When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. , stood at the podium under the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D. C. , giving the famous speech holding words “I Have a dream… ” (Martin Luther King, Jr. ,1993) which to me having taken birth in an era almost 40 years later, makes me wonder what must have been the thoughts running on his mind drafting the speech. Did he know that his words would embark a journey through time and change the thought process of almost every listener, did he know that his words could be imprinted in the minds of millions, if not more, and actually motivate them to change.
The question here is not about what he spoke off, but about how he did so. As a part of the course curriculum I have been asked to reflect on my approach to leadership. This piece of work portrays two perspectives, first is a reflection drawn from the personal experiences I have had in the past, both professionally and otherwise.
The second perspective is from the literature used, which provides a tool in the form of a questionnaire that has been well researched to give a cumulative suggestion about the leadership approach I would have.
As evidence, this work uses the ‘skills inventory’ and ‘style questionnaire’ to confirm and also provide a basis for me to identify the areas of improvement. In order to get a fair result of the same I have also circulated the same questionnaire among certain colleagues that I have had the pleasure to work closely with.
A Reflection The term Leadership has almost as many varied definitions as there would be the number of times anyone has attempted to define it.
The many scholars who are able to define the term have immense understanding and have evidenced their research. By isolating on one will be a great dishonour to their work on my behalf, instead, for this essay, I have chosen to utilize the concepts that have intrigued me to better understand the qualities that are needed to be a good leader. Having selected the ‘skills inventory’ as the first tool to identify my management skill it is necessary to classify the leadership skills under the skills approach.
Skills approach tells us about the knowledge and ability required for an individual to become an effective leader (Northouse, 2010). As suggested a Three-skill approach (Katz, cited by Northouse, 2010), which has technical skill, human skill and conceptual skill, as the basis to rate oneself on a scale that varies between management levels- at the lower level, technical and human skills; For middle levels all the three levels and for the higher level, the conceptual and human skills.
With a short but resourceful experience working for a leading corporate firm, my role in a business development team was that of coordinating with various levels of the company also in conjunction to working in a team where occasionally, I was expected to play the role of a team leader to perform various tasks based on which I can identify myself to have high technical knowledge based on the basic education and on the job task results I attained.
In terms of human skill, I would consider myself to be rated high, as the aptitude towards team work for me has always been a positive. The ease of working with a team has also been a vital strength and finally on the conceptual skills front I will rate myself medium-high as the conceptual skills is ability to talk about company’s ideas that shape an organization and the intricacies involved as explained by Katz.
With this self evaluation I was able to place myself in the Middle management level of the management, to be able to take into account a second perspective I answered the skills inventory questionnaire myself and also requested my colleagues to do so for me to get a thirds persons view on my skills. The results were in contrast to my personal perspectives as the questionnaires scoring system rated me high on technical and human skills but low on conceptual skills when I answered it myself the same was the case with my colleagues attempt to answer it keeping me as the subject.
This clearly indicates that the area of improvement for me lies in building on conceptual skills in order to attain the skill set needed by me to achieve my long term goal of being a successful manager of the sought. The second tool that I chose was the Style questionnaire (Northouse, 2010) which has been devised to describe my behaviour patterns in terms of Task scores and Relationship scores and assist me to place myself on the Leadership Grid (McCanse et al, 1991 cited by Northouse, 2010).
As before for a first self assessment I decided to place myself on the grid without the use of the questionnaire with which I was able to place myself on a scale of (9,5) on the grid suggesting that I have high people skill and a average result on the scale that deals with the concern for results. By answering the questionnaire myself I faired a high – moderate low on the score card, which placed me on a (9,6) rating suggesting a inclination towards a leadership style portraying team management and a little influence of the country- club management style.
The same result was seen when I asked as colleague to rate me on the questionnaire. Interpreting these results based on the literature available I was able to deduce that in order to inculcate best practices it is necessary for me to adapt to new methods to improve on the task dimension so as to edge closer to be an effective leader with a rating of a (9,9) as per the leadership grid. Conclusion This piece of work was assigned to us to as a part of our course curriculum to satisfy academic goals, this was my thoughts prior to answering the question we were asked.
This work has been an eye opener, as it helped me understand my qualities better and also look at them from a critical perspective. A non bias overview has helped me understand my areas of skills which I can define roughly to be high on technical and human grounds, whereas an area of improvement with averaging low on the conceptual skills. Also with the help of the questionnaires used to analyse my approach to leadership has helped me determine my style as a blend between a country-club management style and team management style.
In order to achieve a desirable level of balance with interpersonal skills and task oriented skills. Some of the steps I intend to implement with immediate effect is to interact with better efficiency with my colleagues and gain a feedback about my working style and chalk out a list of parameters that would help me get a better focus in terms of completing my tasks, some of the key areas of improvement are time management, research methodology, practical implementation, feedback mechanism and efficient multi-tasking.
To achieve this short term goal I intend to approach a mentor to guide me through a process of improvement and also look into any available courses to get professional help with the same. With this reflection of myself I can now challenge myself to take the necessary steps to work towards attaining my long term goals and also implement the same otherwise.
1. Northouse, P. G. (2010) Leadership Theory and Practise. 5th edition. London: SAGE Publications, Inc 2. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1993) I Have a Dream… .San Francisco. HarperSanFrancisco
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