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Reflection and Leadership Development Journal
After graduating from my undergraduate college, I always wondered what career I was going to pursue and how. That time all I was aware of leading by example. I never knew how I was even going to begin my journey and develop qualities to become a leader. When I chose to pursue Master of Science in Project Management at Northeastern, I was sure that I will take up leadership classes as I never studied leadership in India. In my curriculum, I previously signed up for Ethical Leadership class which not only inspired me to know more about leadership concepts in depth but to implement ideas from the theories in the real world. This eventually led me to sign up for another leadership class.
Leadership to me is influencing people by having a positive effect or outcome, affects the group to achieve the best possible results, involves innovation, determination and far-sighted vision. A leader is someone who has the best interest at heart for people around and works selflessly to act in an unbiased manner to achieve a greater good that is also the right decision in a given situation. In theory, all of this seems very easy but practically speaking it is difficult being a leader who is expected to make the right decisions and is responsible for every action.
To develop further on my thinking, the coursework helped me understand concepts to a deeper level. Also, some of the exercises like self-assessment, skills inventory questions aid in reflecting on ideas and theories from the books. This helps to build a connection between theoretical knowledge and one’s own view about self. For instance, when I took skills inventory in week one I could understand and apply leadership concepts by identifying my own strengths. Moreover, I realized what are the areas of improvement. It not only allows to establish a standard of where I stand but also establish goals of where I would like to be.
As we read what Peter G Northouse stated in the book about leadership being more of a process than just a trait that anyone is born with. “As a process, leadership can be observed in leader behaviors (Jago, 1982), and can be learned.” For this very reason, I believe that an effective enlightening leadership is indispensable to school effectiveness and improvement (Ololube, Egbezor, Kpolovie, & Amaele, 2012). This reflects to know yourself and seek self-improvement: In order to identify yourself, you have to recognize what you are, what you know, and what you can do (attributes). I got knowledge based on recitation, group discussion, readings, and weekly reflection. In quest of self-improvement involves continuous strengthening your attributes. This can be accomplished through self-study, formal education, workshops, reflection, and interacting with others. From my previous work experience, my current on-campus and group study I came to the conclusion that career experiences have an impact on the characteristics and competencies of leaders. The skills model suggests that the experiences acquired during leaders’ careers have an effect on their knowledge and skills to solve complex problems. Mumford, Zaccaro, Harding, et al. (2000, p. 24) directed that leaders can be helped through challenging job assignments, mentoring, appropriate training, and hands-on experience in solving new and unfamiliar problems.
I could see the impact of theories like situational theory, contingency theory, and transformational theory. To summarize the crucial ideas I understood from these theories are that the situational theory is a kind of No one-size-fits-all leadership. I can relate because I am someone who believes to act based on the situation presented. A fixed leadership style or approach can lead us to wrong decision making and in fact, won’t fit well. As suggested by Northouse, given the breadth of the situational approach, it is applicable in almost any type of organization, at any level, for nearly all types of goals. It is an encompassing model with a wide range of applications. (p. 103). This is applicable to contingency concept as well since an effective leadership is “contingent” on complementing with the leader’s style to the setting. Whereas in transformational leadership, leaders inspire them to a vision and cultivate followership. Transformational leadership is a fragment of the “New Leadership” paradigm (Bryman, 1992), which gives more consideration to the charismatic and effective elements of leadership. I think transformational leadership plays an important role since it also focuses on the exchanges that occur between leaders and their followers. As a leader, you also take in part in followership since one grows into a fine leader while he/she is a follower to realize that there is learning is inherent to the teaching process.
Chart: What Great Leaders say to Engage Teams by Susan Bainbridge.
I applied some of the ideas in my life to grow as a person and to take solid actions towards my professional career. In this path of becoming successful in developing leadership, the capability is indispensable. In my group project, I switched roles between a leader and a follower to include everyone’s opinion and ideas. Working in the group taught me team leadership and concept of Leader-member exchange theory. Our group project was a success since I was able to implement: Leadership is a fair-minded exchange between leader and member. However, this exchange can create an in and out group which could lower the performance and efficiency of the group. Most important of leaders mustn’t alienate people because the leadership definition itself states leadership takes in to account the interest of the group should result in achievement of group outcome/goals. As a matter of fact, I implement these ideas from the picture mentioned above. Some of the simple things can help in changing behavior and learn more ideas.
As we know change is imperative so in order to lead the change, it is necessary to be the change! With that being said, I decided to upgrade my knowledge about things that I can do personally to bring a noticeable change in myself. Interestingly, I was reading for this class and I came across a to-do list which said: “you aspire to inspire.”
- Instate a meticulous selection process to ensure they hire only the best and brightest.
- Set a clear and compelling vision.
- Collaborate with their team to outline a plan for attaining that vision.
- Have the plan visible.
- Keep score along the way to keep the team energized and accountable.
- Look for people doing something right to recognize it and appreciate it.
- Eradicate blocks to getting work done.
- Address even minor performance issues with proactive coaching.
- Listen more than they talk.
- Unwaveringly sustain the team’s values by using them to make big and little decisions.
- Offer credit for and reward successes.
- Get to know the person behind the employee.
- Care about their people as much as their people’s performance.
- Focus on the organization’s purpose as much as (if not more) than profits.
- Consistently and frequently communicate even when they are apparently no news.
