Leadership Development – Reflections About Leading a Work Group

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Introduction

Collaborative leadership is the hallmark of a sustainable community with the concerted effort of both leaders and their subordinates in decision making and problem solving endeavors. A leadership culture that recognizes both leaders and followers being under authority is necessary in benchmarking proper management practices in organizations (Andersen 2000). An accomplished leader relies on his/her subordinates in organizational planning and carrying out objectives and goals designed for successful operations. An effective organizational culture is a craft that exploit mistakes as opportunities that guarantee mutual growth within organizations.

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Transformational leadership style recognizes that human beings are bound to make mistakes which should not be out rightly punished, instead, utilized for the collective learning in leadership. Collaborative leadership is therefore benchmarked on development programs that address practical problems within the community with the purpose of creating appropriate strategy towards conflict resolution and decision making (Moon2004). Real problems that confront the society include crime and insecurity, drug abuse and socially unacceptable behavior. These problems do not occur within the boundaries of political, social and economic institutions but manifest in the society with remarkable effects.

Leaders are therefore a product of this society with its defining characteristics. It is therefore the role of the entire society to establish leadership cultures that recognize the potential of both leaders and followers responsibly. Political leaders, chief executives, scientists and religious leaders should have a responsible followership in order to account for their positions in power and authority. A responsible followership ensures that constructive dissent in dialogue and deliberations on public policy is sustained for the mutual benefit of society (Bartik 2001). The role of subordinates in a business organization for instance is to ensure that organizational goals and objectives are achieved as scheduled and to the expected standards.

Successful leaders are adaptable to different situations, assertive and decisive. They are also alert to the social environment at workplace, cooperative, dependable and goal oriented. They are expected to influence others through high activity levels, tolerant to stress and willingness to take responsibility for their actions. Leadership styles and behaviors further explore activities that leaders engage in as opposed to their inherent characteristics. Research into employee behavior at workplace has revealed two theories describing their characteristics. According to one theory, workers need to be directed towards the achievement of organizational goals through reward systems that recognize their efforts as well as negative reinforcement of bad behavior through punishments.

Leaders in organizations are therefore expected to take responsibility of the goings on at their workplace in order to motivate workers effectively. Alternative theory suggests that workers do not rely on external control and warning of punishment in order to work effectively (Checkoway, 2007). Workers have the ability to exercise their own direction and control at workplace. They are therefore motivated towards the achievement of personal and organizational goals as a result of genuine rewards for their efforts. The theory further states that employees working in a proper environment get accustomed to their tasks and responsibilities through their intellectual capacities and degree of imagination.

As such, the leadership styles applied at workplace are focused on both employee welfare and production output. Leaders therefore build relationships through networking and supporting initiatives that empower workers towards achieving organizational objectives. Important elements in leadership include managing conflicts, motivation as well as recognizing and rewarding workers’ efforts. Decision making is also an integral part of the leadership which includes planning, organizing, problem solving, consultation and delegating of roles and responsibilities (Cooper, 2005).

Fielder’s contingency model

A leader’s effectiveness is evaluated based on the relevance of the leadership style to the work situation. The relationship between leaders and followers plays a big role in the success of organization. Personalities of both leaders and their subordinates are important in their work relationships. Subordinates apply their creativity in the tasks assigned to them while the leaders utilize their positions of authority directing followers towards meeting organizational objectives.

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Path-Goal theory

Leaders focus their efforts on encouraging followers to work towards achieving rewards contingent to organizational objectives as well as directing paths for performance. The leader provides rules and regulations meant to guide subordinates towards achieving goals and better performance at workplace. Leaders express person concern for the subordinates’ needs and welfare. Emphasis is placed on accomplishment of difficult tasks where leaders entrust their subordinates with organizational goals. Decision making is done through consultations between leaders and subordinates on work-related duties and mechanisms for sharing important information. The theory is therefore focused on leader characteristics based on a participative approach, networking and achievement of mutual goals (Fletcher, 2001).

Situational leadership

Subordinates participated in leadership through their potentialities and perceived control of destiny. Leaders on the other hand provided necessary direction and guidance at workplace through clear objectives, appropriate procedures, evaluation and time frames. Subordinates were expected to make willing contributions on tasks as well as give and receive feedback as a team with their leaders. I have applied the transformational leadership style most extensively as a project manager. This has been exhibited through role modeling, display of conviction to subordinates as well as motivation of workers. In addition, work-related tasks have been clearly outlined to employees through effective communication, setting achievable standards and inspiration of workers towards best performance at work (Pruitt& Roberts 2003).

