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Leadership and Management Skills Essay (Critical Writing)


Introduction

Leadership is defined as “influence” and “relationship” between constituents and leaders. An essential principle of leadership is serving others. I perceive my own leadership as an activity that involves honesty, integrity, character, effort, responsibility, and patience. These traits demystify the glamorous ideology of being a leader. But leadership is also described as art and science where creativity, skills, and talent can be cultivated to produce both short- and long-term improvement and results.

This essay is about leadership theory and my experiences of leading a team in the workplace. Transformational leadership is usually practiced in my organization – it is an effective method of leadership. This activity has made our team different from the others.

Transformational leadership is derived from motivational theory. Transformational leaders motivate others, especially followers, to do more than what is expected, or more than what they thought is possible. I do this and am proud to be called a part of a pool of transformational leaders providing necessary motivation that has led to organisational performance.

Along with the practice and observance of transformational leadership in our organisation is the study we regularly conduct about this kind of leadership. From what I learned from the literature, transformational leaders provide “challenging expectations” and expect greater performances from their followers (Bass 1998). Transformational leaders stimulate followers’ intellect and motivate their level of consciousness regarding the relevance and value of possible outcomes and ways of attaining them.

There might be disadvantages in being a transformational leader, but I don’t want to delve in that. It is advantageous to see the light in people who become inspired working for transformational leaders, because we transform not just behaviour but personality. Should that be the case, then I don’t think we can get away with teams without transformational leaders. This is a necessity in the twenty-first century, in a material world bereft of spirituality. Having said this, I would like to lay bare my own philosophy – to be spiritual in a material world. Organisations with teams working for this philosophy will surely experience transformation, and you experience no problems about job satisfaction, organisational performance, or employee turnover.

In the workplace, before I am entrusted a high position I should know how to lead myself, or discipline myself. Drucker’s concept of self-management powerfully reinforces this principle. It prompts leaders to gain critical understanding on self-management, as they address the internal foundations of leadership (Darling & Nurmi 2009).

Referred to as the charismatic leader, the transformational leader has specific behaviours that are unique – in addressing conflict and coping with stress, as they possess strong self-control, conviction, and “locus of control” (Romano 2007). Transformational leaders have strong self-confidence, and show complete confidence when leading people. Leaders who are confident in what they are can translate these success outlooks in their followers. When it comes to personality, a study by Bono and Judge (cited in Romano 2007) found extraversion to be strongest and most constant.

Some few decades ago, leadership was a trait or characteristic needed by supervisors or middle-managers, and top management was assigned complex roles like strategic management, and must pass these strategies to low-level managers (McFarland, cited in Darling & Nurrmi 2009). In turn, middle managers and supervisors have to possess leadership skill to get things done. We can cite the military hierarchy, where the generals formulate strategies and manage soldiers, who should not mess around with the generals’ command. This concept came from the Aristotelian type of vertical management. The word strategy originated from the military strategy of fighting and the art of war (Koh 2008).

Some people are natural leaders; others are made. Process leadership refers to people who become leaders in the process. As long as leaders are effective, there’s no problem whether they are born or made. Understanding the process of an individual leader is the key to understanding the larger phenomenon of leadership. Understanding leadership is to see how people are transformed, not just how they follow. For at first, they may follow, but will complain the second time around. When a team is transformed, what you get but a motivated force, like a driven horse all ready to work gargantuan tasks. If you are working as top management in an organisation with such a team working for you, would you not be alive all day long, and be happy that you have a workable team and a transformed organisation?

Erikson’s (cited in Whitney 2007) eight developmental stages of life explained each of Freud’s stages in terms of ego development, and he expanded the discussion of stages beyond the adolescent with young adulthood, adulthood, and old age stages. The notion that leadership begins with the individual has been established in the social change model and was supported by many current leadership authors and theorists (Bennis, cited in Whitney 2007). The trait theory states that leaders possessed certain qualities or natural abilities. Self-confidence and personal identity are characteristics of leadership.

