Self-insight is important for business leaders because it helps them identify their areas of improvement and win the trust of their followers. In this paper, I aim to take a step toward self-awareness by exploring my strengths and areas of improvement, identified through the VIA Character Strengths questionnaire. First, I will discuss seven best leadership practices that managers should implement in their work. Further, I will describe my strengths and how they will help me to apply these practices. Finally, this paper will discuss my areas of improvement and suggest strategies for developing the personal qualities at which I am the least proficient.
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The Best Practices for Managers as Leaders
Although managers play a leadership role in organizations, they do not always act as leaders. The difference between a manager and a leader is that the former gets the work done using employees’ efforts, while the latter motivates employees to follow them in the pursuit of the organization’s goals. However, a manager can become a leader by applying seven best leadership practices, which will be described further.
The first practice is to help employees feel satisfied and enjoy their work. A manager should elicit positive emotions from employees to benefit employees’ well-being and workplace relationships (Ebner, 2020). There are ten basic positive emotions that a manager should be aware of: amusement, pride, hope, love, awe, interest, serenity, gratitude, inspiration, and joy (Ebner, 2020). Studies have shown that positive emotions increase employees’ job satisfaction, productivity, and organizational citizenship (Niemiec, 2017). In addition, they contribute to workers’ physical health, and companies characterized by positive emotions have a more stable accumulation of resources (Ebner, 2020). Managers can implement the best practice of eliciting positive emotions by exposing employees to positive media, encouraging them to keep a gratitude log, or allowing them to spontaneously have fun in the workplace.
The second practice is to keep employees engaged by giving them tasks corresponding to their strengths and assisting them in developing these strengths. According to Ebner (2020), employees’ engagement involves two major elements: the proper level of challenge and the contribution of employees’ strengths. Employees often have different competency levels, so the tasks assigned to them should be adjusted to their capabilities. If the task appears challenging, a good leader should support and assist employees in their work (Ebner, 2020). However, a manager should not solve employees’ problems for them; instead, it is necessary to ask goal-oriented questions encouraging employees to find the right solution to their problems (Ebner, 2021). Thus, assigning tasks suitable for employees’ strengths and helping them along the way is an important leadership practice.
Further, managers should ensure that members of their teams support and respect each other. To do so, managers should treat their employees respectfully, which implies acknowledging employees’ values, recognizing their individual differences and unconditional worth, and giving credence to their decisions and ideas (Northouse, 2021). Implementing this practice will help managers establish positive relationships in the workplace, thus improving employees’ job satisfaction and commitment.
The fourth best practice is to help employees find meaning in their work experience and realize the importance of their jobs. Studies show that managers have a more positive impact on employees, and workers are more likely to act beyond their self-interests when employees consider their work meaningful (Northouse, 2021). There are several ways how managers can give employees a sense of meaning. For example, they can publish brief rationales for different aspects of the organization on the company’s intranet (Ebner, 2020). Further, managers should ask employees what in their work they find especially useful, allow them to shape their work in a way that is meaningful to them, and ask them what they can do outside their department (Ebner, 2020). Appreciating employees’ values and helping them find meaning in their employment is an effective strategy for increasing their commitment and improving organizational outcomes.
The fifth practice is to praise employees when they successfully fulfill their goals. According to Northouse (2021), employees are willing to complete tasks because they want to be efficacious, but they also want to know what they will receive as a reward for their labor. Therefore, managers should identify what employees consider rewarding and give these rewards after the goals are accomplished (Northouse, 2021). Praising and rewarding employees for fulfilling goals is essential for managers to show appreciation and improve collective identity.
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The sixth best practice is to provide employees with real-time positive feedback. Frequently, feedback in organizations is related to negative emotions because, after a meeting with the manager, employees feel injured and not motivated to make improvements (Ebner, 2021). To avoid this, managers should focus on the many things that employees are doing right, which creates a positive mood and willingness to improve further (Ebner, 2021). In addition, it is important to celebrate smaller successes, appreciate employees’ expertise in front of others, and praise them before supervisors (Ebner, 2020). Giving positive feedback creates a positive organizational culture, contributing to employees’ productivity and satisfaction.
