Leadership is a unique and ambiguous phenomenon. The perception of this concept is greatly affected by an individual’s personal development, experience, and knowledge. More than that, leadership can be viewed from different perspectives, and they usually vary based on the area of human activities – management, education, psychology, medicine, science, or others. Still, reviewing the literature on the concept of leadership and its dimensions, I concluded that it stands for the art of determining the right and relevant direction of team development and managing to identify the most effective ways to achieve it.
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In this case, it is essential to state that the direction of development is related to the main objectives of a particular project or the existence and operation of a company or organization. A team can as well be viewed from different perspectives – either a group of several individuals or even a whole company. Here, the main idea is that leadership is closely related to the directorship, but it is artistic which means that a leader has enough experience, knowledge, and wisdom to incorporate remarkable talents and skills of all team members and deploy them as a foundation for achieving the desirable outcome (Solomon, Carmen, & Nita, 2016). Also, the art of leadership is usually reflected through the ability to locate efficient strategies for reaching goals – assess individual inputs to maximize the outputs (Zydziunaite, Butautaite, Rutkiene, & Tandzegolskiene, 2015).
This definition of leadership is a result of a thorough review of scholarly articles that focused on both the evolution of the concept of leadership as well as the set of skills, talents and personal characteristics essential for becoming a leader. What influenced me the most is the recognition that it is a multi-dimensional and multilayered concept, so viewing it from the perspective of either competencies or natural talents is limited. Therefore, I realized that it is art, instead of a blind observance of practices and strategies generally perceived as productive.
Leadership Theories with the Most Prominent Personal Influence
Regardless of the grunt work on studying different viewpoints on leadership, the perception and understanding of this concept were greatly affected by studying different theories of leadership. When conducting the research necessary for writing this paper and making an attempt to define the phenomenon in a personal and unique manner, I was significantly influenced by the postulates of several theories that are generally referred to as contemporary theories of leadership. The first one is known as adaptive leadership. The foundation of this approach is the belief that leadership is inseparable from the ability to help people adapt to changes facing all challenges and overcoming them as well as finding motivation and being driven to cope with all problems associated with the necessity to embrace any required change (Northouse, 2017). In this case, it is paramount to realize that leaders are not those who outline ways to address issues and directly point to them. Instead, they assist others in doing this so that any decision of a complicated situation is the initiative of team members, not leaders. As a result, a leader is a person capable of initiating both attitude and behavioral individual changes that are critical for the achievement of a collective objective or fostering a generally valuable and needed change (Goshtasbi, 2015).
One more approach to leadership is known as authentic. The ground of this approach is the authenticity of a leader (Northouse, 2017). This theory is a multilayered one because it is developed based on numerous approaches to defining leadership, including servant, transformational, and charismatic. As a result, according to this stance, a leader is a unique combination of personal traits and talents that make them stand out and differentiate from ordinary people so that others are willing to follow them. According to this approach, some of the common specific features of a leader involve self-awareness, effective communication skills, high moral values, harmony between personal beliefs, actions, and values, constant self-exploration and personal development, objectivity, and self-discipline (Yaacoub, 2016). Still, this list is nearly endless, but it incorporates generally recognized positive character traits and personal features.
Another outstanding theory of leadership is a servant. It is the most peculiar one because the supporters of this approach perceive leaders as servants of all team members (Northouse, 2017). According to this assumption, the main focus is made on caring for followers’ needs and findings ways to satisfy them to the maximum possible extent. However, in this case, it is critical to point to the fact that this approach does not promote the blind satisfaction of team members’ needs. Instead, it centers on respecting their interests and demonstrating this respect, so all of the followers become motivated to achieve strategic objectives or embrace change. Regardless of the similarity between servant and transformational leadership, the foundation of this approach is philanthropy. In this way, a leader is devoted to creating a vision as well as creating a favorable atmosphere in a team that will drive individuals to maximize the overall value and benefits (Coetzer, Bussin, & Geldenhuys, 2017).
To estimate leadership styles and strengths, it is helpful to complete self-assessments. For achieving this objective, several assessments were selected. The first one is leadership traits self-assessment. It helped me to become aware of my strong and weak personal characteristics. For instance, I found out that self-confidence, persistence, friendliness, and determinacy were my strong traits, while trustworthiness and dependability were lower than I expected. As a result of completing this self-assessment, I realized that I should work on improving my image and communication skills so that I could inspire others and they could trust me. It is imperative because trustworthiness is one of the main attributes of an effective leader (Northouse, 2017).
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Another self-assessment was authentic leadership self-assessment. This one was interesting to complete because I was fascinated by the criticality of the concept of leadership authenticity. On completing it, I obtained high balanced processing and self-awareness results. It can be associated with the fact that it was always easy to analyze the facts and viewpoints of people around me when it came to making critical decisions, and all actions, especially vital choices, were commonly driven by ethics and inner values. However, I was upset with low relational transparency. This result means that I find it complicated to communicate freely and openly with other people, even though I always thought of myself as a friendly person. That being said, I should focus on developing one of the most critical determinants of effective leaders – exceptional communication skills (Yaacoub, 2016).
Finally, I completed team excellence and collaborative team leader self-assessment because cooperating with people and working in teams is one of the main tasks of any leader. The results of the questionnaire revealed that I have the potential of becoming an effective team member because I tend to organize groups and work productively in teams. However, I also found out that there is a significant challenge when it comes to trusting other people that is a prominent weakness.
