The study of human behaviour is critical to the effectiveness of organizations. Organizational behaviour is “a field of study that investigates the impact that individuals, groups, and structure have on behaviour within organizations, for the purpose of applying such knowledge toward improving an organization’s effectiveness” (Robins, 2001). Every established organization strives to achieve its goals and business objectives, yet at their peak are managers, leaders, who have been vested with the responsibilities to ensure that these goals and objectives are actualized. The success of these leaders therefore becomes corresponding to the success of the organizations they lead. They, however, must be self – aware. They must know that their personalities and behaviours give them impetus to achieving success while working with their people.
They must be able to identify their strengths and weaknesses and channel them to directions that will make them effectively carry out their leadership functions. Runn, (2011) calls self evaluation, “self leadership” and states that it forms a critical part and foundation to a person’s leadership. According to Brodie (2011), leaders who are self aware can play to their strengths, get others to achieve equal success by utilizing their own skills, can easily adapt to changing circumstances and will think before they act. This is because when leaders become self-aware, they are able to properly sieve out their innermost values, their motivations, develop clear humane passions that people see and decide to follow them. Self-aware leaders know what it means to use their talents and abilities to serve people, to depend on others, to cross the finish line together with a group of people, to lead others to achieve a worthy goal. They develop into what George et al, (2007) calls the authentic leader. A leader who can effectively harness these skills from self-assessment and evaluation is definitely going to excel in dealing with people. It was Clawson, et al (2000) that illuminates for us six key leadership principles arising from self-evaluation. They are: one, clarifying the center, which means being able to determine ones core values and stand by them. Two, clarifying what’s possible, that is, having a target or pursuit, goals and aspirations being desirable for achievement. Three, clarifying what others have to contribute, the ability to see where others can contribute and knowing who to depend on.
Four, motivating and helping others to contribute, which means providing the enabling environment for others to use their skills and contribute to the leader’s vision. Five, relentless assertion, the ‘never say die’ spirit, never give up. And six, celebrating every progress made, establishing milestones and recognizing those who made it there. These are principles effective leaders must hold and exhibit and they come from proper self-evaluation. In conclusion, all these great benefits of self-evaluation as it concerns leaders today cannot be effectual unless these leaders are disciplined. Discipline in conducting a proper self-assessment and using the outcome constructively. Leaders must work to constantly evaluate the changes taking place within from past evaluations, monitor their own progress and continue to seek out ways to improve their leadership skills and ultimately become successful people leading their organizations to success.
2. Practical steps to reducing prejudice in my workplace
Prejudice has been described as a pre-judgment of the characteristics, attributes or reaction of a person or thing (Clawson and Smith, 1990). Prejudice exists all around us. Male and female, old and young, people of different races, cultures and backgrounds have hold one bias or form of judgment about certain issues or another. The impact of prejudice can be seen in almost all aspect of human endeavour, particularly in organizations. A prejudiced leader can make a wrong decision which can cause the business several amount of money, or the loss of an excellent employee. Conflicts can arise within organizations out of perceived prejudices causing reduced effectiveness, teamwork and efficiency in carrying out employee duties. Motivation is lost when an employee feels that he or she is sidelined or marginalized. These are but few of the evil that prejudice can cause in an organization. For leaders, reducing prejudice in organizations starts from the leaders themselves. One cannot expunge from an organization, the very same thing that is existing in that same person. Leaders must be free from all forms of prejudice first, before they can aim to remove or reduce its effect from their organizations. In the quest to reduce prejudice from our workplaces, it is important to note as well, that for people who hold one form of prejudice or the other concerning any issue, these prejudices had been imbibed right from early childhood and its formation continue from one
experience to the other (Clawson and Smith, 1990).
Therefore, they are only changed by carefully pointing out these wrong ideals and constantly bringing to fore the rightly perceived attribute in question. In more practical and personal terms, reducing prejudice in my workplace will be a constant and progressive battle. It involves carefully observing and picking utterances, actions, reactions coming from prejudiced notions and immediately or eventually, refuting them. Consciously seeking to recognize statements, utterances, actions and expressions bothered on prejudiced judgment and finding the best way to correct or dissuade such. This of course is easier while dealing with my subordinates but more challenging when it relates to my bosses. In dealing with my subordinates or colleagues, I will, just as Clawson and Smith (1990), pointed out, focus conversations with people that I have identified with prejudiced motions on results rather than irrelevant attributes. I will encourage open discussions about differences perceived especially in informal meetings for instance, during tea breaks, lunch time or under less tense informal atmospheres. This will make it easier to tackle wrong beliefs and notions leading to wrong prejudices. Furthermore, one-on-one discussion with my colleagues or subordinates with the purpose of exposing wrong notions about issues will come in handy while trying to reduce prejudice in my organization. I currently work for a Manufacturing Company and head the section dealing with Planned Maintenance Engineering.
Florence, a young intern was recently posted to my section. In the first few days of her arrival, one of my subordinates come to me and said “we would need more hands in this department”. I asked him why. His response was that Florence would not be able to do most of the duties the previous male interns have been doing, such as climbing ladders to take meter readings, routine daily maintenance tasks etc. His reason for this was because she was a lady. Now, there had not been a female intern in our section of the company for close to five years. I immediately picked the prejudice knowing that his claims were not based on facts but what they really were, pre-judgmental. I advised him to first of all show her what her duties were, train and coach her and give her time to adjust after which he can now judge if she really was incapable of carrying out her duties. I further made it clear to him that Florence, being an Engineering student would someday work for an engineering organization such as ours and definitely would need ourhelp to adequately prepare her for that time. He took my advice and went on to work with her. After a few weeks, I called him and asked him how Florence was coping. He admitted he pre-judged her and that she was an excellent worker, completely carrying out all her duties effectively and efficiently. After an elaborate and interactive discussion on other forms of prejudice, I knew he was being transformed and on his way to becoming a more effective employee.
Brodie, D (2011) Leadership: The Benefits of Being Self Aware. http://goalsandachievements.com/leading/leadership-the-benefits-of-being-self-aware/ Clawson, J. and Smith, B. (1990) Prejudice In Organizations: Darden Business Publishing. Clawson, J., McNay, E., Beaver, G. (2000 Rev. 11/01) Leadership Steps Assessment (LSA), University of Virginia: Darden Business Publishing. George, B., Sims, P., McLean, A., Mayer, D. (2007)Discovering Your Authentic Leadership: Harvard Business Review
Robbins, S. (2001) Organizational Behaviour (9th Edition).San Diego State University Prentice Hall International, Inc. Runn, G. (2011), Self-Evaluation In Leadership