the differences between leadership and management which will give me the opportunity to consider which set of skills that I must adopt during a particular task, and whether these skills are interchangeable, or adaptable, dependent on the outcome desired.

Leadership Styles and Evaluation

Working in the Prison Service requires the deployment of many different leadership styles. As I have already stated, I have been a manager in the Prison Service for approximately 13 years. During this period I have undertaken many differing roles, and progressed through 3 different tiers of management to my current position on the Senior Management Team at Full Sutton. Over the past few months I have reflected on past projects, teams, and problems. I have also considered if I have used my skills to their full potential, and how I have delivered on the outputs that I have desired.

I now understand that in order to achieve the performance that is required I need to vary the style of leadership that I display dependent on the outcome that I need. I also need to consider the dynamics of the team with which I am working.

I have found it useful to consider concepts and theories contained within the module, as well as reading work by: McGregor (Motivation); Adair (Action centred Leadership); Vroom and Yetton (Decision making); Belbin (Team roles); Hersey and Blanchard (Situational Leadership)

I have completed Myers Briggs and Jung Type Indicator assessments several times over the past few years. These have resulted in largely similar results (ISTJ).

ISTJ type is:

I - Introversion preferred to extraversion: ISTJs tend to be quiet and reserved. They generally prefer interacting with a few close friends rather than a wide circle of acquaintances, and they expend energy in social situations (whereas extraverts gain energy).

S - Sensing preferred to intuition: ISTJs tend to be more concrete than abstract. They focus their attention on the details rather than the big picture, and on immediate realities rather than future possibilities.

T - Thinking preferred to feeling: ISTJs tend to value objective criteria above personal preference. When making decisions, they generally give more weight to logic than to social considerations.

J - Judgment preferred to perception: ISTJs tend to plan their activities and make decisions early. They derive a sense of control through predictability.

Myres Briggs Type Indicator assesses personality style following the completion of a questionnaire. The framework produces a personality type from one of sixteen groupings. (see Appendix A for further information) I realise that I am an introvert particularly interested in clarity and knowledge. I tend to observe and listen, and have a particular interest in facts and information which helps to develop as clear knowledge as possible. I like to know where I stand; having clear goals to which I can work, and to know that what I am expected to do is achievable. I also value my own experience, which serves as a strong guide to my decisions.

As part of this module I have completed two online assessments. The Jung Type Indicator (JTI). (Appendix B) The JTI assessment is a psychometric questionnaire designed to measure psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. This test was designed by Carl Jung in the 1920's. In addition, I have completed the Mental Muscle Diagram Indicator (MMDI) assessment. (Appendix A) The MMDI is probably the most comprehensive of the free personality tests available on the internet. It has been developed over a period of more than fifteen years and has been subject to one of the most robust statistical techniques available: factor analysis. The JTI is consistent with previous questionnaires. However, I am surprised to see that the MMDI suggests that I am most probably ESTJ.

Although there is no huge disparity between the styles; the questions vary and confirm that I do not necessarily fit into one style at any one time.

I appreciate that I have gaps in my leadership style in that I am not particularly creative, and tend to prefer traditional methods when achieving results; generally based on clear information and knowledge. I am satisfied that I cannot change this particular style but also understand that it is important that there are others within the team that can compensate for these gaps.

Belbin's theory (1981) encapsulates this well. The Belbin team inventory was devised by Dr. Meredith Belbin to measure preference for the nine team roles discovered whilst studying teams at Henley Management College. Belbin suggested that the Belbin Team Role Inventory assesses how an individual behaves in a team environment. It is a behavioral tool, and can therefore be subject to change. The assessment includes 360-degree feedback from observers as well as the individual's own evaluation of their behaviour, and contrasts how they see their behavior versus how their colleagues do.

Unlike the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which is a psychometric assessment used to sort people into one of 16 personality types, the Belbin Inventory scores people on how strongly they express behavioral traits from 9 different team roles. Individual's can and often do fall into different roles.

Belbins theory, when utilised within a team, will provide a breadth of skills that will complement each other, and compensate for those styles missing from individuals.

The work on leadership styles has encouraged me to look inwardly and consider how I get the best from staff, as well as delivering well in my areas of responsibility. This was evidenced recently during the implementation of a new integrated IT system, Prison NOMIS. I found it useful to use John Adair's (1973) model of action centered leadership.

Adair is a renowned leadership theorist. He devised his action centered leadership model following observations of leaders and their followers during the 1970s. The action centered leadership model, in which three elements (achieving the task, developing the team, and developing individuals all co-exist). Adair also promoted the 50:50 rule which applies to various situations involving two possible influencers. The view that 50% of motivation lies within the individual, and 50% comes from external factors, among them leadership from another.

