To build a true action plane one needs to know where they are starting from. For me, the past several weeks have helped me see just that. We have read about and taken many assessments on the different Leadership Theory approaches and I have found similarities in my own style in some of these approaches and some areas that I need to work on. Learning about the Leaderful theory was the most difficult for me to grasp but as we learn about various other approaches, I see it is not such a stretch to become Leaderful after all. I will start my action plan by reflecting on where I currently see myself as a leader.
I learned from the 360 assessment that I fare well in communicating and managing conflict but have some room for improvement in managing personal biases and judgments to gain a clearer understanding of others. The scores I received showed that respondents see me as someone that is honest and has integrity, these qualities are very important but there is so much more than being honest to be a great leader. Establishing stretch goals and developing strategic perspectives is the area I really need to show some growth.
One of the tools we talked about was Katz’s three-skill approach and he says that top leaders need be conceptual, this is what sets them apart from middle managers. Top leaders have ideas/visions and are not afraid to take action/risks (Raelin 2010). After reading about Katz’s three-skill approach I was immediately able to identify that I am stuck in middle management land. I am very task orientated and need to move away from focusing on getting the job done and looking to the future, to see where we need to grow as an organization and focus more on building up the people I work with.
Another great way I found to realize what kind of leader I am was when we were asked to assess our learning styles. The notion of a learning style is disseminated by the work of Peter Honey and Alan Mumford and in particular their Learning Styles Questionnaire, which refers to one’s preferences in the way to approach learning. I mentioned previously that in order to be a great leader one needs to know more about their own leadership style, I feel that knowing your learning style is equally as important.
The three ways that I learn best are to first listen, then talk it out with others if possible, finally by doing and acting. I am a hands-on learner. Of course, it is important to listen to instructions and it is always best to get a second opinion on the best way to go about doing something, but in the end, I just must do it to learn best. I see myself as an activist when it comes to Honey and Mumford’s learning styles (Raelin 2010). I am willing to try anything, even if it sounds scary, and when I do something new, I will fully involve myself in the new experience.
Other Leadership approaches we discussed that I noticed a connection with are servant leadership and situational approach is where I see myself as a leader. In my life whether at home or at work it is easy for me to understand others’ personal needs and help people develop (as a mother and manager). Perhaps this comes easy for me because I work primarily with young people and most of them want to develop. There were other approaches we discussed in the past few weeks but for the purpose of my action plan, I will only focus on those that seemed relevant to me.
I feel that I am in a good position and have done a lot of work in becoming a better leader and not just a great manager. I am ready to take the next step and be more perceptive and conceptual. Reading about the three-skill approach helped me see where I am and where I want to be. I am in middle management, I have equal knowledge in the technical, human, and conceptual arenas. I have always been able to get the job done, I can now do this without running over the people I work with, and for the most part, I can work with the ideas that others give me. I want to come up with and articulate these ideas, my hope is to be more comfortable with this when I achieve my MSLD.
Over the course of this class, I have realized that “leadership is important for the success of your organization and the fulfillment of the people working in it” (CIMA 2018). Also, that leadership takes many shapes and there are many theories. I do know that having a leaderful organization depends on the culture in which the organization embraces and for now I believe this is easier done on a smaller scale. I look forward to learning more about this and hope to be able to incorporate the Leaderful approach in the department I oversee.
Because I see myself as an activist, in learning style, this means that I am a bit of a pragmatist as well because I am always moving on to the next thing. If I were to reverse my learning style role, I would try to be more reflective. If I was to take time to ponder experiences and observe them from a different perspective, then I would likely save time in the long run and save on unnecessary resources for failed attempts at what I am jumping to and from. To make room for more learning I will stop rushing through decisions, I will keep pushing myself to do more, I will observe others and reflect on other perspectives.
I have already mentioned that I relate more to the Situational and Servant approaches, that the Leaderful approach is more attainable than I originally thought, that I am a hands-on learner and that I need to become more conceptual. Now that I have a better picture of the Leader that I am I can plan where I want to go and where I need to grow.
To become the leader I wish to be, I need to focus on setting challenging goals for staff members, not only myself. Additionally, I need to allow staff members to take the lead so that we can make small steps to be a Leaderful department. My short-term goal will be to utilize the upcoming coaching for performance conversations I have with each staff member to set more challenging goals, for each person. By doing this staff members will recognize their potential, feel empowered, and therefore they should want to take over the day-to-day operations so that I can look towards the future.
My mid-term goals will be to make bigger decisions on my own, I will take the risk. This has been another area that I feel I need to grow, because great leaders are not afraid to take risks. I know I have been stuck in the comfort of middle management for many years, I like the safe feeling that others making big decisions gives me. By doing this, it should allow me to take the next step to be the leader I desire to be.
My long-term goal is to reach the point where I create a vision and strategic plans, as conceptual leaders do. I will need this skill to move forward in my career. A great leader cannot be stuck in the day-to-day operations because they are creating a future for their organization. I look forward to adding these skills to my tool kit. I will need to work on strategic management and organizational awareness, these are two competencies top leaders need to use.
At this point in my leadership journey, I feel that I have built upon my ability to use leadership language. This class has taught me a lot about the many different approaches and although I relate more toward Situational and Servant approaches, I see aspects of other approaches in my interactions with staff and my direct supervisors. I look forward to learning the skills needed to be more conceptual, the next two years should prove to be very insightful.
I talked about my short, mid, and long-term goals and briefly explained how I would achieve these goals, but how will I assure I am heading in the right direction? I plan to ask the director of our department if she will be my mentor, I feel I can learn a lot from her. Because she is not my direct supervisor there will not be any confusion in the mentoring process and my annual performance evaluations. I can assess my growth through my annual evaluations because my manager has been pushing me to take the next step in truly leading my department and not just running it. After a few short months in my journey to achieving my MSLD, I see what he has been talking about.
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