LEADERSHIP EXPERIENCE

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Introduction

Organizations or institutions require leaders to help them inattaining the set objectives and goals. A leader refers to anindividual who motivates others, does the right things and leads hisfollowers towards the desired direction of a company. For anindividual to be selected for that position, he/she must have certainskills such as confident, good communication skills, decision makeramong many more (Dubrin, 2011, 108). When employers are hiringemployees, they look for individuals who show the potential for beingleaders. Leadership experience is not similar for all people (Montana&amp Charnov, 2008, 254). There are those who are categorized asgood leaders while others are considered to have failed in theirleadership position. People need to understand that there are severalfactors that makes one an effective leader. Besides, individuals canbe taught to be good leaders. The paper involves an analysis of myleadership experience and an application of relevant theory todetermine what makes an effective leader, and can one learn to be aleader? It shall be examining a leadership experience I undertook,and personal recommendations that focus on leadership aspects thatevaluate the leadership areas I hope to develop through my degreeexperiences. It also includes an action plan that details the stepsto be undertaken in achieving the identified personalrecommendations.

What makesan effective leader?

An effective leader is one who does not need to hold a high positionin an organization or to have an authority to be effective inperforming their leadership duties. Rather, an effective leader isone who positively influences his/her followers, acts honestly andwith integrity because no one is watching their actions. An analysisof my leadership experience that was at a youth organization thatprovided rehabilitation services to drug victims shows that aneffective leader is born with natural leadership traits. The traitstheory argues that people who are born as leaders demonstrateleadership qualities such as selflessness. An application of thetraits theory to my leadership experience was witnessed among myfellow youths who had also volunteered to work as youth facilitators(Northouse, 2010, 25). They thought that the organization wouldappreciate their services by giving them an allowance at the end ofthe month. Unfortunately, the centre was experiencing financialconstraints since it relied on donations from well-wishers and alittle help from the government. Hence, it was impossible for them togive any allowances and thus relied on the help of volunteers. Manypeople would quit after providing their services at the youth centre,but I decided to stay because I understood that the drug victimsneeded my help as their facilitator. Therefore, effective leaders areborn with natural traits such as selflessness that allow them to putother people’s needs first.

The leadership experience had both successes and failures. Ananalysis of my leadership experience shows that one of my successes,as a leader was the ability to have open communication with theyouths as well as the management of the youth centre. According tothe traits theory, strong leaders possess certain qualities andcharacteristics that enable them to become successful leaders such asgood communicators (Northouse, 2010, 25). It can be argued thatleaders who are born with natural traits are able to develop an opencommunication system among their followers. The open system ofcommunication enables a leader to obtain adequate information fromhis people that allow him to make informed decisions that addresstheir needs (Getha-Taylor, et al., 2015, 305). An applicationof the traits theory to my leadership success can be demonstratedwhen discussion groups were introduced to the youth program andsponsors allocated for the drug victims to support them in handlingthe challenges they faced. As a leader, I was able to implement thechanges to the youth program through the information obtained fromthe drug victims because of implementing open communication. Hence,it can be argued that an effective leader is born with natural traitssuch as ability to communicate (Calota, Pirvulescu &amp Criotoru,2015, 82).

Another success during my leadership experience was enabling theyouth centre to embrace the value of teamwork. Teamwork is animportant element that makes one an effective leader since itinvolves the members working together to solve problems, achieve theset objectives faster and efficiently, provide support to one anotherand delegation of assigned tasks (Tyssen, Wald &amp Spieth, 2013,54). The behavioural leadership theory argues that there are certainactions that other successful leaders implemented that can be taughtto other leaders to help them become effective leaders (Goethals &ampSorenson, 2006, 55). An analysis of my leadership successes showsthat I learned the value of teamwork from our youth coordinator andupon implementing it in my leadership experience I managed to becomean effective leader. An application of the behavioural theory to theyouth program was through allowing the drug victims to share theirstories and experiences that enabled them to assist one another inhandling the challenges they were facing. I had learned the value ofteamwork from our director who always encouraged us to work as agroup (Baylis, 2014, 35). Based on the issues that most youths whoenrolled for the program were facing, teamwork was essential becauseit helped the youths to work together in addressing their issues.Individuals got to learn through the testimonies and changed theirperception of life (Yukl, 2012, 149). I discovered that one of thelimitations of the behavioural approach is that not all leadershippatterns can result in successful leadership. The behaviours must berelevant to the leadership style one implements. For example, itwould be inappropriate to apply teamwork in a scenario where one isapplying the autocratic style of leadership because one does not needthe input of the followers. Therefore, an effective leader can benurtured to learn successful leadership behaviours such as the valueof teamwork.

