This purpose of this paper is to analyze and improve my leadership skills. It’s a key step on the journey of my leadership development. I have carefully chosen to reflect on my expectations and thoughts on this course. Critical assessment requires a true and poignant valuation to be effectively applied. Such action will also help to form a sustainable development. As such, I have reflected upon myself, identified my strengths and weaknesses, advantages of my strength and weaknesses, leadership philosophies, and actions to develop my leadership. Thus, I have developed a reflection, and action leadership plan which would guide my growth and development which I now share.
Expectations of the Course
According to (Daft, 2015, p. 5), Leadership is an influence relationship among leaders and followers who intend real changes and outcomes that reflect their shared purposes. The course, Leadership, and Ethics are expected to bring valuable meaning to the forefront. It would also be that “Phillip” that proves to be a useful tool in the furtherance and development of my leadership skills and abilities as a leader at home, in my community, and Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force. My expectations of the course are to reinforce my leadership attributes profoundly and further strengthen my skills and abilities to ensure that they can effectively achieve the following expectations. These abilities can be founded on the principles that demonstrate courage, integrity, inspire and motivate people to achieve the desired outcomes, making a difference, embrace change, creating a vision, and leading innovation and positive change within my organization. Additionally, I expect my lecturer to provide adequate information, class discussions, and a forum that will facilitate my reinforcement process.
During my leadership and ethics classes, I have learned some interesting things about myself. I was introduced to different assessment tool which helped me to understand my learning preference. I have realized that my learning preference is multimodal and this was discovered after using the Vark Test. The test provided me with the undermentioned scores:
- Visual 8
- Aural 15
- Read/Write 12
- Kinesthetic 11
These results were precise because they accounted for my academic success. I discovered throughout my academic life; I am one of those students who enjoy learning through listening. Thus, the reason for my high score in aural. Therefore, I am a firm believer in listening and public speaking, which gives me a greater appreciation and understanding of the issue at hand.
I have learned that ethics are a critical component of leadership. I understand that each member of an organization may possess his or her unique moral imperatives and personal ethics, which compels him or her to act in a particular manner. Furthermore, there are ethical standards within an organization that will guide individuals when making an ethical decision. Ethical dilemmas are not strange to the workplace, and the models of ethical decision-making have given me useful information to deal with ethical dilemmas as they arise. However, a valuable lesson that was learned is that no model by itself would solve every dilemma that may arise. These models only provide a framework that would guide my decision-making.
Reflection of Expectations
During this semester it was hard to quantify what I have learned in Leadership and Ethics because the course focus was not about memorizing data, but rather learning about having the will to lead and finding the courage to make it happen. Most of the information I learned from this course came from learning about myself. Through additional readings, in course activities, practical scenario’s and various projects, I learned what makes a great leader, but more importantly, what value I possess that will make me an effective leader. To be an effective leader, one must understand what leadership is. According to Stogdill Leadership is a social influence. It means to leave a mark. It is initiating and guiding, and the result is changed. Leading is the result of your passion coming to life. The readings and materials for the course complemented the activities that were done in class. Many of the overarching themes of the course pertained to finding your passion in life. You can only be an effective leader if you are passionate about the cause that you are leading. Furthermore, as a leader, this course has forced me to look beyond the horizon in leadership and I realized that I had been using some concepts of leadership at home, in the community and my organization without even knowing it.
Additionally, in my organization, I was exposed to several leadership courses, but the exploration of this subject was not deep. For example, as a middle manager participating in advanced courses, the delivery of leadership has been just a skimmed on the surface. Furthermore, there were three key areas that I learned about myself in leadership and can be demonstrated as a leader, which were leading change, having a grand vision and becoming a moral leader.
First, as my lecturer always keeps reminding us that leadership starts with you the man in the mirror and effective leadership is essential to successful change. I have learned that you must be the change agent at home, community, and your organization. Change is constant in every aspect of our lives. As a leader, I was able to understand the concept of leading change and acknowledge the fact that change is not as easy as it sounds. All leaders of today, need the skills to personally assimilate change, provide predictability, and help others understand the reasons for the changed. A critical aspect of leading people through change is understanding resistance to change is natural and that there are often legitimate reasons for it. Leaders must view themselves as role models for change, and they must be willing to provide motivation and communication for change to be effective. The change cannot take place overnight, but the lessons learned from leading change have provided me with useful tools that can assist me in implementing change within my organization. The areas covered in this topic were truly informative and would be valuable to my department of Finance. This topic has taught me those leaders have the responsibility to apply the necessary changes that are needed in today’s environment. However, I comprehend that if we are to survive change, then leaders must implement the essential factors that would encourage change. I intend to be an effective leader and role model for change.
