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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.
Before taking the leadership assessment, I already had an expectation for the results but was unsure of the exact type of leader they would fit together to determine. I used the Meyers-Briggs, CliftonStrengths, and MindTools tests to examine my personal leadership style. I will be examining the direct results of each test, as well as what they all say about me as a leader in conjunction.
For the Meyers-Briggs test, I used the free 16Personalities version that they have available. The last time I took this personality test was three years ago, during my Principles of Management class freshman year at LTU. My results from that first time were ISTJ, the logistician personality. I thought my personality might have changed a bit since then, but I also tested again as ISTJ. 16Personalities states that logisticians, “enjoy taking responsibility for their actions, and take pride in the work they do – when working towards a goal, Logisticians hold back none of their time and energy completing each relevant task with accuracy and patience” (16personalities). I feel that this contributes to my ability as a leader to be a role model, since I am more than willing to “walk the talk” and take responsibility.
Being an ISTJ means that I enjoy leading others, but do not want to spend every second with my team. While I recognize that collaboration and team meetings are important, I also need time set aside in the day in which I can work alone. This stems from the “I” in ISTJ, meaning “introverted”. This introversion can sometimes hold me back in situations where I need to take charge. Often in a group scenario have I found myself wanting someone else to head discussions when no one in the group wanted to. Many times I have been able to break from these kinds of deadlocks, but not without great effort and difficulty.
ISTJs also have some difficulties with being a leader that I have personally experienced. Since I am naturally detail-oriented, I am more concerned with the small changes rather than the big picture. This doesn’t mean that I always completely ignore it, but that I am less likely to give the big picture less consideration. The ability to set a clear vision and consider how everything will impact that vision is an important leadership trait, and so if I want to grow as a leader, I will need to expand my focus in all things.
I had already taken the CliftonStrengths assessment recently. The Beta Gamma Sigma (BGS) business honor society leadership summit that I attended in Chicago a few weeks ago had a panel talk all about the various CliftonStrengths themes. The BGS organizers had me take the assessment before the summit, and so I will be referring to those results. My CliftonStrengths assessment listed my top five strengths as: relator, deliberative, restorative, analytical, and significance.
I thrive best as a leader when the team members I am leading were carefully picked from people that not only are reliable, but also that are friends of mine that I can relate to. My relator strength allows me to lead a team that is rooted in trust and honesty. My restorative strength also goes hand-in-hand with being a relator. I greatly dislike “bad blood” or negative conflicts between team members, and so as a leader I am good at obtaining agreement and settling tough situations.
Another two of my CliftonStrengths that work together are my deliberative and analytical strengths. People with the deliberative strength take serious care when making decisions or choices, whereas people with the analytical strength consider all the different factors that might affect a situation. When I am faced with any decision, excluding “no-brainers”, I put great effort into analyzing all the moving parts/factors and into choosing the right option. If I am part of a team, the factors will include the other team members and their personal situations.
The MindTools leadership skill assessment gave me a score of 64, meaning that I have a great deal of natural leadership traits within me, but also many that can be developed further. My self-confidence, positive attitude and outlook, ability to motivate people to deliver the vision, ability to be a good role model, and ability to provide support and stimulation characteristics all scored fairly high. The areas I scored lower on and should improve upon are: emotional intelligence, ability to provide a compelling vision of the future, and ability to manage performance effectively. I have always known that I do not have the best emotional intelligence. My Meyers-Briggs ISTJ personality provides a good explanation for this, specifically the introversion trait. This means that I will need to actively recognize when I am lacking emotional intelligence in situations. Corrective action is usually easy once I have recognized the need for it. My lower score for providing a compelling vision also works right into my Meyers-Briggs personality. As I said before concerning my ISTJ personality, I tend to be detail-oriented and will need to work on my ability to conceive clear visions.
Through taking these various personality/leadership tests, I have found that I am a hands-on democratic leader. I work best with team members that are also genuine friends to me. I highly value clear direction from supervisors, and so as a leader I make sure that my team knows exactly what role they play and what they need to accomplish. Usually this is clear direction for the immediate tasks at hand, and not the distant future. When making decisions as a leader, I am fact-based and examine many different factors before arriving at a conclusion for my decision. I enjoy being in leadership roles, although I work best in roles that allow me to have personal work time away from my team. Addressing my weaknesses is important, but playing to my strengths will help me to perform better overall as a leader.
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