Despite the successes of the leadership experience, I experienced onefailure that affected my performance as a leader. Confidence is anelement that makes one an effective leader, but if one isunder-confident or overconfident, it hinders their ability to becomean effective leader (Yukl, 2012, 346). An analysis of my leadershipexperience shows that I had a weakness of hesitation before making afinal decision that resulted in the desire to fulfil always thedesires of the people although it was inappropriate in othersituations. Regarding the styles of leadership theory, I wasimplementing Laissez-Faire leadership because of my under-confidence.The Laissez-Faire styles theory requires the leader to offer minimalguidance and allow the followers freely to make decisions (Giri &ampSantra, 2010, 87). The role of the leader is only to provide theneeded resources. However, the Laissez-Faire style of leadership wasinappropriate at the youth centre because the youths wereunder-skilled, de-motivated and the needed the guidance of theirfacilitators to overcome the challenges they were facing (Ricketson,2000, 21). Experiencing failure during the leadership experience isimportant because it allows one to learn from their leadershipmistakes. The youth coordinator helped me realize that the leadershipstyle was inappropriate and nurtured me by guiding me through theappropriate style. I learned that what makes one an effective leaderis the ability to be a decision-maker and a role model to yourfollowers (Komives &amp Wagner, 2012, 44).Therefore, it can beargued that what makes one an effective leader is the leadershipstyle that they use to lead others.

My leadership experience affected my professional development indifferent ways. It taught me the importance of developing a clearvision and setting goals and objectives that one works towardsachieving. When I started volunteering at the youth centre, I knewthat I wanted to make a positive influence in the lives of theyouths, and I worked hard towards achieving that. What makes aneffective leader is one who can set goals, have a clear vision, andbe committed to work towards attaining them within a specific time.It helps in following the right direction. My professionaldevelopment was enhanced since I learned the value and culture ofteamwork in handling any tasks. I also managed to develop leadershipskills such as decision-making, determination, honesty, creativityand time management among other skills. The leadership experienceenhanced my professional development since I got an opportunity tounderstand workflow and operations within an organization. I managedto enhance my change management skills that helped employees torespond positively to change (Inandi, Tunc &amp Gilic, 2013, 197).

Can youlearn to be a leader?

There are different arguments regarding whether one can learn to be aleader. One may have the personal traits for becoming an effectiveleader, but learning the leadership skills and gaining leadershipexperience helps one to become an effective leader. Based on thedegree studies, one of the leadership aspects that I would recommendto help in learning to be a leader is being open-minded. To learn tobe a leader, one needs to take responsibility and lead his/herfollowers in the best direction possible (Goleman, 2013, 54). Provideyour followers with an opportunity to make suggestions, share ideasand exchange information. Being open-minded allows one to be readyand willing to learn from others, learn new techniques, and criticizetheir performance and to learn from their failures. An analysis ofmy leadership experience shows that one can learn to be a leader ifthey are aware of different leadership styles. It also involvesdetermining the appropriate style for a given situation(Boykins, etal., 2013, 8).. The leadership styles can be taught to anindividual who is willing to understand how to lead others. Thefailure I experienced during my leadership experience taught me to bea better leader because I was open minded. An application of thestyles theory is evident since I was willing to learn from the youthcoordinator on the appropriate leadership styles after failing byimplementing the wrong style. The coordinator taught me the differentleadership styles and made me understand that implementing thedemocratic style of leadership at the youth program would have beenappropriate because leader retains the power to make the finaldecision (Vaculik, Prochazka, &amp Smutny, 2014, 338). Being openminded helps a leader to learn the appropriate leadership style thatshall boost the productivity of employees in an organization (Tiffan,2010, 58) Therefore, an individual can learn to be a leader if theyare open minded and are willing to understand the differentleadership styles.

