Leadership is an essential component in a situation where growth, sustenance, or survival is necessary. Leaders should also have a vision that will inspire commitment from followers. Personal experience has brought about the belief that leaders with vision are necessary in times of crisis or when there is a need for growth. Few leaders think differently and they have been discussed in the paper. Transformational leadership requires vision and also the factor of age. A personal observation is that people are willing to be transformed by guidance from an older person. The aspect of leadership is now clear and more focused as a result of this module. In any group activity including student projects, a leader is necessary. The only exception is where each team member is highly motivated and focused. This happens rarely and a leadership vacuum will exist. It is only natural that one of the team members who exhibit leadership qualities will emerge to fill the vacuum. It can be said that this happens in almost every instance including where project group activity.
Week No1 – General
Leadership is a factor that is present in most kinds of advanced life forms in the world today. We can see leadership traits in animals that usually live in packs or a sense, a social world. An elephant herd will have a matriarch who will guide the other members of the herd to safety and growth. In animals, leadership is usually associated with age or strength. In the human world which is based on a social form of living, there to exists the concept of leadership and the need by ordinary members of the society to be led. This concept of leadership is so important that it has become a part of social, psychological, and anthropological studies over the years. Leadership that is coupled with vision is an additional quality of the leader. This paper will deal with both the concepts about personal experiences and also through the observations of the real world one lives in.
This section deals with a personal experience of this writer from which a very important life message was put across. The experience is concerned with a drive along with some friends in a remote part of the country. Being adventurous, such drives were regularly done by this writer and some close friends. This drive with four friends was in a borrowed SUV. It had been raining for quite some time and the country we were driving in was quite flat. There were fears that the area might be flooded which turned out to be true by the afternoon. The SUV got stuck in the floodwaters which began to rise and cover the vehicle. Everyone began to panic, except for one who calmly advised us what to do. He thought that sitting in the car was dangerous as it was stuck in a depression. Others objected that it was safer in the car. But ultimately he had his way and asked each of them to hold on to the person in front when wading in the swirling waters. We managed to get across to higher ground and soon the car was completer submerged. What was learned was that in crises, there is the need for a leader and if none are present, one of them with certain qualities will emerge. The leader in this experience had the vision to see that the water level will rise above the car in which case the situation would become critical.
Vision, negative vision and leadership
It can be said that vision is a crucial factor in effective leadership. “In the Book of Proverbs it is said, ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish.’ This is as true in business as it is in life. Organizations whose leaders have no vision are doomed to work under the burden of mere tradition.” (Snyder and Graves 1994, p.1). In every case where survival and growth is required, vision is required. Leadership without vision is fine in situations where the need is only to maintain status quo. Otherwise vision becomes an integral part of leadership. So, “Vision is a compelling picture of the future that inspires commitment.” (Vision Leadership and Change: Vision. 1993). So the question is where a person gets this vision that can inspire people to follow him. In most cases it stems from a personal idea that develops within the person’s mind. It could stem from the need to solve a problem or crisis or the need for improvement. It could also come from some inspiring source like quotes, and real life incidents. Gandhi had this vision when he felt that the British could be made to quit the country by non-violent means. It was so compelling that he could get the commitment of other leaders and also millions of ordinary people.
Leadership in isolation
Leadership is isolation is not possible and is even dangerous. People will begin to loose faith in both the leader and his vision. When things began to go wrong for Germany during the Second World War, Hitler began to isolate himself from his people. This ultimately led to a much earlier destruction of the country by the Allied powers. “Comments such as a smile of the Fuhrer, his look itself gives us strength and courage again’ were said to have occurred in all reports received.” (Kershaw 2001, p.180).
Role as follower and leader
As for personal experiences as a follower and leader, the follower part has already been shown by the flood experience mentioned above. My willingness to follow my friend probably saved me from a lot of problems. As leader, I happened to lead a team in class project. The topic being difficult resulted in frayed tempers and uncooperative behaviour from team mates. It took a lot of patience and motivation to get the work done. I had to keep myself motivated by reading self-help books and stories about hardships being overcome.
Skills that I bring into my leadership
I use quotes of famous persons and techniques mentioned in leadership books as a leader. My personal experiences will also be as asset. The favourite readership book that is used is ‘Magic of Thinking Big’ by David Schwartz. I agree with the following observation of the author which says, “Dr. David J. Schwartz, long regarded as one of the foremost experts on motivation, will help you sell better, manage better, earn more money, and — most important of all — find greater happiness and peace of mind.” (Schwartz 2007).
A person whom I admire for thinking differently
A person whom I admire for thinking differently is Bill Gates of Microsoft Corporation. He not only thought differently, but also thought big. “Identifying the enormous potential of this new era of computing, best summed up by famously aiming to put “a computer on every desk and in every home,” Gates landed the deal to provide the operating system to the very first IBM-PC.” (Richards 2006). People may hate him or admire him, but even his detractors cannot say that he did not think differently or in a small way. At that time the computer could only be used by people who had some technical knowledge. The Ms Dos operating system licensed to IBM PCs and clones enabled ordinary people to use computers. With growing complexity of work and life, Gates could see that this different thinking could find a solution to this problem to a large extent.
Getting my point across
In my case, I would use several methods to get my point across to my team of which I am the leader. The first is that I should believe in the cause which will help me persuade others to follow me. I will use inspirational quotes as well as facts from real life. Empathy in place of sympathy will be used when solving problems for others. This is because “Effective communication with employees calls for more than sympathy. Empathy is a necessity.” (Horn and Pitfield 2008, p.72). An employee can be considered as a follower of the leader (employer).
My Assumption of leadership and leaders and my role as a leader
I firmly believe that leadership is essential for growth and success, but the style adopted should suit the situation. On a personal level it is felt that I have the potential in me to become a leader, but this needs to be developed through learning and observation. I feel that I am charismatic enough to be a leader, but find that transformational leadership is beyond me at this point of time.
This module has helped me to take the aspect of leadership in a serious and mature way. It has also helped me in identifying my shortcomings to a large extent. If feel that I need to be more patient to become a transformational leader. I also consider age to be a block at this stage. So I am at the threshold of becoming such a leader. I will be patient and wait till I get more wisdom with age. But learning, practicing empathy and observation will soon become second nature to me.
HORN, Art., and PITFIELD, Robert H. (2008). Beyond Ego: Influential Leadership Starts Within. [online]. ECW Press. Web.
KERSHAW, Lan. (2001). The Hitler Myth: Image and Reality in the Third Reich. [online]. Oxford University Press. P.180. Web.
RICHARDS, Geoff. (2006). The Road Ahead: A Brief History of a Visionary. [online]. Bit-tech.net. Web.
SCHWARTZ, David J. (2007). Set Your Goals High Then Exceed Them. [online]. Books Christian.com. Web.
SNYDER, Neil H., and GRAVES, Michelle. (1994). Leadership and Vision: Importance of Goals and Objectives in Leadership Includes Bibliography Editorial. [online]. BNET: The Go To Place for Management. Web.
Vision, Leadership and Change: Vision. (1993). [online]. SEDL: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory. Web.