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Leadership Model Although the formal study of leadership is a relatively new concept, philosophies on the subject have been prevalent ever since the Influence of leadership was recognized. Throughout the course of this semester I have come to realize that although I am new to this subject, I have in fact developed a personal philosophy on leadership, even if only a rudimentary one. In this paper, I wish to articulate my view of leadership. supporting it with accepted ideas on leadership and other sources of information concerning the topic.
Additionally. I will be evaluating my current leadership activity and practices based off of my ideal model. First, the question of who can be a leader must be answered. I believe that everyone can be a leader. To many this may seem too optimistic. but it is only logical to think that if someone works long enough and hard enough at fostering traits of leadership, he or she is bound to further the skill.
But this is not to say that everyone starts out on a level playing field. Some born with distinct traits of leadership, for example confident, understanding, outgoing, are more dispositioned to roles of leadership. In comparison, those not in possession of the traits must take extra steps in order to compete for leadership positions and influence along side those who did not need to take the time to develop their traits. People are also born into different physical and social environments.
Dependant on what type of group of followers a leader plans to foster, the leader’s social background could become very important.
This is not to say that growing up in a certain way will foster better leadership skills, but instead that it has the potential to affect a leader‘s relationship with their followers in both positive and negative ways. Many other factors also affect the disposition of an individual to leadership. but to try and encompass all of them is a foolhardy task. What is important to remember is that good leadership is something that must be worked on every day, not a trait itself. One thing that | wish to make clear is that I do support trait theory in that there is “an extensive list of ideal leadership traits” and that ”because the list is so extensive, it is difficult to identify specifically which traits are essential for leaders” (Northouse. 11). However. I do not support the concept that only certain people can be leaders. as mentioned in the paragraph above. Trait leadership oversimplifies what it means to be a leader by not giving enough thought on how someone’s overall personality, instead of only specific points. plays into the leadership a person can provide. To begin with I believe a holistic approach to leadership is required. In a business setting. a holistic leader would look like a boss who “will pay attention not only to the bottom line of their organization, but also the well-being of their employees” 0Nren. 461). To incorporate many other facets of leadership. I would try to define the holistic approach as one that views its group as a force of interconnected individuals in light of a common investment.
The investment I mention certainly is not limited to money. although that can be a uniting factor. Instead the gain can be any number of causes or goals deemed worthy by both the leader(s) and the followers. The key word in the definition. however. is “individuals”. Without acknowledging that any organization is made up of people who each have their own life story to tell. a leader cannot hope to reach his or her maximum goal. This is why a holistic approach is best. The fostering better relations between followers and leaders through individual involvement allows the two groups to feel more like one as collaboration is inevitable in this type of structure. Because of this. the people will feel more of asense of belonging and channel that posrtive reinforcement into their work for the organization. Max de Pree makes note that “leaders need an ability to look through a variety of lenses” (Wren. 453) and this type of thinking culminates in just this. Instead of a focus on material and goal, energy Is diverted to the maintenance of relationship and sense of unity. As a leader. a holistic approach to followers and organizations is ideal because of its great benefits to all parties of the organization and the end goal. In my personal leadership experience. I do not believe I had had a problem in dealing holistically. Many groups l have previously worked with are relatively small. consisting of only up to about fifty people. I have also known many who work along side me and who would be considered followers quite well in most situations. For example. when | go down to Mexico for a one-week missions trip, something I have done since fifth grade, the people in attendance do not differ greatly. Of course some people cannot go that year and others have friends thatjoin the mission team. but about 60% of the group is always the same people who I have grown up with. Because I have worked with smaller groups in the past.
I can only imagine that I will continue to try and incorporate a holistic approach when faced with larger ones as well. The interpersonal connection with each person might not be there, but I hope that I will be able to make decisions that better not only my cause, but also my people. My view of leadership also heavily relies on the concept of sen/ant leadership. Because of this, I believe compassion is one thing that is essential to leadership. When put into a position of leadership, one is always put into a position of power. Whether this power is that of a fortune 500 CEO or a first grade line leader. the power is a status symbol placing people under the influence of one person. Compassion needs to be a predominant characteristic in all leaders because they will always be Interacting with other people. Along with compassion, a leader must be able to understand and encourage. To understand may come by different forms. The way a servant leader should understand is through experience, for “he who would learn to command well must, as man say, first of all learn to obey“ (Aristotle in Wren, 66). In this, Aristotle can be interpreted in two ways. One would be a leader must rise through the ranks to power, experiencing every level of work and improving his skills as he goes, The other is that a new leader must understand the workings of each branch of his followers. In this he must learn the ways of those below him while still holding his position of authority. I believe in the first interpretation. It gives the leader a more authentic experience when he is on an equal playing field with those working around him. The leader who comes to power in the first example may also have more respect because it is acknowledged that he has risen up through the ranks to where he is today. Although the first situation is ideal in developing a leader, it is well recognized that the latter method is more common. In the case of the second leader, he must possess a certain empathy in order to effectively connect with his followers. He must also be willing to expend the time and energy to gain the experience he has not had. To encourage, a leader must be willing to give guidance, not enforce pressure.
Lao Tzu says it perfectly when he states that ”that leaders presence is felt. but often the group runs itself” (Wren, 70), In correspondence with servant leadership, a leader must remember that ultimately, he is working for the people. In fact, to encourage those who follow him may be the only real power a sen/ant leader has. But this is by no means a limitation. Instead, this allows people to forge their own paths and take pride in their own work. They know that they are working towards something bigger than themselves, yet at the same time are able to see their contributions create change. This is the beauty of servant leadership: that the leader and the follower can look at what they have done and both say “I did that”. As someone who does not like to be on the front line, in the past I have displayed mainly servant leadership. I have found that this works well not only for me, but for whoever I am with as well. It helps to form relationships and bonds, bring about new ideas and foster a system of trust. One aspect I have noticed that I fall short in, however. is in encouragement. It is difficult because sometimes I can empathize with what a person is going through. and I try to give them my best advice, but even when they say it helps them, I can feel that my words or actions had little effect on them. I do recognize that there is no one way to encourage someone, mainly because everyone is different. But it is difficult because it is as if they can feel my empathy, just not my genuine concern. I think that to improve this I first need to improve my language skills. Also, the problem commonly arises among people I know, but am not perfectly comfortable with. In these types of situations I need to find it necessary to open myself up more than I normally would in order to get my true feelings across. But moving away from encouragement, the personality trait of compassion is one that many mentioned when I sent out the Best Self email and one that I also take great pride in.
To be a leader is much more than it sounds. It is a position of self reliance and self evaluation. But being a leader does not mean becoming isolated. In fact, it means forming bonds and making connections with people who share similar interests and ideals. A leader is present to organize, encourage. and guide. Time and motivation dictate the lives of leaders. but when applied to a cause deemed worthy is nothing compared to what they get back. Effective leaders must serve their people with an understanding and compassion not normally seen in today‘s world. They must also learn to recognize their own strengths and pitfalls. I know that l have a long way to go in fully understanding my leadership style and what it really means to be a leader. But having articulated my points. there is a satisfaction in knowing I am able to create an outline of an original concept.
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