Blog Post 9, Oct. 31th 2015

Part 1: An Outstanding Authentic Leader

Aragorn

Lord of the Rings example of a leader #2 is Aragon, my second favorite character from the series (see my post that includes Gandalf from a few weeks ago). Aragorn has a strong sense of duty and leads the Fellowship across Middle Earth to bring the fight to Sauron. Aragorn does maintain a sense of mysteriousness, but he is as open as he knows how to be with the Fellowship and admits when he’s not sure what to do. I think it is easiest to use fictional characters for examples of this type of leadership because it is based so much upon motivation, and it is impossible to ever know what a real person’s motivation really is. With fictional characters, however — especially “hero” tropes like Aragorn — the story is about their motivations and you get far more insight into who they actually are than you do from observing someone in the real world.

(Sorry again for being a huge nerd)

PART 2: Results of Authentic Leadership Questionnaire

Self-awareness: 13

Internalized Moral Perspective: 16

Balanced Processing: 15

Relational Transparency: 13

PART 3: Questions

a. Do you agree or disagree with the results? Why?

I do agree that my highest traits are probably internalized moral perspective and balanced processing, because both of them are self-regulatory. Having a high internalized moral perspective means that my values and beliefs are less susceptible to outside pressure than those with low internalized moral perspective (Tobias 2011). I tend to agree with that, because I know what I believe and while I am open to the thoughts and opinions of others (as exhibited by my high-ish balanced processing score) I cannot be swayed from my beliefs by pressure alone. I also agree that my self-awareness and relational transparency could use improvement; I think this has been illustrated in the results of my past leadership questionnaires, as well.

b. How does the knowledge of authentic leadership affect your definition of leadership, if at all?

According to Kruse (2013), authentic leadership occurs when leaders are self-aware, are results-driven, have “heart,” and focus on long-term strategy. In order to reflect this in my definition, I need to make the following (bolded) changes.

Leadership is when a person or group has the knowledge, skills, drive, and vision to successfully take initiative, whether they choose to or have it thrust upon them, to inspire each follower to develop their skills, grow, and work with the group to achieve a common goal.

I feel as if these two nouns summarize the missing components of authentic leadership in my definition and kind of encompass the rest of the elements of this particular model.

c. How does the knowledge of authentic leadership affect how you see yourself as a leader, if at all?

It has helped me see that I know that I am authentic, I may not come off that way to those following me. Without better relational transparency, I will probably keep coming off as closed and unapproachable. I don’t think that means my leadership is less valid or bad, but it may make my followers less likely to trust in me and more skeptical of my values and motivations. Bettering my self-awareness will help me better my relational transparency, because I will be able to see how my actions might be perceived by my followers and make better choices in that regard.

d. What authentic leadership characteristics do you need to display in order to be a better leader?

In order to be a more authentic leader, I need to work on exuding an air of openness or “relational transparency” (Burke and Cooper 2006). I believe I possess the motivation and drive and I’m on my way to possessing the self-awareness, but as a relatively shy person I think I often come across as closed off. I can remedy this by connecting on a more personal level with my followers and sharing more of my personality rather than a professional persona.

Blog Post 9, Oct. 31th 2015

Blog Post 8, Oct. 22nd 2015

Part One: An Outstanding Transformational Leader – Jennifer Lawrence

Jennifer Lawrence emerged as a movie star and role model for young women everywhere a few years ago when she starred in the Hunger Games. Recently, she has started using her renown to advocate for equal pay between genders in Hollywood (Smith 2015). According to Bernard M. Bass, transformational leaders set high standards, “stir the emotions of the people,” and set clear goals (1985). Through her letter to Lena Dunham’s feminist newsletter Lenny Letters, Lawrence expressed her discontent with the pay gap, stimulating a conversation about gender inequality in Hollywood that’s still going on. Lawrence has long been an advocate for body positivity and is poised in a prime position to take advantage of her fame and employ transformational leadership to facilitate real change in one of the most discriminatory industries in the country.

AN OUTSTANDING pseudo-TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADER: Charles Manson

Pseudo-transformational leadership occurs when someone employs effective transformational leadership styles in order to further their own self interest. Charles Manson is an extreme example of what happens when transformational leadership goes wrong — but no one can deny that he was an effective leader. He convinced followers of his, frequently referred to as a “cult,” to commit several murders in the 1960s (2015). Charisma can be used for good and for ill, and Manson definitely used his extraordinary charisma for ill.

