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"Every author, every expert, every CEO, every student, practically everyone has their own personal definition of leadership, which colors their view of the world and their practice of leading. Generally speaking, people have pieces of the puzzle of leadership, but seldom integrate the pieces into a unified philosophy of leadership or a clear plan for its implementation. The purpose of this assignment is to provide a structured means of cataloguing the pieces of your leadership beliefs, to help you weave them together into an operational definition of leadership that you can use in your professional and your personal life."
What is the central "thing" in your leadership model?
Growing up in a family of leaders, my dad brought me up to believe that "every person in this world is a born leader in his or her own right". There can only be one leader in every area and in that particular area, a specific leader is assigned- a leader who is irreplaceable and is the only one uniquely capable of fulfilling that specific leadership assignment.
Since I was born and raised with that leadership idea in mind, I started finding that "born leader" inside me. Interestingly, while I was in the process of finding the "leader within me", I was able to find the foundation or cornerstone of that "leader" waiting to be unleashed from within me.
I have always believed that "attitude" is what differentiates any effective leader from all the other successful leaders in the world. I have not known any successful leader in my time whose right attitude did not take him to the heights of leadership success. My friend for instance who was recently promoted to a top executive position in a well-known multinational firm carries a strong positive attitude which became his weapon to surpass all the challenges in his previous position.
Attitude springs from a leader's character and beliefs. It defines who the leader is and what kind of a person he is. The leader's attitude and the practice of that attitude is what defines a leader's mindset and how he perceives things. No matter how intelligent, articulate and driven a leader is, without possessing the right attitude, he will certainly not survive the many challenges of being a leader.
By possessing the right attitude, I meant that the leader possesses limitless and overwhelming optimism within him. This positive attitude is what allows him to dream and achieve the dreams other people would not dare to even dream. You would know when a person has a positive attitude when in times of trouble, he still manages to smile and encourage other people. During the times when everyone has already given up on something, he remains to be the only person standing up and not giving up. A person who possesses the right attitude is a person characterized by perseverance, determination and hope.
According to Lou Holtz, a well known motivational speaker and author of leadership books, "leadership is all about the attitude". He defined ability as the capacity of doing something, motivation as the determination in doing something and attitude as the ultimate measure of how well one does what he's capable of doing. Hence, every leader must indeed possess the right kind of attitude for without it, the leadership potential within would not grow and achieve its highest level.
Given my strong personal belief in the importance and practice of the right leadership attitude, my personal mission statement boils down to determining the right leadership attitude one must possess. My mission is to teach the right mindset and attitude when it comes to leading people, allowing them to hone and practice that kind of leadership attitude, inspiring other leaders to change their negative attitudes and apply the right kind of attitude any successful leader must possess. My mission is to make other leaders aware that attitude is the secret weapon of any effective and successful leader and that attitude is a "choice" every leader has control of.
During the years when I assumed many different leadership positions, I found myself in situations when giving up seems to be the most appealing choice I could make. I have had previous jobs which I did not really like but I was able to manage them properly because of my right attitude. Without this right attitude, I would admit that I could have easily given up. This was the time when I discovered that "attitude" is indeed the most important foundation of leadership and that the constant practice of the right leadership attitude is the key to the heights of success.
2. In your leadership model, describe a true leader's key traits.
An effective and successful leader is a leader who possesses the right leadership attitude. This leader is characterized with a boundless positive or "optimistic" attitude to achieve a particular goal despite the many challenges and difficulties he will encounter along the way. As a result of this leader's great optimism, he is able to persevere and maintain a high level of determination to achieve a particular goal that is otherwise impossible to achieve for a person who doesn't possess these characteristics.
A very good example of this person who possesses the right leadership attitude was my friend and mentor, who is also known as the wealthiest businessman in our town. My mentor started from very humble beginnings. Being a student and a part-time worker at the same time-selling newspapers and doing shoe cleaning on the side was very tough for a ten year old boy-but that was how he started. He recalled the times when he had nothing to eat because he was saving up for his studies. His parents abandoned him when he was only five years old while his only sister died immediately after their parents left them.
But despite those awful and traumatic experiences in his life, he never stopped dreaming. In fact, his appalling experience is what drove him to persevere and to look forward to a bright future with huge positivity. The moment he knew he wanted to change his fate, he was aware of the challenges he might face but he was able to overcome them because of his positive attitude. When he was in his mid-20s a wonderful business opportunity came in his life. The biggest shoe retailer in our city was looking for a shoe lace supplier and he was chosen to be the retailers' sole supplier. Today, my mentor owns one of the biggest shoe lace manufacturing business in our country. He leads around 500 employees and is already considering plans to expand the business outside the country.
