Being A Leader At The Current Work Environment Education Essay

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The researcher has closely examined herself in terms of being a leader at the current work environment and through her day by day activities. She acts as a consultant analyzing her character, through the use of key leadership concepts, the issues faced by her in the organization. She will demonstrate and apply leadership theory to current activities and every aspect of her daily life to appraise her effectiveness as a leader. Based on research and findings, the researcher will propose recommendations she sees fit that would help to improve her inner persona for future leadership development.

1.0 Introduction

The researcher, employed on a part time basis at I& S supermarket for the past seven years, has held the post as a cashier, supervisor of three workers and sometimes acts in place of the manager at the mentioned business. Since October 2009, She has obtained the position of a teaching assistant at School through the On the Job Training Programme managed by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Tertiary Education. Despite this occupation, the researcher has sustained working at the supermarket on evenings and weekends.

The purpose of study was to undertake a critical appraisal of the researcher that will seek to address the issues faced her in every aspect of her life as a leader so that she could be able to achieve her vision. This objective of study was to allow her to able to understand herself, discover her strengths and flaws so that she could make the necessary adjustments to her life to accept any opportunities that may arise and to combat any potential threats.

This would be achieved through the use and applications of key leadership areas that seem pertinence to her. The leadership theories to be addressed are: Charismatic, Psychodynamics, Led leadership and Situational leadership.

Mission Statement: "My mission is to become a great individual, who would have attained high educational qualifications and will continue to learn. I intend to obtain a self full filling job which would allow me to reach my full potential, reap financial rewards and one that will provide opportunities for growth. In all I do I shall be open-minded and respectful, as I strive for honesty, integrity, equality while maintaining healthy relationships. Through this challenging but amazing life journey every success will help in my personal development for me to be a stronger individual and every setback would be as a stepping stone to help me grow even stronger." [The Researcher]

Vision Statement: "My vision is to continuously improve myself to become an individual who have accomplished many great things and would continue to do so enriching not only my life but will positively impact on the life of others." [The Researcher]

2.0 Management Report

2.1 What is leadership?

"Leadership is the "ability of an individual to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute toward the effectiveness and success of the organization…" [1] [Northouse]

Leadership strays away from people's perception that a leader is one who controls all situations. It, however allows a person the capability to inspire and impinge on and manipulate the behavior and actions of others in exerting a task. A question that always arises: are leaders born or are they made? Both are correct to the extent where some people are born with natural traits of leadership qualities while most people are trained and molded into being a leader (see appendix 1).

There are several leadership theories that emerged that helped to demonstrate the different types of leaders that exists based on their qualities and personalities. These are: Great Man, Trait, Contingency, Situational, Behavioral, Participative, Management and Relationship theories. These can be seen in the table below:

Theories

Explanation

Great Man

This theory takes on the traditional view that leaders are born not made

Trait

This theory is similar to Great Man theory where the characteristics and qualities of a leader are inherited

Contingency

This theory suggests that qualities of a leader together with situations of the work environment will determine the individual/ leader's performance

Situational

Leaders are flexible and are able to respond to different types of situations as they arise

Behavioral

This theory is based on principles that leaders are made not born and the success depends on the individual's/ leader's behavior

Participative

This theory considers the opinion of others but the final decision is made by high authority

Management

This is also known as Transactional theory, focused on the relationship between a leader and team members

Relationship

This is also known as transformational leadership where workers are treated equally and their opinion are considered

Leaders are not necessarily managers or supervisors since anyone who possesses "the right" qualities can be a leader. A job or salary does not make a person a leader however situations within the work environment can influence a person's behavior whether he is a leader or not. A leader is one who despite setback, would set goals and find direction by taking responsibility for their mistakes. This will help them to prosper rather than make excuses of failure as they maintain consistency and professionalism.

2.2 Assessment of Leadership Issues

Her possesses several qualities of being a leader however situations have arisen throughout her work experience that questioned her ability as a leader. Although there are no fixed leadership teams of some formal structure that define employees as leaders at both organizations where the researcher worked, she was able to identify informal leadership qualities and issues faced.