Part 2: MLQ 5X Questionnaire Results

I wasn’t exactly sure how to record my results to this questionnaire, so I took the average score for all the questions in each section.

Transformational Leadership Styles: 3.4/4 

Transactional Leadership Styles: 2/4

Passive/Avoidant Leadership Styles: .5/4

PART 3: questions

a. Do you agree or disagree with the results? Why?

I agree — especially in the context of the projects on which I’ve been in a leadership role so far, most of which have been academic. It’s difficult to be a transactional leader when I can’t promise everyone an A for doing hard work because I won’t be the one handing out the grade. In an academic environment, everyone should motivate themselves to work hard to achieve the grade they want to get and learn everything they can get out of the class. For that reason, when I am in a leadership role, I focus more on problem solving and developing skills, because to me that is what matters in an academic context. I don’t employ laissez-faire leadership styles because the idea goes against my type A personality.

b. How does the knowledge of transformational leadership affect your definition of leadership, if at all?

This is one of those things that I always kind of knew but didn’t have the terminology to describe or the thought process to model. That being said, explicit knowledge of transformational leadership will require me to change my definition from

Leadership is when a person or group has the knowledge and skills to successfully take initiative, whether they choose to or have it thrust upon them, to inspire each follower to work with the group to achieve a common goal.

to

Leadership is when a person or group has the knowledge and skills to successfully take initiative, whether they choose to or have it thrust upon them, to inspire each follower to develop their skills, grow, and work with the group to achieve a common goal.

I feel as if this change reflects the efforts transformational leaders undertake to really change their followers and help everyone be the best they can be.

c. How does the knowledge of transformational leadership affect how you see yourself as a leader, if at all?

The knowledge of transformational/transactional leadership kind of confirms that I’m on the right track to becoming the kind of leader I want to be, and that that is indeed the direction to go in to maximize my effectiveness as a leader. I don’t want to be someone whose followers just get the job done and then go home and forget about what they did; I want my followers to really get something out of their work, both personally and professionally.

d. What authentic leadership traits do you need to display in order to be a better leader?

I think I need to be more charismatic and to learn to ask people about things outside the context of work. I’m really good at being available on my own time for work-related needs, and I love to help people understand how to do things or how to look at problems from a different direction. Sometimes I may come off as dismissive, which is detrimental to the idea of transformational leadership, so I have to work on engaging with my followers on a more personal level.

Blog Post 8, Oct. 22nd 2015

Blog Post 7, Oct. 14th 2015

My Definition of Leadership

Each week since beginning this blog, I’ve learned another component of leadership — traits, skills, behaviors, situations, and relationships with followers — and my definition has evolved accordingly.

It started off like this:

Leadership is when a person or group of people take initiative, whether they choose to or have it thrust upon them, to inspire followers to work together to achieve a common goal.

Now, it looks like this (the bolded parts are what has changed):

Leadership is when a person or group has the knowledge and skills to successfully take initiative, whether they choose to or have it thrust upon them, to inspire each follower to work with the group to achieve a common goal.

These changes are in part due to the research and discussion we’ve had in class so far (of course), but they are also due to experiences I’ve had since the beginning of the semester, which already feels as if it’s been going on for about a million years. I have several group projects going on, and it’s interesting to observe the differences in group dynamics from group to group. By doing so, I’ve noticed that it’s much easier to work with those who are learning about leadership than it is to work with the average group of people with varying levels of commitment.

Despite the changes I have incorporated from the different models of leadership I’m now aware of, I think the core principles behind my definition that I explained in my first blog post still hold true:

1. For leadership to happen, there needs to be two distinct parties: leaders and followers. This is still reflected, although my revised definition takes into account that each follower is her own individual player instead of grouping all of them together.

2. Leaders must be able to inspire confidence in themselves and in the goal ahead. It is important that leaders are transparent and honest, so that the followers don’t lose confidence in the leader partway toward the goal.

3. Leaders must be able to facilitate cooperation between their followers. This pillar already took into account that followers have their own thoughts and agendas; this part of my definition was strengthened when I learned of in-groups and out-groups. It is important that followers feel as if the whole group is a unit, and it is the leader’s job to oversee that any competition between followers or groups of followers does not cross the line into resentment or rivalry.

