1. Upon completing the Managerial Roles Gap Analysis which identified the different roles that managers engage in within the organization, I learned that managers were very pivotal to the organization viz a viz their dynamic roles in the ever increasing demands and changes of the jobs. Managers need to undergo leadership training and develop some of their (inherent) leadership skills in order to be effective. Managers unlike my assumptions growing up are active participants in their organizations depending on the roles that they engage in per time be it informational, interpersonal/relational and/or decision making.
I believe that the roles most important is decisional roles, that the manager who functions in this roles is a higher level manager, as described by Yuki (2001). At this point, he directs and decides the more specific direction the organization is headed in terms of identifying key and strategic opportunities, respond to both internal and external crisis, determine how key resources are distributed whilst also negotiating agreements and contracts with people within and outside the organization.
Looking ahead, I would say that there is a need to develop both Interpersonal and Decisional roles beyond my current capabilities in order to be more efficient and effective in my output. One of the ways that I intend to develop both roles is by developing my communication skills. Improved communication skills will enable me relate better with colleagues, subordinates and customers alike. It also means reading and keeping abreast with existing and emerging trends which would in turn help to take timely decisions by collaborating with all team members.
2. However, through the process of identifying one's strengths or weaknesses as a leader it is important to embrace feedback. 'Feedback is the activity that involves discussing a person's strengths and weaknesses with suggestions on how to improve them'Feedback aligns workplace behavior with the overall goals of a team or an organization' (Harms & Roebuck, 2010:413). In short, feedback if done properly is a powerful tool for personal development. With this in mind, feedback would be invaluable to me as a manager and leader because it would help me to know the strengths and weaknesses of me and others, help to give and receive positive feedback, promote collaborative efforts, builds individuals self awareness and confidence, helps to motivate and maintain a positive environment.
In either giving or receiving feedback, it is important to me to develop my listening skills, self-awareness and self-control. Listening is the key to feedback. However, it is important to ensure that while listening I maintain eye contact, focus on the speaker, and respond appropriately ensuring that body language and other gestures are in tandem. In giving feedback, I will ensure to use language that is positive and specific, make it timely and courteous, and ensure to keep an open-mind. It is important to address the bahaviour rather than the personality involved, because 'Feedback is about performance not personality' (SkillsYouNeed: 2014).
3. Constructive feedback in itself has the power to transform a person like in the case of Mahatma Gandi when his entire outlook on life was transformed by his father's teary reaction to his 'crime' he realized at that point that change did not come through violence and anger but through the truth as evidenced by his father's reaction. (Laureate Education, Inc., 2012e).
A lot of things have been said about transformational leadership and its enduring legacies over time. A transformational leader or experience as it were seeks to internalize. I have come to understand that the process of transformation helps to close the gap between who I was and who I am capable of becoming.
Some of the ways would include: having empathy, having a shared vision, creating an environment that promotes work effectiveness and efficiency, building trust, principled, respectful, self-awareness, self-control, open to criticism and enable constructive feedback.
In my studies and experience, I discover that one of the critical skills that one needs is Training and in the words of Allio, ''we have accepted as an act of faith that we can train men and women to be leaders'..We need a syllabus for learning that actually does enable men and women to improve their leadership capabilities.'' (2009: 9-10). Leaders need to take responsibility for developing themselves (George et.al, 2007: 130). Training can be generalized or specific such as time management and organizational skills, team building and collaborative skills, communication, relational and social skills.
Furthermore, the need to develop the capacity for resilience, that is, the ability to shift from reflective thinking to ''active'' thinking about how best to respond in times of adversity (Margolis and Stoltz, 2009: 89)
5. Leadership is largely about exerting influence in a manner that encourages others to follow to a desired outcome. Avillo describes 'leaders as essentially competent and ethical' (2009: 4) because they exhibit traits that are universally accepted irrespective of their leadership style. From my experience and observations, I believe that the below listed are some leadership traits.
Proactive Confident Love of learning
Honest Humble Be creative
Have empathy/compassion Be competent Have a positive attitude
Have a sense of humor Inspiring Have enthusiasm
Imaginative Have initiative Intelligent
Be committed Have a will Be dedicated and determined
Be organized Collaborative Be dynamic (open to change)
Ability to resolve conflict Can-do attitude Solutions provider
Be self-confident Encourage feedback Disciplined
Leaders at one time or another will face situations when their personal values will conflict with professional values. The question will be how to resolve such conflicts to which Zastrow and Kirst-Ashman proffer that in the event of such conflicts it is important to learn to work through the conflict in a manner that is congruent with the values and ethics of our profession (2007, cited Comartin and Gonz??lez-Prendes, 2012: 2), rather than personal values driven by our life experiences that may, at times, create dissonance with our social work values (Comartin and Gonz??lez-Prendes, 2012: 2)
This brings to mind an incident that happened while I was still with the Health Service Commission, a relative of mine was indicted for an offence and was to be presented before a panel for disciplinary measures, because he knew I was on that panel he sent emissaries to plead his case, however, I made them understand that my personal and professional values of integrity and honesty would not permit me to speak in his favor at the panel and that his offence also contravened the organization's code of ethics. At the end of the day, he was summarily dismissed.
