Through the study of leadership in classes and the experience of teamwork in assignments, I made a deep understanding of what leadership is and started to reflect myself critically. To my surprise, I found out that things occurred in reality about leadership were totally different from some of my original personal perspectives. In order to enhance the capability in managing teams collaboratively, responsively and ethically, it is an effective method for an individual to analyse critically his or her personal assumptions and reactions (Cunliffe, 2004).
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This reflexive journal focuses on analysing my emotional reaction and behaviour in three individual experiences in this course separately, which are contradictory to my individual assumptions. Then I will describe impacts and questions raised on my leadership in teamwork because of the contractions and make a critical reflection. In the final part of each reflexive analysis, I will come up with my decision to react when the similar situation in leadership happen in the future.
1. Self-sacrificing does not equal to unprincipled accommodation
1.1 Experience identification
One of the terrible experiences during the teamwork is that I always compromised to follow the team process plan without considering my personal time schedule. While discussing the due date for our individuals’ task accomplishment, a team member came up with that we should finish and upload our writings onto our Google document within one week. With the agreement of most of other members about the suggestion, as a leader, I was facing a dilemma at that time. Because I had a test in another course and an additional assignment to accomplish in the following week, my study schedule would get really tight if I also had to finish my individual task for the team project within this period. However, as a leader, I considered that I should be self-sacrificing to guarantee the efficiency of our teamwork and act as a leadership role for others. Besides, I was an introverted person, who was afraid of sharing my own concern to others. Therefore, I chosen to adopt to this proposal without any consultation.
However, this decision resulted in a super busy study life and low effective outcome. Although I completed the writing section and other tasks, my test result is below my expectation. Besides, our final editor of our team project had to spend longer time in amending my writing than others. It was awful. Because of this experience, I started trying to reflect my personal cognition about self-sacrificing in leadership.
According to self-scarification in leadership, the contraction between my assumption and the result of the bad outcome in reality gives rise to my reflection. Self-sacrificing leadership is a set of leader behaviours that he or she is willing to give up self-interest and their individual comfort and safety, set restriction of their personal privileges, and facing hardship with their followers (Choi, Mai-Dalton, & Renate,1998). It can be reflected by my choice to accept my teammate’s suggestion, paying the price that I had to put much more effort to accomplish my personal work during that period. However, this behaviour had a negative impact on both my own work and the team project. Not only my personal tasks contributed to an under expectable result, but also, I increased burdens on the final editor in our team. It implies that my original assumption about self-scarification in teamwork is questionable. According to the research by Knippenberg and Knippenberg (2005), a leader’s self-sacrificing action can have positive impact on teamwork, but sometimes it can also lead to little additional effective outcome for the organization and large negative impact on himself or herself.
They concluded that it is not appropriate for a leader to become extremely self-sacrificial or exceed their self-interests (Knippenberg el., 2005). Thus, although being self-sacrificial is a valuable character of leaders, it is not synonymous with unprincipled accommodation. It is important to keep it at an appropriate level in leadership.
1.3 Discussion of future improvement
In the future, I will keep this valuable personality as a leader in teamwork. Being self-sacrificing, I will continue to focus on collective interests and listen to other members’ opinions before making the decision. However, while facing conflicts between organization’s tasks and personal work, I am going to change my reaction. After considering about the trade-off, if I suppose to afford both sides and guarantee the quality of outcomes, though it will make me more stressed, I will take the challenge.
On the other hand, if I think it is too hard for me to reconcile them, I will try to be brave to communicate this dilemma with my teammates. Frequent communication, suggestions and feedbacks can help to build up an effective team (Contu, 2012). From my experience in this course, my silence on setting individual task schedule resulted in negative consequences on organization and myself. Therefore, I should consult with other team members on the proposals, and come up with the optimal one to operate, which can avoid bad outcome happening again, by which improve the effectiveness of team process.
2. Simply rely on trust is not enough
2.1 Experience identification
Another experience causing me to have a critical reflection in leadership is that, I found that it was insufficient to let followers complete their duties only depending on trust. Our team discussed about the task separation in the second workshop. To my delight, every team member chosen their preferred parts without argument. During the following meeting, we also set the due date for task accomplishment. Everyone seemed to be active and motivated on our teamwork, so I had assumed that everything would go on wheels and did not give any reminder. However, after the due date, I was surprised to find that one of our teammates still did not finish her work. Some of my team members complained it to me in private, because her unfinished work led to the delay of our plan. I felt awkward and had nothing to do but extended period of time for that member to accomplish her writing.
In addition, when everything was completed expected the editing, the editor of our team promised that he could finish it by Friday of that week. I considered that the probability of procrastination was low because he set his task’s due date by himself depending on his own arrangement and preference, so I was assured of him. However, the editor did nothing by Friday. My teammates and I was worried, so we asked him how the editing was going online but received a silence. They began to complain his procrastination to me. At last, the editor started to do the editing on Sunday, which is the due date of the assignment. We helped him in his work because no one wanted to be late in submitting our team project. I felt sorry to my teammates as they did not have to do such an extra work.
My mistake reflected in this experience is that, I overvalue the positive impact of individual autonomy on my team member. My belief, that my teammates are probably able to accomplish their tasks arranged by themselves on time, resulted in a chao in the process of our team project. However, it does not mean that the importance of trust and autonomy are totally denied only basing on this experience. A team, whose members lose their trust, will not achieve an effective outcome (Costa, 2003). In addition, trust and autonomy are core elements to build up followers’ satisfaction in leadership (Lionel, &Sangseok, 2018). Because of feeling trusted, people who completed their writing on time were willing to do extra work in helping the final editing. Thus, to improve team cooperation ability, it is essential for a leader to trust his or her followers to be responsible for their work.