4. There must be a goal in sight. To me, this is an integral part of leadership. Where am I to lead people if there is nowhere to go? This is really a requirement for there to be leaders and followers in the first place.

It is becoming more and more clear to me that, although from a distance “leadership” sometimes looks a little like “manipulation” — and it certainly can end up that way sometimes — good leadership never resorts to such measures. As Beth Revis says in Across the Universe, “Power isn’t control at all — power is strength, and giving that strength to others. A leader isn’t someone who forces others to make him stronger; a leader is someone willing to give his strength to others that they may have the strength to stand on their own.”

how I see Myself As A Leader

A. I am a leader – 5

I’ve come to realize this more about myself recently. As I mentioned, I’m a part of several group projects this semester, and somehow I always seem to find myself leading the project. I used to think this was a byproduct of my clear desire to get work done to the best of my ability combined with my lack of ability to procrastinate, but now I think it’s because I enjoy facilitating discussion and cooperation between my team members (even if it is a bit frustrating at times).

B. I see myself as a leader – 4

I still struggle with confidence — I frequently wonder if it is really a good idea for me to take charge in social situations. Just last night, I was at trivia with a group of my close friends who disagreed with me on my answer to a question, so I wrote down what they thought the correct answer was. It turns out my answer was the right one, however, and if I had just had the confidence in my intelligence and abilities that a true leader would exhibit, we maybe would have been able to take higher than 9th place.

C. If I had to describe myself to others, I would use the word “leader” – 2

I feel as if “leader” is not really something anyone should call themselves. To me, it seems like one of those “show, don’t tell” situations. It’s like in “Game of Thrones” when Tywin Lannister berates Joffrey for going around shouting about how he’s the king: “Any man who must say ‘I am the king’ is no true king.”

D. I prefer being seen by others as a leader – 5

Maybe it’s the egomaniac in me, but I would prefer to be seen as the one leading than one of the followers. I blame the “sheep/shepherd” analogy a bit for this — who wants to be seen as a sheep? However, another important lesson I have learned from my leadership research and the discussions in class is that there is nothing wrong with being a follower, and just because you might be a follower in one situation does not mean you are incapable of being a leader. Leaders and followers need each other, and each role is fluid and subject to change.

The Skills, knowledge, and abilities I need to obtain to be a good leader

Last time, I mistakenly answered this question too generally instead of applying it to what I actually need to improve upon in real life in order to become a better leader. Here is what I’ve come up with as a leadership plan for myself after about 8 weeks of learning about leadership:

Skills

I already posses a lot of skills that (according to this article) make leaders effective, like organization, planning, strategic vision, communication, and problem solving.

There are some other skills that I could benefit from working on, though, such as decision making and motivating others. I’m very self-motivated and sometimes I forget that not everyone is the same way, so adjusting my style in order to take that into account is something I need to work on. Decision making comes naturally to me when my decisions have only minor effects on others, but when I’m in charge I tend to be a little more hesitant in forcing my opinion on what the best course of action is onto others. I need to be able to be more confident in my abilities and my authority as a leader.

knowledge

A big component of the knowledge I will need to develop as a leader is how the industry in which I’m working operates (Contino 2004) and the organizational culture in the specific company with which I’m concerned. Knowledge of how to resolve conflicts and how best to manage any issue that comes up is also important, and can vary from industry to industry.

Abilities

One beneficial ability that I’m lacking is the ability to make unpopular decisions confidently (Edmonson 2015). A leader has to be able to keep the big picture in mind and make decisions for the good of the group as a whole, even if it means making some of the followers unhappy.

One main ability that I don’t strongly possess is the ability to take large risks (Hayzlett 2015). To step outside of my comfort zone and make decisions that could possibly have negative effects doesn’t come naturally to me, so I need to be able to do that more often in order to be a really successful leader.

Blog Post 7, Oct. 14th 2015

Blog Post 6, Oct. 10th 2015

Part 1: an example of an outstanding dyadic relationship

Dyads are the relationships formed between a leader and each of his or her individual followers. These relationships lead to the formation of two different groups – the in-group and the out-group (Babou 2008). I’m going to give examples of in-group and out-group relationships in the context of one of my favorite television shows: Parks and Recreation.

Example 1: The In-Group Dyad

Members of the in-group are generally trusted with more responsibility and are invited by the leader to assist with decision-making processes. They are given greater support, and in exchange put more time and effort into their work (Lunenburg 2010). A great example of this from Parks and Rec is the relationship between Ron Swanson and Leslie Knope.

