Reflection and Development Plan
From Bill Gates to Justin Trudeau, effective leaders have shown the capacity to inspire audiences and empower their employees to reach the established goals. The executives of well-lead organizations are capable of seeing the flaws in the performance and motivate their employees to attain the top performance potential. Very often, this is possible through the creation of a positive environment that would facilitate the emergence of a shared vision that would unify a team, foster collaboration between employees, and bring them together by also acknowledging the individual strengths of workers. Importantly, despite knowing the significant impact that successful leaders will have on improving the culture within organizations and making them successful, there is still the limited capacity of leaders to guide personnel toward better outcomes.
Servant leadership is a unique philosophy and a set of practices intended to enrich the lives of individuals, build better organizational settings, and ultimately create more caring and just environments within which employees operate. According to Robert K. Greenleaf (1998), who initially coined the term “servant leadership,” “the servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. The conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions” (p. 123). Therefore, a servant leader is considerably different from others because they make sure that the interests of other people are prioritized anything else. A servant leader is a person that primarily focuses on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. While traditional styles of leadership involve the accumulation and the exercise of power by the ones at the top of the pyramid, the servant philosophy is different. It implies sharing power and helping people develop as individuals and perform as highly as possible in the workplace. Therefore, this reflection and development plan aim to address the strengths and weaknesses of the individuals associated with servant leadership and create a roadmap for further improvement as a leader. It is imperative to evaluate the perspectives of other people on how effective the current servant leadership style is and whether it could lead to positive outcomes overall. Understandably, servant leadership can be challenging because it underlines the importance of placing the interests of others first, and such a skill cannot emerge instantly without planning and preparation.
Synthesis of the Interviews
It was very interesting to hear what others think about one’s own capabilities as a servant leader. There is an overall positive perception of me as a servant leader at the organizations. The peer evaluations that were given during interviews were all intended to show the relationships fostered in the workplace and the way in which the challenges were handled. It was interesting to know that the servant leadership style provided employees with a new perspective on how individuals can be managed and encouraged to reach their goals. Such aspects as respectfulness and the desire to help workers solve their issues were the components of servant leadership that were unusual to employees because they were used to the different way in which main process problems are handled. Moreover, the peers indicated that servant leadership allowed to create a positive environment in the workplace to help employees grow both as workers and individuals. Being approachable to workers is something that servant leadership promotes, and it was good to know that I could transfer this thought to other employees.
Another good revelation from the assessment interviews referred to fostering good connections between a leader and subordinates. The aspect of a relationship is essential for servant leadership because the philosophy implies emphasizing the concerns of followers, empathizing with them, and nurturing them. Without a good relationship, it is complicated for leaders to empower the individuals that they are serving and enable them to reach full potential. As a leader, it is essential to focus on the greater good and create an environment in which workers will feel accepted, valued, and supported. For example, in one interview, an employee mentioned that the leader maintained an approachable and positive attitude when managing important issues. Even the smallest issues would get attention from the leader, and the ways to resolve them. In cases when employees are successful and reach the established goals, a leader should be the one who congratulates them, thus inspiring a sense of accomplishment and the desire to bring more value to their organizations. During the interview with one of the peers, it was mentioned that as a leader, I was the one who came to congratulate the worker with the promotion, and also managed to turn an awkward situation associated with the promotion into positive work experience. Servant leadership was also reflected in the ability to grow both as an individual and a professional who pays attention to what is occurring in the workplace setting. Moreover, in the interview, the peer mentioned that I, as a leader, could help him grow up as a leader as well. Being receptive to changes is another positive point mentioned in the interview since being a servant leader means to adjust to the new environments and ensuring that other people also feel comfortable in them.
Description of Feelings About Feedback
The interviews were received with an overall positive attitude because they described the leader as being an understanding and supportive individual who put the interests of other people first. There was no anger or defensiveness caused as a result of the peer evaluations; instead, the praise that was given presents a significant opportunity for further leadership development. While the development plan is vital for addressing the identified weaknesses that should be improved to make the leader more effective, capitalizing on the strengths is also important.
