Different people have defined leadership in a number of ways. Most people regard leadership as the ability to command influence. On the other hand, a leadership style refers to “the pattern of behavior that a person uses to influence the behavior of others” (Lehman 25). However, a number of leaders often face the challenge on how they can be effective in their roles. Therefore, this paper provides an analysis of an episode in which I exhibited a form of ineffective leadership in my organizational life, alternative actions I would have taken to be an effective leader, and a plan of action on how I intend to improve on my leadership capabilities.
An Episode of Ineffective Leadership
One year ago, I was chosen as a team leader for one of the sales teams in the organization I worked with. As a team leader, I was tasked with the responsibility of supervising a team of sales persons to ensure that they met their daily sales targets and promptly prepared their weekly sales reports. However, despite all the efforts I made as a team leader my team was always rated below average by the sales manager because the team hardly hit the set targets. In several instances, my team members reported to work late hence, I always had to write reports to the sales manager explaining why they reported late. We also held several meetings with my team to discuss how we could improve our performance but all the efforts bore minimal fruits. I can partly attribute my team’s poor performance to ineffective leadership.
One of the major factors that contributed to my ineffectiveness as a team leader was poor listening skills. As a team leader, I failed to actively listen to my team members in order to understand their viewpoints. As a result, I always disregarded their opinions even though I verbally gave assent to their suggestions during our meetings. Second, as an opinionated individual, I imposed several rules and procedures on how they were to conduct every sales session and I was never flexible. Most of my team members felt that I was authoritative and sabotaged my ideas. Third, my team lacked a clear strategy. Therefore, my team conducted sales haphazardly on several occasions leading to loss of customers. At times, I had verbal exchange with some of my team members and this strained our work relationship.
Alternative Courses of Action In case of a Similar Episode
In a workplace scenario, “an effective leadership denotes sending of value standard messages that employees can use to conduct their work” (Simonton 85). To be an effective leader one should provide his or her employees or juniors with adequate support, which will dictate the quality of their work (Simonton 91). Therefore, I would employ alternative courses of action when dealing with my juniors as opposed to the earlier strategies described above that resulted to ineffectiveness. For instance, junior workers often feel that they are part of a team when their supervisors listen to them and understand their viewpoints (Simpson 107).
One of the reasons why I was less successful as a team leader was because I never took the initiative to deliberately and actively listen to my team members. In order to avoid a similar mistake I would ensure that I seek the views and opinions of all my team members, and show my understanding about their views. I would also probe them further in order to ensure that all their concerns are addressed. Additionally, active listening would require validation of my team members’ reactions, views, and opinions within their own understanding.
This is crucial because it would demonstrate my ability as a leader to recognize the importance of my team’s views. I would also empathize with my team members as their leader in order to demonstrate my concern for their general welfare. Finally, I would ensure that I commit to take a course of action regarding their views and give explanations concerning any action that would not be taken.
Second, I was unsuccessful as a team leader because I largely used an autocratic leadership style. I never gave my team members enough room to express their concerns and opinions concerning the best strategy to employ in order to realize maximum sales. For instance, in most instances, I made nearly all decisions and I was never willing to incorporate the views and opinions of my team members. Therefore, I would alter this by adopting a more participative leadership style that would allow all members of my team to take part in the decision-making process within the defined limits. This would enable my team members to feel that they are part of the organization and own any decisions made. Such a measure would also have a positive impact on the general performance of my team.
Third, my team’s poor performance resulted from lack of a clear focus and plan of action. As a result, a good number of my team members lacked a clear understanding of my team’s goals and those of the organization. Most of them were less enthusiastic about their roles as sales persons in the organization due to lack of a comprehensible picture of how their roles correlated with the goals of the organization, as well as, their needs and concerns.
I would boost the performance of my team by developing a compelling leadership vision and plan. This would help me in collaborating with the entire team to ensure that each of my team members maintains focus and moves towards a similar direction. For the plan to be effective, I would align strategies to execute it by inculcating a culture of understanding, commitment, and trust. As a leader, I would ensure effective communication with the team and build concrete relationships with all my team members. This is important because it would enable members of my team to develop a sense of ownership of the plan. Therefore, stories and conversations would serve as valuable tools to achieve these goals. Moreover, I would encourage my team to formulate a vision that correlates with the goals of the organization. This vision would be simple, easy to remember, conveys the most important message, and inspire dialogue in a manner that evokes positive emotions among members of my team (Simpson 129).
Fourth, I failed to attain success as a team leader because of poor conflict resolution skills. Conflicts are often inevitable as people interact with one another; however, the greatest task is how to resolve them effectively (Lehman 79).
As a team leader, I often encountered conflicts with my team members especially those who could not attain the daily set sales targets. The failure to resolve some of the conflicts in a healthy manner strained my relationship with members of my team. Consequently, some sabotaged a number of initiatives that aimed at boosting the overall performance of my team. I also attribute poor conflict resolution skills to the inability to manage difficult conversations with my team members. For instance, most of the conflicts resulted from my failure to steer difficult conversations smoothly. On several occasions, I failed to adequately prepare for the difficult conversations. Therefore, I would have managed such stressful conversations by identifying my key areas of weaknesses such as being emotional and preparing beforehand in order to ensure that the conversations remained objective and did not result into conflicts. I would also ensure that I create a relaxed and conducive environment, which facilitates proper communication.
