In order to lead, an individual must know who she is leading and what she is leading them toward. It does not matter whether someone has been tasked with a significant deliverable or simply a small step toward that deliverable, sooner or later almost everyone will find themselves in the sometimes unenviable position of rallying a diverse group of people to accomplish a common goal (Patel, 2017).
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It is no surprise then that like Forest Gump’s box of chocolates, leadership styles come in all shapes, sizes, and approaches. It is crucial, therefore, that the leader understands what facets of her own abilities, perceptions, and beliefs are essential for effective leadership. The first step in gaining a clear understanding of exactly how one fits into this broader, overarching picture is to take inventory of one’s “personality type, leadership style and associated leadership skills” (Ledlow & Stephens, 2018). However, it must be clearly understood that this is essentially a lifelong endeavor. In addition to dominant personality types, all leaders have a dominant leadership style, dominant conflict management style, dominant communication style, and dominant work traits just to name a few. In turn, leadership styles may be related to “particular leadership models such as transformational, transactional, and structure, relation, and change models” (Ledlow & Stephens, 2018). Within these models, Ledlow and Stephens (2018) further identified eight personal work traits that are important to leadership: social ability, emotional intelligence, cooperation, perfectionism, endurance, creativity, self-confidence, and positive attitude.
But in addition to knowing one’s strengths and more positive attributes, it is also important to know one’s weaknesses, as leading by one’s strengths is not always as effective as a leader might think. In fact, it is paramount to know how this will affect their leading. Once identified, this knowledge should be used to improve one’s leadership style, further building upon the perceived value one is (hopefully) garnering from their team. This in turn bolsters recognition of the leader’s competence and authenticity (Patel, 2017).
Multiple instruments have been developed and scrutinized over the years by which to measure determinants of leadership ability and success. If one is to know themselves thoroughly and in relation to their own leadership style, it is imperative that there be a measuring stick to facilitate the journey to that end. The conundrum is which measuring stick? Different instruments focus upon different areas of interpersonal skill, personality, strengths, weaknesses, and the like. As Ledlow and Stephens (2018) point out, these tests are not a “panacea for leadership diagnosis,” but certain job fit characteristics typically become clearer after completing a variety of self-assessments.
Determining my personal leadership style
In preparation for determining my own leadership style, I researched the availability and focus of various assessments. Naturally my first thoughts turned to proven assessment models such as those mentioned in the course text as well as in the literature. The instruments I chose to assess my own leadership style are: VARK, Enneagram, Big Five Personality Test, Locus of Control and Attributional Style Test, Interpersonal Communication Skills Test, and the Personal Values Assessment (PVA). I selected these based upon the areas I felt leaders and potential leaders should first begin learning about themselves.
VARK. The VARK test (visual, aural, reading/writing, kinesthetic) gives insight into an individual’s predisposition toward a particular learning style. Interpretation gives the assessed their primary, secondary, and tertiary style with the remaining style identified as the least preferred (Ledlow & Stephens, 2018). Results of my assessment indicate that my preferences fall into the visual / read/write / kinesthetic areas. In order to take in information, I prefer maps, flow charts, decision trees, organizational charts, graphs, and a variety of spatial arrangements on a page. When I present information, I construct images in different ways and in different spatial arrangements. I am most comfortable communicating ideas using diagrams, symbols and graphs. I tend to respond well to different fonts and print conventions such as underlining, highlighting, colors, upper- / lowercase letters. Likewise, I possess a strong tendency to present information in the same way. I am holistic, wanting the big picture first as well as presenting in this way. Preferring lists and written descriptions, I therefore desire to pair actions with the full description of outcomes (big picture.) Once again, this is representative of the way in which I would tend to go about presenting information and working with subordinates.
Enneagram. According to Ledlow & Stephens (2018), this assessment targets the test taker’s natural inclination toward behavior, classifying results into nine primary archetypes: reformer, helper, motivator, romantic, thinker, skeptic, adventurer, leader, and peacemaker. Results of my assessment indicate that according to our text, I would fall into the three archetypes: investigator, leader, and motivator.
Influenced by my investigator persona, I prefer subordinates to be independent and communicate to me in a straightforward and brief manner. In addition, I often will become irritated when I am compelled to repeat things and dislike intrusions on my privacy. However, I also view life objectively, work well when perceiving cause and effect, and possess a strong sense of integrity. I am also typically calm in a crisis (Aeon, 2019).