Leaders are considered influential people in society. The people theyserve tend to look up to them as role models and change models(Adair, 2010, 3). Therefore, I believe that one can learn to be aleader if they are ready and willing to take the initiative. When Iwas working at the youth centre, most of the drug victims whoattended the youth programs were my age mates. Most of them informedme that I was their role model, and that motivated me to work towardsinitiating change in their life. Another personal recommendation isfor the leaders always to take the initiative because it helps one todevelop self-confidence, persistence and spot opportunities that canbe explored for the benefit of their followers (Canwell, et al.,2014). An analysis of the situational leadership theory shows thatleaders need to be highly flexible so that they can meet the changingdemands of their followers especially in a diverse workforce or aninternational organization (Singh, 2015, 42). Being flexible allowsan individual to take the initiative in whatever situation they findthemselves. The limitation of the situational theory is that it lacksconsistency. When leaders apply the situational theory, it results inconfusion among followers since they are unaware of the changes toexpect from them. One can learn to be a leader if they can lead otherpeople if they have the ability to respond to any situation(Ghasabeh, Reaiche &amp Soosay, 2015, 460).

Leaders are selected from different levels in an organization. Onecan be a leader if they belong to lower organizational levels, middleor from the highest organizational level (Sadler, 2003, 13). A personcan learn to be a leader if they are serving at any level of anorganization. An analysis of the traits theory indicates that onecannot be taught to be a leader, but if they have certain traits, onequalifies to be an effective leader because their personalitydetermines their ability to lead others (Germain, 2012, 33). Anapplication of the traits theory shows that serving in the top,middle or lower organizational levels, equips one with adequateknowledge and experience that helps them in learning to be effectiveleaders (Lester, 2015, 292). I also recommend those who are willingto be leaders that they should not wait to reach the toporganizational level since one can learn to be a leader despite theirorganization level. People need to understand that leadership doesnot imply having authority, but having the right skills to leadpeople towards achieving the set objectives (Glamuzina, 2015, 91).Although the traits theory argues that having leadership traits makesone an effective leader, I believe it is a limitation because, evenif one has all the leadership skills, if they lack the personalitytraits then they cannot be effective leaders. At the youth program, Iworked as a junior employee, but because of having the personalityand the leadership skills, I managed to become a successful leader.Therefore, one can learn to be a leader when serving in anyorganizational level if they have the natural leadership traits.

Action Plan

Recommendation

Activities

Leadership style

Resources

Success criteria

Schedule

Open minded

Informal learning activities such as socializing, reading and participating in training programs (Bednall, Sanders &amp Runhaar, 2014, 46)

Laissez Faire

Reasons:

-Freedom to perform self-selected activities

-Promotes self-motivation

-Develops time management skills

-Supports autonomy (Rubin, 2013, 60)

-Friends, peers, mentors

-Reading books, magazines, journals

-Computer with internet access to find information on scheduled training programs

-Ability to change personal views upon finding new information

-Increased desire to learn

-Have positive attitude

Start 10/1/2016

Review 22/1/2016

Completion 29/1/2016

Initiator

Formal development activities such as developing new ideas, being a team player, delegate tasks and consider all opportunities

Democratic

Reasons:

-Promotes high productivity among employees and team members

-Encourages high level of morale among employees

-Supports effective decision-making (Eken, Özturgut, &amp Craven, 2014, 156)

-Finances to conduct researches in the market and other relevant fields

-Adequate time to undertake the decision-making process

-Evaluate the objectives attained as a team

-determine the attitude of employees towards work

-Analyze the work situation to determine the achievements arising from the implementation of new ideas

Start

10/1/2016

Review 15/2/2016

Completion 7/3/2016

Leaders stem from different organizational levels

Work-based activities such as the human resource activities, sales, and marketing, delivery of customer care services (Albert, Kreutzer &amp Lechner, 2015, 212)

Bureaucratic

Reasons:

-Encourages creativity and innovation

-Effective control of organizational activities (Cunningham, Salomone &amp Wielgus, 2015, 34)

-Adequate information to formulate company’s policies, rules and regulations

-Experienced employees to help in the implementation of the organizational rules and policies

-Line managers of the various departments within the organization

– Reward the line managers depending on their performance

-Focus on the level of creativity among employees

-Identify unique skills among the employees

Start 17/1/2016

Review 15/2/2016

Completion 11/3/2016

References

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Singh, K 2015, `Leadership Style and Employee Productivity: A CaseStudy of Indian Banking Organizations`, Journal of KnowledgeGlobalization, 8, 2, pp. 39-67

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Vaculik, M, Prochazka, J, &amp Smutny, P 2014, `Competencies andLeadership Effectiveness: Which Skills Predict Effective Leadership?’Proceedings of the European Conference on Management, Leadership &ampGovernance, pp. 337-344

Yukl, G. (2012). Leadership in Organizations, PearsonEducation.

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