The psychodynamic approach espoused by Freud states that leaders are more effective when they understand their psychological makeup and the makeup of the team members (Northouse, cited in Whitney 2007). John F. Kennedy can be described as a trait leader because he was born from a family of leaders. Charismatic leaders were born, like Obama. Charismatic leaders are transformational leaders. They transform people by their charisma, or charm, but there has to be more than that. It is not enough to have charisma, but it helps. Transformational leadership has requirements.

Transformational leadership

Transformational leadership is defined as the ways in which leaders influence followers who then respect, trust, and appreciate the leader (Bass 1985). Transformational leaders influence their members by letting them know that work should be their priority, and motivating them to work for the success of organizational objectives. Transformational leaders use their charisma to lead teams in looking for effective solutions to problems of the team and even of individual members (Carson 2011). Having learned such ‘traits,’ transformational leaders entice others, or the members of the team, to be transformational themselves, i.e. be spiritual, be mindful of others, be encouraging models for the betterment of the team and the entire organisation.

Moreover, this kind of leadership is fundamentally social, because it necessitates that leaders interact dynamically with followers, transform their behaviour according to the workplace environment, and relate with subordinates in a way that provokes desired emotional responses. In order to do this, they must know how to understand their member’s personal lives. Thus, we can deduce that these particular skills are needed in effective leadership (Riggio & Reichard 2008). Considering this factor, leaders should look at how their members act in different situations, and act accordingly. This means they have to play the role of immediate family.

An antecedent of leadership behaviour is self-awareness, which has been viewed in terms of self-evaluation. Leaders with this trait are skilful in evaluating team members and supervisors. Transformational leaders must be able to provide higher-level performance, which reflects his/her self-awareness. Some studies indicate that self-awareness is associated with higher levels of managerial performance (Church, cited in Carson 2011).

Transformational leadership has been the subject of numerous studies. Authors suggest that the positive behaviour of a leader is an important factor. This positive relations with subordinates can result in good job performance, trust between the two sides, higher level of job performance, high rating of satisfaction towards the leader (Seltzer & Bass, cited in Carson 2011).

Of the leadership behaviours explained by Bass and Avolio (cited in Carson 2011) (e.g. “idealized influence, individualized consideration, intellectual stimulation, and inspirational motivation”), individualised consideration is the most significant predictor of employee behaviours, role perceptions, and attitudes. Most of the explanations are centred on these four types of behaviours.

Idealised influence is also called “charisma” in common language. It suggests strong emotions in subordinates and allows them to identify with their leader. Individualised consideration emphasises the need of followers and helping them (materially or spiritually). Intellectual stimulation allows followers to think about solutions to problems, or draw in new perspectives for the challenges in the work environment. Additionally, inspirational motivation is about the leader’s skill to provide spiritual inspiration to followers, or the leader’s modelling of desired behaviours.

Prerequisites for transformational leadership

Transformational leadership can be described through leaders’ personality factors, behaviours, and thoughts (Bass 1998). Studies also reveal leaders’ personal characteristics which can be acquired intelligence, kind-heartedness, ability in dealing with subordinates, emotional intelligence, and other traits that enhance peer-to-peer relationships (Carson 2011). Transformational leaders must intermingle with subordinates and adopt their behaviour in order to get desired social responses from these subordinates or followers.

Motivational theory

Bass (1985) discussed the theories of leadership that explain the factors that led to the development of leadership or the different aspects of leadership and the challenges involved. On this context, we discuss first how transformational leadership is driven, or becomes an effective kind of leadership.

What motivates me and the people with me in my workplace? Or, how am I motivated, as well as the other employees? This is the simple and fundamental basis of my essay. I am proud to state that I practice transformational leadership, which is derived from motivational theory. However, I also want to express my sentiments that at first I did not know I was a transformational leader, not until this study came which asked me to discuss and research on the subject. Being transformational was not my intention, but being concerned for people whether they are going fine not only in the workplace, but in their home with their families has been my intention. That to me is to be transformational all your life.