Looking back at this incident, raised a lot of moral and ethical questions for me but then I quickly resolved the raging battle within by acknowledging the fact that I was not just accountable to myself but also to the larger society. Even though my actions/views were unpopular at the time, overtime I have had cause to meet with individuals outside my organization who commended that action buttressing Nurius and Osborn's argument that ''when personal values are consistent with professional standards of conduct, one is more likely to interact genuinely and credibly with clients and other professionals' (2009 cited in Comartin and Gonz??lez-Prendes, 2012: 2). Though it may seem safe to argue that though we strive to live and work in situations when our personal and professional values will not conflict, the conflict in itself help to demonstrate character and leadership.
One of the resources that I found very interesting and insightful would be the one by Collins (1999) where he discussed extensively a simple yet extremely powerful tool that helps transform an organization's goals into results known as the Catalytic Mechanism. He states further that 'the Catalytic Mechanism is the link between objectives and performance; the device that transforms lofty aspirations into concrete reality. They make big, hairy audacious goals reachable.'
Reading this article made me think about how I was able to achieve an otherwise impossible goal of pursuing my passion for education and making it a reality. About 10years ago, I had a goal to ultimately be an Educationist (I have a passion for Early Childhood Education) but overtime that dream faded and gave way to other commitments, however along the line I think I must have implemented what Collins describes as a catalytic mechanism-I wrote a short biography of myself listing the degrees and diplomas, work experience and other such achievements with a set timeline and ensured that it was reviewed periodically. Believe it or not, this has worked because right now exactly 10years after I have achieved results in a number of endeavors of which this online MBA is one. Additionally, I also realize that I would need to activate catalytic mechanism (fierce determination, will and constant review) in order to achieve my goals as outlined for my personal and professional development.
A leader's primary assignment is to help others learn and grow to reach their full potentials. My experience has showed me that the best leaders use the following skills also identified by as listed below to help their team members achieve their personal goals.
1. Communication skill: is one of the most important skills that a leader must develop. The ability to listen attentively, ask open-ended questions, provide feedback, build trust, provide relevant information to the people and also the different ways of communication will in turn create a comfortable working environment.
2. Must have a strong sense of character and humility.
3. Must empower and motivate.
4. Must show empathy:
5. Set goals: it is important to set goals with achievable objectives, develop implementation plans and focus on target
6. Be a mentor: the act of mentoring is not only rewarding but also fulfilling this is because you help team members better when y
7. Encourage teamwork and collaboration: this is where information, resources, individual skills are shared to enhance shared vision and participation.
Further to the above, it is obvious goals whether personal or organizational cannot be achieved without the network of people this is not discounting individual efforts. Involving others makes you more accountable and the help you receive along the way is immeasurable. George et al (2007) buttress the importance of collaboration saying that 'leaders cannot succeed on their own; even the most outwardly confident executives need support and advice.'
One of the reasons that I decided to do an MBA was primarily for career advancement but the choice to do it online was purely born out of pragmatism, it has not been an easy journey considering the fact that I had to combine heavy schedule of work and the high demands of school. The changes have been subtle and I must say that I suffered a culture shock in the sense that nowhere in Nigerian schools are you taught about leadership as extensively as here, also our lecturers are not into constructive feedback they are more critical which makes the whole purpose of learning defeated.
The reflective journals have helped me to put the readings into perspective, relating the leadership styles, theories and traits to my society and work environment. My knowledge and scope about leadership has broadened with clearer details as I am now more aware of the fact that leadership is a continuous process of doing. I have learnt a lot about what it takes to be an 'Authentic leader' (George et al: 2007)- by understanding the skills, strengths, traits and tools of leadership. There is also evidence of my new knowledge in my work as I practice the art of giving and receiving feedback (Harms and Roebuck, 2010).
In light of the above, I will say that I was able to meet some of my goals for this module; in further work there would be the need to prioritize and dedicate more hours to study, participate more actively in shared activities and fill my reflective journal at the end of each unit.
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