Adair set out some core functions of leadership which are vital to action centered leadership. Planning, Controlling, Supporting, Informing, and evaluating.

I have found that if these steps are followed then I have a greater chance of success as evidenced when working on the implementation of Prison Nomis. It was essential that the project was planned effectively, taking into account the views of the team and following the other core functions identified by Adair.

This is not dissimilar to Hersey and Blanchard's (1972) work on situational leadership. The underpinning facet of the situational leadership theory is that there is no single "best" style of leadership. Effective leadership is more relevant to the task. It is suggested that the most effective leaders are those that adapt their leadership style to the abilities of the individual or group they are attempting to lead or influence. Their model talks about: telling, selling, participating and delegation. Hersey and Blanchard's model included a matrix (Appendix C)

The theory focuses on the amount of direct day to day input that the leader has to have with team members; ranging from clear direction for those that lack competence in the task; to delegation to those who have high competence and commitment and are able and willing to work on a project with little supervision or support.

Effective leaders are versatile in being able to move around the matrix according to the situation, so there is no style that is always right. However, each individual tends to have a preferred style, and in applying situational leadership they need to know which one is their default style. I have found this theory useful whilst managing several projects. It takes time to assess the competence and competence of team members. However, once completed, allows me to focus my attention to those that need it most, developing their skills, competence, and commitment; whilst maintaining the motivation and commitment of those staff that are competent and would not be keen on too much direction.

My current role is Head of Business Change. At present there are eight large change initiatives underway within the Prison Service, as well as numerous others that occur locally at Full Sutton. In order to deliver both on my key targets and on change I must motivate staff to become engaged in the process. This is not an easy task and has been somewhat of a challenge. However, I have found it useful to consider what motivates staff, and how I can aid this motivation. Working through the module has allowed me to read and consider work produced by Rensis Likert (1961), Douglas McGregor (1960), Victor Vroom (1988), and Kurt Lewin (1947). All these theories have some resonance in my key role and have assisted in getting me to the position that I am in at present.

Likert completed work on human behavior which I consider appropriate to my role as a leader;

"……departments which are low in efficiency tend to be in the charge of supervisors who are job centered. That is they tend to concentrate on keeping their subordinates busily engaged in going through a specified work cycle in a prescribed way and at a satisfactory rate as determined by time standards"

Likert (1961)

He went on to say that:

"….supervisors with the best record of performance are found to focus their attention on the human aspects of their subordinates' problems and on building effective work groups which are set high achievement goals"

Likert (1961)

This in many ways links directly with the work of Maslow (1943) and his Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow's ideas surrounding the Hierarchy of Needs concern the responsibility of employers to provide a workplace environment that encourages and enables employees to fulfill their own unique potential (self-actualization). This theory suggests that needs must be met in the hierarchical order, i.e. each level satisfied in order to reach self actualization. Criticism of the theory suggests that individuals are not all alike and do not necessarily have to have their needs satisfied in this order. However it can be argued that employers could benefit from consideration of the model and how they can best satisfy employee's needs at each level

In addition Douglas McGregor (1960) maintained that

"……. there are two fundamental approaches to managing people. Many managers tend towards theory x, and generally get poor results. Enlightened managers use theory y, which produces better performance and results, and allows people to grow and develop.

McGregor (1960)

 Theory X ('authoritarian leadership' style)

The manager's assumption is that:

The average person dislikes work and will avoid it he/she can.

Therefore most people must be forced with the threat of punishment to work towards organisational objectives.

The average person prefers to be directed; to avoid responsibility; is relatively unambitious, and wants security above all else.

Theory Y ('participative leadership' style)

The manager's assumption is that:

Effort in work is as natural as work and play.

People will apply self-control and self-direction in the pursuit of organisational objectives, without external control or the threat of punishment.

Commitment to objectives is a function of rewards associated with their achievement.

People usually accept and often seek responsibility.

The capacity to use a high degree of imagination, ingenuity and creativity in solving organisational problems is widely, not narrowly, distributed in the population.

In industry the intellectual potential of the average person is only partly utilised.

McGregor (1960)

I acknowledge that for me to get the best out of my team then I need to encourage staff to 'buy' in to the project. There are occasions, because of the nature of my business, when I need to be directive. Examples of this would be during incidents which happen within the establishment when clear instructions must be followed in order to affect a safe outcome. However, in general terms, I will get a far greater return from my investment in staff, if I allow sufficient flexibility and latitude for the team to deliver in their own way.

Victor Vroom considered that "….participation in decision making has positive effects on attitudes and motivation"

Vroom and Jago (1988)

The work of Vroom suggests that there are five key decision making processes which enable managers to deal effectively with problems they encounter within their jobs.

