This following will outline my personal leadership practices and potential future leadership. To analyze my leadership qualities I will use the Seven Habits Profile and a leadership theory to determine my strengths, weaknesses, and areas of opportunity for improvement. In conclusion, I will determine the best recommendations for long-term improvement as well as SMART goals, or short-term courses of action, for leadership improvement.
Seven Habits Profile
The Seven Habits Profile revealed that I rank as outstanding in two categories, very good in six categories, and good in just one category. This seems to highlight what I am most exemplary at in terms of leadership, what I am just proficient at, and what presents itself as an opportunity for improvement. The main two strengths include having a work-life balance and being a proactive problem solver. An area of opportunity as indicated by the profile would be having the ability to synergize which is a combination of seeking the views of others and making creative decisions. The two strengths point to qualities I have constantly tried to improve upon. Earlier in my career, I was a bit of a workaholic and tended to bring work home with me. This resulted in a dismal personal life which eventually permeated negativity into my professional life as well. In light of that, over the years I have created rules for myself to remedy that initial error and in doing so this has become one of my strengths.
My other strength, being proactive, stems from the lack of this quality in my current career field. More often than not it is more imperative to be reactive in my line of work. To set myself above the rest I decided early on in my career to work on being both, as being reactive is just as important as being proactive in order to prevent conflict and deal with one once it has arisen. The category in which I rated as only good, or a possible opportunity for improvement, is synergize. I believe I scored myself low in two out of three categories because it has been an incredible weakness in the past and one I have been working on for quite some time. While I have significantly improved in this area I continually work on this factor of working better with people by seeking their input. In doing so, I rate myself harshly on this aspect, despite the progress I have made, because I am not as competent as I would like to be.
My Leadership Practices
Over the course of my career, I have tried to model various leadership behaviors based upon successful leaders that I have worked with or for. This has led me to incorporate different styles into my own. Considering my current leadership strengths and how I view successful leaders I will use a servant leadership theory to analyze my own competencies. Servant leaders have 9 different aspects comprised of: emotional healing, creating value for the community, conceptual skills, empowering, helping subordinates grow and succeed, putting subordinates first, behaving ethically, relationships, and servanthood (Boone & Makhani, 2005, pg. 86). The aspects of a servant leader are those that I personally value and identify with. In addition to this, it is my belief that servant leaders, because they are people oriented, are more effective in a variety of environments and situations.
My Leadership Strengths
In accordance with the servant leadership theory I have three main strengths that I employ in my leadership practices. The first recognized strength is my ability to develop strong working relationships with employees. This strength is best demonstrated in my practice of getting to know all of the employees on a personal basis and caring about their professional and personal lives by showing interest every day. This aspect of leadership requires a considerable amount of listening on my part and therefore assists in fostering clear communication and trust between me and the employees. According to Boone & Makhani (2005), “A vital prerequisite to servant leadership is credibility, which is the foundation of leadership. People must believe in their leaders and know that they are worthy of trust” (Boone & Makhani, 2005, pg. 85).
This establishment of trust, fostered through caring and building a sense of community within the team, lays the groundwork to being viewed as a competent leader that employees will follow with enthusiasm. In conjunction with my first strength, my second strength has been identified as the capacity to help subordinates grow and develop within their career. I have demonstrated this by mentoring employees. This has included helping them grow within their current position as well as aiding them in moving up from their current level within the organization. This aid is often in the form of teaching, listening, and giving them my insight to what I have observed within the organization in concern to both reviews of work and job promotions. Development of employees has to be a quality that is purposefully demonstrated consistently and not just when an employee asks for help. This requires a regular effort on the part of the leader of a team. In order to help an employee in this aspect a leader has to know employees on a basic fundamental level.
