This essay illustrates my leadership skills through a discussion about my abilities, experiences, motivations, and their relation to known theories on effective leadership. I define leadership as the ability to provide guidance to self and others by maintaining communication, having and demonstrating skills necessary for performing tasks, and motivating people to pursue a goal that is higher than their self-interests.
My background is humble and stable. I see it as a foundation of my leadership abilities. I come from an extended family that has the characteristics of leadership across many areas. I can relate to leadership examples in sports, education, work, and family affairs.
I have garnered enough experience to know my strengths and weaknesses when working with people. This provides the motivation for working on self-improvement. I have worked for long hours on summer jobs and have been under supervision in some cases. I also worked under short deadlines and was able to maintain a high discipline record at school and the workplace.
The foundations of discipline come from home, where my parents were strict in raising my siblings and me according to the morals of society. I also worked as part of a team in the sporting department. This experienced opened me to the understanding of personal differences and their impact on successful execution of tasks.
Science has been a serious part of my life, as I am naturally inquisitive. As I keep on studying, I realize I am more attracted to the analysis aspect of science and its extension to ordinary relations among humans. My interest in social sciences was sparked by the need to understand the motivating factors for people’s actions. At the same time, I feel that I want to have additional skills to influence people, which has been a factor that I recently adopted into my mission for life.
The most important part of my life is family and friends. I also regard colleagues highly because I cannot accomplish my goals at work without them. Influence plays a key role in shaping my view of the world. That is why I am careful with my associations and guard them tightly. I also understand that I am someone who can do a few things at a time. Therefore, I try to focus my energies on a few projects at a time.
I readily abandon others when I feel they are no longer in agreement with my personal mission statement. I value hard, smart work, and discipline. Therefore, at all times, I seek to display a character of integrity, honesty, and industriousness. I have demonstrated these qualities in the past in my relationships at work and socially. I hope to keep up with the discipline aspect, as it has allowed me to achieve a number of goals that seemed insurmountable at the start.
Execution of leadership
I am an effective leader because I am self-aware and I have integrity. I present myself congruently as a person worthy of admiration and praise for my personal and professional achievements. I carry myself confidently and maintain a jovial mood with a willingness to mingle with all kinds of people, irrespective of their social or cultural backgrounds.
However, I can only demonstrate the above qualities when I am well aware of my operating environment. I tend to remain indecisive and avoid taking action when I am either unaware of the consequences or I feel that I lack enough authority to perform an action. Thus, I may sometimes appear as aloof of the current situations or uninterested because I mostly think through the facts that make up my present environment, rather than be emotional.
Thus, although I am stable in my decisions, I take long to make them. I also prefer to make decisions alone, after carefully going through the available information and opinions presented by other people. I am not afraid to go against popular opinion with my decisions and choices, but I ensure that I have a valid reason to back my point of view. Consequently, I classify myself as a good listener. Remarks from my teammates at various work assignments and socially in sporting events corroborate this fact.
A good leader must cultivate great relationships with constituents (Gnambs & Batinic, 2013). I would not say that I am perfect in my rapport building and my maintenance of relationships. I recall several incidences where I remained silent, rather than being critical of my colleagues’ actions. This made them feel that I was harboring ulterior motives and preferred to see them fail, rather than help. At the same time, I have also gone out of my way to help repair broken relationships by negotiating with work group members in agreeing to cut their leisure time to help finish a project on time.
I am a persuasive person. A leader with a persuasive character is someone who finds ease in convincing other people to consider what he or she has to offer. Persuasion seeks to make people replace their belief systems with the actor’s ideas. Persuasion happens through many channels that follow self-interest, logical facts, fallacy, inspiration, emotions, shared goals and values, and human relations (Mallia, Windels, & Broyles, 2013).
In my interactions, I have honed the skills of negotiations, which make other people develop a need to adopt my perspective or go with my suggestions. Part of that comes naturally, as I demonstrate the ability to make decisions and stick to them. A leader needs followers for persuasion to occur and be effective (Bean, 2009). Thus, for me to become an effective leader, I need to seek opportunities to show my influence on other people and to grow on that experience.
I am not as empathetic as I would like to be. I feel this can be a downside to my leadership abilities. Empathy is an important characteristic of effective conflict management. According to Bean (2009), being empathetic allows a leader to form lasting relationships and be able to look at situations from different angles, which is necessary in resolving conflicts.
Leaders should not walk over subordinates or abuse their power in other ways to make people act out of fear. Empathy places a cementing role in team cohesion, collaborative work, and customer relationships. It also helps in building social intelligence (Derue, Nahrgang, Wellman, & Humphrey, 2011).
I compensate what I lack in empathy with my entrepreneurial zeal. Rather than be paralyzed by the lack of knowledge concerning a specific challenge, I become proactive in seeking the required information and trying out experiments to inform my subsequent decisions. I exercise my creativity to create social and economic opportunity for organizational or personal gains. This ability continues to develop as I embrace leadership opportunities in school and whenever I am working.
According to Greenberg, McKone-Sweet, and Wilson (2011), it is important for leaders to embrace entrepreneurial qualities. In addition to using functional knowledge in performing detailed analysis, the leader also has to embrace an entrepreneurial mindset and methodology. This allows one to experiment in new environments and come up with new ideas that eventually solve problems that would, otherwise, remain irrevocable (Gehring, 2007).
