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Leadership Reflection Paper
A leader is much more than a supervisor or manager in an organization. A true leader is someone who exemplifies traits that enable those around them to become inspired and succeed. Kouzes and Posner (2008) note that there are five pillars to extraordinary leadership, model the way, inspire a shared vision, challenge the process, enable others to act, and encourage the heart. Leaders that possess these traits are able to inspire and motivate others which can increase productivity and cohesion. As a student with graduation on the horizon, it is important to understand these key traits and gain insight from a person who exhibits these traits. This resulted an interview with Dr. Hector Gonzales, who is lead clinical psychologist at a military branch health clinic. This interview resulted in a substantial amount of information and lessons learned (see Appendix A for full interview).
One of Dr. Gonzales’s main jobs is to oversee the mental health department at a military branch health clinic as well as treat patients and assess mental health readiness. Based on his prominent position, the topic of exemplary leadership with an emphasis on military leadership came into discussion. He is a civilian working in a military base, and through his perspective it is easier to understand how leadership works within that environment. Dr. Gonzales noted:
One of my biggest things is to be organized and to make sure that there is an understanding between all the people you work with. If you’re not on the same page as someone else then things can get crossed
This was impactful because it showed how true leaders bring people to work together towards a common goal. Having a shared vision between both leadership and teammates can believe that a leader understands their needs (Kouzes & Posner, 2008). Understanding those around you and making sure there is a clear communication can lead to more efficiency in the workplace.
Another notable lesson from this interview was being able to adapt to the organizational environment in order to become a successful leader. Dr. Gonzales noted:
Without really connecting with everyone you work with or manage, then I think that you’re not really doing your job. I had to work on this when I came into this position, because making sure everyone is on the same page is important when you’re in a position like mine.
Understanding how to incorporate leadership traits into a particular environment is a fundamental skill for outstanding leaders (Keis, 2014). This made a large impact because no matter how many skills or traits a leader might have, there is always a way to change or make a larger impact depending on the environment that leader is in. While Dr. Gonzales may have has one way of doing things during his time working as a clinical psychologist at a hospital, when he made the transition into working for a military health clinic, he also adjusted his leadership traits.
This interview was insightful and gave not only insight into future education and career paths, but also leadership styles and traits. For a graduate student beginning to explore the idea to continue into a Doctorate position, or for an employed individual looking to improve their current abilities and position, Dr. Gonzales has plenty of advice to give and was open to questions and to give advice. Using the five pillars of leadership can give an individual the knowledge and expertise to become an exemplary leader.
- Keis, K. (2014). Transforming leadership: Five pillars critical to becoming a transforming leader. Leadership Excellence Essentials, 31(5), 8-9. Retrieved from https://lopes.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bth&AN=96094256&site=ehost-live&scope=site
- Kouzes, J. M, & Posner, B. Z. (2008). The leadership challenge (6th edition). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley
The interview with Dr. Hector Gonzales on February 12th, 2019
How did you enter your career field?
- So, I actually lived close to this base during my childhood. After I graduated from school, I moved to the Midwest to an impoverished hospital to gain experience and pay back my student loans through the public service repayment program. After I had finished that and decided to move home, one of the places I really wanted to work was on this base.
What are some of the biggest challenges?
- One of the biggest challenges coming into this position versus my position at the hospital was getting used to the way the military runs things and the different style. So learning how to adjust my personality to be more rigid was definitely a big challenge. There are certain procedures and an order to the way we have to do things.
What steps/advice do you recommend for those entering the field?
- One thing that people who enter the field of psychology need to have is determination and also compassion. I think these two things are the most important because getting through a doctorate program takes a lot of determination and effort, and having compassion is also important to think about because we aren’t just simply diagnosing or helping people through problems we have to really empathize and understand their thoughts and feelings as well.
What strengths do you possess as a leader?
- One of my biggest things is to be organized and to make sure that there is an understanding between all the people you work with. If you’re not on the same page as someone else then things can get crossed and messed up. Without really connecting with everyone you work with or manage, then I think that you’re not really doing your job. I had to work on this when I came into this position, because making sure everyone is on the same page is important when you’re in a position like mine.
Do you feel that your personality or leadership style works well with the requirements of this job?
- My personality type definitely works with my job I have now. I have a lot of responsibility and I think my A-type personality is helpful in making sure things get done when they are supposed to. When I was younger I worked a lot of odd jobs, like once I temped, and for a while I worked in at a fast food joint. While I wasn’t really an unproductive worker I felt really unhappy there after a couple months. Based off my personality I think I just got bored of work that I didn’t really like
What do you consider your greatest personal achievement?
- My greatest professional achievement was writing my thesis. I was very proud when I finally finished and in reality, it just took determination and lots of work. I think that being organized and ready to complete this task was what really made it work for me. It wasn’t just one long day, it took a long time to complete which called for a lot of determination and organization
What is your best and your worst personality or leadership trait?
- I think my best trait now is being able to communicate with everyone that works with me in order to get the best outcome. Like I said, this took some time getting used to but now I understand that without the teamwork I have now, things would easily get confused. My worst trait I would consider to be motivation. A lot of my team is service members and since I’m a civilian, I can’t really motivate them the same way. I just have to hope that their job means as much to them as it does to me.
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