The leadership practice of aiding in an employees’ career growth cannot be effectively engaged without the insight gained by the understanding and communication gained through the aforementioned practice of getting to know your employees. Developing the people in your workforce builds skills and confidence and in turn increases and maintains a high level on morale. Along with caring about employees through getting to know them it is imperative that a leader show they care about the person and their future. Consistent with Hamilton & Nord as cited by Caldwell, Dixon, Floyd, Chaudoin, Post, & Cheakas (2012), servant leadership has been defined as ‘‘providing leadership that focuses on the good of those who are being led and those whom the organization serves’’ (Hamilton & Nord as cited in Caldwell, Dixon, Floyd, Chaudoin, Post, & Cheakas, 2012, pg. 180). Assisting an employee up through the career ladder demonstrates that the leader cares about each employee’s future both on a personal and professional level.
The third strength I have identified in my leadership practices, conducting myself ethically as a leader, relates to the first two strengths. I have established this strength by holding myself visibly to a higher standard than the organization I work for requires of me. This often involves a great amount of transparency with my work processes and what decisions I make. I conduct myself in a manner that is viewed as beyond reproach. In addition to setting an appropriate example for employees behaving ethically allows trust to be established. If a decision or action were ever called into question my openness on honesty in matters would quickly dispel any thought of impropriety on my part.
If a leader failed to obey the rules, no amount of caring, communication, or helping associates would build a sense of trust from the followers’ point of view. According to Parris and Peachey (2013) , “Whereas other leadership theories are traditionally defined only by what the leader does, servant leaders are defined by their character and by demonstrating their complete commitment to serve others” (Parris & Peachey, 2013, pg. 379). A leader’s style and effectiveness are defined by one’s character and is therefore defined by their actions and the ethics that govern their actions.
My Leadership Weaknesses
I have three main areas of opportunity for improvement in my leadership practices. While they are not complete deficiencies, or lacking, they require development to form a balanced leadership approach. My first weakness is a lacking of showing thoughtfulness or understanding with subordinates personal concerns. While this is not always the case, when I fail at this point is often because I am putting the organization first and failing to completely listen to an employee’s point of view concerning a specific subject matter. This often occurs when an associate is upset about a new organizational policy. Because I do not adequately listen to the associate’s point of view I fail in showing understanding and simply state to the employee that the policy must be followed. While this in an infrequent occurrence, when it does transpire it often leaves the employee to feel that I do not care about them and they in turn give the impression that they would be reluctant to come to me with other issues that I could assist with. These perceptions degrade lines of communication and trust to an extent that negatively impacts how I may viewed as a leader and how my subordinates may, or may not, perform while working with me.
The second leadership weakness I have pinpointed is that in certain situations I do not put employees first. When a new or big project is to be completed I do not always seek input from subordinates because of time constraints. In all actuality their viewpoints on how these projects are to be done would likely decrease the time needed to accomplish the task. However, when I failed at seeking their input only my ideas are carried out, which may not be the most efficient way, and the employees feel that their views do not matter which fails to motivate or inspire fast and effectual performance. Therefore this failure leads to a demoralized team that negatively impacts not only the current project but future tasks as well. My third weakness as a leader is that I fail to empower subordinates concerning specific kinds of tasks on a consistent basis.
This occurrence is typically the result of performance constraints on my end leading me to not help employees by showing them how to complete certain tasks. Instead I often do these tasks on my own so that I know they are done right and in a timely manner. By not always allowing employees to do these tasks, or helping them improve on these tasks they do not get a chance to grow within their position by mastering certain aspects of their job. This causes friction between me and employees as they perceive my actions to be a lack of trust or faith in their abilities. This weakness, like the first two, also contributes to a decrease in morale because the employees question my judgment or because they lack confidence in their abilities because I doubted them. Recommendations for Leadership Development
To address my weaknesses, it is necessary to alter my leadership practices to be more congruent with the servant leadership style. All following recommendations for changes in my leadership practices will be a move toward a more complete servant leadership style. “Servant leadership differs from other models of leadership in that it focuses on leaders meeting the needs of followers, in that, if followers are treated as ends in themselves, rather than means to an end, they will reach their potential and so perform optimally. Such an approach is found when leaders respect, value and motivate those who follow them” (McCrimmon as cited by Waterman, 2011, pg. 25). The first recommendation will be to take the time to listen to employees regardless of the situation. This will require that I use the listening skills I have developed in all situations, especially in the types of situations I have consistently failed. This remedy will prevent the decay in trust and communication that not understanding subordinates personal concerns often causes.