Finally, managers should serve as strong role models and have the zest and enthusiasm to energize employees. Northouse (2021) argues that followers tend to imitate the behavior of their leader. When a leader sets high moral and ethical standards, can be relied on and has trust in his employees, followers respect the leader and are willing to emulate his or her conduct (Northouse, 2021). Ebner (2021) also suggests that managers should find their energy source to serve as “an energy-filling station” for their employees. Thus, managers should implement the practice of leading by example by establishing and following high standards and energizing employees.
Five Personal Strengths and Their Relation to the Best Practices
From the perspective of positive psychology, individuals should focus on positive aspects of their personalities to make the most of their lives. The VIA Institute on Character has determined 24 character strengths, divided between six categories of virtues: wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance, and transcendence (Northouse, 2021). People have differences in the prevalence of these 24 strengths in their characters. It is common among positive psychologists to refer to the five most dominant strengths as signature strengths (Niemiec, 2017). After completing the VIA Character Strengths questionnaire, I discovered that my signature strengths were honesty, kindness, humor, creativity, and gratitude. Further, I will describe each of these strengths and how they will help me apply the identified best practices.
Honesty is one of the primary traits characterizing my personality. Being honest means adhering to facts, distinguishing between right and wrong, speaking and acting straightforwardly, and being consistent in words and deeds (Sosik et al., 2019). Honesty is my signature strength because I always try to keep my word and share my opinion sincerely instead of flattering or understating my thoughts. When making decisions or resolving conflicts, I tend to rely on facts rather than become blinded by my bias. I am also capable of admitting my mistakes and assuming responsibility for my actions.
Honesty will help me become a successful business manager because it will allow me to build trust within my team and deal with any emerging issues straightforwardly and promptly. Researchers argue that honesty is an essential quality of ethical leaders because it increases the leader’s likeability, credibility, and respectability, as well as and helps the leader cope with stress and establish supporting relationships (Sosik et al., 2019). As a result, in relation to the seven best practices, honesty will enable me to create a respectful and supporting climate in the workplace, sincerely praise employees for their successes, and serve as a strong role model for my followers.
Kindness is my second signature strength, related to the virtue of humanity. According to Niemiec (2017), this character strength involves such qualities as “compassion, generosity, care, nurturance, altruism, and niceness” (p. 37). My kindness is manifested by my willingness to help others and my ability to transcend my self-interest. This personal quality will help me succeed in my business career because it will enable me to build supportive relationships with my team members. It will help me implement the leadership practice of keeping employees satisfied and comfortable because I will be attentive and compassionate toward the needs of others. In addition, kindness will allow me to focus on positive things, thus enabling me to provide positive real-time feedback and praise my followers.
People with a good sense of humor like to laugh, make others laugh, tell jokes, and tease, and all of these characteristics are true about me. Studies show that having a sense of humor helps individuals maintain a positive mood, increases their capacity to manage stress, reduces neuroticism, and boosts their intelligence and creativity (Niemiec, 2017). By using this strength in my everyday life, I can better cope with stressful situations and establish connections with new people.
This trait is useful for business managers because it helps build positive relationships with people, resolve conflicts peacefully, and reduce the negative impact of stress, which is an inevitable concomitant of managerial work. Because of its pacifying effect, humor is an essential quality for managers, especially in stressful situations (Ebner, 2020). Concerning the best practices, this strength will help me maintain employees’ satisfaction and comfort in the workplace and promote mutual support and respect. Humor will also enable me to serve as a positive role model for my followers, thus helping me create a friendly and supportive workplace environment.
My fourth signature strength is creativity, which refers to the virtue of wisdom. Creativity is associated with cognitive flexibility and openness to new experiences (Niemiec, 2017). It means that I readily try new things or ways of performing certain actions and easily adapt to the changing environment. By using this quality, I can learn from my mistakes by analyzing what does not work and findings new ways of completing the task at hand.
Creativity is an important trait for business managers because it is a source of innovation and problem-solving strategies. Creative managers can share new ideas at every meeting with team members and offer contributions promptly and frequently (Niemiec, 2017). Thus, being a creative person, I will be able to suggest new business solutions and develop innovative strategies to achieve my business goals. In terms of best practices, creativity will help me keep employees engaged by developing new business processes and optimizing the old ones. It will also enable me to create different ways of praising employees for their achievements, thus fostering a positive climate in the workplace.
