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The topic here is to analyze key leadership skills that are necessary for successful professional career. I have selected teaching profession and the report will be focused on the key leadership characteristics that are required by a teacher. The report will also consider how I would develop these leadership skills in course of 4 to 5 years of my profession.
In our life, we have met a number of teachers till now. We all are impressed by few of our past teachers and there teaching has an impact on our life. In this sense, teaching is a good example of leadership. Here leadership is not at an organizational level but on academic level. In a corporate, a leader inspires the employees working for his company and his leadership has an impact on performance of the company. On the other hand a teacher inspires children studying in schools, children who will become the driving force of the nation and thus teacher's leadership cast the future face of the country. In this sense, leadership of a teacher is more critical than that of a corporate leader.
Leadership and leader: Definition
As according to Foster, a leader has followers, leader has to control and manage human behavior and a leader has the responsibility to show reality to its followers and in many cases suggests realities too. Leadership is the quality by which leader does his work. In leadership the most important work is to motivate people to work under him. Leadership also includes motivating employees towards a common goal and to align individual objectives with common organizational goal. It is the leadership of the leader to bring out the maximum contribution from an individual as possible.
Key leadership skills and their importance for business and in teaching profession
In any organization, the work of job satisfaction and profitability is very much dependent on the leadership style of the company.
A Leader first of all decides the basic designing of the task and then assigns different task to employees according to their qualifications. Good projects in the company add on to the qualifications of the employee. These projects help in his future growth. Leaders have to ensure that employees follow him in the task rather than introducing a number of rules and actions to force employees to perform well. The later part of the statement suits well for managers in traditional organizations.
The leader also has to ensure that the management appears transparent for employees. One of the foremost need of a leader is honesty and thus to augment this need, the management in the organization too need to be transparent. (Foster, 2005)
Leadership involves managing people of different cultures at a same place and traditionally inspiring people to do certain work in certain style. When leaders manages and inspires the workforce in an efficient way, the employee's satisfaction towards their job is likely to be increased than before. All these aspects of an organization, like diverse work group, students from different cultures etc are there is teaching profession too. The teacher also has to inspire the students to study hard and to perform well in exams. The teacher also prepare workforce for future demand of the country and thus teaching procession is one of the best examples of leadership in practice.
Roles of leaders in an organization as suggested by literatures are:
Relationship building: Leaders in modern world are more than a controlling body and is rather responsible for maintaining and building relationships with the employees and other stake holders.
Employee performance enhancement: Leader is responsible for improving of employee's performance too.
Change oriented outlook: Leaders should be capable to adjust themselves with any change and also smoothen the process of change in the organizations.
Think outside the square: A leader should be capable of idea generation in new and unexpected situation. (Foster, 2005)
A more motivated workforce is definitely a key element in increasing the profitability. In this way management style and thus leadership style is going to improve job satisfaction as well as profitability.
There could be a number of additional leadership skills required for a job. Most of them are job specific. For a teaching job, I think that most important leadership qualities are communication, forward looking, intelligence, motivation and honesty. The discussion of these qualities is as follows:
A teacher's primary work is to teach the students. Any teacher, irrespective of his qualifications, cannot be effective if is not able to communicate his ideas properly to the students. If a teacher is even less qualified, but has excellent communication skills, students will feel comfortable in class and the attendance level will be high too.
This is also visible that once students start to get interest in the teaching of a teacher, they will follow him and will try their best to impress the teacher. In such way, communication skills will always help a teacher to establish as a leader.
Proper communication is also necessary because lack of communication can cause dissatisfaction among the students. There is evidence from industry that communication gap between the leader and employees causes power-politics game in the firm. For example, let's talk about the case of Emaar. In Emaar, number of employees feels that their leader communicates to only a particular set of employees and is partial towards them. They also feel that leader favors those from whom he uses to communicate to.
Effective Communication and efficient communication skills are essential components of teaching process and also in any leadership stream. A sound and efficient communication is required at each and every level, whether in professional life or any other front. Leaders and leadership styles has a role to play in deciding the communication parameter in any profession. A leader is one who has the power to accept the level of participation of subordinates in any process. If a leader follows autocratic style of leadership, he or she did not gives power to the subordinates to participate much in any authority related process and thus controls the empowerment of the subordinates. On the other hand, a democratic style of leadership, if perused by the leader can involve subordinates in higher decisions too and thus increase the empowerment of the employees. The question now arises is how communication helps in the process. Communication is the key process by which leader can increase or decrease the closeness with his or her subordinates. By providing an efficient communication methodology, leaders can switch to autocratic or democratic style of leadership. In this way, communication has a role in leadership process and thus also in teaching profession. (Foster, 2005)
Another important trait of leadership in teaching profession is honestly. Before we go further deep in the discussion, we must understand why leaders are more powerful than managers in modern day organizations. The reason is employees follow manager for pay and perks, but they follow a leader because of the trust. This implies that honesty is an essential characteristics required in leaders. Talking about the teaching profession, honesty is even more important as any dishonesty in the teacher can be easily propagated to the student which is not at all acceptable.
