Unit 2 – Leadership…?
“Leadership is a choice, not a position”. (Stephen Covey)
Leadership is one of those qualities everyone has the ability to develop as long as they are willing to listen, adapt, and work at it. It requires one to give of herself in a selfless manner while demonstrating strong, decisive problem solving skills. Leadership is not easy, nor is it something everyone attains to be. Leadership cannot be thrust upon a person, but rather needs to be a conscious decision to take on the added responsibility that comes with guiding others in the right direction.
I have been working on my leadership skills for a number of years. Early in my educational career I have learned that I enjoy being a leader. I enjoy planning, directing, and getting involved with others on projects as we work together to bring a concept to fruition. It has taken a lot of practice to refine and manage my leadership skills. In the beginning, I was not so good at leading by example. I would ask others to do things, however I was not respected because I was not getting my hands dirty and getting involved as well. I was overseeing, rather than being an active participant. I have learned a great deal through a lot of practice and I have learned what is best for me is to model through example. If I am leading a group and asking others to help out, I need to also help out and do my part. This creates more of a team environment and less of a dictator-minded situation.
I have learned over the years that a leader needs to possess a thick skin. It is not easy being a leader because though you are congratulated when you succeed, you are criticized when you fail. If someone is not satisfied with a decision you have made, the feedback received can often be taken personally, and I can be quite hard on myself! As a result I often second-guess myself and appear to be indecisive at times. I have also learned that I am a pleaser. I hate to disappoint so I often take on several roles while leading to ensure everyone is happy with what needs to be done. The result of this is often an exhausted leader!
While reading this week’s information, one quote particularly stood out to me: “effective leadership is a product of the heart and an effective leader must be visionary, passionate, creative, flexible, inspiring, innovative, courageous, imaginative, experimental, and initiates change”. These qualities are everything I strive to be as a strong and confident leader. The root of this message, for me, is that being a leader requires heart. A leader is not a leader without wanting to be a leader. You need to enter a leadership position with your heart invested and not just your head, or else it is easy to lose sight of why you are doing this.
I have gained experience and refined my own leadership techniques over the years. I have been given many different opportunities in my career to take on leadership responsibilities and each time I take it on, I seem to learn something new. I have learned how best to approach people, I have learned how to delegate without appearing to be “bossy”, I have learned how to remain positive and optimistic when others are down and near quitting. All of these lessons have only helped to make me stronger and a more confident leader.
After completing the reading for this week I appreciate the statement “leadership is not a ‘one size fits all’ phenomenon”. I completely agree a person should not require a checklist to determine what type of leader he/she is. Leadership looks differently depending on who the leader is. Yes, there are leadership styles, however those styles look completely different when they are mixed with each individual’s personality traits. When perusing YouTube this past week, I came across an entertaining video that uses video clips to describe six leadership styles that somewhat align with those discussed in this article.
After reading over the leadership styles outlined in our reading this week, I am naturally drawn to the Democratic/Participative Leadership Style because I believe it is the closest to resemble my beliefs surrounding leadership. As mentioned above, I believe a leader needs to be involved in the project and needs to count on the ideas and opinions of the team to assist in making decisions and providing feedback. I believe being a leader is less about telling people what to do and more about working within a team to guide and support each other.
The next leadership style that catches my eye is the Creative Leadership Style. This leader is a visionary who looks forward and not just in
the moment. This leader does not dwell on failure, but rather looks to the future for new possibilities. This leader also empowers others and makes everyone feel like they are part of the team. A creative leader is one who believes there is not a hierarchy within the team, but rather a group of people all working toward a common goal. This style aligns with my core belief that a leader should not be at the top of the ladder looking down, but rather be on the same level working together.
Unfortunately, I have experienced many of the less attractive leadership styles in my years. I have worked with many Autocratic Leaders who have lead by telling others what to do and have not been open to hearing other’s ideas or suggestions. These leaders tend to come across as being rather intimidating and unapproachable. Though I know these leaders exist out there, I believe they are a reminder of what what not to do. I do not function well with someone who possesses this leadership style because I like to be involved in a project and do not appreciate being left out. I like to discuss and share ideas, as I believe this is how the best solutions are achieved.
To close, I am going to leave you with another YouTube video demonstrating some leadership styles found in Disney films. I am a bit of a Disney dork, so I found it easy to relate to these personalities demonstrated here. I am sure many of us have encountered leaders similar to Mufasa, the Evil Queen, and even Elsa. Can you think of any other leaders from Disney films that match some of the styles we have discussed this week? I would love to hear your ideas in my comments!