Strong Leadership Skills Begin with Honest Self-Examination

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Strong leadership skills begin with honest self-examination
Elizabeth Lingafelter
Regis University

Thesis Statement

In today’s society, there are as many different leadership styles as there are personalities. The challenge for managers is to find a way for these varied styles to work together effectively and productively. The first part of making any change is realization and acknowledgment of a person’s strengths, weaknesses and leadership skills absent for the individual person.

An area that is required for strong leadership is the ability to create an environment that encourages people to work together well. In most cases, when employees are in good spirits and happy with their employment, they are more productive, have fewer instances of not coming into work, and complete tasks more efficiently with co-workers compared to those who are not happy with their employment situation. Although we rarely have to opportunity to choose who are co-workers are, the challenge is to find the best way to complete daily tasks with as little conflict as possible. When a person is generally cheerful throughout the day, and encouraging to others, the productivity increases, and the staff has a much better sense of positive accomplishment at the end of the day. “First and foremost, individuals are not accurate self-perceivers. Most people rate themselves as better than the average person on any number of dimensions such as honesty and competence.” (Brown, 2007) How interesting this statement is, when we personally are evaluating our own leadership abilities. Especially with the recent series of unethical events in businesses, one has to wonder if these “leaders” became blinded to their own actions, that choices were made, to the “outside world” it is almost impossible to believe could ever be made in the first place. Even worse, that no one put a stop to events before serious damage occurred. To “look into the mirror” and be as honest as possible, takes real courage, the willingness to be honest, followed by the choice to make changes as needed. I believe that my strongest leadership quality is the ability to create a team environment. I understand the need for people to have good working relationships. This does not necessarily state that all co-workers are “best friends”. Working well together does not require that staff all have the same idea of what a strong work ethic is. One way that I have accomplished this, is by allowing time, even If it is outside of the work area, to get to know each other’s “story”. I have found that if you know more about a person’s background, lifestyle and issues in their lives, it becomes much easier to understand why they do the things they do, and how to respond to them. Having this information is much more productive than having negative feelings toward a person and not understanding why they make the choices they do. It is also important to realize that, my own thoughts and expectations for myself are usually not the same as my co-workers. Allowing the time to get to know your staff on issues that are not necessarily work related, opens the opportunity for better relationships between staff members. One technique I have found very useful is the personality studies by Dr. Gary Smalley. Often known as the “lion, beaver, otter and golden retriever”, Dr. Smalley gives detailed information, strengths and weaknesses for each type. Once these types are defined, it is almost a “road map” as to how to approach co-workers, how to lead and instruct when necessary and how each person has different ways of responding. (Smalley, 1996) Allowing people to have time to be “people” with each other, and not simply co-workers, also give validation to staff, that they are respected as individuals, and not simply “warm bodies to fill the needs”. Showing appreciation, a simple “thank you”, words of encouragement, conveying the compliment to them you have heard from others, gives staff a sense of appreciation...
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