Motivational theory falls under the psychological theory, which is classified into: natural theories that emphasise desire, need, and driver; and, rational theories that focus on need for being rational (meaningfulness or self-identity) (Perrin, cited in Romano 2007). A concept of worker motivation states that challenges in motivating people are uncertain. This ambiguity can lead to related theories and constructs in trying to decipher what really motivates people.

Motivation refers to ‘influence on direction, vigour, and persistence of action’ (Atkinson, cited in Downing 2015). Research has determined four motivational drives in leaders of this type: 1) the drive to attain, 2) the drive to be attached or to be related with, 3) the drive to know and understand, and 4) the drive to defend (Nohria, Groysberg & Lee, cited in Downing 2015). Employees’ motivational behaviour is influenced by the desire to satisfy these inside emotions, and it is possible that there could be a combination of these inside drives.

A person’s motivation to acquire mainly focuses on obtaining items that are difficult to get in order to secure one’s personal sense of well-being. The drive to have close relationship with others can have positive emotional outcome when this is fulfilled, but it displays negative behaviour when the individual cannot satisfy the desire to bond.

The drive to know and understand refers to an individual’s desire to know how things work in this world. The drive to defend has to fulfil the inner ‘fight-or-flight’ desire in ourselves. When a potential leader is able to fully satisfy his/her drive to defend, an aura of security and confidence is felt, but denial of this desire results in negative emotions like fear and resentment (Nohria et al., cited in Downing 2015).

Numerous researches have been conducted to understand and explain the characteristics that can be considered as motivators for individual employees within organisational behaviour literature by studying intrinsic and extrinsic distinctions (Amabile et al. 1994). These two terms are usually found in the topic of organisational behaviour; however, the distinction is not clearly stated. Intrinsic and extrinsic distinctions usually refer to ‘trait’, or an individual personality characteristic on which people differ. Authors, in examining relevant material in their research, refer to traits when they mean characteristics, which are found in subjects of work orientation, achievement motivation, personal need satisfaction, behaviour in the workplace, and so forth.

Many factors can influence the motivation of employees as a way of studying their situations. In my work environment, we find that employees’ motivation can be affected by the type of rewards, work-content structure, or exposure to different types of leaders. Researchers classify characteristics of motivation into two: intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, and then determine how management influence a specific employees’ motivation by focusing on each particular individual variable and finding out whether such motivational variable can be manipulated or driven by external factors (extrinsic) or internal ones (intrinsic).

Intrinsic motivation refers to ‘an activity performed for itself for the individual performing the activity to derive satisfaction that is inherent in the activity’ (Downing 2015, p. 23). On the other hand, extrinsic motivation refers to a wider variability of actions and behaviours, to which the motivation for action includes benefits beyond ‘the performance of the activity itself’ (Deci & Ryan, cited in Downing 2015, p. 23).

Extrinsic motivation can be defined as a framework where an activity is aimed at attaining some different outcome (Ryan & Deci 2000). The extrinsic model aims for individuals to display behaviours that are rewarded by accruing external benefits that improve either power or position. Rewards can be in various forms or typology, such as: ‘task-noncontingent, task-contingent, and performance-contingent rewards’ (Ryan & Deci 2000, p. 25. Task-noncontingent rewards are given for a task that does not involve a specific activity. Task-contingent can refer to those given for a specific activity. A performance-contingency reward is given when an individual achieves a certain standard of excellence or exceeding in working on a particular problem in the office.

The intrinsic motivation has four behaviours that are chosen by employees mainly for the value that they represent to the intrinsic character of the individual. These are: relatedness, helpfulness, physical fitness, and growth of the individual (Kasser & Ryan 1996).

Solutions needed to address the challenges faced by leaders in the workplace should focus on collaboration of leaders and teams. How leaders do it will require skill and experience. Owens and Valesky (cited in Cojocar 2008) cited one solution found in transformational leadership – teamwork, which is a factor in both transformational and “adaptive” leaderships. Adaptive leadership is most common in contemporary scientific paradigm, but transformational leadership is one of a kind because it is common in traditional and today’s paradigms (Cojocar 2008).

