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Down the Road: My Personal Authentic Leadership Journey Essay

Born in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, where arms and ammunition for armed forces of Pakistan are made and distributed to different locations of the country, my leadership timeline reflects that leaders are moulded by the events they encountered and overcome to become who they are today. My story begins with a father whose sole goal in life was to provide us the education that he knew was vital to our aim to be successful as role models and leaders. Because education is not all about “book” learning, my family paid special attention to educating us about morals and ethics.

Via religious education, I found the virtue of being a good man with a healthy belief system. To a leader you need to have a strong foundation in values and how those values shape our every activity. Discussion Because of this emphasis on education, I found myself even more drawn to furthering my own knowledge and uncovering my strengths and weaknesses as a contributing member of society. I saw my father as a role model who placed his family’s needs above his own.

By moving out of his native village, he took the first steps towards providing his children with the best possible opportunities to get good standard education and develop high moral values and ethics in their personalities. As my father is well educated, he expected that his children too reach their full potential. Unfortunately, during my higher curriculum courses I performed poorly and was forced to work even harder to improve myself. Upon reaching college, I selected to be a class representative because I saw myself as having both good interaction skills as well as the aptitude for solving problems between individuals.

This was the first time that I realized that my goals to become a good leader were indeed possible and attainable. In hindsight, I see that this interaction was the basis for some leadership traits (http://www. stewart-associates. co. uk/leadership-models. aspx). For example, during conflicts I rose to the occasion and alleviated group stresses, persistently overcame dilemmas, cooperated with my fellow classmates in solving problems, was seen as a dependable role model for lower class men, and easily adapted to situations when required.

This initial experience began to give me the confidence that I needed to feel that I could successfully aid my fellow college students and being a strong representative of their requests and voices (http://www. buzzle. com/editorials/9-3-2004-58861. asp). It was only due to this confidence that I persistently applied for admission to several universities in Pakistan even though I had failed to obtain admission into any high ranking universities. To my parents, this was an embarrassment and the shame that they felt tore at my heart but though I was upset I realized I was not de-motivated.

Instead, I adapted and improvised to the situation and selected to do my last year in college once again so as to receive higher marks. My self-restructuring efforts paid off and I achieved higher marks than anyone had expected from me. These implemented efforts are once again the markings of a young leader and can be visually seen in the graph below: Image taken from : (http://images. google. com/imgres? imgurl=http://api. ning. com/files/pAqrWCqLQC2AgQvsxfBsUXwOyx42-xPKmO6TQFFNQ5tMD1CBzFkfU7rWUpMX6Siqa6k*LAJmr*e4wYGKq7zMGn6UmTHdk6fy/Leadershipmodel. gif.

jpg&imgrefurl=http://mylinkingpowerforum. ning. com/xn/detail/u_3jluv5gj6mp9a&usg=__AwGvnrelt3BvpCbfy005kjVXiE4=&h=278&w=320&sz=13&hl=en&start=10&um=1&tbnid=7oYMmH6hwuxfUM:&tbnh=103&tbnw=118&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dleadership%2Bmodel%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DX%26um%3D1) My hard work would never go to waste and this renewed energy gave me the needed push to start my higher education at some good university. This effort ties in to the leadership model reflected by T. McGregor (1906-1964) which specifies that managers “tend to make two different assumptions about human nature.

These views he explored in his theory X and theory Y” where in theory Y he states that “The expenditure of physical and mental effort in work is as natural as play or rest. ” (http://www. stewart-associates. co. uk/leadership-models. aspx) My effort had indeed paid off and my father was able to send me to the UK for my higher education. It was hard, after starting the application process, Sept 11th occurred and the British embassy in Pakistan elected to close down it’s visa division for 6 months; which forced me to postpone my studies until Oct 2002.

In spite of this delay, my only recourse was to kept up the hope and continue my computer course, IELTS, and TOEFL studies until April of 2002. I believe that this element of hope despite such hardships falls under the concept of a required “trait leadership” because without hope you will not feel the drive to continue on in projects, goals or objectives. While research may have shown that there are no consistent traits which make a leader there is merit to the argument that a “hope-less” leader will not be a successful one (http://www. leadership-studies. com/documents/mgmt_standards. pdf).

So here I was in April of 2002 in the UK, and excited to being a new life on my own but fully aware of the hardships that I would encounter faced with a different culture. This driving difference would force me into getting a place to live, finding myself a job, and saving while I took time off from my college, Financial Training Company (FTC). I was lucky to find a living place with my childhood friends who were very supportive and I also found a job at Burger King, a local fast food restaurant. I started my Associate Accounting Technician (AAT) qualification and completed this qualification by December 2004.

It was during this time that I also made several mistakes and suffered from heavy losses, both on a socially and financially level. It was not easy adapting but I learnt from any mistakes that I made. I learnt how to deal my 5 friends (both younger and older than me) living together and how to explain and assert myself when needed. I also learnt how to juggle the complexities associated with both working and going to school full time because in March of 2003 I was forced to get a job at Sainsbury’s local store. After working for Sainsbury’s for six months, I had an opportunity to step up as a supervisor and take on more responsibilities.

During the interview process, I was the lucky candidate selected to become a supervisor. There were interviews held for this position and I was the successful candidate. This was very encouraging for me as my hard work and commitment to this job had paid off. The managers checked my performance track record and they found me to be perfect fit for this role. I was taken aback when they decided that I would have to undergo more training prior to being able to run a shift by myself as manager. During this period, I completed a 3 month training only to find that upper management itself changed.

