For the sake of reflection, I have considered a selfish approach this week by focusing on how this week’s readings has allowed me to analyse my own character in reference to the two major concepts of Leadership and Followership to help build my understanding of my professional self.
Firstly, as a student studying management, it is important for me to understand the different leadership styles and how this influences my “professional character”. In my first journal, I used Kolb’s (1976) breakdown of the four individual learning styles to identify my “diverger” like traits. Moreover, the six styles of leadership – Directive, Visionary, Affiliative, Participative, Pacesetting and Coaching – (Spreier, Fontaine & Malloy, 2006) has probed latent questions that will help to foster my diverger self to become an assimilator (as detailed in journal one). I am still trying to understand who I will be in the workplace and how to improve myself to better an organization. Nonetheless, I feel that the weekly readings are helping me to answer these fundamental questions by building up my knowledge first. So I have explored this further.
If I were assigned to be a leader, I feel that I would try to be participative as I value collaboration and democracy (Spreier et al. 2006). In my own part time work, I am asked by management to find ways to increase efficiency so that our customers get “the best experience possible”. I approach this request by holding group meetings where we can brainstorm ideas (collaborative) and vote on which is the best to action (democracy). However, in some situations, a different approach may be necessary. For example, if I am to introduce new efficiency methods, I would need to have a coaching style to help colleagues implement these procedures more effectively than if they were to learn on their own. My goal is to incorporate different traits of each of the leadership styles and adjust my “work self” appropriately.
In all honesty, although I rummage through past experiences and relevant examples to answer the confusion I have about being a leader, I feel that I can still not proceed on to the third and fourth stages of reflection that includes the “formulation/testing of a tentative theory to explain the problem and action (deciding whether or not to act)” (Daudelin, 1996). Perhaps, next week’s readings can guide me through this OR I can act on the quote I have heard numerous times – “In order to be a great leader, you must know how to be a great follower.”
I can take direction and respect authority but does that make me a “great follower”? – (an apparent prerequisite to becoming a “great leader”). Kelley (1988), writes that to be an effective follower I should manage myself well, be committed and courageous, competent and focused for maximum impact. Maybe the company I work for can help cultivate effective followers by redefining what it means to be a follower and provide opportunities to give feedback to each other (Kelley, 1988). In terms of my MikesBikes team, our CEO allows us to assume equal responsibility, helping us to become effective followers by learning from each other – which is AWESOME!
Overall, the most powerful lesson I have learnt is that the readings help me to build knowledge that will enable me to answer the fundamental questions about my “professional self”. Although it may sound like I have had the most positive learning experience for the week, the knowledge accumulated from the readings has definitely put things in to perspective for me. I believe that I can be a good leader and follower – my own opinion. BUT theory seems to have a label and a breakdown for everything about these concepts. So far, I have been using the theory to try and guide my sense of leadership and followership. However, if I am to work towards being a leader or a follower according to the readings, will this actually convert my natural ability to do so in to an artificial, structured, “this is the way to do it” type ability? Time will tell. For now though, I will continue to “learn, reflect, evaluate and repeat” and hope that the theory can meet me halfway.
Collins, J. C. (2005). Level 5 leadership: the triumph of humility and fierce resolve. Harvard Business Review, 83(7/8), 136—146
Daudelin, M. W. (1996). Learning from experience through reflection. Organizational Dynamics, 24(3), 36–48
Kelley, R. E. (1988). In praise of followers. Harvard Business Review, 66(6), 142—148
Kolb, D. A. (1976). Management and the learning process. California Management Review, 8(3), 21--31
Spreier, S. W., Fontaine, M. H., & Malloy, R. L. (2006). Leadership run amok. Harvard Business Review, 84(6), 72--82