Most people know Albert Einstein for his contributions to physics. Even though he was a genius he had to be an effective leader in order to inform the world of his theories. This meant working with others, not giving up, and facing criticism. He failed many times in his life but because of his leadership abilities he became successful. One of my favorite quotes from him about leadership is “Try not to become a man of success. Try to become a man of value” (cited in Cashman p28). Being an effective leader is important to me. I have had multiple experiences in leadership good and bad. I have also attended seminars such as Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. In this paper I will state many ideas and techniques that will help my growth as a leader. Such as types of leaders, qualities of a leader, and how to be an effective leader. By learning from my pasts experiences and preparing for the future; I will improve my leadership abilities to effectively help others.
What is Leadership?
First, what is leadership? It is the Process of influencing others to achieve certain objectives (Du Brin 2004 p332). That is just a raw definition or just the act of. There is more to leadership then the raw definition. From my experiences there are certain qualities that define a leader.
1. LOVE AND COMPASSION
For a lot of leaders; compassion, empathy, or love can be a hard thing. In my experience, a lot of leaders see this as a weakness. According to article Five Characteristics of Effective Leadership, empathy is first on the list, along with: determination and resolve, calm and composed in the face of turmoil and uncertainty, excellent communication skills, and resourcefulness. (Ahmad S. 2010).
I have been told many times that I would be a good leader because I am reliable. It is hard to follow someone that shows up late or does not do what they say they are going to do. In a leader, you want someone that is reliable, with a message that people can follow. If leaders are not consistent in their efforts and their actions, it causes followers to begin to doubt the dedication of the leader to the cause. Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin stated that during the Great Depression and during FDR’s tenure a citizen once said something to the effect of “I don’t have any money, don’t have a job, and I don’t have a reason to live, but I keep on going because I know FDR is there” (cited from Dustin D.2009)
3. EMPOWERMENT AND MOTIVATING
A Leader must give others the tools necessary to succeed and encourage them to become better. A leader must be there to positively reinforce others, especially when tackling a difficult project. There are times when one gets stressed or burnt out; a good leader will recognize this and will give the support needed.
Vision provides hope, purpose, and something the people can strive to achieve. The vision should be clear and well understood. The leader needs to stand by the vision and ensure others that he or she will not fail.
I have always tried to use these qualities in my past experiences. When I was in the military; vision was extremely important. It is what our leaders used to motivate the troops. It was something I heard daily. I believe that vision is important but not as much as the military did. I see love and compassion as my biggest leadership skill, but the military saw this as a weakness. This is probably why I left the military. For the military, reliability was the second most important quality, followed by empowerment. They did give a lot of encouragement, be it positive or negative, and large amounts of training.
Types of Leaders
There many types of leadership styles. Many people have written books on the different styles. One set of leadership styles that I liked is from a book by Paul Taffinder The Leadership Crash Course. First he listed five essential leadership behaviors:
Impose Context; to cut out the clutter and impose context by concentrating people's attention on what matters most. Providing a clear sense of direction; outlining what the key goals are; and distinguishing between the day-to-day actions.
Make Risks and Take Risks; make and take risks by understanding what opportunities exist, or can be created, and then converting them into results.
Have Conviction; a leadermust believe in what they are doing. Having a clear view of what the leader aims to achieve will help guide his or her decisions, inspire people to follow, overcome obstacles, give the courage to stand their ground and build confidence in their people.
Challenge and Change; must challenge and change the status quo by experimenting and creating excitement in order to grab people's attention, energize your followers, and take competitors by surprise.
Generate Critical Mass; turning knowledge into action and influencing people in a way that: channels their energy into the appropriate activities; mobilizes them to work together in a coordinated way; creates a culture of human development; and makes things happen (Taffinder 2006)
Taffinder then lists seven types of leaders. He discusses if that seven types of leaders has all five leadership behaviors to qualify as a good leader. The first leader is the transformational leader. This leader possesses all five behaviors. This type of leader is what companies look for. I have met few leaders of this type. One was in my last job. I did not like my last job that well, but he made it better. It was nice working for that type of person. He ended up getting promoted and left.
The guy that replaced him was the second type of leader the serial entrepreneur. This type of leader lacks imposed context and generates critical mass. He was a good risk taker and producer but would reach his goal at any coast but his own. This type of leader cares deeply about their legacy but struggle to articulate the wider context of their decisions in a way that's meaningful to their followers.
Type three is the deal maker. They take risks and challenge change but have little substance. These people make good sales people but are not desirable to lead large groups of people. Just think how you would like a car salesman as your boss.
The forth type is the enforcer. They tend to have strong beliefs in what they are doing and are committed. They follow the rules and enforce them. They rarely take risks and challenge the norms; for fear of punishment for braking the rules.