"Teacher leadership is not about "teacher power." Rather, it is about mobilizing the still largely untapped attributes of teachers to strengthen student performance at ground level and working toward real collaboration, a locally tailored kind of shared leadership, in the daily life of the school." [2] 

The researcher has found she is faced with issues that affect her ability of being a leader at School. She sometimes, at this organization, is faced with situations where she is unable to hold firm to convictions when faced with strong opposition. This at times questions her ability is unable to stand up for what she believes and consequently unable to confront such situations.

This comes after her some of her staff members in her team shows biasness and does not treat her equally due to her age. This situation arose recently where she was faced with conflict where she voiced her opinion about filling out an important document but her superior was very persistent that he was right and her wrong. Although his qualifications are no match to hers, she felt embarrassed when ask if she was trying to tell him his job in front all administrative staff. Due to this, after a few minutes of disagreement the researcher did not hold firm in the mist of this strong objection and eventually gave in.

Another issue faced at this organization is like most teachers of her age at the mentioned institution finds it challenging to obtain full control of all her classes. An incident where this occurred is there were two instances where when she was delivering her lesson, students walked out of her class without requesting permission. This allowed the researcher to feel undervalued and disrespected. Due to the nature of the situation and the history of the students, a higher authority figure, the dean, had to intervene. The incident by the researcher arose from a lack of skills and expertise in that area to have greater control of her class. Autocratic leadership style is required in this instance.

Authoritarian style of leadership is where the "focus of power is with the manager. The manager alone exercises decision-making and authority for determining policy, procedures, the allocation of work and has control of rewards and punishments." [Mullins, 2007]

Other issues faced in this profession are the voice of their opinion where the researcher does not have a say in the curriculum, what is to be though for that semester or timetable scheduling as to what classes the researcher want to teach since that is decided by higher authority.

The researcher faces challenges not only at the learning institution but at the I&S supermarket. An issue faced at this organization is the researcher is inconsistent in her job when she has assignments due. At this strenuous time she only works hard when being watched and allows her subordinates the opportunity to make decisions on their own. With this type of laissez faire leadership style demonstrated by the researcher, she is able to provide little or no direction to employees, giving them freedom as much as possible.

Laissez Faire leadership: "Here the manager has almost no influence on the group which decides everything." [Barrat and Mottershed]

This has created problems once for her in the past where the employees did not perform their required task of a day's work and the researcher was confronted by the manager.

An issue faced at both organizations is her inability to work under pressure clear her mind and focus on the challenge. The researcher, when faced with high pressure situation sometimes panic. The situation often clears up as soon as the researcher relaxes which in the past has taken less than an hour. This is a negative sign of a worker for any institution since it may impact on the output and results in the work of the researcher.

2.3 SWOT

A SWOT Analysis was conducted to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the researcher. The evaluation of the external and internal environment was undertaken to discover the factors influencing the researcher's life and her abilities. The analysis helps to determine the potential of the researcher and what she intends to accomplish with existing resources and potential threats and barriers to entry. Based on the analysis of the resources and capabilities of the researcher through a SWOT Analysis, the effectiveness of being a leader is determined.

2.4 Reflection of current/recent leadership effectiveness

"Most researchers evaluate a researcher's effectiveness in terms of consequences of the leader's actions for followers and other organization stakeholders." [Yukl, 2006]

The researcher has a situational analysis to assess how effective the researcher is as a leader. It was found, the researcher fell into four categories of being a leader at both her workplaces. These are: Leader Led Relationship, Emotional Intelligence, Charismatic and Transformational leadership.

2.4.1 Transformational and Charismatic Leadership

An assessment of the researcher has revealed that she has demonstrated transformational and charismatic leadership qualities at both Barrackpore West Secondary School and at the I&S supermarket.

