Understand leadership styles
Identify the factors that will influence their choice of leadership styles or behaviours in workplace situations
Every employee at DP World has a certain level of responsibility in the organisation. These responsibilities are diverse, and every leader makes different decisions, based on the nature of their responsibilities. However, every decision has a special time limit and implication on the organisation (Joseph 2012). The uniqueness of most decisions demand the introduction of appropriate leadership styles to address the implications of the decisions made (Robbins et al. 2010). For example, most leaders at DP World have a special level of control in the organisation that determines their leadership style. Stated differently, some leaders have to be there on a daily basis (to oversee operations that fall within their locus of control), while other leaders do not have to be present in the day-to-day running of the organisation. A leader that has to be present in the daily running of the organisation has to micro-manage their operations. This requirement informs their leadership style.
Personal traits also influence the leadership styles of DP world leaders. For example, some leaders trust their subordinates and adopt a hands-off approach to their operations. Usually, such leaders create a different level of management within their departments to oversee their delegated roles. Those that do not share the same level of trust (for their subordinates) are more involved in the daily operations of their departments. Joseph (2012) perceives the influence of personal traits on leadership styles as an extension of a leader’s personality because leaders who have outgoing personalities are more likely to confront their subordinates face-to-face, while leaders who have introverted personalities tend to avoid this approach. Usually, leaders who are more reserved decide to lead by example, or adopt a nonverbal approach of leadership (such as written communications). In addition, leaders who are more reserved prefer to engage employees on an individual basis, as opposed to face-to-face sessions. This way, they provide individual direction as opposed to group direction (Robbins et al. 2010).
The organisational structure also has a critical role to play in determining the leadership styles adopted by different leaders at DP World. Joseph (2012) says organisations may adopt two styles of governance. Some organisations embrace employee contribution, while others adopt a more authoritarian style of governance. Fortunately, DP World values contributions from its members. Consequently, employees have a significant role to play in defining their roles and functions in the organisation. In other organisations, leaders adopt a more rigid way of governance where deviation (or opposition to the leader) is unexpected.
The level of experience of every leader at DP World has a significant impact on their leadership styles. Leaders who do not have a lot of experience in the organisation normally tend to adopt a “textbook” approach to leadership (by trying to avoid the potential pitfalls of leadership) (Robbins et al. 2010). However, experienced leaders follow a special approach to their leadership styles. The leader’s interpretation of the rules and guidelines (which guide the organisation’s operation) inform their unique approaches. Experienced leaders are also more comfortable in their decision-making processes because they understand how DP World works. Therefore, such leaders have a better understanding of the organisational nuances that surround DP World’s operation.
With the increased level of globalisation in the world today, many leaders face the challenge of accommodating the unique needs and diversities of different employee groups. This is also true for DP World. The company has a strong global presence that spans six continents. Through its global presence, DP World operates 60 terminals (run by employees from different cultural backgrounds). The organisation now has a more diverse cultural workforce (than was witnessed in the past). Indeed, DP World’s employee pool is now characterised by people from different races, genders, ages, and culture. This diversity has forced some leaders to respond to the needs of every employee group. Indeed, some leaders have responded to this diversity by creating a broad vision that encompasses the needs of every staff, while others have embraced a multicultural approach to their leadership styles. Examples of the diversity embraced by such leaders include the introduction of the participatory leadership style where every employee enjoys an opportunity to discuss their views about how the organisation runs. This way, the leaders and the employees share a close working relationship that is mostly beneficial to new employees, who assimilate into the organisation (Mooney 2012, p. 5).
Leaders who have embraced this approach also embrace the servant leadership style where they provide employees with everything they need to succeed in the organisation. In turn, when these employees mature, they can transfer their newly acquired skills to other upcoming employees. This strategy has improved the company’s operational efficiency.