My second type is leader, although not always the best choice for inspiration or for consideration as a director. More of an asserter, I have a strong personality and am self-reliant, while remaining unconcerned by the opinions of those around me. Conversely, I can be very supportive of those close to me (Ledlow & Stephens, 2018).
Big Five Personality Test. Results of my assessment indicate that I am a total extrovert, preferring to spend time with people rather than alone. I often turn to others for support when I am feeling low on energy or stressed. Being totally at ease when interacting with others, I find it easy to deal with a variety of social settings. I also perform best working within a group situation rather than singly (Queendom, n.d.).
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Locus of Control and Attributional Style Test. Results of my assessment indicate that I tie my success to my level of skill, my intelligence, and a nice personality (along with a bit of luck!) The majority of the time, I am able to accept the credit I deserve. Because of these attributes, my self-esteem, motivation and general well-being benefit (Queendom, n.d.).
Interpersonal Communication Skills Test. Results of my assessment indicate that I am extremely adept at interpreting other people’s words and actions and am frequently able to see things from their perspective. Realizing empathy is an essential part of good interpersonal skills, I generally do my best to place myself in other’s shoes in order to understand them. I am also sensitive to what others are thinking and will often adjust my actions accordingly if I sense someone is feeling confused or uncomfortable (Queendom, n.d.).
Personal Values Assessment (PVA). Results of my assessment indicate that I enjoy uncovering more of my authentic self by looking to develop and grow (hence this class!) I take ownership of my actions and along with my strong moral compass, guide my decision making. Meaningful close relationships are important to me and are fundamental to the decisions I make. Serving my community and reaching out to others add meaning to my life and I am dependable and want others to know they can count on me. I do this by building confidence in others which is a key factor in my interactions (Queendom, n.d.).
Self-understanding is fundamental to assisting managers and future managers in developing a career path that is amplified by their relevant skills and interests. Being able to communicate information about myself will allow me to provide more useful assistance which in turn, will assist with my career development and personal growth. The literature shows that when managers clearly understand their own values, their actions shift toward a more consistent performance which in turn strengthens trust with others (Tran, 2018).
Most often, self-assessments are seen as instruments to learn more about your own preferences and styles. However, they are also highly assistive to managers (present and future) by establishing the groundwork for learning about others. It is only with a strong sense of introspective self-consciousness that I will be able to fully understand what these findings will bring to my team within the frame of the inherent strengths and limitations of the group. More often than not, having this knowledge will assist me in anticipating how best to overcome challenges before they even surface (Tran, 2018).
For most individuals, this process of self-discovery and more clearly delineated self-awareness may be interesting to learn. But it should be stressed that the true value will come from my application of the results through further scrutiny involving self-reflection. Ultimately, successful and constructive outcomes will depend solely upon my focused ability to be open and honest when responding.Results should then be used only as a starting point to assist me in developing a plan to develop myself more fully, both personally and professionally (Tran, 2018).
- Aeon, M. (2019). The FAST Enneagram Test. Retrieved May 20, 2019, from https://enneagramtest.net/
- Barrett Values Centre. (n.d.). Personal Values Assessment (PVA). Retrieved May 20, 2019, from https://www.valuescentre.com/our-products/products-individuals/personal-values-assessment-pva
- Ledlow, G. R., & Stephens, J. H. (2018). Leadership for health professionals: Theory, skills, and applications. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
- Patel, D. (2017, September 10). 6 Ways To Figure Out What Type Of Leader You Are. Retrieved May 20, 2019, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/deeppatel/2017/03/13/6-ways-to-figure-out-what-type-of-leader-you-are/#7f3c67e262d3
- Tran, J. (2018, Fall). Canadian Journal of Medical Laboratory Science, 80(3): 29-31.
- Queendom. (n.d.). Big Five Personality Test. Retrieved from https://www.queendom.com/tests/access_page/index.htm?idRegTest=4058
- Queendom. (n.d.). Interpersonal Communication Skills Test. Retrieved May 20, 2019, from https://www.queendom.com/queendom_tests/transfer
- Queendom. (n.d.). Leadership Skills Test. Retrieved May 20, 2019, from https://www.queendom.com/tests/access_page/index.htm?idRegTest=2289
- Queendom. (n.d.). Locus of Control & Attributional Style Test. Retrieved May 20, 2019, from https://www.queendom.com/tests/access_page/index.htm?idRegTest=704
- VARK Learn Limited. (2019). The VARK Questionnaire. Retrieved from http://vark-learn.com/strategies/multimodal-strategies/
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