Type five is the administrator. These leaders are strategic executors who are clear in what needs to be achieved. They are diligent and detailed. They make great admin, and are good supervising two to three people. They do not take risks and have little conviction to the whole of the company. They prefer to focus on their department.
Type six is a visionary. This type of leader can inspire people and dream big. They have all the qualities of the transformational leader, but are weak at generating critical mass. They have the vision but can fail to motivate.
The seventh and finale type is spin doctor. These leaders seem to be everything a leader should be. Unfortunately their behavior is inconsistent and self-serving. They have underdeveloped conviction. They can give up easily.
I think over the last fifteen years. I have progressed through some of the types of leadership styles. When I took on my first leadership role I was an administrator. Very detailed but did not take risks or like change; and had little conviction. Then I was an enforcer, mainly because of the military I had to fowled those rule but never challenged them. Then I was a visionary. I took risks and challenged people, but I did not always motivate others. I have recently started working on motivation skills and will try to become a transformational leader at my next opportunity.
About five years ago my company sent me to a seminar on self-improvement and leadership. This company believed it was important to help their employees grow. I did learn a lot about leadership during the three years I was there. This seminar was the well known Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey. It was an interesting 3 day seminar. I did not agree with everything but most of it was helpful.
His first habit, be proactive, I think is important to becoming an effective leader. “Businesses, community groups, organizations of every kind-including families-can be proactive. They can combine the creativity and resourcefulness of proactive individuals to create a proactive culture within the organization (Covey 2004, p77).
By being proactive a leader must be positive and supportive. Covey suggests we do this with our language. For example instead of saying I can’t or I must say I choose or I prefer. When faced with a problem do not say, “This is imposable I do not know how to do it.” This will discourage others. When faced with a challenge, a leader must be positive when speaking to others. Instead say “This is challenging but I know we can do it. If we run into problems I know ways to get us help.”
To be an effective leader; the leader should be principle centered, driven by values, and not concerned with his or her image. There are seven timeless principles of leadership that have returned to mainstream leadership. For a time a lot of these principles were not important but now are once again.
“Seven timeless leadership principles that work”.
1. Lead with integrity
2. Accept responsibility
3. Establish goals, implement plans
4. Respect individuals and families
5. Continue to learn
6. Expect results
7. Be sincere
(Woodruff, 1995 par 1)
These are very good steps to help become effective. There are two of them that can instantly make or break a leader: lead with integrity and accept responsibility. Integrity is extremely important. It will help develop trust. I have seen two people make the same mistake before, a safety violation. Both people got fired because that was the rule, one violation you are fired. This goes back to theserial entrepreneur supervisor mentioned earlier. The guy who was honest was allowed to resign so he could find another job without having a termination on his records. The other guy who lied was just fire.
In this situation the guy who told the truth could still have his job today if he did lie, but he would have lost respect and trust.“Who a person is will ultimately determine if their brains, talents, competencies, energy, effort, deal-making abilities, and opportunities will succeed” (Cloud 2006 p.8). If a person is trustworthy then that will affect everything around them therefore they will be successful.
The other thing that can make or break a leader is he or she must accept responsibility and/or blame. The effective leader is willing to accept total responsibility of the position. This includes taking responsibility for the leader’s people. When the group makes a mistake it is the leader’s responsibility to take the blame. By doing this the group will trust their leader and should work harder to correct the mistake and prevent it from happing again.
As a leader in the military, I always took the blame for my troop if they did not perform well. Then I disciplined my troops as needed. This helped with trust, and they always tried harder after I got yelled at. It is import that when I was praised, I made sure the team got the praise or I praised them. I would not have deserved it if it was not for them.
As I look back I have had great experiences that will help in my growth as a leader. My military experience has been very helpful in my growth as a leader, and the training I have received has been valuable. I now look forward. I am continuing my education to improve my skills. In this paper I have listed many ideas and techniques that will help my growth as a leader. Such as types of leaders, qualities of a leader, and how to be an effective leader. By learning from my pasts experiences and preparing for the future; I will improve my leadership abilities to effectively help others.
Ahmad S. (2010) 5 Characteristics of Effective Leadership retrieved from
Cashman, K. (2008) Leadership from the inside out: Becoming a leader for life, second edition
Berrett-Koehler INC. CA.
Covey S. (2004) Seven Habit of Highly Effective People second release, Simon & Schuster NY
Cloud Dr. H. (2006) Integrity Collins NY.
Du Brin A. (2004) Applying Psychology (Individual & Organizational Effectiveness) Pearson
Dustin D.2009 A Leader’s Heart What is Leadership, Pt. 4
retrived from http://happinessisbetter.com/2009/05/22/what-is-leadership/
Taffinder P.(2006) The Leadership Crash Course 2nd Edition Thanet press Great Britain
Woodruff, D.M. (1995) Become an Effective Leader (electronic version) Hydrocarbon Processing 1-95 1.1 -1.3