Second, great leadership begins with having a grand vision. According to Lorraine Monroe refers to a leader as “the drum major, the person who keeps a vision in front of people and reminds them of what they’re about.” As an effective leader to lead, I learned that you must be able to articulate and passionately communicate a powerful vision that will motivate and energize your co-creators toward the future and then help them to implement the plans that will achieve that future. Vision is essential to everyone in an organization. A vision is more than just a dream. You must also combine your vision with action if you want to make a difference for your co-creators or organization by having big dreams and transforming them into significant strategic action. Furthermore, your vision must be translated into specific goals and objectives. Therefore, as a leader, it is important to have a shared vision because it inspires your co-creators to become committed to a shared goal and future success of the organization. Additionally, the topic of creating a vision and strategic direction was very educational and inspiring to me as a leader. To be a visionary leader in my organization I must be able to inspire, encourage, and empower my co-creators. Visionaries wear many hats with ease and live with character and conviction those results in real and positive change.
Third, moral leadership is about distinguishing right from wrong and doing right, being honest, having the right conduct in achieving goals and fulfilling purpose. An important aspect of my self-I have learned in becoming a moral leader is the ability to make decisions and accept the consequences of those decisions. As a leader, it is important to articulate and uphold high ethical standards, and behave morally even if no one is looking. Leaders have great influence over others, and moral leadership uplifts people and enhances the lives of others. Furthermore, to practice moral leadership, you must be able to know yourself, understand your strengths and weaknesses and know what they stand for. A key component of moral leadership is having the courage to carry you through deprivation, ridicule, and rejection and enable you to achieve something about which you care deeply. Additionally, in my organization, courage and moral leadership is essential to me as a leader because it empowers good leadership, it challenges and, potentially, prevents bad leadership actions. It also encourages better leadership practices and prevents bad leadership actions. Therefore, as leaders, it is our responsibility to find our inner moral courage and express it diligently and respectfully in our work and community.
The course Leadership and Ethics was truly a rewarding experience. It surpassed my expectations, and the lecturer was very resourceful and provide valuable information that assisted in my development. I can safely say that this newly gained information has indeed strengthened my character and leadership skills, and I am now prepared to be an effective leader within my organization. Furthermore, I will highly recommend that leadership and ethics taught at the indoctrination level within the Defence Force.
Leadership Strength and Weakness
While sitting in class reflecting on my leadership styles, strengths, and weaknesses I was rushed with thoughts, memories, regrets, and actions of personal ways that I have handled past situations in my department and ways that I plan to handle new situations at my department after this course. I have learned that it is crucial for me to understand and acknowledge my strengths and weaknesses. My major strengths are good communication skills, self-motivated, empowering, a good listener, integrity and honesty, and passion towards my work. However, I tend to focus on three essential aspects of my strength as an effective leader. First, I am an effective communicator of my co-creators in my department. Effective leadership is all about communicating effectively. As an effective leader, one must be able to communicate the vision and goals to members of the organization to motivate them to achieve them with efficiency. He communicates in a way so that he will be able to make others see what he is expecting from them. A great leader must always concentrate on communicating with teams rather than simply sharing information with them because communication has can inspire opinions, approaches, and activities whereas information means just to inform. Therefore, I intend to use my communication skills effectively, as developing a better understanding of my co-creators.
Second, in my opinion, being an effective leader requires being an effective listener. According to Drucker, P, the most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said. As a leader listening forms the foundation of a good relationship because it shows that you care about your co-creators. Furthermore, empathy and listening go hand in hand. For instance, as a leader, you can’t display empathy or emotional intelligence if you do not listen. Therefore, the quality of our listening determines the quality of our influence. Additionally, your co-creators want to be heard, and they want to be respected. Listening transmits that kind of respect and builds trust. These lead to more motivated and committed team members. As an effective leader, listening leads to personal awareness and growth. If you do not listen, you will not grow. Thus, when my co-creators offer their ideas and opinions, I intend to be open-minded because their contribution is always valuable in achieving the vision and mission of the organization.
Third, great leaders empower others who choose to be great. According to Seibert, “Empowerment is an effective approach to improving employee attitudes and work behaviors in a broad range of industries, occupations, and geographic regions.” As a leader empowering your co-creators create a better work environment all around and also benefits the bottom line of the organization when co-creators are engaged, supported, and be part of the engine that keeps things running. Therefore, empowerment demonstrates that you have good listening skills and that you care about the input of everyone on your team. As a leader, when you empower your co-creators, you motivate them to “grow together”, and you increase the overall success of your mission. Empowering builds confidence in their capacity to execute your collective mission and goals. For me, these are essential elements of leadership.