Critique on my leadership principle and others’

In our work environment, we leaders (managers) have to interact with co-employees in order to evoke emotional responses among followers or subordinates. Social and emotional skills are important antecedents of leadership; this is the reason why I call our leadership transformational, because that is one of the primary characteristics of transformational leadership. Leaders should hold a great deal of emotional intelligence in order to effectively deal or address the different issues, personal or business wise, in the work environment.

A leader who displays higher emotional intelligence can clearly read and understand his and others’ emotions and use this ability to reason out properly. These emotional abilities consist of identifying emotions, using these feelings to enable mental processes, understanding and managing emotions. Emotional intelligence refers to several innate traits of an individual about talents and potentials that can develop into special intelligences when driven some external factors (Carson 2011).

By determining emotional intelligence as a factor in transformational leadership we have focused on , we have to study its theoretical underpinnings. Many authors find emotional intelligence to be positively related to transformational leadership. I sense this many times in the workplace.

A good leader should be able to understand the verbal and bodily actions of his/her subordinates that usually take place in the workplace. This activity relies on knowledge of socially suitable behaviours and the skill to adaptably regulate these behaviours in harmony with changing situations.

Social skill refers to how effective an individual deals with subordinates in the workplace (Carson 2011).

Another term is emotional expressivity which can be about seemingly unimportant events in the work environment. Leaders who have high emotional expressivity can be referred to as “emotionally charged”. A leader with good emotional sensitivity can easily understand the actions of his followers. Emotional control refers to the ability to control one’s emotional responses to co-employees or subordinates. These people high in emotional control can easily detect against the manifestation of too much or spontaneous presentations of emotion by just knowing their own feelings, or what they call self-monitoring, and adjusting their actions depending on the situation.

Moreover, social expressivity (SE) is about a leader’s skill to efficiently involve in social interaction. Leaders with this quality are the outgoing type; they are confident because of this ability to start conversations with co-employees and followers. Social sensitivity, on the other hand, is an individual’s ability to discern a fellow worker’s words and expressions, and allowing him/her to express the feelings about home and work.

Social control refers to the leader’s ability to be presentable at the sight of others. Leaders high at social control are able to best cope with social demands in every aspect of the work environment. Social skills are an important element of effective transformational leadership.

My leadership and philosophy

From the description of transformational leadership relative to motivational theory, I want to state my philosophy and how my co-employees and subordinates perceive of me in my work environment.

Being a transformational leader makes me feel whole, makes me feel fulfilled as a human being. I want to inspire people – I want to let them feel that I am with them, and I am influenced very much by my social skills. This is how I deal with followers and co-middle level managers and employees. I am inspired myself when I see them satisfied in their job.

I have to adjust myself personally in order to have a good conversation with my co-workers. Leaders high in social and emotional expressiveness have a big reserve of expressive behaviours and can adjust their behaviours according to the demand of the time. This flexibility is very important to me if I have to display individualised consideration, because there are some followers who may show outgoing appeals, while others may be too aloof and secretive of their feelings.

Leaders can lead effectively with important qualities like social skill. Other elements of social skills are also related to transformational leadership. To be effective in my work as a leader and manager, I have to become a transformational leader and help transform people into achieving our goals in the workplace. Emotional components of social skill should help leaders understand the needs and feelings of followers and better motivate and inspire followers, behaviours that are the main elements of individualised consideration and inspirational motivation elements of transformational leadership. I must also be a good listener and an inspirer in teaching what is best for the team. My charismatic talent should help me and my team move forward for the good of the organisation and for each and every member of my team. I should be able to comfort them in times of family problems and inspire them to be back with team.

Conclusion

In the study – and actual practice – of transformational leadership, we have to take into consideration the agreement between the ‘self and others’ – this is important as it can lead to understanding of how things work in and the outcomes of introducing transformational leadership.