Explain why these leadership styles or behaviours are likely to have a positive effect on individual and group behaviour
The above influences of leadership behaviours (as adopted by DP World managers) have a positive effect on individual and group behaviours. In order of reporting, the level of leadership control has a positive impact on individual and group behaviours because employees feel more confident about their actions. For instance, when an employee executes an action that a leader with immense organisational control initiates, the employee will not fear the threat of contradiction by any other person in the organisation. Such an employee is therefore likely to execute such an action with diligence and confidence because a leader of immense organisational control supports him.
A leader’s personal trait (as a cause of leadership style) also has a positive impact on individual and group behaviour because Mann (2012) demonstrates the importance of leaders to embrace their personality traits in their leadership styles (as a means to achieve organisational efficiency). In other words, Mann (2012) claims leaders who fake their personalities (in their leadership styles) fail to capture the imagination of their subordinates. This is because their real character manifests at the end. For example, if a leader pretends to have an outgoing personality and replicates the same in his leadership style, the employees are bound to see through his pretence and fail to trust him/her in the end. Employees would therefore not know what to expect from such a leader because they pretend to be who they are not. This pretence affects their performance (negatively) and causes mistrust and suspicion in the organisation. Therefore, upholding sincerity in a person’s leadership style and replicating the same leadership style with their personality is a sure way of creating an environment of predictability and trust within the organisation. Consequently, employees will also be aware of what to expect from the leader and perform as expected. This predictability improves the relationship between the employees and their leaders, thereby improving organisational performance in the end.
DP World’s organisational structure and its influence on leaders also create a positive environment for organisational performance. As mentioned earlier, DP World’s organisational structure strives to uphold the inclusiveness of all employees. Therefore, the organisation respects the opinions of most employees in the daily running of the business. Leaders therefore enjoy the same equal opportunities as employees while charting the way for improving organisational performance. This open and inclusive organisational structure (as opposed to the closed, top-down organisational structure) provides the right environment for the nurturing of creativity and innovation within the organisation. In this organisational structure, leaders are likely to make the employees feel respected and important to the daily running of the organisation (Mann 2012). This way, employee morale increases.
A leader’s experience in the organisation is also bound to have the same positive effect as an inclusive organisational structure does. This is especially true for leaders who have a lot of experience in the organisation. Since this paper already demonstrates the confidence of experienced leaders in the execution of organisational strategies, it is safe to say experienced leaders are better performers than inexperienced leaders. In addition, leaders who have a vast experience in organisational activities are likely to understand the pitfalls and opportunities of undertaking different organisational activities. Experienced leaders can therefore better guide their teams to operational excellence. They may do so by encouraging their subjects to exploit available opportunities in the organisation and avoid any risk that may hinder their performance. Individuals and groups that have experienced leaders are therefore likely to achieve organisational excellence (Mooney 2012, p. 5).
Lastly, acknowledging employee diversity as a factor that influences leadership styles also improves employee diversity. Often, leaders who oversee global operations are encouraged to embrace multiculturalism to achieve maximum worker productivity (Mooney 2012). Therefore, from this understanding, not only does multiculturalism influence leadership styles, it also improves employee productivity. Mann (2012) says companies, which embrace multiculturalism, tend to perform better than companies that do not embrace employee diversity. The birth of an innovative culture is one product of employee diversity that most organisations benefit from. In other words, if an organisation shows its employees that there is more than one way of doing things in the organisation, the employees will reciprocate by being innovative. Although many researchers acknowledge the positive effects on employee diversity on organisational productivity, Mann (2012) cautions that improved organisational productivity only occurs when leaders are sensitive to their subjects.
The contribution of employee diversity to workplace productivity also manifests in organisations that have failed to embrace multiculturalism. Such organisations suffer from ethnocentrism. Ethnocentrism is the perception that one culture is dominant over other cultures. Leaders who have treated one culture as the dominant and standard culture have failed to reap the benefits of employee participation. Instead, such leaders practice favouritism and exclusion in their organisations. Such an environment demoralises the workforce and limits the potential to earnest employee productivity (Mann 2012). Consequently, embracing employee diversity improves employee productivity.