The Prison Service at times requires decisive instruction in order to deal successfully with a whole range of spontaneous situations. However, there are also numerous situations that allow for a more gradual response.

Until relatively recently, I would often make decisions alone, and was reluctant to delegate effectively. Vroom outlines types of decision-making involved in both group problems that affect a manager's workgroup, and in individual problems that affect only the manager. The following list shows the types of management decision methods for group problems:

Autocratic - you make the decision and inform others of it.

There are two separate processes for decision making in an autocratic style:

Autocratic 1(A1) - you use the information you already have and make the decision

Autocratic 2 (A2) - you ask team members for specific information and once you have it, you make the decision. Here you don't necessarily tell them what the information is needed for.

Consultative - you gather information from the team and other and then make the decision.

Consultative 1 (C1) - you inform team members of what you doing and may individually ask opinions, however, the group is not brought together for discussion. You make the decision.

Consultative 2 (C2) - you are responsible for making the decision, however, you get together as a group to discuss the situation, hear other perspectives, and solicit suggestions.

Collaborative - you and your team work together to reach a consensus. Group (G2) - The team makes a decision together. Your role is mostly facilitative and you help the team come to a final decision that everyone agrees on.

This theory is dependent on the problem or situation that is being dealt with. A leader needs to use the correct style to deliver the outcome desired.

Five similar methods are defined for individual problems. The Vroom/Yetton model then proposes a decision tree (Annex E) based on seven rules, which managers can use to pinpoint the most appropriate method for a given situation.

Vroom and Yetton (1960)

I have found the work of Vroom useful in order to plan key strategies for dealing with projects. However, I also consider that it is vitally important to use both delegation and empowerment, which themselves do not strictly sit within this theory. I have found it vitally important to consider the needs of staff, since if these are met, then it is highly likely that there will be a greater chance of staff engagement and a higher degree of success, giving me the opportunity to demonstrate leadership skills. For example, several years ago I was tasked with the introduction of a procedure for managing the progression of young offenders depending on their adherence to required standards of behaviour. This progression included access to different possessions, including playstations, tv, and enhanced facilities. I was a new manager and designed the new process and procedures from the comfort of my office without the involvement of staff. I was proud of my plan, which was delivered to the senior management team for implementation.

The introduction of this policy was problematic. Staff and prisoners did not engage with the change resulting in the policy having to be reviewed. Had the principles of Vroom been used then the results would have been far more effective.

I have also found the work of Kurt Lewin (1947) useful in defining the key stages of change. His work is based on three main stages for effective change.

Unfreezing - Preparing staff for the change - accepting that change is necessary - break down the existing system - effective communication

Change - Look for new ways of doing things - gather ideas from staff - encourage staff to embrace new methods - effective communication - enable time for staff to understand - encourage innovation

Refreeze - Ensure that the changes are used all the time and incorporated into business as usual - celebrate success - thanks staff for involvement

All these theories have assisted me through the past few months whilst implementing several large change initiatives.

They have allowed me to first define exactly what it is I wish to achieve, reflect on what I am changing and also they best way in which to make the change. I have reflected back on the past few years and considered where things have not gone so well, and looked at myself and asked why this has been the case.

I understand the importance in communicating vision, detail and direction from the start, as well as building a quality team around me. I believe that I have the ability to be flexible and adaptable to the needs of the project, the establishment, and the staff. Previously I would have taken 'knock backs' and challenges personally and reacted in a negative manner. However, I have found that taking this kind of approach does not help the change process. I find it far easier to encourage challenges as this almost always helps in testing ideas and concepts prior to implementation. That does not mean to say that, at times I don't ultimately stick to my own instinct, and give clear direction.

My current role revolves around the implementation of change. It has high potential for conflict, and equally conflict resolution. This conflict may come from staff, prisoners, and staff associations. I am acutely aware of the latter via my work as a national representative for the Prison Governors Association.

I found the leadership questionnaire on task/people focus useful (Ritchie and Thompson 1984). (Appendix G) The outcome was surprising in that my predominant style is people focused. Historically, I have always considered myself to be focused on the task, with sometimes little thought given to the individual.

Carrying out this work prompted me to consider work carried out by Blake and Mouton (1964) (Appendix D)

Their theory identified five different leadership styles based on concern for people and concern for production (task), and as with other theories utilizes a grid for considering leadership styles.

By plotting 'concern for production' against 'concern for people', the grid highlights how placing too much focus in one area at the expense of the other leads to low overall productivity. The theory suggests that when both people and production concerns are high, staff engagement and productivity increases accordingly.

This is not dissimilar to McGregor's (1960) work on Theory X and Theory Y.

