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Personal-Best Leadership Project Essay


Introduction

In the modern world, the speed of interactions between individuals, groups, and organizations has increased significantly, requiring new solutions in terms of efficient operation. Businesses, as well as any other initiatives, face the need for advanced methods of management and coordination. The solution that is widely employed nowadays is the project approach. The project approach is a prominent and effective method of problem-solving and creating new values because this approach ensures achieving goals by identifying objectives, guiding actions, and operating within certain timeframes. Any initiative can be regarded as a project, including launching a new product, conducting an awareness campaign, organizing an event, or remodeling a room (Kouzes & Posner, 2012). The main advantage of the project approach is that it creates a system of operation and considers a wide range of factors that promote the success of an initiative. The common stages of a project are planning, preparation, implementation, monitoring, evaluation, and providing feedback. This approach ensures the efficiency of actions taken to achieve the goals.

An important part of the project approach is leadership. The concept of leadership is one of the key aspects of development in the modern world. Leaders set clear goals and coordinate the efforts of everyone involved in achieving them. The leader lays the foundation for a project and ensures that the project is conducted according to its purpose and initial planning. The main thing that leaders should possess is the vision of what should be done and, sometimes, how it should be done. The necessity for the vision is justified by the fact that the goals are not clearly seen from within the implementation process. Therefore, a leader is needed to view project activities from above and put them into perspective. Leadership deals with a lot of aspects of conducting a project. Leaders are the ones who promote development and innovation. Perfecting one’s leadership skills is crucial for conducting successful projects.

My Personal-Best Leadership Project Sheet

  1. The project selected is publishing a booklet on household sustainability for an urban community. The booklet will present in a clear, interesting, and possibly entertaining way how household practices and habits can be changed toward increased sustainability.
  2. The project goal is to develop, lay out, and publish a booklet that would explain to urban citizens how to be more sustainable, i.e. adopt certain behavioral patterns that are more environmentally friendly in terms of the use or resources and the production of waste (Gibson, Waitt, Head, & Gill, 2011).
  3. The deadline for the project is December 25, 2016.
  4. The challenges of leading the project include:
  1. Finding the team for the project. Necessary members are a writer, an illustrator, a designer, a layout person, a publisher, and distributors.
  2. The content should be simple and appealing.
  3. Ways to make day-to-day practices within an urban household more sustainable should be clearly identified in the relevant academic literature.
  4. The booklet should be interesting and engaging.

E. The team:

  1. Writer: should find relevant information, structure it into clear guidelines for households, and write the text in a simple and interesting way.
  2. Illustrator / Designer / Layout person: should provide appealing visuals for the content. The illustrator will provide original drawings explaining the content. The designer will be in charge of the overall look of the booklet. The layout person will combine the verbal content with the visuals and prepare all this for publication. These tasks can be done by one, two, or three people.
  3. Expert: consultations from a sustainability expert may be required to verify and strengthen the content of the booklet.
  4. Publisher: will be in charge of producing a high-quality printed booklet.
  5. Distributors: people who will be in charge of delivering the booklet to targets, both physically and electronically.

F. My feelings regarding this project: excitement, anticipation, energy, hope for a positive outcome and favorable effects, fear of failure.

G. I expect that setting up the collaboration between the different members of the team will be challenging. I am also concerned about the fact that the members of the team for this project are mainly creative people (writer, illustrator, designer, and so on). It can be difficult to arrange their collaboration because creative people sometimes fail to meet project framework requirements such as deadlines. Also, I am afraid that the booklet will not make a difference because there are a lot of sustainability guidelines and not all of them successfully achieve the goal of creating more sustainable communities (Gibson, Farbotko, Gill, Head, & Waitt, 2013). I believe the quality of this booklet will allow hoping for its ultimate effectiveness.

H. The project is important:

  1. To me because it will help me do a positive thing for the community and prove my leadership skills;
  2. To my team because it will be a valuable experience of collaborative work on a project; and
  3. To the community because it will bring more sustainable practices.

Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership

The concept of leadership has been theoretically examined by various studies. A lot of perspectives on leadership as well as recommendations on how to develop optimal leadership practices have been proposed by researchers. One of the prominent perspectives is the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership (Kouzes & Posner, 2012). The description of practices provides guidelines for leaders on how to ensure the most efficient collaboration between the members of a project team. Implementing the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership is an integral part of this project.