"Transformational Leadership is a process that changes and transforms individuals. In other words, transformational leadership is the ability to get people to want to change, to improve, and to be led. It involves assessing associates' motives, satisfying their needs, and valuing them." [Northouse, 2001]

"Charismatic leaders transform followers by creating changes in their goals, values, needs, beliefs and aspirations." [Mullins, 2007]

Both leadership theories overlap since a transformational leader has charismatic qualities. The researcher, in keeping with the objectives of both organizations has demonstrated her ability to create a sense of fairness, loyalty and trust in subordinates and followers (her students). The researcher has been able to transform and use her charisma abilities in the past at the I&S supermarket to motivate employees to get them to perform more than the required tasks. The researcher has demonstrated her transformational abilities of a leader at the School where recently she was able to get students in the classes she conducts to change their thoughts, attitudes, abilities and values from a negative one to one of excelling.

This shows the researchers ability to be a transformational and a charismatic leader concurrently. This change was directed towards one where the students in her form four (4) class have put extra focus when a lesson is taught (the class being less disruptive), additional thoughts into their assignments where they have achieved higher marks and less failure in marked assignments. Class interactions have become more participative allowing the students especially the slow learners a sense of feeling as being a part of the lesson and a fair chance to know if they really understand what is taught.

Students allowed the researcher to lead them and help them improve their learning techniques, allowing the end results of exams to be more favourable. The researcher was able to show her charismatic traits where she helped students to gain self confidence through expressing confidence and expectations from them.

The researcher also expressed her transformational leadership attributes at the I&S supermarket. At this work environment, after years of experience in this organization, the researcher was able to develop trust from almost all of her subordinates through creating awareness of the importance of their contribution to the organization and activating their higher order needs. These subordinates have created admiration for the researcher from her consistent nature when performing a task and from being charismatic through her keen concern to help them develop self-confidence when performing a task so that they could meet both the needs of themselves and the organization. Moreover, the researcher showed she motivated workers through her warm approachable personality, allowing herself to be dependable and reliable and through gesture of appreciation of simple tasks to strenuous tasked performed.

An instance where this occurred is where the subordinates, during peak times at the end of month were motivated to help out during their lunch hour and even work a little overtime, without financial reward, performing tasks out of what they were hired to do. This occurred where the workers who are packers of food and beverages helped out in attending to customers and delivering of wholesale items with the driver. They further went on to clean out and sanitize the supermarket on evenings (a task usually performed by the owners). This comes after their motivation from their supervisor, the researcher, who herself multitasks, and sets the example of her own dedication and self-sacrifices by performing not only her tasks but everything she is physically capable of performing.

Furthermore, the researcher's ability to treat her workers fairly as human beings and in a way she would like to be treated has allowed her to obtain respect she deserves. All of these have helped her subordinates to change their attitudes of working only for a reward, but now to help the organization grow by serving their customers. The researcher has demonstrated that in this way by doing something no merely for themselves but for the organization, in itself will help reap rewards and in return would allow the subordinates to feel a sense of self fulfillment and a good deed. This idealized influences and her gratitude through a simple thank you note and recognition of great performance to her subordinates has motivated her employees.

2.4.2 Leader Led Leadership

Mutual trust, respect and confidence in the researcher by her team at I&S supermarket have allowed her to be categorized within leader-led leadership. The development of this attributes grew over the years as time spent with her subordinates permitted them the opportunity to know and understand the researcher. These qualities instilled a reduced barrier to effective communication between the researcher and her subordinates on a daily basis.

An instance of this at this organization occurred in the last two years where the researcher, who was unavailable a day, delegated some of her responsibilities to one of her subordinates. The tasks involved supervision of other subordinates. On that day there was a dispute among the subordinates who questioned the trusted of the researcher, the confidence she had in them and the reason for the choice of that particular worker over the others. At the next day when the researcher resumed duties she was told of the incident and had to explain her choice. The reason being that it was the first time the researcher was unavailable and had randomly chosen that particular worker. She explained that she would give all her subordinates a chance to act whenever she is not present. Throughout these past two years the worker was able to gain trust and confidence from the workers by showing them the same.

Another instance where the researcher demonstrated leader-led qualities was about a year ago when a new worker entered the organization, the supermarket. The researcher trained the newly recruit how to pack shelves and make invoices but failed to have effectively communicated what was meant by stock should be rotated on a first in first out basis and cash invoices when made should be differentiated from credit ones. The first matter to be uncovered by the researcher where receipts were not made out entirely correct while the second was brought to the attention of the researcher that the subordinate was packing on a last in first out basis without rotating stock. The researcher quickly identified it was a communication error and was honest disclosing the truth that it was her error since she had not clearly identified the nature of each tasks. By doing so she did not allow pride to affect her and apologized before of all workers.