This increased thoughtfulness in all matters on my part will foster improved teamwork between myself and the team instead of hindering performance with decreased morale caused misunderstandings. The second recommendation change to my leadership practices is to seek input from employees on all tasks that involve them. A change in the practice would seek to prevent employees from feeling disenfranchised by having to complete work as dictated to them rather than doing tasks in a manner in which they believe is best for the work style that will still end with the same desired result. This change will garner an increased enthusiasm in daily task as well as the larger goals by giving employees a sense of ownership in their work. Gaining input and insight into how things are done will also add the possibility of increased efficiency and expediency in daily tasks by giving control to task experts who perform these regularly and have insight on how to improve.
The increased performance coupled with an increased sense of trust will also seek to increase and maintain a healthy level of employee morale. The third recommended improvement to my leadership practices will be to challenge employees with new types of tasks and grow their skill sets to build performance, enthusiasm, and job satisfaction. When giving employees new challenges I also need follow up during and after their tasks to give constructive criticism and offer additional training if indicated. This alteration to my current practices will also prevent the erosion in trust my seemingly lack of faith in the past has had on employees and the team. This change to my practices will lead to greater employee skill set development and an added confidence within team members.
To hasten my leadership development in a measurable method I am setting two SMART goals to accomplish within the next two weeks. The first goal is to set aside time to talk with each employee to ascertain what short and long term goals they have within the organization. I will also discuss with them what skill sets they believe they lack that is preventing them from moving to the next level. I will then assign tasks to each employee that seeks to build the desired skill set of each person. I will monitor their progress and give feedback as necessary. At the end of the two week period I will follow up again with each employee to ask them what they thought about the process, if they learned anything from doing new activities, and what, if any, new tasks or skills they would like to learn or hone to further their career goals.
The second goal will be to hold small team meetings, or huddles as we call them in the organization I work for, and gain the opinions and insights from employees on current changes within the organizations. I will guide the meetings and help employees choose how certain objectives will be met and how they might influence accomplishing long-term goals. Within reason, I will set into motion the employees plans and suggestions. At the end of the two week period I will again hold a series of huddles to discuss our accomplishments based upon the changes the employees have planned and further adjustments we could make to improve processes to these changes.
I am optimistic that through the accomplishment of these two goals employees will feel more involved and valued within the organization. These immediate changes will also seek to build trust within my leadership and the organization. This improvement will further open up the lines of communication and reestablish a better sense of teamwork, as I will also be seen as part of the team in addition to its leader. These achievements will boost performance for both long and short-term objectives while increasing the teams’ morale.
Boone, L. W., & Makhani, S. (2012). Five Necessary Attitudes of a Servant Leader. Review Of Business, 33(1), 83-96. Retrieved from: http://wguproxy.egloballibrary.com/login?user=true&url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=heh&AN=86286635&site=ehost-live&scope=site Caldwell, C., Dixon, R., Floyd, L., Chaudoin, J., Post, J., & Cheokas, G. (2012). Transformative Leadership: Achieving Unparalleled Excellence. Journal Of Business Ethics, 109(2), 175-187. Retrieved from: http://wguproxy.egloballibrary.com/login?user=true&url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=heh&AN=78333229&site=ehost-live&scope=site Parris, D., & Peachey, J. (2013). A Systematic Literature Review of Servant Leadership Theory in Organizational Contexts. Journal Of Business Ethics, 113(3), 377-393. Retrieved from: http://wguproxy.egloballibrary.com/login?user=true&url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=heh&AN=87015717&site=ehost-live&scope=site Waterman, H. (2011). Principles of ‘servant leadership’ and how they can