When the interviewee reflected on their experience with me as a leader, they pointed out that they felt supported and valued as individuals and workers of an organization. This installed a great sense of pride that the efforts have paid off, and I was successful in bringing value to people with whom I work. Even when the peers mentioned the weaknesses that I have to suggest ways in which improvements can be implemented, they did not initiate any resentment but rather showed that constructive criticism should be accepted and used as a way for further improvement. For instance, one of the peers mentioned that it could have been useful for me to listen to the advice of others as well as have a better understanding of the processes and steps that are being taken at the organization. When a peer criticized me about having to encourage other workers more effectively, I understood that my approach toward servant leadership might not often be appropriate. Nevertheless, the comments did not anger me but instead offered a third-party insight that is necessary to look at the situation not on a broad scale but rather pay attention to details that are as important as more significant processes.
Description of the Leadership Development Plan
The assessment and the reflection related to the interview allowed to determine the strengths and weaknesses associated with servant leadership. The positive and negative leadership qualities have helped to assess one’s own skills, and some of the characteristics require personal and professional growth, which will be included in the leadership development plan. Prior to developing the plan, it is necessary to formulate a leadership mission statement that would communicate the intentions behind the improvement. Based on the interviews, the following mission statement can be developed: “to create a leadership development plan to improve the skills and competencies of a servant leader to enhance the work lives of other people, value their work, and create lasting and strong relationships.” The leadership development plan will build upon the strengths and weaknesses of the leader found as a result of the interview.
The interviews indicated several points for improvement based on the identification of servant leadership disadvantages. The core skills to master as a result of leadership development include the improved listening skills, openness to growth and change, community building, as well as enhanced communication with peers and subordinates (Eastwood, 2019). The first step in the plan is to develop effective listening skills. The overarching principle associated with effective listening is to understand first and then to be understood, as mentioned by Rick Fulwiler, President of Transformational Leadership Associates (as cited in Hersh, 2018). This skill requires more energy compared to passive listening, but being successful at it requires much more than listening atively. To develop the skill, it is important to pay attention to what a person is saying, how a person is saying something, as well as what body language accompanies it. Once the barriers to effective listening, such as cultural misunderstanding or listening just for facts, are recognized, it is possible to work on improving active listening (Hersh, 2018). First, it is important to differentiate between listening and hearing. Second, it is necessary to ask for third-party feedback on whether one is a good listener. If someone responds that a person is a bad listener, it is required also to determine what prevents from being an active listener. Third, one should learn focusing on the words, tonality, and body language of speakers. Determining the interest and the passion behind one’s words, instead of just listening to words themselves. Finally, being an effective listener implies continuous learning, including training and readings that would teach new and reliable skills.
Openness to change is an essential servant leadership quality because changes are undeniable parts of life and will inevitably occur. It is often feared by many people who resist shifts and modifications because they are scared that the new processes will affect them negatively. The ability of a leader to be more comfortable with change and recognize the opportunities that present the potential for enhancing the capabilities of organizations and their workers. Openness to change is necessary because it would encourage to grow and develop the qualities of a true servant leader. Developing the quality of openness to change is possible by accepting change when it happens and navigating through it with the help of hard work and dedication. Also, it is necessary to foster an environment of collaboration at an organization to ensure that change is a common issue that concerns everyone and not only the leader. Making a conscious choice to change is expected to have a beneficial influence on other people while learning to respond to change from the perspective of a good leader.
The third leadership development step concerned with the improvement of servant capabilities refers to community building. It implies the practice directed toward the creation and improvement of community between individuals that have a common goal and share mutual interests. In the context of leadership development, community building refers to the strengthening of bonds between leaders as well as other individuals engaged in the reaching of the established organizational goals and long-term objectives. Developing a sense of community is necessary to facilitate an in-depth understanding of where an organization is heading as well as what steps should be taken in order to ensure success in the long run. To foster the sense of community at the organization, it can be a good idea to engage workers in activism that would bring them closer. For example, as a servant leader, it is possible to initiate a program for helping vulnerable individuals in the local area and share the responsibility between workers to deliver essential products and food as a part of the program. In addition, a servant leader will identify the individuals working at the organization who require more support than others. These workers can also become subjects of community building because helping them can bring all workers at the organization together in the efforts of being helpful and bringing value to others.
