Leadership Development: Analysis of My Leadership Experience

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This reflective essay is an analytical look into my leadership experience not only as a leader but also as a member of a group. I specifically adopted the situational approach and the path-goal theory when presented with different leadership challenges hence the adoption of changing leadership styles based on the situation, task characteristics, and follower characteristics. Indeed, it was crucial to assume changing leadership styles. For example, when the task was vague and multifaceted, the directing leadership style was better, and when the tasks were monotonous and unexciting, the supporting style of leadership was suitable. In the case of followers with low competence and high commitment, the direct leadership style was the best option. I had to be hands-on until they became more competent, then I shifted to the supporting leadership style. Ultimately, when the followers became fully competent, I delegated duties to demonstrate that I had confidence in the abilities of team members to complete a task.

Followers with average competence and low commitment needed the leader to be a coach or a mentor. My approach was to use both the directing and supporting leadership styles concurrently until the followers were highly motivated. In my own experience as a follower, I was utterly motivated when the leader was supportive and encouraging, and the direct approach made me feel less motivated and more anxious. Effective leadership is established on the ethics of trust, respect, and fair-mindedness. Effective leadership results in a healthy working environment. Leaders need to have high levels of integrity and knowledge to be able to apply the right leadership style. The leadership approach required for the workplace is different from the one adopted in a home setting.

Leadership is the ability to guide a group of people towards achieving set objectives. One of my notable experiences as a leader occurred when I became a church youth secretary for a year. My primary responsibility was organizing events within the church and other churches, in addition to regular church meetings. My daily responsibilities included general office work and clerical duties, such as typing sermons, transcribing, and dictation. I was also tasked with supply management, record keeping, mail distribution, responding to office queries in the absence of a supervisor, making appointments, and notifying committee members of meetings and events. My supervisor was very strict and conservative, and he preferred the direct leadership style over the supporting leadership style. He only delegated when he was away from the office.

The supervisor adopted the commanding style because event management is time-consuming, and cancellations are expensive. This leadership style is useful when there is little time for decision-making and is commonly used in crises. Situational leadership emphasizes that management is composed of both directive and supportive elements and that each has to be adopted based on the given situation. I also participated in the CB391 group workshops as a group member, the workshop comprised of solving puzzles, producing a video advertisement for a product, and mass building paper airplanes.

Our first assignment was to form teams of five and then choose a group leader. We then divided the tasks into small jobs and allocated them to each team member. We created a timeline indicating the assignments and their respective time allocations. Our leadership approach was democratic, which allowed any member of the group to present any issue or idea. The problem was a group challenge, so we needed to be on the same page. By using the democratic approach, we enhanced our teamwork and collaboration, allowing us to come up with creative modifications. Our group leader’s approach was supportive. He monitored the group interactions and progress and was always ready to help any stuck team member. The main disadvantage of the democratic approach was slow decision-making, which negatively impacted our overall productivity. We had to consider all the divergent opinions of every team member as the success or failure of the project depended on team cohesion.

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The makeup of a group determines team performance. Studies have indicated that specific groupings of personality types perform better than others (Schyns and Felfe, 2006). Successful implementation of teamwork and collaboration depends on how a team analyses its performance and then adapts it to a situation to achieve a positive result. Teamwork and collaboration were undoubtedly one of the most significant features of our project without which we would have been unable to complete the tasks. Even though the tasks were broken up into individual tasks, we still checked with each another when we encountered problems.

I also worked as a security guard. My primary responsibility was handling interior and exterior security through physical surveillance and the use of CCTV cameras. I was also responsible for greeting facility guests and checking identification, assigning security badges to each visitor, and immediately reporting any suspicious activity to my supervisor. The leadership style chosen by my supervisor was direct leadership or authoritarian. Every single aspect of the security detail had been planned. All employees were required to adhere to protocol and procedures at all times strictly. There was no room for negotiations, and the supervisor had sole the authority to make decisions. Security is both a technical and sensitive occupation and protocols and procedures are there to ensure public safety.

On a personal level, when I’m at home, I have the responsibility of taking care of my younger brother. I hope that by leading by example, I can become a positive role model for him, by assisting him with homework, teaching him right versus wrong, and supporting in the improvement of his social and cognitive skills. Younger siblings’ mental stabilities are affected by how their older siblings respond to their needs. I have additional experience as a team leader a captain of a five-a-side football team, school projects, the Duke of Edinburgh race, and NCS team building activities which have further enhanced my leadership experience.

I used a situational approach and path-goal theories to evaluate my leadership style. The situational approach is a leadership style that alters based on prevailing circumstances, and it is both directive and supportive. In my case, as a group leader for a project, I had two distinct sets of followers with the following characteristics. They were group members who were highly motivated but had low competency in event management and those with high skill and little motivation. As project leader, I had to ensure that all opinions of members are taken into consideration. Most decisions were unanimously accepted or rejected by all group members. The main objective of the leader is to ensure teamwork and collaboration, and using the direct approach would have been helpful for the ‘low competence’ group members, but the ‘high competence’ members would have seen it as domineering behavior. I chose the supporting style as it helped build trust and confidence in the entire process, and the success of the project was dependent on every team member.

Based on the general performance of the teams I led and the positive response of the followers, I believe I was a reasonably balanced and effective leader. I was also a consummate team player willing to go the extra mile to ensure the success of the team. In all the projects or tasks I was involved in, I was able to achieve the set objectives by engaging different leadership styles that incorporated the wishes of the followers and provided clear directions when the tasks were monotonous and complicated. My main leadership weaknesses include poor public speaking skills, slow decision-making, team-oriented (don’t work well individually), and poor time management. Another area that needs improvement is micromanagement. I have an indifference towards delegation, and I should put more trust in team members.

To conclude, my main strengths include creative problem solving, respect for everyone's opinion, building team rapport, and inspiring team members to bring out the best. I am a marketing degree student, and in the future, I would like to become a marketing manager so I will require these leadership skills to manage any successful team. My leadership approach is to use the directive leadership style when concentration or motivational levels are high and supportive leadership when the standards have dropped. ‘High competency followers’ do not respond well to directing as they are more focused on completing the task. The best option, in this case, is to use participative leadership and delegation. It is essential to understand the prevailing situation before selecting an appropriate leadership style to ensure the achievement of set objectives.

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