The first practice is Model the Way. It is strongly connected to creating a vision for a project. A leader should establish shared values for the members of the team. According to Kouzes and Posner (2012), “exemplary leaders set the example by aligning actions with shared values” (p. 22). The practice can help me as a leader in explaining what is expected as the outcomes of the project.

The second practice is Inspire a Shared Vision. Implementing the practice helps envision the project’s outcomes as exciting possibilities. It is important to understand that commitment cannot be commanded to the team but it can only be inspired in them. A leader should appeal to shared aspirations to bring a common vision. For this project, I will communicate to my team the importance of adopting sustainable behavioral patterns in a household. Realizing how the project can make a positive difference will help them gain common inspiration for implementing the project.

The third practice is Challenge the Process. It is about explaining to the project participants that risks should be taken in order to make a positive difference. Leadership always deals with exploring something new and moving forward. Leaders are rarely tasked with keeping things the way they are but are often tasked with changing things, which is always a challenge. Innovation requires leaders to experiment. This project is about doing a risky thing, too. There is a possibility that the booklet will not be as effective as desired. The risk should be explained to the team, but it should also be stressed that risks are necessary, and the way to reduce the risk is to provide a high quality of work.

The fourth practice is Enable Others to Act. It helps understand how the active collaboration should be arranged in a project. A way to do it is to clearly let everyone know what their role is and to build trust. For this project, I need to increase self-determination of the team members by explaining the pattern of cooperation between them.

The fifth practice is Encourage the Heart. One of the missions of a leader is to show appreciation for everyone’s contribution to the project. In this project, I recognized that the type of work I require from the team needs recognition because it is creative work, which, as far as I understand, needs constant encouragement.

Leadership Theories

There are various ways to approach leadership theoretically. Leadership skills and practices can be regarded from the perspectives of different theories in order to explain the mechanisms of leading a project and identify the most efficient methods of leadership. Two certain leadership theories were applied to this project to estimate the role and the effectiveness of leadership in it.

The first theory is the path-goal theory (Northouse, 2014). It systematically explains how the motivation of those who participate in the project can be used by leaders to improve performance and satisfaction. What is especially emphasized within this theoretical framework is the individual approach of a leader to his or her team members. It is postulated that there is no such thing as unique leadership behavioral patterns. Leaders need to choose a style that is most appropriate to specific characteristics of the project participants. I believe that this theory is particularly relevant for this project because the participants are mainly creative people. Working with creative people requires individual approaches.

The second theory is the contingency theory (Northouse, 2014). It examines the relationship between a particular style of leadership and specific characteristics of a given project. I believe that the two theories work very well together. The contingency theory also stresses the importance of planning and considering various factors or elements of a project that can go wrong.

Conclusion

Although the theories of leadership are important to leaders, I believe that leadership is a highly practical thing, i.e. good leadership requires a lot of practice and work with actual people. Throughout this project, I was struggling with the way I should behave with my team. Should I talk more or listen more? Should I ask for suggestions or suggest solutions myself? Should I be strict and punish every noncompliance such as absence or lateness? As the project unfolded, I realized that all those questions had been occurring because I thought that leaders are those who are above a project. I thought that leaders have all the answers and see the goals clearly. I thought that team members are simply tools in a leader’s hands. It turned out I was wrong.

Now I think that a good leader is inside a project, working closely with the team. A good leader is not the one who knows all the answers but the one who can formulate the question and pick the best answer. A good leader is not the one who makes every decision according to his or her own opinion but the one who encourages a discussion that finds the most adequate solutions. I believe that this project was very useful for me as a future successful leader.

References

Gibson, C., Farbotko, C., Gill, N., Head, L., & Waitt, G. (2013). Household sustainability: Challenges and dilemmas in everyday life. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Gibson, C., Waitt, G. R., Head, L. & Gill, N. (2011). Is it easy being green? On the dilemmas of material cultures of household sustainability. In R. Lane & A. W. Gorman-Murray (Eds.), Material Geographies of Household Sustainability (pp. 19-33). Surrey, UK: Ashgate Publishing Limited.

Kouzes, J. & Posner, B. (2012). The leadership challenge workbook. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Northouse, P. G. (2014). Introduction to leadership: Concepts and practice. New York, NY: Sage Publications.

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IvyPanda. "Personal-Best Leadership Project." October 14, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/personal-best-leadership-project/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Personal-Best Leadership Project." October 14, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/personal-best-leadership-project/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Personal-Best Leadership Project'. 14 October.

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