So why did the outcome of our teamwork still come into the negative side even though I trusted and offer autonomy to my followers? The reason was that I failed to control the balance of my trust and supervision in leadership. Supervision is an essential factor for a leader to keep the effectiveness of teamwork (de Vries, Roe, &Taillieu,1998). I only considered that my human-orientated leadership provided my followers with autonomy on task distribution and time setting, which can motivate them to complete their work on time, but I missed out the necessity of monitor in team process. Therefore, a change of my leadership style is needed.
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2.3 Discussion of future development
Depending on the critical reflection, I have a new idea of improving my leadership style in the future. I will continue to trust my colleagues or subordinates in team projects, because it is helpful to increase their satisfaction, which will have a positive impact on the effectiveness of teamwork. Meanwhile, so I will pay more attention to monitoring the process of followers’ work. A study of Byrne, Chughtai, and Flood (2015) points out that a leader’s trust in supervision can increase the follower’s work engagement and reduce their emotional exhaustion. Thus, I will try to recognize my followers’ efforts, encourage them, and give positive expectation on their work while supervising.
In addition, because of different character of team members, a leader cannot treat everyone in the same way. Under this circumstance, supervising with flexibility is considerable. This kind of supervision is to administer followers depending on their personal demand and personalities (Conlow, &Watsabaugh, 2009). Therefore, I will try to discover people’ characteristics and their needed in teamwork, and then offer suitable management style for them, which would be a new challenge for me. By continuously practising and reflecting, I can improve my capability of managing people flexibly with high quality of outcome.
3. multiple leadership styles and task distribution based on personal traits
3.1 Experience identification
The last experience that I was deep impressed on is my leadership in the cooperation of final editing. Our team’s final editing process was started later than when we planned to. There was limiting time for us so most of team members and I were really concerned about our assignment submission. They asked me how I was going to deal with this urgent problem. In this situation, I took the responsibility to mobilise available team members to join in the editing team. I arranged two international students to make the PPT slides, other English native speakers, who had language dominance, to amend the grammar and tone of the article, and I helped editing the format and references. After hard work, we finally finishing the editing when there was only less than an hour left for the assignment submission. Because some of our team members were busy in their personal work, they were unavailable to join in our editing. I thought it was unfair to submit the assignment without giving them a glance of it, thus, I upload it onto our online communication tool to ask for their suggestions and agreement. Pleasingly, they replied very soon and give some valuable feedback. After a rapid revision, I finally submitted our team assignment on time. I felt relief and pleased that my teammates thanked me for the arrangement in editing.
Generally, it was an impressive experience for me, because during the process of this team project, I always asked my followers suggestions and then coming up with the one which all of us agreed on to implement through discussion. It was the first time that I took the initiative to manage the follower and lead my team come across the trouble, which was fresh experience to me in leadership.
According to the experience, the change of my behavior in leadership reflected the flexibility of leading style. In ordinary situation, I would like to offer a human-oriented leadership, which focuses on constructing good relationship to increase people’s motivation and satisfaction in teamwork (de Vries, Bakker-Pieper, & Oostenveld,2010). It can be reflected by my inquiry about other peoples’ agreement before submitting our team assignment. This leadership style is helpful to strengthen team cohesion and create a harmonious and effective working atmosphere. However, when issues needed to be solved in urgent, the human-oriented leadership sometimes contributes to chaos and low-efficiency of the solvency because the leader pay more attention on the reflection of people rather than looking for the work itself. In this circumstance, I changed into task-oriented leadership. It focuses on managing followers on the purpose of accomplishing tasks, which can push the team deal with the troubles in high efficiency.
In addition, my arrangement had a positive impact on the final editing. Since every individual in the organization is considered as an integral part of a machine, a great leader always makes an optimal management in task and role distribution to the team members depending on their characteristics (Dirks, 2000). From my learning from the self-introductory in workshop, I allocated different task based on my team members’ relative advantages. This behaviour can maximize each individual advantage as well as avoiding the negative effect on their drawbacks in teamwork, which leads to an efficient order in solving team problems.
3.3 Discussion of future development
After reflecting my actions, I discovered that, in the future, I should focus more on studying different style of leadership. By practice, I will try to find out which leadership style can help the team to maximize the positive outcome in different situation by practice. It can not only improve my flexibility of management in leadership, but also increase the organization’s operating benefits and effectiveness. Besides, according to my experience, I will learn fully about my traits of my teammates before starting the team project. I will distribute different job for them which is able to optimize everyone’s advantages. However, realising the importance of correspondence between leadership style and real situation is not enough, I should continuous my critical reflection on my future practice experience to get more ideas.
No one can obtain excellent capability of leadership without learning and practicing. Through the reflection of my personal beliefs and behaviors, I discovered that some of my original perspectives were wrong in reality and some of them are helpful for team operation. I learnt that, as a leader, I should make a balance of my personal work and team project while being self-sacrificing. Besides, giving autonomy rights for followers, it is not right to simply trust that they can complete tasks well on time, so a reasonable extent of supervision is always necessary. Moreover, finding an appropriate leadership style to manage the team in different stage of the team process can provide an effective outcome, and task distribution is also important to focus on members’ characters. Therefore, critical reflection is a useful method for us to identify our mistake on our behaviours and cognition to the reality, and I will continuously use it to improve myself in the future.
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