There are several circumstances and experiences affect how an individual will perform and behave as a leader and follower. According to scholar Daniel Goleman, it is critical to know your own strengths and weaknesses as both a follower and a leader. Goleman trumps emotional intelligence as the most essential attribute of leadership. Abilities such as IQ and specialized skills do serve a purpose however they fall under a category of “threshold capabilities”. These capabilities will only allow someone the opportunity for a leadership position however they will not necessarily create a superior leader. (Goleman, 2000)
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There are numerous characteristics that make a leader strong, weak, or even toxic. Often times it depends on how the leader utilizes their skill to determine whether they are being a strong or weak leader.
As a leader, it is important to understand the strengths and weaknesses one has. When it comes to strengths from emotional intelligence, my top strengths would include trustworthiness and service orientation (Goleman, 2000). Trustworthiness is a consistent action of honesty and integrity (Goleman, 2000). Furthermore, service orientation is based on the understanding and ability to meet the needs of a customer (Goleman, 2000). I am a caring type of person, so I feel obligated to help my customers while being honest with them. To be more responsive in the government, I take the initiative to manage the situation myself when possible.
However, I have many weaknesses as a leader. Some of the weaknesses include self-confidence, and change catalyst (Goleman, 2000). Self-confidence deals with having a strong sense of positive self-worth (Goleman, 2000). Change catalyst involves taking the initiative to make changes occur effectively and efficiently according to Merriam-Webster (n.d.). All of these weaknesses are related to my lack of job experience. I had three months of experience during an internship in the contracting field, then I finished my undergraduate program, and I have been working full time for four months post-graduation. There is a steep learning curve with federal government contracting. My lack of experience lowers my self-confidence and ability to initiate change. In conclusion, I realize as a leader I have weaknesses that will get better over time with more experience.
As a follower, it is important to understand the strengths and weaknesses one has. A few strengths I have as a follower include conscientiousness and conflict management. According to Waude (2017), “Conscientiousness is the personality trait of a person who shows an awareness of the impact that their own behavior has on those around them.” Additionally, conflict management is the ability to defuse situations where tensions are being to run high and create resolutions. I try to do everything in my power by being conscientiousness, to ensure my customers are getting what they need at a fair and reasonable price for my customers to meet their mission requirements. For example, I am working on procuring a paint blast booth. My customers are currently taking large plane parts from Colorado to Wyoming to use another base’s blasting facilities. An example of conflict management involved modifying the contract to change the units on the contract to allow for a partial invoice. By changing the contract to allow for a partial invoice, I prevented a claim being submitted. Every follower should know their own strengths.
Weaknesses as a follower are inevitable. My weaknesses include organizational awareness and inaccurate self-assessment. Organizational awareness involves the ability to read the current organizations lifestyle and navigate politics. Working on a military installation involves politics within the military leadership in general and on top of that includes levels of leadership politics involving civilians and military members. I have not had a lot of interaction with workplace politics to understand the situation. According to Goleman (2000), accurate self-assessment involves having a realistic evaluation of one’s strengths and limitations.
Recommendations for Strengths and Weaknesses as a Leader
Leaders need to strength the strong characteristics and improve upon the weaknesses to continue to grow as a leader. It is vital to keep morale strong and positive. This can be done wanting the best from one’s team, rewarding the team, and celebrating small achievements (Gamelearn Team, 2019). According to Gamelearn Team (2019), it is also important to delegate and trust the team, which would allow for accomplishing more tasks and using creativity to approach the tasks in a variety of ways.
It is vital to be aware of leadership weaknesses and develop strategies to minimize wavering self-confidence and change catalyst actions. There are ways to improve self-confidence, which includes networking with other leaders, learning about leadership, and develop stronger emotional intelligence (McCarthy, n.d.). It is beneficial to learn what other leaders do and then network with others to determine how others put it into practice. Self-confidence is a key indicator of emotional intelligence (McCarthy, n.d.). In order of a leader to be a catalyst for change, the individual must enable the proper environment for change. When positive change occurs, there will be disruptions that will be beneficial overall. By a leader supporting constructive disruption it will aid in more efficient operations to improve performance (Llopis, 2016). As a leader, it is vital to nurture the strengths and weaknesses to continue to grow.