Based on the results of the completed self-assessment, both strengths and weaknesses were revealed. Friendliness, effective collaboration with team members, self-awareness, and persistence are the main personal strengths. They correspond with the traits of an effective leader because they may become the foundation for inspiring colleagues to achieve higher levels of personal development. Nevertheless, the inability to share thoughts and visions openly and low rate of trustworthiness were identified. In this case, it is imperative to recognize the fact that these weaknesses may make me an ineffective leader because they are the basis of effective cooperation. All in all, if I manage to address the revealed weaknesses, I have relatively high chances of becoming an effective leader with an authentic leadership style.
The Essence of Effective Followership and Its Criticality
Still, the main attribute of leadership is followership – taking cues from leaders, belief in their competence and experience, and the desire to adhere to their rules of play. In essence, it is the reflection of leadership because followership determines whether a leader is talented and can guide people or not. In this case, it is essential to point to the fact that there are two kinds of followership – effective and ineffective. Effective followership stands for a set of specific features, such as the capability of understanding the link between individual activities and choices and organizational outcomes, focus on constant professional and personal development, valuing confidence in other team members, complying with strategic objectives and mission of followers’ organization, inspiring colleague, and productive cooperation with a leader (Currie, 2014). As for ineffective followership, it is a contrary phenomenon.
Based on the abovementioned specificities of effective followership, it is evident that it is critical for effective leadership. First and foremost, it reflects that a leader is efficient in coping with their main functions that vary based on the approach to leadership. Moreover, it helps identify gaps in leadership style, if any, and work on continuous personal and professional development. Finally, effective followership is essential for guaranteeing the success of any project because people can easily cope with any complex work-related situations and unforeseen challenges.
Due to the criticality of effective followership, it is paramount to be aware of the ways to enhance it. To begin with, it is critical to recognize that turning followers into effective ones is impossible without inspiring them. From this perspective, it is impossible without becoming an effective follower oneself. In this way, to inspire others, it is essential to demonstrate a perfect understanding of organizational values, mission, and visions, be aware of all specificities of its operation and desired outcomes of activities, and pay special attention to personal growth and development, including self-discipline and self-education. In case of coping with these tasks, it will be easier to enhance the followership of everyone around a leader.
This course was a priceless experience that made a significant contribution not only to become aware of the concept of leadership but also to understand what should be done to enhance leadership effectiveness and turn into an effective leader. To begin with, I would like to note that I have learned several critical details that greatly affected me as a personality. First and foremost, leadership is not only about a particular set of natural talents but also constant and grunt work. It stands for continuous self-improvement due to the inevitability of changes and the evolution of all aspects of human interactions. In this case, it is impossible to become an effective leader without paying attention to developing new skills and obtaining new knowledge. More than that, leadership is an evolving phenomenon. It means that as the business environment evolves, new approaches to leadership emerge, and all of them help obtain a better understanding of this phenomenon and valuable for personal and professional growth regardless of supporting or opposing them. Finally, leadership is a multi-dimensional and multilayered concept that incorporates not only professional but also personal features.
These lessons were valuable for altering my thinking and behaviors. I have to confess that I have always believed that leadership is something granted by nature because an individual either possesses this talent or not. However, during this course, it became obvious to me that leadership is constant hard work on becoming better every day and never ignoring the criticality of new knowledge and expanding one’s horizons. This knowledge is what influenced me the most because it changed not only my self-perception and self-image but also my worldview.
Another valuable outcome of this course is the ability to find out that there are gaps to fill to enhance personal leadership effectiveness. There are several specific actions I would like to take to become a more effective leader in the future. The first one is based on the criticality of constant personal and professional development. To achieve this objective, I believe it is critical to focus on developing effective communication skills, obtain new knowledge of productive leadership strategies, and work on developing a unique leadership style. To cope with all of the goals mentioned above, it is essential to review the experiences of effective leaders and their strategies. Besides, online courses and further investigation of the literature on leadership may help achieve this aim.
One more action needed for becoming a more effective leader is working on self-discipline because it is a common determinant of productive leaders, as a self-disciplined person is an inspiring example to follow. To achieve this important objective, it is critical, to begin with improving time management skills because it is a real challenge for me. Because true leaders are usually known for perfect time management – using every minute effectively, as time is the most valuable asset, – I should pay special attention to getting rid of procrastination habits. One way to address the challenge is to develop detailed plans for completing each task – both significant and insignificant ones, – thus learning to spend time efficiently and find the right balance between work and rest. Finally, I will complete other self-assessments available with the aim of finding out whether any other challenges should be coped with or strengths that I am not aware of so that there are higher chances of not only becoming a more effective leader but also increasing the overall level of self-awareness – estimating myself objectively to the maximum possible extent.
Coetzer, M. F., Bussin, M., & Geldenhuys, M. (2017). The function of a servant leader. Administrative Sciences, 7(1), 32-64. doi:10.3390/admsci7010005
Currie, J. P. (2014). Complementing traditional leadership: The value of followership. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 54(2), 15-19.
Goshtasbi, K. M. (2015). Adaptive leadership: A new way of viewing and exercising leadership as lawyers. Law Practice, 41(5), 32-38.
Northouse, P. G. (2017). Introduction to leadership: Concepts and theories (4th ed.). Singapore, Singapore: SAGE, Publications.
Solomon, I. G., Carmen, C., & Nita, A. M. (2016). Leadership versus management in public organizations. Economics, Management, and Financial Markets, 11(1), 143-151.
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Yaacoub, H. K. (2016). Authenticity: Sustainable benefits beyond performance. People & Strategy, 39(4), 47-49.
Zydziunaite, V., Butautaite, V., Rutkiene, A., & Tandzegolskiene, I. (2015). Multilayered considerations on the concept of ‘leadership’: Conceptual views in psychology, management and education. European Scientific Journal, 11(25), 17-29.