This trivial matter helped to show led leader qualities where she did not distort the facts, spin the truth or leave false impression as if it was not her fault but the fault of her employee. She continued to show her leadership qualities as she made a mistake and took responsibility for it. Moreover, she allowed her subordinates to make mistakes and did not make a mountain of a mole hill since the matter was rectified quickly and the researcher understood that the matter had allowed her subordinates to learn. Subsequent to all this the researcher was professional throughout the matter and did not find faults but continued to encourage. This contributed to helping her obtain the trust, respect and confidence from her subordinates.

It is a traditional belief that teachers are leader-led and at School the researcher has shown these characteristics. She is capable of leading through her abilities of coaching her students through building a relationship with the students. This allows the students to confront the researcher any problems they may have especially with her teaching techniques and her performance in the class environment. She triggers creativity amongst students, supports them in being interactive and attempting to learn by asking effective learning questions. When faced with a wrong answer from a student she makes them understand the right answer without feeling embarrassed. Despite class disputes, the researcher remains cool, calm and collected, does not judge and shows fairness amongst all students. She is committed to inspire and to bring out the best in each student, allowing them to feel supported.

2.4.3 Emotional Intelligence

"Emotional Intelligence, or EI, describes an ability or capacity to perceive, assess, and manage the emotions of one's self, and of others." [3] 

Emotional Intelligence (EI) (see appendix 4.2) has helped the researcher to understand her emotions as well as the feelings of the people she has worked with, helping her to manage her emotions as she acts responsibly with others. Due to the young age of the researcher and lack of work experience, emotional intelligence will evolve with her as she matures personally and in the workplace. The researcher was assessed as possessing EI qualities, since she had the characteristics of being: self awareness, self management, social awareness and relationship management, all traits of EI.

In both organizations, the researcher was able to obtain awareness of her emotions and at certain times she was able to identify how it had affected her performance. The researcher is open and welcomes constructive criticisms. She then accepts what was said and uses it to make improvements of her shortcomings. Seeing the great benefit constructive criticisms are, the researcher provides them to her subordinates and students.

"The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance." [4] Nathaniel Braden

An instance of this occurrence was where she received was from her workers at the I&S supermarket where she was told she closely supervised her subordinates and they requested she showed trust in them giving them more freedom to make choices and decisions. By changing this aspect to herself, she has seen greater performance in her subordinates. At the school, she provided criticism to her students where she clarified to them that their punctuality to her classes affected their studies. It was noted some of the students who heeded this message, grades had improved at the end of semester. Through self awareness and trust, the researcher has also been able to speak about her emotions openly and relate to how it affected her work at both organizations.

The researcher chooses her words carefully when speaking at both organizations so that she manages herself and would not cause rift but develop and maintain healthy relationships. At the supermarket, the researcher has shown self management where she has exercise control over what she says and does. At this organization, a subordinate confronted the researcher due to a misunderstanding where she thought the researcher was asking her to perform her task and another co worker's task, who would have been absent that week.

The researcher remained calm, gathered her thoughts and waited for the right time to respond calmly to the subordinate clearing the misunderstanding, which was if required she may be needed sometimes to fill in but that may have been unlikely. Moreover, the researcher demonstrates EI where she has patience with those of her students at the school that requires time. Here, she gives half an hour during her lunch to explain what was taught in class to those who did not grasp the concept when the lesson was taught. During this time individual attention is given to the students, showing her EI abilities.

The researcher have also demonstrated social awareness at the supermarket where she listens to new ideas, perspective and feedback from her subordinates. She makes herself available to them on a regular basis so that any underlying issues they have can be addressed. This leadership quality of EI is one of the researcher's strengths to improve the organization by ensuring worker's needs are met.