I posted the entire list because I decided to take on each and every entry that is mentioned as I was inspired myself. I discovered a new side of me that allowed my inner determination and passion for becoming a better person first if I chose to become a leader. Like we say change first begins at home, I wanted to accomplish this to-do list and bring change in myself. The very first thing I decided to take on was set a clear and compelling vision.
Another thing that I really liked about this class and I learned was mentorship. From recitation exercises and from stories that the professor shared in class I realized mentorship is an intrinsic characteristic of being a leader. In most situations, a leader confides in his/her mentor which helps the leader accelerate the learning curve. For instance, an employee goes a long way and become successful only if his supervisor or manager he reports to is a great leader. If the manager does not mentor his subordinates then their growth of learning is hampered. For the reason that mentors create a support system that can offer a great psychological safety net for business leaders. This structure can be created through traditional 1-to-1 mentorship or through networking events. Steve Jobs, for example, asked his early mentor Mike Markkula to serve on the board of Apple. Mentors who have years of wisdom can facilitate and inspire leaders to uncover innovative solutions to tough problems. In an interview for the book The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, Warren Buffett chat about how important his mentor, Benjamin Graham, was to his future success. Buffett says meeting Graham was almost like finding a god.
In conclusion, I would say that I am fortunate enough to find my mentor in my professors, my manager, and my parents. As a leader, I try to make my own decisions, but I sometimes fail to gather courage and self-confidence. I am fostering these qualities in me so that I can act in a difficult situation. From many instances in my life, I realized that although my talent and skills help me, for the most part, I self-doubt myself which makes weak. To develop courage in decision making I think it is necessary for me to push myself out of comfort zone and embrace change. To do so I have different categories of mentor like the Challenger, who asks questions of why my comfort zone is the way it is, until it no longer exists; the Cheerleader, who relentlessly uplifts my self-esteem and confidence until I feel brave enough to challenge myself to achieve over own boundaries and the Coach, who is a wise veteran financing the knowledge I need to innovate – or overcome the same adversity they did. I always feel having this protective umbrella keeps me secure, but I need to take steps to have a personality that will help me make life-changing decisions without any fear or stress.
To begin with, I am developing a mindset to grow as a person and change as a leader. As Forbes mentioned in their article Developing A Change Leader Mindset “To lead change, don’t just behave differently — think differently.” I am engaging myself to answer the question from the article that says to take a step back, retrospect and look at your attitude towards change. The question to be answered is “Are you trying to constrain change or make it contagious? Have you done the groundwork to make that happen — creating and communicating a compelling vision, leveraging every conversation and building trust?”
When I go back to the leadership fundamentals and rethink I will figure out the solution for all the questions and from the feedback I receive I will set short-term and long-term goals for myself. Setting goals will help me adapt and change as per the situation like transformational or a contingent leader would do. As a leader, I plan to make the most of and improve my skills, personality to define my own version of leadership that integrates all the theories I have studied in this class.
- Bainbridge, S. (2018). Transformational Leadership. (2018). Scoop.it. Retrieved 12 December 2018, from https://www.scoop.it/t/transformational-leadership/?&tag=LeadershipModel
- Jago, A. G. (1982). Leadership: Perspectives in theory and research. Management Science,
- 28(3), 315–336.
- Colon, L. (2013). 15 Things Inspiring Leaders Do Differently. Inc.com. Retrieved 12 December 2018, from https://www.inc.com/lee-colan/15-things-inspiring-leaders-do-differently.html
- Harvey, E. (2017). Developing A Change Leader Mindset. Forbes.com. Retrieved 12 December 2018, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2017/08/25/developing-a-change-leader-mindset/#28de30333d57
- Mumford, M. D., Zaccaro, S. J., Harding, F. D., Jacobs, T. O., & Fleishman, E. A.
- (2000). Leadership skills for a changing world: Solving complex social problems.
- Leadership Quarterly, 11(1), 11–35.
- Ngozi Amanchukwu, Rose & Jones Stanley, Gloria & Ololube, Nwachukwu Prince. (2015). A Review of Leadership Theories, Principles and Styles and Their Relevance to Educational Management. 2015. 6-14. 10.5923/j.mm.20150501.02.
- Ololube, N. P., Egbezor, D. E., Kpolovie, P. J., & Amaele, S. (2012). Theoretical debates on school effectiveness research: lessons for Third World education development agendas. In N. P. Ololube & P. J. Kpolovie (Eds.), Educational management in developing economies: Cases ‘n’ school effectiveness and quality improvement, (pp. 1-18). Saarbucken: Lambert Academic Publishers
- Patel, D. (2017). Why Every Leader Should Have A Mentor. Forbes.com. Retrieved 12 December 2018, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/deeppatel/2017/07/22/why-every-leader-should-have-a-mentor/#1f9856bf2b45
- Rashid, B. (2017). 3 Reasons All Great Leaders Have Mentors (And Mentees). Forbes.com. Retrieved 12 December 2018, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/brianrashid/2017/05/02/3-reasons-all-great-leaders-have-mentors-and-mentees/#1385479013f9
- Tan, S. (2016). Summary: Ten Leadership Theories in Five Minutes. Seth Tan. Retrieved 12 December 2018, from https://sethtan.wordpress.com/2016/05/10/summary-ten-leadership-theories-in-five-minutes/
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