As a follower, it is essential to continue to develop the strengths one has. There are two strengths that could be improved upon, which include conscientiousness and conflict management. Conscientiousness involves awareness of people and the situation. By being a good follower with awareness, one can be aware of various audiences by learning how to read people and learn what motivates or upsets them (Moran, 2014). Furthermore, conflict management is a great skill as a follower and leader. It is necessary to understand the different types of conflict, which include economic conflict, value conflict, and power conflict (Smiley, 2018). According to Smiley (2018), being able to manage conflict when it occurs aids in the success of resolving the situation. Continued growth for developing strengths will aid in becoming a better and improved follower.
Weakness is bound to occur even as a follower. Weaknesses can include organizational awareness and inaccurate self-assessment. According to Leto (2018), organizational awareness is beneficial to create more informed decisions and developing a clearer strategy. To strengthen organizational awareness, it is beneficial to understand the impact of ones’ actions in relations to the organization and other people (Leto, 2018). Additionally, self-assessment involves creating a better understanding of ones’ skills, attributes, and personality which all aid in becoming a stronger follower. Skills can be improved through formal training, courses, and workshops. Developing awareness of the values one brings to the table and how ones’ personality will impact situations is valuable knowledge. It is important to be aware of the weaknesses and how to improve upon them.
My second-level supervisor is an effective leader. In the chain of command, I am at the bottom and my second level supervisor is immediately above my team lead. This supervisor is very personable, supportive of career choices, job decisions, and personal goals relating to success, and incredibly knowledgeable. I follow this leader and I am aware of multiple coworkers that follow him as well. He has a variety of contracting career experience with construction, service, and large dollar value specialized contracting. He has over ten years of experience in the federal contracting career field. This supervisor wanted to get to know all employees on a personal level to further understand each person and what every individual can bring to the table based on potential growth and experience. On multiple occasions, my supervisor fully listened to what information I provided and then agreed and acted or disagreed and explained what needs to be improved or changed to further develop my knowledge base and skills.
Every leader has characteristics that make them more effective. Below is a list of 10 effective characteristics my second level supervisor possess.
- Good communication (Hasan, 2019).
- Good listening (EDUCBA, n.d.)
- Commitment (EDUCBA, n.d.)
- Integrity (Hassan, 2019).
- Inspiring others (Hasan, 2019).
- Decision making capabilities (Hasan, 2019).
- Transparency (Phan, 2017).
- Patient (Phan, 2017).
- Positive attitude (Center for Creative Leadership, 2019).
- Accountable (Hasan, 2019).
My supervisor implements leadership best practices and theoretical frameworks. He enables others to take action. Employees must feel like they can and will act, while feeling supported to implement their actions (Management Centre, 2018). Additionally, my supervisor tailors his mentoring to what the mentee needs in general and for the specific situation. It is vital to create mentor-mentee relationships. Leaders should recognize team members who have high potential, and the leader should customize their coaching to provide opportunities for career growth and personal growth (Zwilling, 2016). The trait theory indicates what traits or characteristics would be beneficial when leading others (Mind Tools Content Team, n.d.). According to the Mind Tools Content Team (n.d.), some of the qualities from the trait theory includes integrity, decision-making abilities, and being personable. Furthermore, my supervisor uses the contingency theory as a leader. My supervisor changes his leadership style based on the situation (Leadership-Central.com, n.d.). The second-level supervisor implements leadership best practices and theoretical frameworks.
My supervisor implements the characteristics listed above, which relate directly to the formal leadership theories. The traits theory is based on traits from successful and unsuccessful leaders (Management Study Guide, n.d.). According Management Study Guide (n.d.), some of the core traits that my supervisor has are leadership motivation, capable of exercising good judgment, charismatic, trustworthy, an intense desire to lead others, integrity, open, and more. Furthermore, my supervisor uses contingency leadership theory. A sub-category of the contingency leadership theory is the Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Style. Four pieces of the Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Style is directing, coaching, supporting, and delegating (M., 2019).