The researcher's use of relationship management has helped both her and her students at the school. This EI trait has allowed her to develop the students by recognizing their strengths and determining their weaknesses which was a low attention span but by providing support through the use of visuals she grasp their attention and engages them in the lessons. She acts as a mentor and leads by example to these students as she inspires them through her accomplishments of her own life. She has built bonds with the student, allowing them to trust in what she has to say, helping them to set their own vision, to aspire and achieve as much as they could.

The researcher has demonstrated EI qualities following her ability to self motivate and to achieve as much as she can as it impacts both her and the organization.

3.0 Recommendations

The researcher has numerous strengths that were addressed in this report. She however needs to work on her weaknesses as she pursues her opportunities and shield herself from her threats. She needs to be more outspoken and clear on the instructions she gives. This will come in as the researcher obtains more work experience and matures in the working environment. The researcher also faces the problem where when a difficult situation arises, one that she anticipates that she would not be able to handle, she pass the matter on to her managers at the supermarket and the dean and sometimes to the principal of the school. For her to be an effective leader, she should confront such situations and deal with the matters herself so that she would be a better leader.

Although the researcher possesses traits that allow her to be a leader she has problems with public speaking. She has no problems presenting information and communicating with her students and other staff members at her school neither at the supermarket but will encounter problems if she goes to a new organization. This comes after she gets nervous presenting information to new faces. For her to be an effective leader, she should be able to speak publically, clearly without any nervousness in her voice. She must practice her speeches and find something to relax her, probably a prayer, just before her presentations.

The researcher on her issues faced also viewed as a weakness is in inability to hold firm when strongly opposed. The researcher needs to confront such situations and should not allow employees especially her boss to take advantage of her due to her vulnerability and her lack of experience. If she strongly believe something is right she should stand up for what she believes in and she not back down no matter how strongly she is being opposed even if it is from her superiors or someone with more experience than her.

The researcher should maintain her democratic and sometimes laissez faire leadership styles at the supermarket, but she should ensure she remain more of a democratic leader than a laissez faire since it can affect workers performance if they are given too much freedom by being supervised less and little feedback on their performance. This in turn can affect the organization. The researcher should also ensure that she maintains her sometimes autocratic and participative leadership styles at the school depending on the situation. However, she should not get confused in both organizations and be an autocratic leader at the supermarket since it can cause resistance, conflict and affect worker's performance negatively.

Despite having assignments due, the researcher should be more consistent in her jobs since this would show her ability to have balance in her life, another quality of being a leader. If time is of essence then she should request some time off from her jobs to work on her assignments. This would allow her to be the best she can be when at her job and would be setting an example for her subordinates at the supermarket. This would be of good practice to her since if she obtains another job in the future, she would not be able to show inconsistency since this will lead to a bad performance review for her. It may also lead to other problems such as if she is fit to hold the position of the job or work for the company. Consistency is the key at any job especially if one wants to develop into a better leader.

The researcher's inability to work in high pressured situations could stress her out. To overcome this she must find ways of approaching and handling such situations. She can do so by remaining calm and exercising restraint so that nothing said will be regretted. She can do so by taking a few minutes to gather her thoughts.

Moreover, the researcher can improve herself to be a better leader to obtain a job that matches her qualifications, one she enjoys that would help to add value to her life. She should look for a job that contains in its package continuous technological advancements and new technological software programmes and a job that facilitates travel. This would help her with self development. If these recommendations are used, the researcher would enhance her skills as a leader, allowing her to achieve self development and a sense of fulfillment.

4.0 Conclusion

An evaluation of the researcher, through the use of various models and theories has demonstrated the qualities of a leader possessed by her. The issues faced surfaced as the effectiveness of her qualities of a leader was assessed. The report illustrate that managers are not necessarily leaders while leaders do not always have to be leaders. Leaders can be anyone. This was evident from the analysis where the researcher had leadership qualities at her school environment but she was not of high authority there, being a dean or principal at the school. Leaders are genuine persons who would uphold an optimistic outlook despite the profusion of pessimistic ones. They are considerate, dependable and act in a professional manner; they can be and usually are anybody.

4.0 Appendix

4.1 Appendix 1

Source of information: http://www.baldoniconsulting.com/download/introonly.pdf

4.2 Appendix 2

Emotional Intelligence

What is Emotional Intelligence?

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