Personally, I was really inspired by the kind of attitude my mentor has. He was not just a dreamer who has positive vision about the future but he was a go-getter and he really works hard to achieve those goals. What I admire most about him was his unmatched perseverance and determination to achieve seemingly impossible goals. Because of these characteristics, I consider my mentor as one of my leadership role models, who I aspire to become one day. Based on his experiences and life-story, I am quite convinced that a leader's pre-requisite to success is indeed the right leadership and positive attitude which has the capacity to drive anyone up to the ladder of success.
3. In your leadership model describe the core skills of an effective leader.
Based on my observations and my previous and present dealings with different types of leaders, I have observed that possessing the right leadership attitude maybe central to becoming an effective leader but certain skills, behavior and knowledge are also very necessary to becoming a great and effective leader.
Understanding and knowledge is critical to any effective leader. The leader must possess a general understanding of the people and the institution he is leading. An effective leader may possess a strong character and positive attitude but if he lacks knowledge on the purpose, vision and goals of the institution or group of people he is leading, then he cannot be considered an effective leader. An effective leader is first and foremost, knowledgeable. He is capable of determining, assessing and achieving the purpose and goals set by the organization and people he is leading. Because of this great knowledge, he is capable of making the best and wisest decision which benefits his people.
An effective leader is also well-articulate and possesses a natural skill in communicating to people. He possesses the eloquence, confidence and sincerity when he communicates which makes him win respect, trust and credibility from among people. He is also a good emphatic listener, who humbly listens to his followers/people in order to gain useful insights for his decision-making.
An effective leader is also a risk-taker. From him comes new, exciting and creative ideas which inspire people to adapt to changes and do something different. By presenting innovative and "brave" ideas, an effective leader is aware that risks are involved. Nevertheless, he is still willing to go through the path of the unknown and explore the endless possibilities of an idea with the goal of creating something new and something better. The true test of an effective leader lies on how he manages risks and deals with the consequences of his decision while keeping his team intact and focused on the goals they need to achieve.
Certainly, a leader may possess the right leadership attitude-optimism, focus, perseverance and determination- but if he lacks the knowledge and understanding, the ability to communicate effectively and the confidence to take risks, that leader will most likely fail to be an effective leader.
4. In your leadership model, what are the leader's most important tasks?
Being a leader entails many different roles and functions. Certainly, a leader exists to achieve an important purpose or goal which may be too big or too difficult for a single person to fulfill but on the other hand, may be easily achieved by a group of people. Many people confuse a leader with a "boss" who gives stern orders and commands to his people. On the contrary, a leader's main role is quite the opposite of that of a boss or even a so-called "dictator".
One of the essential roles of a leader is to inspire and motivate people. A true leader is able to successfully move and make people achieve a task by influence, not by force. I consider my mentor a true effective leader because he was able to successfully motivate his people to work for him for over 25 years now. The very few people who have helped him start his business and make it grow as big as it is today are still there working for him because these people saw a different kind of leadership in him which made them stay.
I once had a chance to speak with one of the oldest employees in that company and he said that the main reason why he chose to stay in the company was because of the level of motivation he receives from his boss (my mentor) for over twenty years now. For him, motivation was very important because without it, his passion for work will die inevitably.
Another basic yet essential task of a leader is to make good decisions. Leaders are put in that position because people believe in their knowledge and wisdom in making good decisions. Interestingly, the true test of a leader is not how good his decision was but he manages the consequences of that decision. For instance, when a particular decision he made failed to lead to a positive consequence, an effective leader must know how to deal with it properly.
Another important task of a leader is to successfully create and achieve a particular vision or goal. Since a leader exists for the very reason that a significant goal is needed to be achieved by either an organization or a group of people he is leading, then he is expected to successfully fulfill it. Every great leader has good and clear vision in mind. When my mentor started to work as a shoe-shine boy when he was ten years old, he knew that he would become successful in the "shoe business" because that's where his passion was. He was able to envision it as many decades before he actually achieved that goal.
When he finally started his "shoe business" twenty years ago, he shared his vision to his few employees and that is "to expand the business outside the country and tap a foreign market"- which today, is already beginning to take place as a renowned American shoe retailer has already signed up a business deal with them.
5. What are the core values that your leadership model emphasizes?
Possessing the right leadership attitude is at the core of my leadership model and by possessing the right attitude in leading people, I meant that an effective leader must possess boundless optimism, perseverance and determination in achieving a specific goal.
I have always believed that "attitude" is the foundation of the success of a leader. Without the right attitude which stems from the character of a leader or the kind of person he is, he will never become a successful leader.
Personally, one of the values I admire from a leader is courage. I have not known a successful leader who did not possess this core value. Since leaders are supposed to be taking in a very important role of leading people and the success of a task highly depends on him, then he must be courageous enough to fulfill that task. Leaders are also supposed to risk-takers for it is only in taking risks can something different and something better be created. Without courage, a leader will never take risks and therefore would be missing out a lot of opportunities available.