As a team leader, I have been able to encourage creativity by encouraging subordinates to take risks as well as develop innovative ideas and assumptions towards achieving organizational objectives. As a project manager, I have established the character of attending to followers on an individual basis as a mentor in order to address their needs and concerns effectively. An element of transactional leadership has been equally fruitful through contingent rewards as well as active and passive management initiatives. Through contingent rewards, leadership has been able to set up constructive transactions with subordinates meant to establish criteria for recognition of individual worker’s efforts (Brockett & Merriam 2007). As a leader, I have been able to monitor follower behavior in order to anticipate problems as well as take appropriate corrective measures beforehand.

Through authentic leadership style, I have been able to establish transparency at work through an environment that allows for giving and receiving feedback to issues I have established high standards for moral and ethical conduct. Through a system of balanced processing, decision making has taken an all-inclusive approach whereby subordinates are free to make opinions in resolving issues. The followers are therefore empowered to participate in leadership in an environment that encourages self awareness among workers for the mutual benefit.

Effectiveness of our leadership style

The task of managing and leading therefore demanded for collective responsibility in executing duties through constructive dissent from a mature followership (Earley& Sara 2007).. Mature leadership is defined by the checks and balances that it puts in place to ascertain that leadership is accounted for in society. Both leaders and followers are bound to make errors in the process of working on communal activities. Mistakes are not points of weakness but opportunities to solidify talent and potential within human personnel responsibly (Nasta, Griffin& Gray 2000).

As such, professional leadership is in place to advantage of workplace-related mistakes in alleviating future problems in good faith. Mistakes therefore provided important experiences in designing leadership programs that could be entrenched in strategically in the organizations. Team leaders worked together with a responsible followership with potential to make up for their limitations. It was common to find subordinates complaining about their leadership at work. Site employees manifested growing dissent and expectation upon their leaders.

Traditionally, leaders were perceived to be perfect and multitalented in different tasks including the art of leadership. The myth has been proven wrong in light of the emerging challenges in leadership, management and administration of political, social and economic institutions. This has necessitated the evolution of selection criterion in leadership portfolios with the goal of restraining the imperfections of leaders as far as management of public resources is concerned. The criterion seeks to replace conventional leadership style that celebrates a “god figure” leadership phenomenon with responsible leadership founded on constructive dissent (Checkoway 2007). The myth of the perfect leader with omniscient and omnipotent traits is no longer being celebrated due to the need for independence of responsible followers towards a concerted commitment of the entire society towards the realization of defined goals.

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Building and construction is a multifaceted task that requires the concerted effort of different professionals in realization of mutual goals. My roles of a project manager on a construction site were therefore dynamic. Workers at the construction site included masons, plumbers, architects, designers, managers, engineers among others. Different materials are required towards erecting a building to the expected standards. Strategy, management and leadership on the part of the project manager employed by top administration to organize the project remained as the point of focus (Silberman 2007). The project manager was under obligation to facilitate the project’s completion within the scheduled timeframe and that the final product met the expected standards for a world class business building.

As a project manager, I had to liaise with senior management (co-leadership) in order to ensure the successful completion of projects. Co-leadership provided that responsibilities are shared within an organization management hierarchy with a view of reducing the gap that exists between authorities (Collins& Pollard 2005). As such I developed the agenda for the construction project based on the strategy of the organization. The overall agenda of the project was equally developed through the contribution of experts on the ground in addition to the relevant information from stakeholders. This required creation of networking with professionals in fields of interest to the project for its successful completion.

Motivation of workers on site through employee motivational techniques required that subordinates receive a proper compensation for their work through monetary allowances and salaries. In addition, reward systems that recognized individual effort for promotion and public recognition were employed. Follower-ship centered perspectives empower leadership with skills, techniques and expertise that exploit experiences in situ at different jobs towards the realization of communal goals (Cooper 2005). As such, the entire team had a mutual responsibility to communicate with each other with suggestions and alternative responses to the issues at hand. A follower-centered perspective is therefore a two-way approach that appreciates the recognition of both leaders and followers in leadership.

Partnerships created between leaders in all levels of the organization were therefore instrumental in setting and implementing the business goals through collaboration. The project manager facilitates the process through which construction materials are distributed to the different sites with the help of the followers. Since a follower-based leadership perspective incorporates everybody, leadership rotates among different members of staff in the organization hierarchy with respect to different responsibilities (Doyle, McDonald& Leberman 2006).

Responsibility is defined by the capacity that has been developed through collaborative leadership processes. As such, leadership was not entirely designated to the project manager but delegated through the subordinates in their specialized capacities and training. Distributed leadership involved decentralization of social responsibilities in order to manage risks. Subordinates can therefore climb the corporate ladder in their career ambitions. The various teams at the construction site were organized in teams made up of experts in order facilitate administration of duties, designing work schedules, targets and conducting relevant training through delegated leadership under my stewardship as the project manager.

