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When I think of myself as a leader, I automatically think of how people normally tell me that I have a controlling nature. While I don’t find myself to be controlling, I will say that I like order. I like to have things in a routine and I like for things to happen systematically. I joke with people that I am slightly OCD because some of my traits border on it. From a professional standpoint, I can also see where I remain somewhat perfectionistic and I like order. I believe that things work best when everyone has a clear understanding of what is expected of them and what the objectives are. I feel that when everyone is on the same page, then everyone is able to work best independently or within a group if the setting calls for it. After taking the leadership assessment in Chapter 6 of Leadership Theory and Practice by Peter G. Northouse, I have a clearer understanding of my leadership style. In this paper, I will share the results of my leadership self-assessment, I will provide my definition of what leadership means to me and what it means to be a leader, areas I want to improve on to become a better leader, and I will then create an action plan to improve the areas that need improvement on my self-assessment.
After taking the leadership assessment in Chapter 6 of the text, I have determined that I have a directive style of leadership. A directive leadership style can be defined as an instructional type of managerial style characterized by a leader who tells subordinate staff what they are expected to do and how to perform the expected tasks. A directive leadership style might be helpful for a manager within a business where their subordinate staff members have jobs that are not particularly specialized and so they need more guidance to avoid uncertainty (BusinessDictionary). Based on the questions asked in the assessment, I like to have things in order and I like to have things done satisfactorily so this is why I am detailed in providing instructions on tasks. In my previous supervisory role, I received praise and resistance for my directive leadership style. For the ones who liked to have their job outlined and detailed as to what they were to do and what was expected, they loved it. But, for the ones who didn’t like the structure and who wanted to fly by their seat of their pants they found that my leadership style was too strict. What I learned about that job is that you won’t be able to please all your employees and you just have to make sure that you are being fair and not overbearing. In order to avoid being overbearing, I send emails with the instructions for the job, any applicable deadlines and how to complete the assignment. I also make sure that I am readily available for any questions that may come from my tasks. While I have a directive leadership, I feel that this doesn’t mean that I am an overbearing or controlling boss. It just means that I find that avoid error can save time and with everyone clear on the expectations it makes work easier.
“Despite the multitude of ways in which leadership has been conceptualized, the following components can be identified as central to the phenomenon: (a) Leadership is a process, (b) leadership involves influence, (c) leadership occurs in groups, and (d) leadership involves common goals (Northouse, 2016). Based on this, the text defines leadership as “a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal (Northouse, 2016).” I completely agree with the textbook definition of leadership. I feel that as a leader, the person in charge should be a person that has the best interest of that group of people in mind. A leader should have a power struggle and abuse his/her power by enforcing things that aren’t needed for the common goal of the group. I have personally had to experience improper leadership where the leader was one who wanted to throw his superiority into everyone’s face. This leader had many people who filed grievances and even quit due to his issues. This leader never could get cooperation from his team and received more resistance the more and more he acted as a tyrant. Eventually, this leader ended up losing his job because he took his power to another level and ended up being very inappropriate with a customer and then reprimanded a subordinate who addressed the leader on the issue. Once that leader left the company, the performance in the employees picked up. When the leader of a group is incompetent, it makes it difficult to be productive as a team and it hinders employee morale. My definition of a good leader is one that is willing to put in just as much work or not more than their employees. A good leader is someone who is willing to help out on even the most menial tasks as they are aware that everyone must pitch in wherever needed. Most teams that are being run by good leaders tend to be successful. I believe that a team can only be as strong as their leader.
Understanding my leadership style has allowed me to have better self-reflection in regards to what I should improve as a leader. As stated, my leadership style is directive which can be controversial depending on how the subordinates perceive your directives. I also understand that someone with a directive leadership style can come across as being unapproachable and unforgiving. This is not the case for me. So, based on my readings regarding directive leadership, I understand that I need to show my subordinates that though I am in charge, I’m really just an employee like them. I want them to look at me as a captain of a ship in which we all are just to reach the same goal. In the past, I made it a point to keep it professional with my subordinates. I now understand that this could have caused me to come across as cold or mean. Some employees work better when they have a working environment that they feel is inviting and warm. While work is a time to be professional, I now understand that everything doesn’t have to be about business and goals. In my next leadership role, I will work to ensure that I have a lively and upbeat environment where the job expectations and instructions are made clear but the employees are also aware that there is room for error and that I am open to suggestions for improvement as this is a team and as a team every party should be able to voice his/her suggestions for reaching our goals.
In order to ensure that I am considered a warm, inviting and flexible boss, I will need to spend more time facilitating working relationships with my subordinates; in order to achieve this, I will have to create an action plan to target my desired goal and outline the steps needed to reach this goal. Specifically, the goal that I will target in my action plan will be to establish better interpersonal relationships with my employees. I currently work in a role in which I will be soon promoted to supervisor so I will use this action plan to target this pending promotion. To begin working towards my target, I first need to allow myself to understand that my employees will work better in an environment where they feel the most comfortable. According to the American Management Association, “When people work together in an atmosphere of trust and accountability toward a common goal, they put aside turf issues and politics and focus on the tasks to be done. This focus of resources overcomes barriers, helps to identify new opportunities, and builds a momentum that leads to three major bottom-line benefits: (1) Better problem solving; (2) Greater productivity; and (3) More effective use of resources.” Based on this, I will incorporate in my action plan a way to ensure that the atmosphere is warm and inviting. In order to help facilitate this, it will be beneficial to have team building days in which we can wear comfy clothes or where we all eat lunch together. I recall having a boss who always provided lunch for her employees once per month to show her appreciation for our efforts. I will utilize items like this. I will also implement a comment box in my new position where my employees are able to come to me with any problems anonymously. I will also have a suggestion box so that they can freely give ideas for how to make the job run smoother. I believe that showing the employees that they are valued will be beneficial in my action plan so that I am able to target not only the goals set forth but also build team morale.
To conclude, my leadership style based on the leadership assessment from Chapter 6 of Peter Northouse’s Leadership Theory and Practice, is directive. While directive leaders are known to be controlling and sometimes overbearing, I want to ensure that I have a directive leadership that is welcoming and warrants productivity from my subordinates. In order to best ensure that my team works well together and don’t feel overwhelmed by my leadership style, I will work to create a team morale and bonding. I will continue to work on my leadership style in the context of my action plan to ensure that I am able to lead in a style that works best for my personality type but also in a way that my employees are pleased with my style and feel that they are working for someone who has not only the goals in mind but their wellbeing as well. A team is only as strong as the captain and a captain is only as strong as his/her team.
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