Talking about the growth in the profession, honesty will always favor a candidate for promotion in his or her work field. This helps in building a non-partial and efficient relationship with both the upper administration and employees (here students). Such relationships can provide a suitable environment for the concept of leadership. (Foster, 2005)
Taking specifically about UAE, it is very necessary for a teacher to be honest. The reason is wide diversity in the population here. The first and foremost element of leadership in teaching is managing the diversity. UAE is a multinational culture which raises a question over the leader's partiality towards the UAE nationalist employees in the organizations. This is a clear entrance of dissatisfaction in minds of children for teacher.
With the stats of 2007, UAE has been estimated as having the net population of around 4.3 millions, counting concerning 3 million emigrants. If we consider the whole of the Middle East, UAE is one of the most populated countries. With such a high diversity in UAE, no teacher can be tolerated as being dishonest.
A teacher's work is imparting education and the first necessity of this requirement is that teacher himself must be intelligent. If a teacher is not intelligent, the students may not take intelligence as a major constituent of success. This is a proved fact that we learn more from smart and understandable teaching than from providing wide variety of facts or bulky books. What I want to say is intelligence is what is required not the volume of matter a teacher teaches to the students. In leadership perspective, intelligence is again a necessary ingredient. In last heading we talked about leadership styles, now to understand which leadership style to use at what time is a big challenge to any leader and same for a teacher. For example, in work places which require immediate actions, autocratic style is best suited. Also when the workforce is less creative and just want the exact task to perform with strict guidelines, this style of leadership suits the most. A favorable point about this style is that most employees have already worked under this style, so they have little trouble in adjusting to this leadership style. Foster, mentioned the importance of intelligence in leadership and commented that leaders need to be credible and competent. Both these quantities require leader to be intelligent. Foster also concluded that intelligence is also necessary for leaders so that they can become a successful in their profession. For teachers too, intelligence is necessary for the same reasons. (Foster, 2005)
Motivation can be defined as the influence of the necessities and desires on the intensity of way of behaving and direction that would be followed. It's an internal state of being, or an internal condition that sets in motion one's behavior, directing it. It's a desire which gives way to and charges behavior that is oriented towards a goal. Above all, motivation is the provocation, direction and perseverance of one's behavior. There can be many more definitions of motivation depending on the varying conclusions given by experts through the years.
Talking about teaching profession, the teacher has this routine work to motivate the students to do something new. Everyone successful on the planet is motivated from one or more factor. In schools, the students has their first experiences of life and motivating students to do something creative, something that involve hard work is essential for the development of the students and that is why motivation skill is one of the desired characteristic for a leader as well as a teacher.
Every person has their own set of incentives to work hard or not as the case may be. Some are motivated by recognition whilst others are motivated by cash motives.
In addition to their time, workers contribute their experience, their qualifications, and their capability in addition to their personal strengths such as acumen and ambition. Money, of course, is the primary motivating outcome for an employee, but it is not the only, and in some cases not evens the most important, factor. Power and status are also prime motivators, as are flexibility, perquisites and variety. Proper equity must be maintained among the employees for better yield or output. As the primary goal of leader is to ensure that everyone works for goal fulfillment of the company, motivation is again a crucial characteristic of leadership. (Foster, 2005)
Ways to motivate:
As we know that the most precious resources of an organization is its people. So a leader must be able to motivate his people so that they can enhance the performance and thus building a sustainable tool for completion. Employee motivation is a key for improving culture and value system at any organization and in any leadership sphere. The purpose is to bring employees more closely to the organization. Some suggested ways to encourage students in schools are:
Few ways to encourage students are:
Employee involvement in decision making.
Proper rewarding system and monitoring program.
Pleasant study environment and teaching culture.
Try to improve fun-study balance in employees.
Personal counseling at regular intervals so that leader or teacher can get more support of the students.
If employees are well motivates and attached towards the organization, the organization will surely have advantage over its competitors. The same is true for schools too, if the students are well motivated by teacher, the school will get fame too.
In leadership perspective, forward looking implies that a leader think about the future of the company and directs his employees for future responsibilities. For example, in teaching profession itself, the teacher/ leader has to make his students aware about the real life, the type of competition they will face once they complete education and are out in market. The teacher has to make the students aware of all these things and have to prepare them for the same. All these imply that a teacher must be forward looking like a successful manager is in corporate.