Finally, to be an effective leader one should be able to understand the personality traits of his or her employees (Simonton 111). This is crucial because it enables a leader to gain awareness of employees’ strengths and weaknesses hence the leader will be able to assign roles in a manner that optimally exploit employees’ strengths (Roberts 74). Unfortunately, as a team leader I failed to recognize and maximize on the strengths of my team. Instead, I majorly focused on how to improve their weaknesses. Therefore, I would resolve this by encouraging each of the team members to take a personality test after which we would collectively discuss our personality traits focusing on the strengths and weaknesses of everyone. Consequently, we would develop a sales strategy as a team, which would maximize on the potential of every team member. Additionally, I would encourage team members to corporate with each other to foster a team spirit.
Personal Action Plan to Meet Future Leadership Challenges
One of my major strengths in past leadership positions have been the ability to take risks. In my previous roles as a leader, I have always taken the initiative to adventure into new ways of carrying out tasks. Similarly, I have always preferred doing things in a different way even in the midst of great uncertainty. Fortunately, most of the initiatives have succeeded because of my ability to assess risks in order to take the right risks at the right time.
Second, I am a solution oriented individual. Whenever I face any difficulty or problem, I always seek possible solutions on how to overcome such a situation by consulting individuals who might have some knowledge about a particular difficult scenario that am facing. Alternatively, I would research about the problem from various sources and make a conclusive action point.
Third, I am a confident individual and do not fret expressing my beliefs, opinions, as well as, viewpoints. In most instances, people often want to have some knowledge about their leader’s capabilities. Therefore, I often ensure that I demonstrate confidence in order to command the same from those whom I lead.
Fourth, I have always inculcated a sense of being genuine as a leader. I am always clear about my values and work consistently in applying them because a number of people believe in actions rather than words. Similarly, I am always keen to ensure that my actions do not conflict with my beliefs and values.
Last, I am quick to adapt to change because I personally dislike maintaining the status quo. I prefer to explore new ways and new ideas on how to undertake a given task. Therefore, am always ready to welcome change in an organization set-up.
In most instances, I prefer to work individually because I tend to enjoy my own company. Hence, a number of people might consider this as an act of being uncooperative, which is often detrimental especially when working in a group set-up.
Additionally, I am slow in responding to the needs of other people due to my in ability to understand their needs effectively. As a result, when leading a group some people might feel that they are not valued. Similarly, the needs of the group members may not be met; hence, affecting their output negatively.
I also tend to be a highly opinionated individual. I am not flexible enough in relation to my strongly held opinions and I tend to dismiss other people’s views and ideas especially when am convinced about my perspective. Therefore, this makes people to develop a perception that I am domineering; hence, I often fail to foster concrete relationships with others.
How I Intend to Develop My Leadership Capabilities
I intend to undertake a number of actions in order to enhance my leadership capabilities. For instance, I intend to periodically take a self-assessment to take stock of my strengths and weaknesses, as well as, to determine the milestones I have made in terms of improving on my key areas of weaknesses. Taking periodic self-assessment will also enable me to realize areas that I ought to improve on to ensure that I maintain a reasonable level of balance in every aspect of my life.
I also intend to always develop clear visions and set realistic goals (Roberts 143). This is because any organization, team, or group often depends on their leaders to direct them on what they aim at achieving, reasons why they should pursue the goals and what course of action to take for the realization of the set goals (Roberts 159-162). Therefore, I plan to work together with other successful leaders who can provide guidance on how to develop clear visions and goals.
Additionally, I will enroll for a leadership course that provides for training in public speaking, as well as, effective communication skills. By enrolling for such a course, I hope to enhance my communication skills because a leader must possess outstanding communication skills. Furthermore, by practicing the art of public speaking I will be able to enhance my persuasion capabilities because as a leader I should be in a position to share my ideas with the team that I am leading in a manner that will enable them to willingly adopt my ideas. Effective public speaking skills can also help a leader to convey the vision and goals in a manner that the employees are able to identify with (Simpson 177-178)
A number of people regard great leadership as innate. However, effective leadership can be learnt through daily practice. Therefore, it is important to develop an awareness of one’s strengths and maximize on them while constantly working on the key areas of weaknesses to strike a balance in life and avoid extremes.
Lehman, David. Forging Futures for Nonprofits. London: Cambridge University Press, 2003. Print.
Roberts, Anne. Leadership Today: A practical Guide to Becoming an Effective Leader. New York: MacMillan Publishers, 2011. Print.
Simonton, Ben. Leadership Science. Newyork: Hill Press, 2007. Print.
Simpson, Richard. The Art of Public Speaking. London: Oxford University Press, 2010. Print.