Some studies provided this concept – that there must be ‘self-other’ agreement in order to have performance outcomes (Atwater et al.; Gentry et al.; Sosik; and Tekleab et al., cited in Carson 2011). But it is not just theoretical – I have proven it in actual situations. In our work environment, I have attained good ratings in work performance, and this has helped me to transform my own team and to work harder.

‘Self-other’ agreement is theory that has been introduced and practiced in the real world of transformational leadership. Leaders have to think of others before thinking of themselves – that is an antecedent of self-other agreement, which can also lead to transformational leadership. People are transformed, teams work out solutions, and organisational performance is not far behind.

In Carson’s (2011) study, she used empirical data to prove the effectiveness and positive outcomes of transformational leadership. Data were sourced from mid- to upper-level management relative to their reports at a medium-scale company in the United States. The study used a traditional hierarchical method, with managers providing responses. She examined transformational leadership and the variables of social skills and perceptions of leader effectiveness, and gave practical implications, one of which is training. I have also noted my research and can apply all these to my ‘practice’ as a transformational leader.

Organisations should continuously conduct training and development in order to produce or inspire leaders. Transformational leadership is not inborn; it requires experience. Training is very important for leaders who wish to make their teams continuously effective. Transformational leaders will always look for ways to make their teams united despite adversities (Barling, Slater & Kelloway 2000).

Training must include topics important for leaders, such as emotional sensitivity and control, even if training is for team members or followers of the transformational leader. What is more important in training is to allow leaders and members to mingle and learn together about team building. This will allow and inspire members to become leaders themselves, and leaders will have more time to lead and be a part of the team.

Followers will provide a positive response to the positive actions of their leaders. Many theories point to this positive outcome introduced by leaders in the work environment. Motivational theorists suggested the motivational paradigm, and other theoretical constructs came to fore, to include transformational leadership.

I try to understand my subordinates and their personal sentiments, and their need in the workplace and personal life; in doing this, some Force from above helps me to discern my role in life and the pleasant environment where I am in. Sometimes they talk about personal problems that affect their work, which I take it as an opportunity to help. Giving time to an employee to solve whatever personal problem that he/she has always gets reciprocated in the form of job performance later on. Job satisfaction can be attained if workers are not so much disturbed because of personal problems. Allowing for a little time of sharing experiences, perhaps a few minutes or an hour after work in the afternoon, with some prayer thanking God for having guided us the whole day and asking more blessing for the next day of work is a big encouragement for my co-employees, and for me as a team leader to be more inspired to lead a team that we have all felt has become an extended family.

My philosophy, or principle, in life has been combined (scattered around) with my analysis and critique of leadership of self and others in this paper. My recommendation is provided in the literature and in the concluding part of this essay. Truly, we become blessed with knowledge and discernment if we surround ourselves with positive things in life. Others call it good ‘karma,’ that begets positive ‘karma’. Can an organisation ask for more?

References

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Barling, J, Slater, F, & Kelloway, E 2000, ‘Transformational leadership and emotional intelligence: an exploratory study’, Leadership and Organization Development Journal, vol. 21, no. 3, pp. 157-161, viewed 20 November 2017, via EBSCOHOST database.

Bass, B 1985, Leadership and performance beyond expectations, Lawrence Erlbaum, Mahwah.

Bass, B 1998, Transformational leadership: industrial, military, and educational impact, Lawrence Erlbaum, Mahwah.

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Koh, S 2008, Leadership and management skills of preservice teachers, PhD Thesis, Claremont Graduate University, Web.

Riggio, R & Reichard, R 2008, ‘The emotional and social intelligences of effective leadership: an emotional and social skill approach’, Journal of Managerial Psychology, vol. 23, no. 1, pp. 169-185, Web.

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new directions’, Contemporary Educational Psychology, vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 54–67, viewed 20 November 2016, via ProQuest database.

Whitney, R 2007, What community leaders say about the leadership process: a mixed methods study of identity, resilience, and self-efficacy, PhD Thesis, University of Nevada, Web.

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