The final step in the leadership development plan is to improve communication skills when interacting with other people. While this skill also implies effective and active listening, which was discussed previously, it should integrate emotional intelligence, which may often be complicated to attain. An important piece of advice regarding this issue was given by Gleeson (2016) in an article for Forbes. It implies being present in the moment. Leaders should slow down their hectic work style and reset the agenda to move in the direction of the increased interactions with other contributors to the work process. A servant leader who is skilled in communication should be engaged with the audience no matter how trivial the conversations can be. Also, Gleeson (2016) recommended to ask the right questions when facilitating productive and intelligent conversation between workers who bring value to an organization. By guiding team interactions with a specific goal in mind, it is possible to accomplish much more by using the potential of talent that can bring prized contributions to organizations. Overall, the leadership development plan is focused on practicing new skills in a work context. Learning from both failures is successes are expected to provide a hands-on approach toward servant leadership that cannot be attained through synthesizing theoretical information.
Summary of the Experience and Conclusions
The assignment has shown that servant leadership is quite unique in its approach to other people. While most leadership approaches focus on the personal development of the leader in order to inspire others to reach the established goals, servant leadership places the interests of followers first. The leader must empower others to reach full potential by understanding what is best for a group. A leader who serves others is the one who combines a range of qualities, which are all focused on establishing an environment within which employees will feel valued and satisfied both individually and professionally. A servant leader is compassionate, committed to the growth of others and the building of communities that would strengthen the capabilities of organizations within which they operate.
Leadership has always been a complicated subject to discuss in terms of its influence on people. All of them go through different situations in their everyday lives, and it is hard to determine what another person may be feeling. Having empathy, which is a central component of servant leadership, means being able to put oneself in the other person’s shoes to facilitate a mutual understanding of the issues at hand and their potential ways of resolving. Showing employees that their struggles are understood and that their contributions are valued is not an easy task for leaders who want to feel respected by their employees. However, after revealing what some of the workers think about me as a leader, I was surprised to learn that some of the leadership efforts ‘paid off’ and helped to establish a positive relationship with them.
The interviews were especially revealing because they provided a candid perspective of workers, both the good and the bad aspects of the leaders’ servant approach to creating an environment of collaboration and the meeting of the established goals. While the theoretical part of the assignment was necessary for gaining a general understanding of relevant studies on the topic, the interviews were the ones that offered a comprehensive look on how servant leadership works in everyday occupational settings. In theory, servant leadership may seem as a philosophical framework that makes leaders pay more attention to the needs of other people, elevating, and encouraging them. In life, this may not always be possible because leaders are challenged with a wide variety of tasks and responsibilities, and finding time to dedicate to each employee may not always be possible on a practical level. Therefore, doing one’s best by connecting to people, listening to their needs, and understanding the potential challenges along the way that will be addressed through collaborative work and strong relationship is the framework of servant leadership that may work in everyday settings.
Finally, the assignment was instrumental in pointing out the strengths and weaknesses in the personal approach to servant leadership. By understanding the good and the bad, it is possible to develop a plan for leadership development that would be beneficial for creating a positive approach to serving employees and organizations. The leadership development plan outlined the main steps intended to be taken to become a better and more effective servant leader. Also, it was important to connect the plan for leadership development with an overall organizational strategy to make alignment between them and thus facilitate an improvement in business processes and training programs.
- Eastwood, B. (2019). How to create a personal leadership development plan. Web.
- Gleeson, B. (2016). 5 tips for improving leadership communication. Forbes. Web.
- Greenleaf, R. (1998). The power of servant-leadership: Essays. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
- Hersh, E. (2018). Using effective listening to improve leadership in environmental health and safety. Web.