In above topics, few roles of leaders were mentioned and in them, one was capacity to think out of box. Thinking out of box not only includes generating new ideas but also include a future outlook in decision making. So Forward looking nature is necessary for leaders and thus for teachers too. (Foster, 2005)
Developing these skills in next 4-5 years
Purpose for next 5 years:
In next five years, I would like to develop myself in all the five leadership dimensions discussed above and I would like to see myself as a popular academic leader. For this purpose, with constant improvisation in my knowledge, I also need to develop my leadership skills. The further discussion is as given below:
Developing communication skills is an every running process. I will regularly work on my communication skills by firstly developing a good listening habit.
Firstly, I will join a professional coaching to enhance my communication skills and listening habits.
Secondly, I will try to avoid few common mistakes that leaders do in their communication. These are:
Calling everyone in your own office.
Using "Me", "I" etc.
Passing information from lower to upper level and vice-versa.
I will understand that need of the time and will be very conscious during exchange of thoughts.
Another way in which I am planning to improve my communication skills is by participating in various conferences, seminars etc. This will help in a number of ways. This will add to the knowledge base as well as will enhance my communication skills too. In addition to the above presented mistakes which leaders often commit, I will avoid the following mistakes too:
Errors in relationship building:
Feeling that only me can so something.
Want everybody to like you.
Try to prove yourself best for a job
Becoming friend of the employee.
Doing everything on his own.
Errors in problem handling:
Making natural decision
Being defensive when mistaken
Giving praise to employees for their answers.
In Management style:
Lack of confidence
Being too hard
Errors in employee development:
Promoting on ability to work on present job rather on next job.
Failing to do own work and thus losing respect from employees.
These are the common errors made by the leaders at the workplace which results in disturbed organization of employees and colleagues. This typically reduces the loyalty of employees towards the leader. These makes the employees less satisfied by the job environment and thus result and increased in job turnover and thus decreased productivity. In my plan for next five years, I will try to avoid these mistakes as well in my teaching profession.
Honesty is something which is hereditary in a human being. In the previous heading of the report, we discussed the importance of honesty for a leader as well as a teacher. I am honest but I think what honesty means at work place is transparency. Foster advocates the importance of management styles too and thus in future, I will try to introduce transparency in the management, where ever I work (Foster, 2005). In next 4 to five years, I will try to become more transparent. The action plan for this task is to be close to the authority. As I am concerned with teaching profession, I will keep a close eye on the actions of the management and the reactions of the student. My communication skills will help me to understand this paradox. I will then, slowly and steadily, try to identify the loop holes in the process and will adjust myself so that I appear more transparent and thus honest.
In my profession, I will try to set few examples and landmarks. I will make my students aware of my long term and short term plans and how my short term plans will help me to grab my long term goals. I will keep a touch with people who are successful in teaching profession and will take regular advices. I will keep myself aware of the new ways of teaching like computer based teachings, new equipments etc and will take regular Staff improvement program so that I am always be in touch with latest teaching methods and skills. In this way, I will sharp my leadership skill.
I will start as a teacher and initially will have most of my interaction with students only. With course of my profession, I will gain seniority and will have to deal with number of other parties too like higher management of the school, I may get transferred into some college and there I deal with professors, industrial executives etc. So I will try to amend myself to use transformational leadership (Foster, 2005). It motivates the follower to trust the leader, acting in manner in order to contribute in goals of the firm and to perform. It is said to be followed when the leader changes his workforce in 3 dimensions including inferiors increased awareness about importance of their task and efficiency of their performance. Secondly, it makes the subordinates more aware of their needs for individual growth. And lastly, this leadership style teaches the employees to work for organizational goal rather for their own sake. By adopting transformational leadership, I will be able to sharp my motivational skills irrespective of my place and post of work.
Intelligence will be imparted from more education and more practical learning. I will try to associate myself with more industrial projects which will give me more learning. I will try to undergo further courses like PHD etc under pioneer leaders in the education industry so that I can learn their skills too.
In my idea of progressing in next 4 to five years, I will try to diversify my learning sources so that I can understand perception of different people on same matter. I will try to enhance my stress management capabilities too. I will try to be little humorous with students so that they never get bored in my class. I will also work on time management and will try to utilize my time in most efficient manner. (Foster, 2005)
I will use hit and try method in shaping my leadership skills and will also try to develop additional leadership skills which are as follows:
Broad-minded: So that small information does not create huddles during work. As empowerment can create problems in administrative boundaries of leader and employees, broad-mindedness is key feature of leader's characteristics in encouraging empowerment in the organization.
Ambitious: An ambitious manager can handle new and creative projects more willingly. Empowering employees in not at all a routine task and requires solid ambitions by the leader to accomplish the task.
Competent: There is competition in business everywhere. The leader must be competitive in order to survive. In the task of employee empowerment, leaders need to be more competent to achieve the goal.
Caring: A caring leader motivates and manage workforce more efficiently. In practical implementation of the employee empowerment process, it is essential for employees to be more carrying towards the employees so that any scheme can be more deeply taught to the employees.
Inspiring: A leader who inspires his workforce bitter can extract more from his employees.