In my organization I have witnessed daily some leaders are very ineffective in communicating, not a good listener and lack empowerment. These leadership traits do not augur well for the men and women of the military, and it reduces low morale. As a leader, my ability to adapt to any environment has proven to be very successful. This has allowed me to effectively complete my tasks without having to worry about changing situations and complicated officers, and the issue of mental and physical fatigue. Success can only be achieved through hard work, and as a leader, this is one of my strongest attributes.
As a leader, my weaknesses hinder my abilities and are flaws in my personality which could complicate my relationship with my co-creators. One of my weaknesses as a leader was giving clear and specific instructions with timelines. Sometimes my instructions may lack clarity, creating uncertainty about exactly what needs to be done and by when. Another of my weaknesses, that has eluded me is the evasion of procrastination. I see this as a drawback for me since it has the potential to limit or postpone the accomplishments of personal and departmental goals. Goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Though a specific goal may be attained, the untimely manner in which it is obtained may not augur well within my department and extent organization work. Furthermore, I am a perfectionist and an overachiever. I see myself as the man in the book, refusing to accept any standard short of my perfection from my co-creators. For example, I do not rest until every assignment is completed in my department and double-checked. Therefore, my weaknesses at times had a deleterious effect on my leadership at home, in my community and the organization.
Advantage of my Strength and Weakness
Understanding my strengths and weaknesses can be of tremendous value to my life and career. This awareness is invaluable because it will help me optimally focus on the right things. It will also shape my career and life decisions moving forward. First, I will look at my strengths and how can I take advantage of each in the future. (i) Effective communication- As a leader, to master my communication skills I will set up multiple communication channels that allow leadership to communicate with my co-creators through survey, intranet, social functions, meetings, email, etc. Furthermore, I will ensure that these communication channels openly, honestly and often to drive improvement and keep my co-creators informed. (ii) Effective listener- To be an effective listener, be the man in the mirror. This helps build rapport with me and my co-creator, and it encourages the feeling that you share similar attitudes and ideas. It also reflects the concept or ideas you just heard communicated from your co-creator to reinforce that you understood and heard what they said. Furthermore, the advent of Reproducible and customizable software skills through e-learning programs which will describe the importance of listening. (iii) Empowering- To empower yourself one needs to look at Self-Empowerment. As a leader, you cannot empower others to perform their best until you are empowered. Empowerment is a skill and can be learned. Therefore, to master empowerment I need to divulge into reading empowering materials; attending seminars and workshops, learning to manage time and energy effectively; and participating in empowerment training. Empowerment training helps benefits everyone in an organization and when a co-creator feels good about themselves, they want to share their enthusiasm by helping the organization succeed.
Second, as a leader I am certain because of my strengths, I am good at what I do however; I do have weaknesses that I have to improve. Therefore, I would identify my weaknesses and how I can effectively take advantage of each. (i) Giving clear instructions- According to Manar Al Hinai, to become a great leader, you need clarity and authenticity. As a leader, I consider clarity the most important leadership characteristic of all. Enhancing my writing skills by reading from books such as principles of instruction which will develop my ability to give clear instructions as well as verbally setting smart goals so my co-creators would know when to accomplish any given task. (ii) Procrastination- As a leader, to effectively master procrastination is to develop an action plan. It can help develop a clear plan of action for what is needed to do when the urge to procrastinate arises. Additionally, set myself time-bound goals. Setting myself specific deadlines to complete tasks will keep me on track to achieve my goals, and I will have no time for procrastination. (iii) Perfectionist- Perfectionism is one of the bad things in leadership. To help me improve on my perfectionism is by reading books such as Never Good Enough: How to Use Perfectionism to Your Advantage Without Letting It Ruin Your Life and by rewarding myself. For example, going out for a nice meal, taking a walk, going out with friends, or just taking some time to relax or pamper yourself.
According to Benson D, A philosophy is defined as a system of principles for guidance in practical affairs. This first and overarching component consists of a description of the basic principles that guide you in your practical affairs of leadership, principles upon which your actions, decisions, and responses are based. As a leader, you must clearly articulate the principles upon which your philosophy is based. Furthermore, according to Ambler G, leadership philosophy is “A set of beliefs, values, and principles that strongly influences how we interpret reality and guide our understanding of influencing humans. It’s our philosophy, our understanding, and interpretation of leadership that affects how we react to people, events, and situations around us.”