Based on the qualities described above, I am capable of handling conflict. However, I will need to upgrade my skills in conflict management. At the same time, I have not had opportunities to resolve conflicts. Despite the lack of experience, I have taken measures in the past to prevent conflicts and learned from the experience that personal initiative can help to change circumstances and promote the achievement of common goals for the leader and the followers (Limbare, 2012).
Avenues for improvement
Acceptance is the quality of transformative leaders, because it allows them to be able to move beyond the problem and embrace ways and suggestions that can lead to effective resolution of the problem. I understand that I am on a journey of personal development. All my experiences, both positive and negative, will aid in my personal and professional development.
I hope to use two methods to become a better leader. The first method will be through learning, while the second one will be through using experiences to hone my skills. I will pursue leadership related courses in my education to enhance my knowledge of people management, conflict resolutions, team leadership, and negotiation.
I hope to use this knowledge to enhance my personal habits and my relationships in professional and social environment. This should then avail opportunities for serving in leadership capacities to allow me to gain more based on my second method of enhancing my leadership abilities.
Documenting my leadership experience will help to monitor personal benchmarks and seek external assistance, especially by mentors. I will, therefore, take notes regarding activities that highlight or challenge my leadership ability. This will help me understand the level of leadership involved in a situation and the amount of effort I will put to perform a task successfully.
The effort could be measured in the number of meetings, communication with the parties involved, critical decisions made, the number of participants involved, and the number of beneficiaries of an intervention (Val, & Kemp, 2012). These avenues for measuring efforts will also guide me when I look for opportunities to improve my skills and experience, with a goal of increasing challenges encountered and overcoming them.
I continue to rely on my instructors, friends, and peers to identify flaws in my leadership qualities and point me in the right direction for improvement. Therefore, I aim to remain open to criticism (Strang, 2005).
Review of Leadership Style and the Action Plan
My leadership style is transformative. As a transformative leader, I concentrate on the motivation of followers, boosting morale, and enhancing job performance in the process. I connect with people’s sense of identity and apply that to my instruction and guidance on projects or collaborative work. When I am leading a group, I always seek to establish or use an already established identity of the group to form my basis of engagement.
Once I have the identity as my operating cue, I then align character as a role model, demonstrating what I want others to do and the way I would like them to behave. These characteristics of my leadership are similar to the leadership theory’s definition of transformative leadership (Clarke, 2013). I have always put tasks into small steps that are easy to manage and achieve. I do that in reflection of the overall strategy and the goal of an initiative.
According to theory, a transformative leader is individualized, preferring to work with people’s identities. In addition, he or she acts as a mentor. The leader stimulates followers intellectually, encouraging them to be innovative. Such a leader also motivates and has an idealized influence (Clarke, 2013).
However, I can also embrace other leadership qualities to conform to particular situations. Based on the leadership trait theory, I know that I can serve well as an authoritative leader, mainly because of my low empathy characteristics. I can also perform well in situations that require all the three elements of the 3P model of leadership, which are public, private, and personal elements.
According to Scouller (2011), the three levels of leadership is a theory that goes beyond the limitation of past leadership theories by combining them. As such, though I have qualities that qualify me as a transformative leader, I can also develop new qualities and become a different kind of leader fit for other circumstances (Scouller, 2011).
The situational theory, which assumes anyone can change his or her behavior at will to suit follower interests, informs my belief of being capable of handling any leadership task (Vessey, Barrett, & Mumford, 2011). This is an advancement of my understanding of the 3P model of leadership. It is also congruent with my inquisitive personality of wanting to find solutions or model myself into a useful social character for assisting others to accomplish challenging tasks.
Bean, J. (2009). Lessons in leadership. New York, NY: Linus Publications.
Clarke, S. (2013). Safety leadership: A meta-analytic review of transformational and transactional leadership styles as antecedents of safety behaviours. Journal of Occupational & Organizational Psychology, 86(1), 22-49.
Derue, D. S., Nahrgang, J. D., Wellman, N., & Humphrey, S. E. (2011). Trait and behavioral theories of leadership: an integration and meta-analytic test of their relative validity. Personnel Psychology, 64(1), 7-52.
Gehring, D. R. (2007). Applying traits theory of leadership to project management. Project Management Journal, 38(1), 44-54.
Gnambs, T., & Batinic, B. (2013). The roots of interpersonal influence: a mediated moderation model for knowledge and traits as predictors of opinion leadership. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 62(4), 597-618.
Greenberg, D., McKone-Sweet, K., & Wilson, H. J. (2011). The new entrepreneurial leader: Developing leaders who shape social and economic opportuntity. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
Limbare, S. (2012). Leadership styles & conflict management styles of executives. Indian Journal of Industrial Relations, 48(1), 172-180.
Mallia, K. L., Windels, K., & Broyles, S. J. (2013). An examination of successful leadership traits for the advertising-agency creative director. Journal of Advertising Research, 53(3), 339-353.
Scouller, J. (2011). The three levels of leadership: How to develop your leadership presence, knowhow and skill. Cirencester, England: Management Books 2000.
Strang, K. D. (2005). Examining effective and ineffective transformational project leadership. Team Performance Management, 11(3/4), 68-103.
Val, C., & Kemp, J. (2012). Leadership styles. Pathways: The Ontario Journal of Outdoor Education, 24(3), 28-31.
Vessey, W. B., Barrett, J., & Mumford, M. D. (2011). Leader cognition under threat: “Just the facts”. The Leadership Quarterly, 22(4), 710-728.