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My supervisor implements both theories together. An example of that is when I had worked ahead to continue a contract and I discovered that the company providing the service was bought out, which would require a novation agreement. I brought a solution to my supervisor and he decided to conduct some more research about novation agreements, which shows he is open about what he does not know, sound judgment, and trustworthy. He supported my thought process and suggestion. He delegated further actions to aid in teaching me how to continue the process. This is an ongoing effort to process the novation agreement, and even though it will be a process that occurs for approximately one more month it is reassuring to have somebody supporting me during this course.
Ineffective Leadership Experience
During college, I was in a sorority. The President at the time was my age. We are both very dedicated to the organization. We wanted the best for the organization, however, some of the leaders of the organization had personal agendas that clouded their judgment. Everybody is human, so they are bound to like some people in the same organization more than others. The President instructed all high tier leaders to keep the information to themselves instead of sharing the information with the chapter. The chapter was being “gently” reminded by the national sorority organization that membership needs to increase, or the chapter is going to be at risk for losing its charter. The leaders decided to not tell anybody, except every chapter member found out anyhow. There was a lot of turmoil for the leaders not disclosing the seriousness of the situation and simply enforcing stricter recruitment rules. I knew ahead of when the entire chapter found out about it. The average chapter member was frustrated by the lack of communication. The recruitment committee, which I was involved with, made multiple suggestions to the Vice President of Membership and Recruitment and the President.
Best Practices and Leadership Theories for Ineffective Leaders
American Businessman and Philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie once said “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” (Roach, n.d.). Ineffective leaders have a variety of traits and experiences that result in being a poor leader. In this situation, the leader exhibited a lack of transparency, not listening, dismissing ideas, poor communication strategy, and enabling close-mindedness (Myatt, 2012). Furthermore, leadership theories can support or negate the qualities, characteristics, and behaviors of a leader. The situational leadership theory is based on using the best leadership style for the situation; however, this was not done in these circumstances (Cherry, 2019). Additionally, in this situation, members were trying to help the situation. However, this was not appreciated. The participative theory indicates that a leader would take input from others into consideration (Cherry, 2019).
Impact of Leaders
I started college at the University of Maryland for my undergraduate program. Even with a major change, I graduated in 3.5 years. I had completed an internship during the summer of 2018 in Colorado. At the end of the summer, I was offered a full-time job. I had many discussions with my mom, stepfather, and significant other about moving to Colorado. It was too great of an opportunity to not accept it. I graduated in December 2008 with a Bachelor of Science in Economics. My parents drove me 11.5 hours to my new city to call home the following year. I knew a few people from my internship at my new job, which made the transition easier. I have had multiple mental and emotional breakdowns because I grew up close to my family and I cannot see them whenever I want to. In my few years of college, I grew very close to some of my sorority sisters to the point where I consider them family and they are not nearby my current location. Even though I am friends with some co-workers, I do not feel close enough to them to have them feel like family. This experience has created a stronger sense of family and positive relationships. I am slowly talking about missing my family to my co-workers. One co-worker invited me over to his family dinner and I was able to play with his children. This was huge for me emotionally because I could connect to somebody without complaining about problems.
Lessons Learned from Transformational Experience
Many lessons are cultivated from moving to another state and living by yourself. According to the trait theory, some people are born with the skills to become leaders and some skills include intelligence, responsibility, and creativity (Engard, 2017). I am fully responsible for actions in a different way than I was during college. I have no parental safety net to rely on when my car’s serpentine belt had additional unexpected wear on it. I could not have my stepfather look at my car. I had to handle the situation myself using my knowledge base to ensure I could still get to work, which involved being responsible. Furthermore, I use the increased responsibility and intelligence to mitigate customer or contractor problems that arise at the workplace, which is required for both a leader and a follower.
In conclusion, many situations and experiences affect how an individual will act as a leader and follower. There are various characteristics that make a leader effective or ineffective. Sometimes, it depends on how the leader utilizes the skill to determine whether they are being a strong or weak leader.
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