Ryan M. Reynolds
University of Oklahoma
Personal Leadership Platform
My leadership platform will focus on three main leadership traits: vision, competence, and empathy. Without these three traits, I believe one may be considered a manager but not a leader. How these characteristics are developed, employed, and classified will also be covered. It is important to note that leadership must be built on a foundation of honesty and trust, otherwise, the successes will be far outnumbered by the failures as subordinates lose trust in the vision regardless of the competence and see empathy as manipulation. Built on a foundation of honesty and trust, however, subordinates will be carried forward by the competent vision of an empathetic leader.
One of the greatest examples of vision is illustrated by President Lincoln. His predecessor had already given up on the South as a lost cause and was content with letting them secede from the Union (Phillips, 2009). Lincoln, on the other hand, had a clear and inspiring vision of a unified United States of America. His ability to persuade others to realize that vision is a trait worth developing and employing. Yukl (2010) said, “vision can provide a sense of continuity for followers by linking past events and present strategies to a vivid image of a better future for the organization” (loc. 7845). As the second in command of a large company in a mostly administrative Army organization, I have noticed that soldiers are always trying to define what is their responsibility so they don’t end up doing more work than they absolutely have to, saying “that’s not my lane.” I am working on developing a vision that I can continually articulate to those around me to show that there is no glory in doing as little as possible. Soldiers that take the initiative and complete tasks that others willingly give up, become more valuable, influential, and better prepared to take on more responsibility in the future. I tell everyone around me I’m looking for my “Grant,” and the few soldiers I can ask to do any task at any time and know it will be done right with very little direction, I actually call Sgt. Grant. I will do more in the coming weeks to develop my vision, to tie past events with current strategies to show how it will improve their future. President George W. Bush said, “It’s important for a leader to lead. If you believe in something, then stand for it, and the people will follow” (in Walsh, 2003, p. 4). Although George W. Bush was and is a controversial figure, he was able to sell his vision to enough people to be elected twice as president of the United States and to initiate two unprecedented wars during his eight years in office. Clearly, he had a compelling vision. Vision is what lifts a leader above managing a status quo.
Competence is a very broad term. In relation to being a good leader it encompasses understanding the organization; its people, culture, core competencies, external, and internal influences; and finally what and how it produces the product that serves the needs of its customers. “Competency is generally understood to mean that a professional is qualified, capable, and able to understand and do certain things in an appropriate and effective manner. Simply having knowledge or a skill is insufficient for someone to be considered competent” (Tian et al., 2009, p. 526). When leaders display competence, they inspire confidence in themselves and in those they lead. Competence gives a leader the ability to “see the big picture” and direct change where change is needed. Perceived and actual competence can influence the effectiveness of a leader (Yukl, 2010). Some leaders may use impression management to appear more confident or able. An authentic leader, however, doesn’t need to be more than what they are. Legitimately improving one’s abilities, skills, or traits is commendable. However, to appear to...