According to Reh (2014), a leader is a “person who has a vision, a drive and a commitment to achieve that vision, and the skills to make it happen” (para. 2). I want to be a leader; however I must understand my leadership style at this moment to understand where I am at, where I want to be, and what I need to do to get there. Raines (2014) states “your style defines your values and perspective, and being aware of it will aid your communication with those you work with” (para. 1).
For the purpose of this paper I have chosen former President Bill Clinton as a leader that I admire. I will analyze his leadership style to identify characteristics and will provide specific examples of leadership qualities that I believe contributed to his success. I will finally examine my leadership style and offer ideas and plans for improving my effectiveness as a leader based on my work with my mentor.
Former President Bill Clinton is a transformational style leader. A transformational leader garners “trust, respect, and admiration from their followers” (Cherry, 2014, para. 4). President Clinton started his path to great leadership at the age of 13 when he became a comic book entrepreneur (Florida, 2013, para. 1). He learned that he could support himself and that gave him a confidence in himself that stays with him to this day.
The qualities that I see in President Clinton that make him an excellent transformational leader is that people really do trust and admire him. When asked to describe his leadership style he states “explain where we are and decide where we want to go. Figure out how to get there, get good people and trust them to do the job as long as they’re competent, realistic, and flexible when change is required” (Florida, 2013, para. 10). He also believes that the main skills necessary to motivate a team are “good listening and the ability to build consensus for action” (Florida, 2013, para. 16).
President Clinton is also very charismatic. It has been told that he has the ability to make someone feel like they are the most important person in a room of many when he talks to you. He is a visionary, as seen in his many humanitarian efforts, and has that knack to make you believe in his vision. Personally, when I hear him talk I feel a calming presence, he talks in a language I can understand, and I trust him. One of the best examples of his leadership abilities in play was his ability to work productively with the Republican Party to solve the multi-billion dollar national debt during his term of presidency. It is well known that our current president very rarely has bipartisan support in anything he wants to do. My Leadership Style
After reviewing all the leadership style theory’s and discussing this with my mentor it became evident that I am currently considered a participatory leader. WiseGeek (2014) defines participatory leadership as a “style of leadership that involves all members of a team in identifying essential goals and developing procedures or strategies to reach those goals” (para. 1). This is how I lead, by involving others in the entire process. While this is not a bad type of leadership style, the motive behind why I do these things illuminates a flaw in my leadership abilities.
I have the tendency to not have enough confidence in myself to make decisions without a lot of input from others and permission seeking. My mentor used to be my boss and he told me that while I was ultimately one of his best program directors he had ever supervised; my journey to the directorship was exhausting and sometimes a bit frustrating for him. He stated that I would ask questions about every minute detail because I seemed to fear making a mistake. He said that for me to become a leader I need to believe in myself, have confidence that I am capable and I do know what I am doing.
He told me that until I learn to trust myself, I am going to have a difficult time getting others to trust me as a leader. He also told me that I have the capacity to become a transformational leader, which is my goal, but I have to let go of the fear, and allow myself to make mistakes. According to him, mistakes teach valuable lessons, and the way I react to the mistake builds character.
My plan to transform into a transformational leader is to take risks, allow myself to make mistakes, and find the lessons in them. I am going to begin by taking initiative at work and in my personal life. I have historically taken initiative when I knew (for the most part) that things would work out. I can’t always have that luxury of seeing into the future, I just need to believe in myself and my abilities. I also plan to look at failure as an opportunity to start over and do better. I am not shy in asking for help, or asking questions when I am unsure of something.
I do need to stop asking questions when I really do know the answer and take accountability for my decisions. I am a very good talker, and I have the ability to make confusing situations seem clear to others. For example, on our learning teams, I am the one that can break down the assignment and make it make sense for others, so it doesn’t seem so overwhelming. I plan to take that same confidence and apply it to all aspects so that I may one day become a leader like former President Bill Clinton.
In conclusion, President Clinton is a well-known transformational leader and the one I admire the most. He started young believing in himself and it has translated into great success for this man. My goal is to become a transformational leader and while I have traits of a participatory leader, I believe that it is possible to become the leader I aspire to be. I just need to have faith in myself so others will have faith in me.
Florida, R. (2013). President Bill Clinton: Don’t worry about yesterday, embrace tomorrow. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rana-florida/president-bill-clinton-do_b_3697725.html Raines, S. (2014). The advantages of knowing your leadership
style. Retrieved from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/advantages-knowing-leadership-style-18924.html Reh, F. J. (2014). What is a leader. Retrieved from http://management.about.com/od/leadership/a/whatisaleader.htm WiseGeek.org. (2014). What is participative leadership?. Retrieved from http://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-participative-leadership.htm