Gratitude means recognizing and being grateful for the good things and willingness to express thanks. I always try to focus on positive aspects of my life, and every evening, I spend time remembering all the good things that happened to me during the day. Furthermore, I never forget to thank people for doing me favors because I want them to know that I appreciate their efforts. Gratitude is associated with prosocial behavior, optimism, openness to new experiences, lower levels of depression and anxiety, and agreeableness (Niemiec, 2017). So, by being grateful, I can win over people and achieve higher life satisfaction.
Gratitude is a helpful personal quality for business managers and entrepreneurs because it helps them recognize positive aspects of their work in an environment full of a wide range of challenges. This strength will also help me learn from my potential failures and mistakes because I will view them positively and be grateful for them as learning opportunities. Regarding best leadership practices, gratitude will enable me to assist employees in finding meaning in their work. My expression of thanks will show them that their work is valued and not taken for granted, so they are likely to consider their work meaningful and stay engaged. In addition, gratitude is the primary quality that will help me praise employees and provide them with positive feedback.
Three Personal Areas of Improvement and Strategies of Their Development
While positive psychology focuses only on developing one’s character strengths to improve one’s well-being, it is also important to understand one’s weaknesses. However, to view them in a positive light, weaknesses are better to be regarded as areas of improvement. Based on my VIA Character Strengths questionnaire results, my areas of improvement are self-regulation, spirituality, and zest. Further, I will describe each of these areas and suggest strategies for improving them.
The character strength of self-regulation appears to be the least dominant in my personality. Self-regulation means the ability to manage one’s behavior, thoughts, and emotions in response to stressful circumstances (Sosik et al., 2019). This trait is necessary for completing tasks requiring the control of emotions, attention, choices, impulses, thoughts, and social interactions (Sosik et al., 2019). So, this strength is crucial for business managers and entrepreneurs since they deal with many challenges that require a strong control of emotions and behaviors. To improve this strength, researchers recommend having rest, taking glucose supplements, and establishing good habits (Sosik et al., 2019). These habits may be as simple as pausing and breathing each time one feels nervous or monitoring all the food and drinks one consumes during the day (Niemiec, 2017). I can apply these strategies to improve my strength of self-regulation.
Spirituality means having a sense of meaning in life and realizing one’s place in the universe. It helps people connect with something bigger and realize their importance in life, making their lives more meaningful and satisfying. Luckily for me, spirituality is not necessarily related to religion; I may connect to nature or the universe in search of a greater meaning of my life. One strategy I may use to improve this trait is contemplating and finding meaning in the present moment (Niemiec, 2017). I may also try guided meditations as a way to understand myself and make my life more meaningful.
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Zest refers to having high energy resources, living an active life, and doing things wholeheartedly. This trait is associated with autonomy, goal attainment, and connection with others (Niemiec, 2017). Underuse of this character strength leads to a sedentary lifestyle, while a proper level helps one have enthusiasm for life (Niemiec, 2017). To improve this personal quality, I can perform actions that will boost my energy levels. They include taking a brisk walk during a break, running in place, practicing yoga or other sports, wearing colorful clothes or accessories, or spending money on experiences with people instead of individual products (Niemiec, 2017). Implementing these strategies will help me become more active and energized, thus improving my character strength of zest.
To be good leaders, managers should elicit positive emotions from employees, keep them engaged, create a supportive and respectful working environment, and help employees find meaning in their work. Further, they should praise employees after goal completion, provide real-time positive feedback, and serve as strong role models. My strengths of honesty, kindness, humor, creativity, and gratitude will help me to implement these practices in my business career. In this paper, I have also identified my areas of improvement – self-regulation, spirituality, and zest – and suggested strategies to develop these strengths.
Ebner, M. (2020). Positive leadership: Leading successfully with PERMA-Lead: The five keys to high performance. Facultas Verlags- und Buchhandels AG.
Ebner, M. (2021). Positive leadership in action: Tools, techniques & best practices. Facultas Verlags- und Buchhandels AG.
Niemiec, R. M. (2017). Character strengths interventions: A field guide for practitioners. Hogrefe Publishing.
Northouse, P. G. (2021). Leadership: Theory and practice (9th ed.). SAGE Publications.
Sosik, J. J., Chun, J. U., Ete, Z., Arenas, F. J., & Scherer, J. A. (2019). Self-control puts character into action: Examining how leader character strengths and ethical leadership relate to leader outcomes. Journal of Business Ethics, 160(3), 765-781.