So here I found a challenge: when the new managers arrived at the branch they refused to promote me and official stated that I would need training for another 4 to 6 months. At that time, this became a very depressing situation for me. Even though I had passed all required tests for the position, it was under the manager’s end discretion to allow the promotion or not. Though I was disappointed, I did not lose hope and continued to struggle to my end goal. It took me another six weeks to prove myself as a good team leader who had the necessary capabilities to lead by example.

That was a victorious moment for me when the store manager called me in the office and signed my promotion certificate. Due to my exposure at Sainsbury to various leadership models and techniques, I felt especially drawn to the concept of the action centered leadership structure. Via this model, I was introduced to the value of having a leader who performs activities and through these actions shows his or her employees the significance of balancing the needs of the employees with the requirements and expectations of the team. I came across many managers with different leadership styles; e. g.

manager or morning shift used to prefer shop faced up and tidied while the one running the evening shift always focussed more on tills and customer service activities. For me, I saw that the true objective of an action plan is to effectively gauge what tasks must be accomplished in order for a project to be successfully completed. The leader of this situation is portrayed as a helicopter lightly gliding over the situation and having a positive overview of what is occurring through the project lifecycle. This allows for the task to been seen and directed to ensure that clear objectives are being met, and procedures are being adhered to.

In the beginning I faced resistance from my own colleagues. They sometimes refused to do what I told them or argued and made lame excuses about why they could not accomplish a task. The reason for this behaviour was obvious. They felt that I who had been their co-worker just days before was now their boss. The assignment of jobs from me made them clearly uncomfortable and they rebelled. I had to handle the situation very carefully by delegating the work as well as helping them, by assuring them that though I was a team leader I was also part of the team.

I could also see if there was evidence of progress and ensure that all deadlines are being met for the assignment (http://www. skagitwatershed. org/~donclark/leader/leadcon. html). This elevated view allows for the leader to guide his employees while functions are being performed to complete the project. From a higher perspective, such a leader is enabled with the vital component of seeing all aspects of the situation from the viewpoint of the task, the team, and the individual within the team. The team will see my commitment to the task assigned, and feel the same level of purpose that I feel.

This will allow the team to grow in their cohesion, drive for success, and gleam trust from each other. To an individual, this status allows for individual growth in their career objectives because they feel that their contribution is being acknowledged and is evident in the team circles. Feedback both for the leaders as well as from the leadership capacity allows for better commitments, respect, security, and change of direction if required. Key to this model is the evidence of plans being successfully outlined and modified if required (http://www.

stewart-associates. co. uk/leadership-models. aspx). Such leaders are aware that sometimes change is necessary for a project to be successful. Some of my workers were habitually taking longer breaks, not turning up for work and even stealing stock. Because of my strong leadership traits I able to convert many of them into giving up their bad habits and feeling that they could be good workers. This act of situational leadership enforced the concept that I needed to coach, direct, support, and delegate activities and behaviours for my co-workers (http://www.

chimaeraconsulting. com/sitleader. htm). One supportive characteristic was my decision was my decision to not take illegal action against one of my co-workers who my deputy manager disliked. I found myself faced with extra work and stress because of his anger, but because I was a strong believer in Thorton’s 3C leadership model (challenge, confidence, coaching) I felt that my personal challenge in this case was to bear up under the difficulty and coach my employees into sharing my goals and becoming inspired by them (http://www.

quickmba. com/mgmt/leadership/3c/). If I had given into the deputy manager’s illegal tactics I would destroy the confidence that they had begun to feel in my and my efforts to help them be successful. My self-confidence and ambition led me to seek employment in a company which also felt similarly attuned, Dixons Plc. At Dixons, I was hired as a sales advisor, where within weeks I showed my employers my excellence in performance. They rewarded me with huge bonuses and commissions.

They too believed in the Thorton’s 3Cs Leadership Model and challenged me to benchmark my progress and highlighted my strengths and how I could become even more successful. Enriched by this experience, I was only too happy to continue my learning in how to arrange credit agreements with the HFC bank and how to facilitate our customers with after sales services. This continued to build up my confidence because the challenging goals that were set by my company were attainable and they showed me that I had the ability to reach the sales goals and quotas expected from me.

Concluding Remarks: My experiences have molded me from a timid young man to an assertive one. Without the guide my father, my manager, and my exposure to the working world and its expectations from me I would be unable to be the leader that I am today. I hope that by learning about new leadership techniques I may one day be able to progress into an even more experienced managerial role. I believe that my leadership traits and qualities have enriched my life and aided me in my attempts to overcome the hurdles and challenges thrown my way.

References: Bass, Bernard (1990). From transactional to transformational leadership: learning to share the vision. Organizational Dynamics, Vol. 18, Issue 3, Winter, 1990, 19-31. Bolden, R. , Gosling, J. , Marturano, A. and Dennison, P. A REVIEW OF LEADERSHIP THEORY AND COMPETENCY FRAMEWORKS (2003). Retrieved March 27, 2009 from http://www. leadership-studies. com/documents/mgmt_standards. pdf Clark, Don. Concepts of Leaders. Retrieved March 27, 2009 from http://www. skagitwatershed. org/~donclark/leader/leadcon. html

Chimaera Consulting Limited (1999). Situational Leadership. Retrieved March 27, 2009 from http://www. chimaeraconsulting. com/sitleader. htm Thornton, Paul B. Be the Leader, Make the Difference Thornton, Thornton’s 3-C Leadership Model. Website. Retrieved March 27, 2009 from http://www. quickmba. com/mgmt/leadership/3c/ Models and Theories. Website. Retrieved March 27, 2009 from http://www. stewart- associates. co. uk/leadership-models. aspx Leadership Qualities. Retrieved March 27, 2009 from http://www. buzzle. com/editorials/9-3-2004-58861. asp


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