Although Ron is in some cases a less than motivated leader with a profound distaste for the job he’s doing, his relationship with his subordinate Leslie is strong on both a personal and professional level. Despite Ron’s nontraditional approach to leadership, Leslie is easily the most dedicated person to her work I’ve ever seen, even in fiction like this show. Leslie has a lot of power in the Parks and Recreation department, and there are frequent moments in the show when she and Ron go to each other for personal and professional advice. As a result, the work Leslie does is much more involved and extends beyond the typical workday. This is a great example of the extra benefits those in the in-group get from their leader/follower relationship.

EXAMPLE 2: THE out-GROUP DYAD

On the other hand, the out-group comes to work simply to do their job and leave; they are not members of the leader’s inner circle, and their interactions with the leader are much more formal (Gupta 2009). An example of this kind of relationship from Parks and Rec is that between Leslie and Jerry.

Jerry’s priorities are to retire right on schedule and spend as much time as possible with his family; he likes his job, but doesn’t put too much emphasis on career success in the grand scheme of things. As a result, Leslie has fewer interactions with him and puts less emphasis on his opinions than she would a member of her in-group like Ann or Ron.

Since Parks and Rec is a TV show, the characters and relationships are blown way out of proportion, and they are more like caricatures of real life as opposed to examples of how things actually work. However, if you scaled these characters and situations back to a level that coincides with reality, they illustrate very well the difference between in-group and out-group dyadic relationships.

PART 2: Results of LMX Questionnaire

As we talked about during my coaching session in class, I filled out the questionnaire from the perspective of a follower in the context of my work environment at Reporter Magazine. My relationship with my managing editor ended up scoring a 22, which is in the “moderate” range.

PART 3: LMX Questions

A. Do you agree or disagree with the results? Why?

I do agree with the results, because although I work well with my leader on a day-to-day basis and we get along fairly well, I don’t agree with a lot of the decisions he makes concerning the management of the other section editors. In other words, I have mixed feelings about him, and a “moderate” score reflects that.

B. How does the knowledge of LMX affect your definition of leadership, if at all? If it does not, why not?

My definition of leadership before reading this chapter was as follows:

Leadership is when a person or group has the knowledge and skills to successfully take initiative, whether they choose to or have it thrust upon them, to inspire followers to work together to achieve a common goal.

I think the LMX theory includes an important aspect of leadership that I don’t yet have reflected in my definition, so I’m going to revise it:

Leadership is when a person or group has the knowledge and skills to successfully take initiative, whether they choose to or have it thrust upon them, to inspire each follower to work with the group to achieve a common goal.

Although these are minor changes, they tweak the definition enough to show that leadership is not just a one-to-many interaction, but also a one-on-one interaction with each follower.

C. How does the knowledge of LMX affect how you see yourself as a leader, if at all?

I don’t think it really affects how I see myself as a leader, but it does affect the way I’ll behave as a leader in the future; it has helped me understand that different people are looking to get different things out of a job, and that sometimes your energy is wasted trying to get people who aren’t as passionate about your work as you are to engage with their work on a deeper level than they are willing to.

D. What relationship skills, if any, do you need to acquire to become a better leader?

I think I need to get better a gauging how much different followers have invested on a professional and emotional level in each task and change my behaviors accordingly in order to avoid wasting extra energy on relationships that aren’t reciprocated. I also think I need to be more receptive to those followers who may be attempting to develop a more advanced relationship with me as a leader.

Blog Post 6, Oct. 10th 2015

Blog Post 5, Oct. 2nd 2015

Part One: Examples of the Four Situational Leadership Styles

1. Directing: Napoleon Bonaparte

Although I specifically chose Napoleon, directing really applies to most military leaders. Soldiers have little autonomy and are (supposed to be) entirely subject to the orders of their superiors; their commanders explicitly define their tasks and closely supervise those tasks to completion, which is essentially the definition of directive leadership (Blanchard and Hersey 1996). Napoleon is especially relevant to this leadership style, however, because he was elected first consul — dictator, essentially — of France, and was responsible for an entirely new French constitution and the Napoleonic Code (Biography.com).