I have considered a couple of situations whilst acting in a leadership role and considered my approach in line with the Blake Mouton grid. (Appendix D)

The approach taken whilst implementing the progression of young offenders (referred to earlier) clearly placed my style as authoritarian. I gave little thought to how the project would affect staff engagement or morale, and clearly focused on the task and outcome. I can see that if I had considered a balanced approach; the requirement to affect the change as well as maintaining staff motivation and commitment; whilst taking into account staff understanding of the change. Then the process would have had a far better outcome. Staff may have been motivated, have had access to development opportunities, and the establishment would have benefited from implementation of the policy.

Several years ago I considered that there was a need for me to become more assertive, without becoming overbearing. I have attended several management courses which have allowed me to reflect on where I am and where I want to be.

I have never been one to avoid conflict, and found it useful to carry out the work on transactional analysis.

I was not surprised to find that my predominant state is that of Adult. (Appendix E)

Berne's (1961) work on transactional analysis works on the foundations of Freud (primarily looks at three ego states, that of Parent, Adult and Child. I found it useful to consider how different transactions between the states can feed into conflict. I believe that I have the ability to diffuse conflict before it becomes destructive.

Transactional Analysis involves the identification of ego states (Parent; Adult; Child) behind each and every transaction.  Berne defined an ego state as "a consistent pattern of feeling and experience directly related to a corresponding consistent pattern of behavior" Berne (1961) (Appendix E)

In order to communicate, and affect outcomes between individuals then each transaction is dependent on the most appropriate type of behaviour required to illicit the outcome desired.

Berne suggests all communication takes place in one of our ego states. Ultimately our feelings determine which state is used.

Communication is only effective if the ego state a person responds with is appropriate or the speaker and listener will not understand each other.

For example; a manager when challenging the actions of a subordinate may use the Parent ego state, and dependent on how this is received the subordinate respond in the Child.

The Parent state in this example will be based on how that individuals experience played out as a child, and how they perceived the actions of the Parent. For example; how their parents set limits; set standards; administered discipline; and protected and nurtured the child. This often has a negative outcome. Had the manager taken into account the feelings of the individual and the output required then they may have made better use of the Adult ego. The Adult state would appear to be more rational, focused on delivering the most appropriate response based on reflection; remaining calm; identifying problems; and assessing options.

A good example of how I have benefited from this theory happened recently. I had a meeting with the local branch of the Prison Officers Association (POA), in order to discuss some staffing changes. The meeting started well and then resulted in a branch official raising their voice and challenging in an inappropriate manner.

Historically, I would most probably have responded in the same way. However, I considered Berne's theory and considered the most appropriate action. It would have been easy for me to become drawn into the argument and react with the same type of behaviour (Child), or use my position within the organization to halt the outburst (Parent). I sat, and refrained from adding to the argument until there was a natural break, considered the outcome that I desired, and responded as an Adult, having due consideration for the relationship between us, and delivering a response in a positive manner without bringing in emotional issues. This approach proved beneficial to both parties and moved the discussion on.

The work of Berne has provided an awareness of how my behaviour may directly impact on that of others.

The conflict handling questionnaire was interesting, although it did not surprise me to see that I am predominantly collaborative, with a secondary preference for compromising. (Appendix G)


In summary Leadership and Management are both different concepts, and it is important to know the differences. Management generally deals with the 'what': the policies, structures, and performance. Leadership revolves around the softer skills of people, facilitating change, and moving organisations forward.

There are numerous theories regarding leadership, many of which complement each other. I have learned that it is important for me to understand what motivates people, and how I can gain the best from people, whilst also managing performance, and conflict. I understand that my behaviour directly influences that of others, finding this useful over the past few months.

I am also acutely aware that I am not a creative person, and tend to favour traditional methods. I understand that this is a gap in my leadership skills, although I am not certain that I have the ability to change this. I believe that I can work around it by utilising key players within the team (Belbin 1981), focusing on my own strengths and allowing team members to evidence and also maximise theirs.

Thinking back, if I had not utilised some of these theories then I am certain that many outcomes that I have been required to deliver, would have been different, and most probably with a higher level of staff dissatisfaction.

One final point, it is always important to know where you are heading, and when you have reached your potential. A warning?

"….competent followers show high promotion potential in the lower ranks, but eventually reveal their incompetence as leaders"

"A recent survey of business failures showed that 53% were due to plain managerial incompetence! These were followers trying to be leaders"

Peter and Hull (1969)

The module has provided me with awareness of differing theories which often complement each other. I am now aware that management differs from leadership, although in reality the two need to be used in order to full achieve ones goals

There is no one style of leadership that can be used in all situations. An effective leader will draw upon a style dependent on the situation.

I need to continue to develop laterally as a manager and also a leader in preparation for progression as and when this arises.