Respect is another foundational core value I expect from a leader. The leader's capacity to listen to his people is one great sign of respect. Respect stems from having the right leadership attitude because it is hinged from a person's character. If a leader personally believes that respect is something earned by a leader from his followers, then the leader will find a way to earn it by showing respect to his people beforehand. "Not acting like a boss" or forcibly imposing something to be done by someone is also a manifestation of respect.
Excellence is another important core value that every leader must possess. Unfortunately nowadays, excellence is not manifested by most leaders for excellence greatly stems from the right leadership attitude and not every leader possesses the right kind of attitude in leading people.
If a leader places high esteem on excellence, it will manifest in the outcome of his work. Many leaders easily achieve their goals but not all leaders achieve their goals with excellence. There are certain types of leaders who mainly set the vision or goal that his group needs to achieve without going through the nitty-gritty of the strategy to achieve the goal. There are even leaders who do not set strategies at all to achieve a specific goal. If there is a specific value therefore that I'd be willing to "go to the wall" for, that is excellence.
6. Describe the relationships in the organization/group that would exist as a result of using this leadership model.
In the current teaching organization where I belong, the people are not too close with each other. I would like to think that people there just go in and out of the institution without even bothering to relate to other people.
I also get this impression that my co-teachers are very hard working, to the point that they have already become too rigid and strict with themselves and that relationships are therefore not established within the organization.
I think the organization lacks the kind of leader who will empower, inspire and motivate them to fulfill their teaching duties with great satisfaction. The organization also lacks the kind of leader who will promote and foster the re-building of relationships among the people. Within the organization, people have been left on their own. Their personal issues and professional issues were not being heard nor addressed by the institution that's why people were not satisfied with their teaching careers.
With this leadership model therefore, putting special emphasis on acquiring a leader who possesses the right leadership attitude, this teaching institution will continue to thrive and flourish as it will once again empower, inspire and drive the passion of its people through a different kind of leader.
Certainly, under the leadership of a leader who possesses optimism, perseverance and determination, the institution and its people will be revived. The organization will be more focused on achieving its vision with a set positive outcome in mind. However, the challenge to the leader is how he would be able to successfully impart his optimism to his own people. While that may take some time, acquiring this kind of leader would still certainly be a big help to revive the organization.
In terms of building and re-building the relationships within the organization, having a leader who possesses the right kind of leadership attitude will certainly drive people to do their part in the organization with the help of their co-workers. No longer will these people isolate themselves from their co-employees. Instead, they will reach out to their co-workers and together they will fulfill their part in the organization as a result of this kind of leadership.
7. Describe the culture of the organization/group that would exist if your model was used.
Using this leadership model wherein a leader who possesses the right leadership attitude leads the organization, the culture of the organization will be a culture of excellence. Since excellence is the foundational value of a leader with the right attitude, the culture of excellence will naturally be imparted by the leader to his followers.
The organization will be composed of followers or people who excels in their work and always fulfills their duties to the best that they can. Mediocrity does not have a room for this kind of culture as each person strives to maintain or even surpass the standards set by the organization on what defines excellence.
In terms of decision making, the culture passed on to followers under this leadership model is a culture of "risk-takers" in the positive sense of the word or simply a culture of innovation. By being risk-takers, it means that the people are brave enough to suggest or implement new, creative and innovative ideas which have never been done before. As a result, better changes are reflected in the organization and the overall environment of the institution will be filled with tangible results of the creative ideas each of the employees have imparted to the organization.
The culture of respect is also manifested under this leadership model. The leadership of a leader who shows respect to his followers is most likely to be passed on to his followers who would also show respect among their fellow employees and workers. One manifestation of respect in this organization's culture is the ability of each employee to listen to both the higher authorities and their fellow employees.
Finally, a culture of optimism will be seen and felt in the kind of organization where this leadership model is applied. The organization will inevitably be filled with people who practice "positive thinking" and at the same time, people who persevere and are determined to turn a positive goal into a reality.
8. Describe the world outside your organization/group that a leader will have to face using this style of leadership.
Using this leadership model, the organization will be in its so-called "ideal state" as the people/followers know their purpose, vision and the goals that they have to achieve for the organization. Also under this leadership model, the cultures of excellence, respect, optimism and innovation will be imparted and practiced by the people. Thus, any organization who will practice this style of leadership is most likely to succeed in terms of empowering its people and achieving the goals of the organization.
Nevertheless, outside of this organization is a world full of millions of organizations who practice and value the opposite things that they practice and value. The leader under this leadership model will most probably have a hard time dealing with skeptics and cynical organizations who always fail to achieve their goals because of too much doubt and negativity.
