One of the out-standing thoughts of this week: Although I have 99% of the time in the past considered myself to be a follower, I am finding myself this semester (in another course) to be in the de facto role of leader; a strange situation for me.
Is this a problem to be resolved? It’s certainly a challenge that I've had little experience with. As an engineering project paper where we were allowed to self-select our groups, I must also account for the fact that I’m working with friends. I think the potential problem here is that I related very strongly to the statement “They don’t just know achievement is important, they feel it. Accomplishment is a natural high for them” (Spreier et al., 2006). Its proposed side-effects of coercion, stifling of subordinates and obliviousness to others’ concerns (Spreier et al., 2006) is something that I can easily see myself slipping into. I’ve been told – by my parents, but still – that I’m insensitive but driven, and unobservantly single-minded. This, I have always taken as a fact. It is part of me – it’s not something that I have ever wanted to change, because it gets me where I want to be.
I’m trying to watch for the signs. I try to catch myself from explaining things completely so that they can learn the steps of going about it; but that’s hard because I want everyone to learn as fast as possible so that we can go faster. Then I remember that speed and pace-setting (Spreier et al., 2006) is not always beneficial in every circumstance. It seems especially hard in engineering, when so much focus is on outputs and so little focus is on how you got there. It also seems hard because I personally see little evidence around me that suggests that in the “Uni world”, pacesetting does not pay off. I can see it clearly from the reading, and I can see the effects on relationships, but the small voice in my head does whisper of the “far-fetchedness” of some of the situations; and that “that would never happen to me”. Then I also consider what happened with the scandalous situation in this very class, and that’s definitely in a Uni situation. [Although I am convinced that my morals are stronger than my drive].
I am aware that I need to monitor it. I need to be able to step back from my own actions and view from others’ perspectives. Watching for signs and reacting to them in little ways is the best way I think I can handle this – and, well, there is the good news – us overachievers “pull out all the stops to reach [the goal]” (Spreier et al., 2006).
Spreier, S. W., Fontaine, M. H., & Malloy, R. L. (2006). Leadership run amok. Harvard Business Review, 84(6), 72--82