Understand leadership qualities and review our leadership qualities and potential
Assess own leadership behaviours and potential in the context of a particular leadership model and own organisation’s working practices and culture, using feedback from others
As a senior supervisor trainee, I consider myself an effective leader. I am motivated to say so because I believe an effective leader is always ready and willing to learn, as opposed to giving oneself the title of a leader (blindly). I also believe that by being designated the title to serve as a senior supervisor trainee at DP World; I have demonstrated my ability to influence individuals and groups. These skills have especially manifested in my ability to guide and influence other people in the organisation to achieve a favourable organisational outcome by affecting the efficiency and effectiveness of workflow processes (positively). I have achieved most of these goals by understanding the role of a leader in taking action to influence their teams positively (to achieve team objectives). Often, even if I do not guide a team to achieve their goals, I draw them closer to their desired destinations. Inspiring a team to work together and to communicate effectively have been my strongest strategies for achieving this purpose.
My ability to communicate effectively about how teams should operate and what teams need to do to achieve individual and group goals complement my leadership abilities. Indeed, this potential stems from my conviction that it is crucial for teams and individuals to communicate effectively to achieve their goals. This way, I am able to identify what my team could do better to achieve desirable group outcomes. This characteristic closely complements my belief that as a leader, I should remain calm so that everybody in the team senses the positive energy and adopts the same attitude in fulfilling team objectives. This is especially true in demanding and stressful situations. These values do not however undermine the importance of leaders to remain persistent and demanding, even in situations that do not require their direct input. By exuding dominance, it is easier for a leader to lead his team into completing their goals on time. Therefore, if a leader fails to exhibit persistence and dominance, it would be difficult for the team members to take them seriously. I believe this is where problems like unfinished tasks emerge. In critical organisational situations (that require sensitive leadership), there is no room for leaders to slack because leaders need to make timely decisions and justify them as well.
Broadly, from my experience, I have assumed several positions of leadership, including overseeing group projects at the university and undertaking several leadership projects at work (such as, arranging the reception roster and managing office crises). For example, there was a time I noticed a burst pipe in our office kitchen and organised the plumber to fix it (without bothering my superiors with the problem). I have also worked as a manager in a local grocery shop where I had to make a schedule for all employees to work without interfering with their daily schedules. It was a daunting task trying to please every employee but I used my communication skills to communicate with all the stakeholders (employees and the owner of the shop) to create a workable timetable for the store. In the same job, I equally had to solve many employee complaints by chairing a weekly meeting to solve major and minor issues at the store. From my position as the store manager, I had to exude dominance by explaining to everyone that not everything in the store goes according to how we plan. However, because we were a team, we had to solve every issue as so. I achieved significant success in managing the store by demonstrating the importance of working together (as a team).
In my current role as a senior supervisor trainee at DP World, I intend to improve my leadership skills by accepting more challenging leadership roles, such as, supervising large-scale container terminal operations. To prepare myself for this new task, I expect to learn the fundamentals of supervising vessel operations. In addition, since I appreciate the importance of resource planning, I intend to learn about the same. DP World’s organisational culture simplifies the nurturing of employee skills. I therefore I believe that I will be able to improve my skills in the same regard. For example, by exploiting the organisation’s dynamic and inspiring work environment, I will be able to nurture my skills and competencies to make me an effective leader. Indeed, I believe that even though the activities of the organisation may be geographically diverse, the values of teamwork, commitment, and leadership remain alive throughout all departments of the organisation. In addition, the professional inducements provided at DP World (such as, proper pay, possibility of working anywhere around the world, employee recognition programs, and advanced employee training programs) support my quest to improve my leadership skills. Finally, I believe that my strong leadership and communication skills will enable me to execute my mandate efficiently and diligently by ensuring that my output meets the critical service level standards required at DP World.
