Part One: Leadership Lessons
Throughout the semester, I have had a great experience working on my leadership skills with the objective of improving. At the beginning of the semester, I did not clearly understand my capacity as a leader and I felt that I was not capable of being an effective leader due to y own perceptions of how I managed people and situations. For instance, I am not the kind of person that can constantly push people maybe to conduct a particular task or role. Through my task as a team leader, I however managed to use this as strength since I practiced transformative and situational leadership effectively, encouraging people to develop intrinsically positive attitudes towards their roles and responsibilities rather than relying on pushing as a strategy to get things done. For instance, when we had planned to meet as a group, I would encourage everyone to come early enough and would use examples to show them why being punctual was important. On the other hand, I also dealt with disciplinary issues strictly enough to avoid repetitions of the same.
The situational aspect of my style worked well in multiple circumstances as my team members always understood why I needed to act differently in different situations and it also helped us manage the team dynamics in an appropriate manner. For instance, there are people who are naturally stubborn and could have hampered the team performance had they been left to their own devices. I however applied my situational leadership skills to distinguish between such people and the rest of the team and to address their issues directly. The team always recognized why I had to do this and provided their full support towards transformation of the team characteristics. On the other hand, I felt a challenge communicating the need for tough actions to the stubborn members of the group since I am naturally a violent communicator and they sometimes thought I had something against them.
Through the team leadership exercise therefore, I can say that leadership comes with its own challenges and difficulties. The most common misconception that people have is that those in leadership positions benefit from certain advantages that others do not get. I have learnt that leadership is a giving of oneself in as much as they get to interact with others at a potentially closer level.
Part Two: Progress in Skill Development
From last semester, my objective was to improve my skills in accommodating people as an aspect of leadership. I had intended to use a variety of resources such as TED talks, articles and having mentors on whom I could rely for guidance in my leadership journey. I felt I was not accommodating enough of divergent views especially in situations of conflict. Based on my experiences throughout the semester, I can say that although I have improved slightly in the way in which I interact with people as a leader, I am not yet where I am in terms of accommodating people. Conflict scenarios come with different challenges and I have had moments in which I feel I was not accommodating enough and in which I could have done better than I did. I used the Ted talks and articles on leadership, listening skills and effective communications to help me develop efficiency in communicating my opinions without hurting others or dismissing their own opinions.
I tried to follow the action plan I had developed initially for improving my skills in accommodating people. However, I could not manage to adhere to it strictly due to the diverse nature of the team work environment. For instance, I was able to appraise other peoples’ concerns even though at times I felt they were less important than my own. I could not have addressed each and every concern raised by my team members as they wanted it done, but I realized that even listening to them alone contribute to increase in relationship value and their appreciation of my leadership skills. The area in which I faced significant challenge was in developing positive relationships with others in spite of the work challenges. I think this area proved challenging since I am short tempered and at times it was quite challenging to stay and have a positive conversation or relationship when I was already annoyed and angry. Moreover, I also failed to recognize when I was wrong at times, probably due to the complex team environment. In some cases, realizing one’s mistakes required critical thinking and evaluation of the scenario, which could take a lot of time and be realized only after damage has been made in the team relationships.
Part Three: Action Plan
To improve m y leadership skills even further, I would like to work on being empathetic moving forward. Empathy is tied to accommodating others in many ways since it is important to understand the basis for another person’s argument before you can effectively support them. The table below shows distinctive steps that I intend to follow in my quest to be a better leader from today henceforth.
|Improvement Area||Reason||Current State||Goal State||Action Plan|
|Listening skills||Listening is important for effective practice of empathy in leadership since one can only empathize when they understand the situation at hand.||3||8||I intend to identify the limits to listening such as music, crowded work place and lack of attention, and then eliminate each of these in a situation that needs attentive listening skills.|
|Critical thinking||Practicing empathy can only be effective if I can decipher between cases actually needing empathy and those that are used as excuses to avoid performance.||4||9||The capacity to evaluate situations and come up with the most appropriate responses to different situations will be practiced to ensure the skill is developed.|
|Non- violent communication||People only feel supported if the same is communicated to them in an open, non- judgmental approach. Through non-violent communication, I also believe that team members will be able to recognize what I prefer as a leader and to adhere to group workings.||2||9||One of the most discouraging aspects of communication is responding with a ‘but’ to people’s opinions without first evaluating the quality of argument presented. I intend to deviate as much as possible from the use of this feature and to only add my opinions to others. I will also call for a united evaluation of points before passing judgment on other people’s opinions.|
|Giving feedback||Showing empathy works better if the people involved know your stand about their opinions or thoughts.||4||8||I intend to give valuable feedback whenever I can. For instance, explaining to people why things cannot be done the way they want could help build relationships in the team.|