My philosophical attributes of leadership that I have developed throughout my leadership and ethics class is the ability to effect change through leading by example, taking initiative, and inspiring others. As an effective leader, leading by example, influences the behavior and attitudes of your co-creators. It also helps other co-creators of the organization see what lies ahead and act swiftly to counter any challenges along the way. Furthermore, as a leader, your team has certain expectations of you. Some of them include treating each of them fairly, open-minded, good listener, and you give them respect. As leaders, you must walk the talk? Walk the talk is simply your actions matching your words and expectations you have on others. Additionally, leaders must be proactive than reactive in solving problems and to meet and create challenges. Also, as a leader, you must compel a vision that guides a person’s behavior. Vision can imply change and challenge persons to reach a higher standard of excellence. Therefore, a vision is like a guiding philosophy that provides people with meaning and purpose.
Changes in Leadership Philosophy
My philosophy about leadership has changed. Having read creating a vision and strategic direction and the relational leadership model I firmly believe Leadership is a role open to anyone. Leadership is living by a personal set of rules in which you motivate others to do the right thing, be engaged in the world, and to listen to others and their concerns. Leadership is focused on the other person.
Two Actions to Develop My Leadership in the Future
While assessing my strength and weaknesses, I was able to identify gaps between my everyday behavior and chosen philosophies. A good leader can make a success of a weak plan, but a poor leader can ruin even the best plan. Developing effective leadership is consistent and recognizing my behaviors has helped to identify what I need to work on to grow and improve my leadership talent. Therefore, two action steps I will take to continue to develop my leadership in the future which as follows:
(1) Developing my leadership skills – As a leader, developing my leadership skills is a constant process which needs to be sharpened throughout my career. To develop my leadership skills, I will first need to focus my existing leadership skills, strengths, and weaknesses. While doing this, what would be required of me is to consider the difference between leadership and management. To effectively develop my leadership skills, I will participate in train the trainer’s course for leadership professionals (monthly), leadership development workshops and seminars (quarterly), online leadership assessment test (once per month) and read books on leadership from e-book (every two weeks) for example, Principle-Centered Leadership – Stephen R. Covey. Developing my leadership skills should transform me from a great leader to an effective leader where I can empower and inspire my co-creators to achieve the goals and objectives of my organization.
(2) Communicating effectively to my co-creators- In leadership, communication is vital for the successful functioning of any organization. To become a great leader, one should be a great communicator. Great leaders are always considered to be first-class communicators, they have a clear set of values, and they always believe in promoting and inculcating those values in others. As a leader, it is essential to communicate with my co-creators because effective communication and leadership together develop a better understanding among team members and the leader or manager. More understanding inculcates the trust factor which is very important to work together. Furthermore, to enhance my communication skills I will read books from the library (once per month) for example, improve your communication skills, join toastmasters’ international program online to improve my public speaking and leadership skills and listening to audio visual methods of public speaking (once per week). Therefore, I can make a difference by inspiring and motivating my co-creators about the organization’s vision, values, and strategy. Hence, great leaders can win hearts and minds, to influence their organization and drive everyone towards achieving common goals and objectives
Appreciate/Not Appreciate in Leadership and Ethics
During my leadership and ethics class what I most appreciated about is the quality of material disseminated. The lecturer was eloquent in her delivery and very resourceful in acquiring her information on the topic. The knowledge gained from this topic was rewarding and informative. As a result, learning as taken place.
Changes Towards Leadership and Ethics
The course syllabus was structured and meet the expectations of each student. Therefore, I see no changes towards the topic, however, I suggest that students engage in more practical leadership exercises and solving scenarios on ethical dilemmas.
This internal self-assessment has revealed some interesting facts and qualities about myself. As a middle manager, I would strive to become a more efficient and effective leader. The knowledge I acquired during class I intend to provide quality leadership through my skills and philosophies. There is no doubt in my mind that I can accept any task and ready to do so. The world is continually evolving, and so too must leaders. The reflection, action plan has provided me with essential information that will assist in my future development, and prepare me to be an effective leader that is prepared to lead change in my home, community, and organization. According to Kleckner J, “Always remember who you are, where you’re at, and what you’re doing.”
- Daft, R. L. (2015). The Leadership Experience (6th ed.). Connecticut: Cengage Learning. Retrieved on August 03, 2019.
- Benson, D. (2018). How to Determine Your Personal Leadership Philosophy. Retrieved on August 03, 2019, from https://www.physicianleaders.org/… /how-determine-your-personal-leadership-philosoph.
- Meier, J.D. (n.d.). Lessons Learned from Peter Drucker – Sources of Insight. Retrieved on August 04, 2019, from sourcesofinsight.com › Effectiveness
- Robinson, C. (2018). Why Empowering Employees is an Important Facet of Leadership. Retrieved on August 04, 2019, from https://medium.com/…/why-empowering-employees-is-an-important-facet-of-leadership.
- Kleckner, J. (2016). The Importance of Leading by Example. – The Good Men Project. Retrieved on August 05, 2019, from https://goodmenproject.com/ethics…/the-importance-of-leading-by-example-bbab/.