Outside of this "ideal" organization, the leader would also be facing organizations which do not value excellence but embrace mediocrity, organizations which do not value respect and organizations which dread innovation and risk-taking.
Because of this possibility, the leader who practices this leadership model would most probably have a hard time adapting to the systems and ways of working of other organizations which appear to be practicing exactly the opposite of what this type of organization practices and values. Also, it may be possible that this organization is the only organization in the world which follows this leadership model.
The challenge therefore for the leader under this leadership model is how he would be able to successfully adapt to the systems of other organizations without getting influenced by them and by their systems.
Nevertheless, despite this great challenge, there is also a great opportunity to influence these organizations by the kind of system this leadership model practices. By showing a good example of how a successful organization is run by a leader, there is a big opportunity that other organizations will adapt the kind of system that the leader practices and values.
Sometimes, it is enough to simply show the benefits and positive effects of this leadership model to other organizations. Certainly, the evidence as manifested by the positive changes in the culture and the kind of relationships that exist among the people within the organization are more than enough to persuade or influence another organization to adapt this leadership model.
9. How is this leadership model different from the one that currently exists in your organization?
This leadership model which practices excellence, optimism, innovation and respect appears to be quite the opposite of the leadership model that currently exists in the organization where I belong.
Because of the lack of a leader who possesses the right leadership attitude in my current organization, people are confused and do have a set direction and knowledge as to the vision and goals of the organization.
The people do not also communicate with each other often. They lack unity and the close relationships which are normally present in any effectively governed organization. People work in isolation from others and people have nothing to talk about when it comes to the purpose and vision of the organization. What I have observed is that people merely go to work because they needed to. Unfortunately, it appears that the organization is filled with people who are not motivated to work but are there because they needed to have a job in order to pay the bills.
Since they lack communication enough to sustain relationships, people do not respect each other that much. In fact, nobody cares to listen when somebody is talking and when they do listen, they often merely criticizes that person.
As a result of unsustained relationships and lack of communication, innovation has no room for this particular organization. Every idea thrown by those in higher positions are either criticized or killed. Sometimes, when a plan is to be implemented, the implementation often fails because everyone was busy doing their own business. There was obviously a lack of a leader possessing the right kind of attitude to correct the current system of this organization.
This organization obviously needs to be overhauled and revived and be influenced with the kind of system this leadership model practices.
What steps do you plan to take/ how and where do you plan to start doing leadership as you have defined it?
In order to effectively apply this leadership model in my current organization, the first thing that I would do is to pitch up the core idea of this leadership model and enumerate the benefits of this style of leadership to the organization's management committee.
If the school's management committee doesn't think that the current leader may not be able to adjust to the qualities of the leader that this leadership style needs, then they may opt to find the most suitable leader who can carry out this leadership style. This would be a very tough decision on the part of the organization's management committee but there is no other choice but to overhaul and implement a totally new system in replacement of the old one.
I would need a serious cooperation with the school's management committee as they will be the one who will decide who they should assign as the new leader in the organization given this new leadership model. This new leader must be someone who is a born-optimist, someone who is capable of leading people and carries with him a positive attitude that he can successfully lead people. Second, this new leader must be driven by excellence. He must be someone who strictly sets the standards of excellence to be achieved by people in all aspects of their professional life, that is, in terms of their job accountabilities and their purpose in achieving the organization's success. Third, this new leader must be innovative and courageous enough to take risks. Without the right amount of creativity, this leader would not be able to fully take on this new leadership role as it requires a combination of every essential characteristic that a leader must possess.
I was thinking that in order to win the approval of the organization's management committee, it would take time for me to pitch in the idea of adopting a new leadership model since it would entail major changes within the organization's current structure and current line up of authorities. An estimated time of about 6 months to a year would be needed just to pitch in the idea to the committee.
After the committee's approval, I was planning that the leadership model be pilot tested to a specific group of employees like for instance, only within the School of Business Administration. I was thinking of an "ideal" leader to serve as a mock leader to this particular body of employees for a period of one year.
After one year, the evaluation would be conducted based on the following criteria:
a.) whether the relationships among employees greatly improved or not
b.) whether the cultures of excellence, innovation, optimism and respect were inculcated among the employees and resulted to an overall positive development in the organization's culture, and
c.) whether the attitudes of the employees towards their work responsibilities and obligation to the organization greatly changed in a positive way
In order to evaluate the effects of the new leadership sample over a sample body of employees, I would be needing the cooperation of the organization's management committee as well as the students where this leadership model was employed. Finally, once it has been proven that this new leadership model indeed brings in positive effects and benefits to the school's organization, then the adoption of the leadership model must take place immediately.