According to the observation that I have made in my life, leadership is an innate ability which you are either endued with or not. Leadership has always appealed much to me as I impede other people from doing things that they think must be done in their way. The style of leadership has a direct emphasis on the importance of collaboration. I am particularly interested in relational or team leadership approach. Group member’s diversity adds value and increases likelihood of new ideas generation and possible solutions (Kezar et al 2006). In the following paper I want to talk about my personal reflection on leadership and what can be done in order to improve my leadership skills.
For me leadership is an ability to ‘lead’ people, but not only because of certain power that an individual might have over others due to seniority and position in the company, but it is about an ability to motivate, encourage, explain people the ideas, persuade them and ‘serve’ for their benefit. It is actually a process of social impact and influence, which maximizes the potential and input of other individuals, by empowering them to grow, develop and challenge the difficulties.
I would like to mention one situation related to leadership that I had faced during my work as an intern in the international company. I had some work to do and my line manager has assigned seven students under my supervision who were able to get some experience but were not paid any wages for that. Thereafter, I have got a task form line manager to develop a back-up procedure and I had to do the best with my group. Being only an intern, I understood that I had no legitimate power over the students, but I believed in myself as a strong leader and decided to turn to expert and connection types of power (Lauby, 2010). Thus, I knew that it was only a start. I use democratic style of leadership, but I also try to turn to steward and transformational types of leadership. Thereafter, it was important for me to engage every member of the group when I was leading it. I understood that every member had different abilities, as one student was good in analytical thinking, and another could do the best calculation. It means that I had to encourage everyone, so we would turn to teamwork that would yield great results. Analytical thinking was nothing without proper calculations and vice versa, which is why teamwork is a basic pillar of successful result. My assumption that everyone can be a valuable team player turned out to be correct.
My ideas of effective leadership were about achieving the set task, managing the team work properly and definitely look into every individual as a valuable ‘worker’. Being effective leader is about identification of tasks and assigning them to the right individuals. It is not only about reviewing the process of accomplishment the goals, but about helping my team getting where WE were to get, as I took significant amount of work on myself. Moreover, I used coaching, feedback and motivation tools to empower my ‘workers’ as well as myself.
I must state that I felt myself very comfortable in the leadership context of the mentioned situation, as I turned to my personal skills and abilities that helped me to lead the group. Moreover, students were happy with my performance as I have managed to support an open communication within the group. Thus, I felt slightly uncomfortable when I had to solve conflicts. Thereafter, I felt that I might have been losing certain degree of unbiased treatment because I have only looked into personal traits of the individuals, but forgot about the context of the situation. I had to remind myself that those were students who worked for free and asking them to overwork only because the goals needed be achieved seemed to be unfair.
If to speak about development of my future leadership skills, I must confess that I need to learn to be more responsive and look into taking more initiative. If I were not an intern, I would probably not agree to lead the group only because it would be an extra responsibility. Thus, being a leader is about talking responsibility of other people and I have to push myself out of the comfort zone, as being a simple person, who does the job, is far simpler. I have to be a good listener, which sometimes I fail to do as I am inpatient. I also need to continue concentrating on development of my professional leadership skills, which are about discipline and an ability to handle conflicts. Discipline is an essential part of goal execution and it is very important to keep it within a team or it might lose focus. Dealing with conflicts is another professional ability that successful leaders must be able to develop, as difficult people are an integral part of almost every surrounding and organization. The problem is that difficult people might influence the work of other individuals and it is a task of a leader to notice that and talk to the difficult individual. The most challenging task is to influence the behavior of such people if you are not their line manager and are on the same position. However, leaders must never jump into conclusions and listen to both sides.
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In conclusion, I would like to mention that being a leader is a life-time journey that is never to end. It might be challenging and sometime temping to give up, but there is nothing more rewarding than to see the success and progress of people that you have led to achievement of common goals.