2. Coaching: Tattoo Masters and Apprentices

Coaching leaders act like directing leaders in that they clearly define expectations and goals for followers, but differ in that they also take into account the opinions and other input of those followers (MoneyZine 2015). It’s best to use the coaching style when your follower needs significant improvement in an area and has the desire to work for it (Joseph 2015). A good example of this is a tattoo artist taking an apprentice under their wing to teach them the best techniques and methods while still allowing them to grow. The master tattooer might sit with the apprentice for their first several tattoos and give them pointers and guidance until the apprentice is good enough to do it on their own.

3. Supporting: Gandalf

Supporting leaders give large amounts of control to their followers on the way to achieving a specified goal, and don’t do much supervision of general tasks (Dems 2010). A great example of this from one of my favorite pieces of literature is Gandalf from “The Lord of the Rings,” especially in the first installment of the series, “Fellowship of the Ring.” Gandalf essentially shows up, tells Frodo that he needs to go on this giant adventure and the fate of the world hangs in the balance, and then doesn’t really give him specific directions; he lets Frodo and the rest of the Fellowship find their way on their own and shows back up when they really need him. He never tells them everything that’s going on and he lets them solve problems for themselves.

4. Delegating: Barack Obama

Delegating leaders have a low focus on both tasks and relationships, because the followers in question are competent and motivated enough without being overly supervised (Tindall 2013). There are pros and cons to this type of leadership, but it can lead to empowered followers with high emotional stakes in the success of the tasks they are involved in (Chris 2015). A good example of this style of leadership is President Barack Obama. Obama has so many decisions to make and is responsible for so much that he can’t afford to not trust his followers with delegated tasks. He once told the New Yorker that “If [a task] were easy, somebody else would have made the decision and somebody else would have solved it,” (Lizza 2012).

Part Two: Results of Situational Leadership Questionnaire

This wasn’t a questionnaire so much as a quiz – it was checking whether I could identify the development level of the follower, identify which response was which situational leadership style, and say which was best for the follower during that particular situation.

Situation 1

I identified the development level of the follower in situation 1 as D4: high competence and high commitment, which means the appropriate leadership style is S4, delegating.

Situation 2

The development level of follower number 2 is D1: low competence and high commitment, which should invoke the S1 style of leadership — directing.

Situation 3

The follower in situation 3 is level D2, low to moderate competence with low commitment. This means that the best leadership style to use is S2: coaching.

Situation 4

Situation 4 contains a follower with moderate to high competence with variable commitment (S3). The best leadership style to use in this situation is S3, supporting.

Part Three: Situational Leadership Questionnaire

A. Do you agree or disagree with the results? Why?

According to the book, I picked all the right leadership styles for the follower development levels. If I hadn’t read the chapter and learned the appropriate behaviors for different followers, though, I would have picked S3 (supporting) for most if not all of the situations. It will take time for me to get accustomed to the idea of using different leadership styles, because supporting isn’t applicable or useful in all situations, especially when the tasks are fairly simple (Lacoma 2015).

B. How does the knowledge of situational leadership styles affect your definition of leadership, if at all?

My definition before this week was:

Leadership is when a person or group has the knowledge and skills to successfully take initiative, whether they choose to or have it thrust upon them, to inspire followers to work together to achieve a common goal.

Taking into account the necessary changes in behavior for different follower development levels, I’m going to change my definition to:

Leadership is when a person or group has the knowledge and skills to successfully take initiative, whether they choose to or have it thrust upon them, to inspire individual followers of differing skill and motivation levels to work together to achieve a common goal.

These changes allow for the special attention and adjustment of style that is sometimes necessary on the part of the leader in order to help develop their followers as fully as possible.

C. How does the knowledge of situational leadership styles affect your view of yourself as a leader, if at all?

I think it helps me understand how I might be limited in some areas of leadership — that there are absolutely some styles that I need to work on and that I need to get better at identifying the development levels of my followers. I’m glad to have identified this gap in my knowledge, because I would like to know as much as possible and better my leadership ability by any means possible.

D. What styles, if any, do you need to acquire to be a better leader?

I’m good at supporting and directing (S3 and S1, respectively). I think I need to learn to be able to coach followers with low motivation; I tend to get frustrated with those who don’t put as much effort or passion into their work as I do instead of exploring how to help them develop that motivation. I also need to get better at delegating. As I am now, it is hard for me to trust those whom I’m working with with tasks enough to give them complete control over any aspect. I need to be able to recognize when people are capable of doing something with little to no supervision and just let them do their thing.

Blog Post 5, Oct. 2nd 2015