“…..beyond the horizon of time is a changed world, very different from today’s world. Some people see beyond that horizon and into the future. They believe that dreams can become reality. They open our eyes and lift our spirits. They build trust and strengthen our relationships. They stand firm against the wind of resistance and give us the courage to continue the quest; we call these people leaders” (Kouzes and Posner, 1995). For a number of us leadership can be described as quality – even though we know it when we see it but it is quiet difficult to define or describe. In this respect, Kouzes and Posner (1995) aptly capture what I think about when I was asked to describe a leader and leadership. In the course of my education and career, I have come across some touch points that shaped my opinions and influenced my general perspectives regarding the roles of leaders and leadership. Fundamentally, I have been able to experience my various roles as a leader who articulates and puts into words into action to develop vision for a future that inspires others to join. It is within this context that my perspectives on leadership have been developed. My thoughts on concepts of leadership are an amalgam of what I have was taught in Leadership in Healthcare Module, what I have read, what I have experienced as an individual, and the lessons that I have picked up along the way. Due to complex nature of leadership especially regarding the number of theories that have been suggested by scholars, it is important that not only leaders, but also people who aspire be leaders develop their own personal philosophy leadership. This could be achievable by engaging in reflective exercise.
I have come to realise that some fundamental principles have sharpened my opinions and also driven my beliefs and perception about leadership as an ongoing process, rather than a destination or an achievement. Frequently, I also know that additional learning, unlearning and relearning (through books read on the subject of inquiry, or book read out of mere curiosity) have supplemented the theorizing process of leadership, and fall short of being consistent with grounded theory methodology in which a review of academic literature often occurs following initial data and prior to formation of theory (McGhee et al., 2007). Therefore, this essay will adopt the model of ground theory, starting from the scratch, a collection of my personal observations, beliefs and experience regarding the concept of leadership approach. Reflective analysis of my leadership approach is based on three principles: (1) Maintaining a steady focus on mission and vision; (2) risk taking and (3) empowering people. Starting with maintaining a steady focus on mission and vision, I have been able to learn that one of the greatest challenges that a leader can face is staying on mission of the organization. People, the led, need to know the direction they are heading to, and to know the expectation of the leader regarding the organizational vision and mission. Maintaining a consistent focus on the organization’s vision and mission is a key attribute required for leadership and it is a critical task for a leader. The leader starts its task by clearly defining the vision of the organization then keeping it alive.
The leader is also responsible for achieving such vision; the buck stops at his table and must therefore communicate such both within and outside of the organization. In this regard, the leader serves as a bridge between the organization and its environment. Beyond just communicating the organization’s vision, the leader must be a source of inspiration in order to the vision and to develop a positive mental attitude and belief that it can be achieved. Covey (2012) refers to this attitude as principle-centred leadership. This is a key attribute, especially, in light of the dynamic environment in operation today. This is an attitude I have adopted over and over again in the course of my leadership role. Risk taking; this is an embodiment of 2nd principle of my personal philosophy of leadership. Like my first principle of maintenance focus on vision and mission of the organization, I consider this as another critical factor that distinguishes leaders from their followers. The rare courage of risk-taking, to step out in front, to test water, to be a pathfinder has been long considered as an attribute that sets the leader apart from the followers and rest of the organization. According to Kouzes and Posner (1995), leaders must take a role of “pioneers.” They should develop courage to venture the horizon’s edge and report back about what is seen. Leaders take calculated risks for the sake of the vision and mission of the organization. I have done this in a couple of times and I have succeeded. I agree that some leaders are more comfortable in taking risk than others; and it is noteworthy to realise that there are different degrees of risk associated with the decisions to be taken by leaders.
Over the years, I have learnt that it is better to take a calculated risk. And I agree with school of thoughts that believe that people who are “risk averse” are not fit to be leaders. Empowerment of others: The third principle of my leadership philosophy, the final portion of my analysis, relates to the role of leaders in empowering others. Empowerment entails conveying the mission and vision in such a way that other people in the organization can make use of their initiative to make decisions on their own. This also involves some amount of boldness, confidence and risk-taking. While I was Senior Carer in a Care Home, I always encourage my colleagues to come up with, at least, two initiatives to move the association forward at each meeting day. According to Senge (2012), a certain limit of error in an organization is acceptable as long as such error provides an opportunity for people to learn and also lends credence to empowering others while carrying out the organization’s mission and goals. I agree with Senge, 110%. In conclusion, I have been able to present reflective analysis of my role as a leader in various capacities I have served before. I draw my experience from past and ongoing learning processes and experience, and I have developed a set of personal leadership philosophy which are maintaining a steady focus on mission and vision, risk-taking and empowering people. I hope I will be able to develop myself further in preparation of leadership role I will engage in the future.
Covey, S. (2012). Principle-centered leadership. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster Kouzes, J. M. and Posner, B. Z. (1995). The Leadership Challenge: How to Keep Getting Extraordinary Things Done in Organizations. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers. Senge, P. M. (2012). The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization. New York, NY: Doubleday/Currency