Describe appropriate actions to enhance own leadership behaviour in the context of the particular leadership model
Albeit many people are effective leaders, good leadership remains a changing concept that thrives on the ability of leaders to enhance their leadership qualities. I have highlighted some of my notable leadership behaviours, but they are still subject to further improvement. Watson and Reissner (2010) believe that good leaders are able to deliver a clear, concise, and relevant message to their subjects. This philosophy informs the process of improving my skills as an effective communicator because by delivering a concise, clear, and relevant message, I will be able to have a more lasting impact on my team. Preparation is normally the key to effective communication and as Watson and Reissner (2010) believe, defining the goals of communication emphasises the message that an effective leader may communicate with his subject. Indeed, by having a definite objective, it is easier for leaders to concentrate on communicating the key points of their speech, as opposed to presenting a lot of unnecessary information to the people. Defining goals and focusing on the important message is therefore an important tip that I can use to improve my communication skills. Besides this observation, Watson and Reissner (2010) say that understanding the audience and shortening the message improves a leader’s communication efficiency. In this regard, I am able to have a comprehensive understanding of the right strategies to use to improve my communication skills.
Emotional intelligence is also another important leadership attribute that I intend to improve. Emotional intelligence is the ability of a leader to manage his emotions (and the emotions of other people) as a crucial tool for maintaining calm and trust in the team (Watson and Reissner 2010). So far, I have demonstrated how I have been able to exercise this trait as part of my main leadership attributes (by maintaining composure and calmness even when I face stressful situations). Watson and Reissner (2010) say leaders may improve this leadership trait through inward focus, by practicing self-awareness, self-regulation, internal motivation, empathy, and boosting social skills as the main areas of improving their emotional intelligence.
Problem solving is an important skill that many leaders require. I have equally faced several situations where I had to solve problems in the team setting. Uniquely, no leadership context lacks its problems but Mann (2012) believes that the true measure for evaluating if a leader is making progress (in problem solving) is ensuring that he does not face the same problems he has faced in the past. This is the main premise that I may use to improve my problem solving skills. In other words, from every problem I experience as a leader, I should ensure that the same problem does not occur again. Therefore, as an important stage in problem solving, I should ensure that I exhaust all possible solutions to the problem. Most importantly, I should ensure that I find a long-term solution to such problems. However, before evaluating the possible solutions to any problem, identifying and structuring the problem is also an important step that most leaders should consider before evaluating any possible solutions (Mann 2012). The main purpose of introducing this strategy is to provide a structured process for problem solving. Therefore, as a leader, it is crucial to have a systematic approach to solve different organisational problems (instead of an unstructured approach to problem solving). This strategy improves the efficiency of a leader in handling different organisational problems.
Finally, when people think of charismatic leaders, they often imagine politicians, celebrities, business moguls and other people with a strong influence in the society. Great leaders are often charismatic. However, as a prospective leader at DP World, I have not been able to inculcate this leadership trait in my personal set of skills. I therefore rely on an assertion by Mann (2012), which says leaders may be charismatic by learning the qualities of other charismatic leaders. Therefore, knowing how to exude charisma in my personal demeanour may improve my interpersonal skills and boost my communication skills as well. In this regard, I understand that I need to develop charisma by being interesting and being interested in what other people do. Through this realisation, I have understood that I need to be more engaging and articulate when speaking with other people. Charismatic leaders are often able to communicate their message clearly and articulately by conveying seriousness when doing so (Mann 2012).
Furthermore, charismatic leaders often know when to be humorous and when to be serious. For example, in a small group setting, a charismatic leader would exude a relaxed attitude and often interact with other people by maintaining a close eye contact with them. Similarly, they will be keen to observe how their audience responds and explains their position. Overall, charismatic leaders make everybody feel included. Inculcating such skills in my personal set of leadership skills will improve my effectiveness as a leader at DP World.
Joseph, C 2012, Factors Influencing Leadership Styles. Web.
Mann, S 2012, ‘Leading in Turbulent Times: Lessons Learnt and Implications for the Future’, Leadership & Organization Development Journal, vol. 33 no. 7, pp. 704 – 705.
Mooney, L 2012, Factors Influencing Leadership Styles. Web.
Robbins, S, Judge, T and Campbell, T 2010, Organizational Behaviour (10th International Edition), Prentice Hall, London.
Watson, G and Reissner, S 2010, Developing Skills for Business Leadership, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), London.