Important duties included provision of necessary strategy, vision and mission for the construction project. This manifests horizontal positioning of leadership instead of the vertical positioning with subordinate compliance to top authority (Fletcher 2001). In this case, leadership is a function of the community with responsibilities being shared across cultures. The position at the highest authority does not matter in distributed leadership but the relationship that exists between various stakeholders in organizations. Followers are motivated to lead themselves through philosophy that empowers the higher authority in appreciation of the subordinates’ wisdom. As such, my managerial duties at the construction site included collecting information from various experts in order to establish a proper strategy for accomplishing tasks.

On the other hand, team leaders were responsible for the success of projects under their jurisdiction. Leadership effectiveness is directly related to the degree of self-awareness among the leaders and the followers. Barriers to self awareness hamper progress in collaborative leadership in different organizations. Workers were therefore expected to pursue their personal goals in life in order to contribute usefully towards the project at hand. The leadership position therefore provided a unique environment that empowered workers with opportunities to grow as a whole.

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Leadership is therefore a product of the community with individual openness and readiness to participate in the process. This demands commitment in allocating time, energy and resources towards accountable and responsible leadership. Actual experimentation of new skills creates appropriate opportunities to active learning through mistakes, skills and knowledge (Griffin, Holford & Jarvis 2003). The essence is founded on the ability of self-conscious individuals being empowered through mutual interaction in internalizing their capabilities towards improving organizational performance in a results based approach. The targets the team developed in accomplishing tasks were effectively realized through real evaluation of scenarios. This was achieved by liaising with team leaders in different aspects of the project with a view to create a professional and consultative program (London 2002).

Resources were distributed to teams and departments at the site through criteria that recognized emerging challenges. The overall outcome was evaluated based on organizational goals, standards and objectives for every project. Business organizations exist for the purpose of creating a competitive advantage in the market for their products and services towards increased profits. Evaluation of projects was carried out through feedback reports and ratings that compare individual gains against organizational benefits (Grint 2005). In essence, employees were rewarded through training, promotions, monetary awards, public recognition and corporate leadership.

Workers were therefore trained to appreciate organizations that employ them as equal partners and stakeholders. Constructive dissent is a product of positive feedback to leadership through appropriate interpretation of organizational goals with emphasis on strengths and weaknesses. This empowered managers with the potential to develop improvement plans. Followers and leaders were trained on how to give and receive feedback in their organizations. Collaborative leadership style also incorporates coaching for performance. Coaching entailed equipping leaders and followers with knowledge, skills and tools that empowered them to develop themselves within the organizations (Hillier 2002). This also enabled them to improve work-based performance appropriately.

The role of project manager therefore served as an opportunity for me to introduce a coaching process that ensured growth of skills in situ through persistence and commitment at workplace. The process of building trust encompassed assertiveness in addressing resistance that could arise from subordinate staff regarding project implementation at workplace. I also inspired commitment and insight among workers towards the goals and objectives of the organization. This enabled workers to manage their growth and development independently with minimum supervision by their leaders. Organizing goals were studied on whether they were specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-bound (Irby& Genevieve 2001).

The project was therefore expected to be completed within the scheduled time frames through a process that adhered to professional standards. The final outcome of the building corresponded to universal standards. This was effectively through development of skills in new competencies and opportunities that strengthened organizational goals. Consequently, leading the team called for resource mobilization and allocation towards capacity building, training and persistence through disciplinary standards that promote professionalism.

Mentorship demanded the capacity to advice, counsel, promotes career development and coaching of subordinates. This also involved being a role model to the followers through responsible relationship and active learning. As a mentor, I was expected to be self-confident, mature and authoritative in leading junior followers towards realization of organizational goals and project objectives The mentor is also expected to provide emotional support required to motivate subordinate wellbeing at workplace.

Active learning occurred through conflict resolution, consultation and dialogue in an environment that appreciated the contribution of the entire workforce towards realization of organizational goals (McGill& Weil 1989). Projects under different teams were accomplished through consensus building and high regard of professionalism.. Reward systems that recognized both individual and team efforts encouraged competitiveness within the organization. This included bonuses for projects completed before time and top quality work.

Power, authority and leadership are therefore a product of the community with emphasis on individual progress and shared responsibility in management and administration of duties in organizations (Moon 1999). Active learning provides for reconciliation of workplace-related differences as opportunities to develop practical strategies in facing obstacles in business. Mistakes committed by workers are never punished but utilized in effective leadership portfolio development.

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