I am not a leader “type”. Or so I have been thinking for a long time. I have never volunteered to be a leader, nor can I remember if I ever have been a leader in my life – for any type of group work. This is why I found the Collins reading so interesting. He states that Level 5 (executive) leaders “…blend extreme personal humility with intense professional will” and that “executives who possess this paradoxical combination of traits are catalysts for the statistically rare event of transforming a good company into a great one”. He uses words such as “modest”, “wilful”, “shy”, “fearless”, and “calm” to describe these Level 5 leaders. This appealed to me as (ironically immodestly) these are some words that I would use to describe my character. I always thought that being shy and modest were part of the reasons why I would not be an effective leader, but surprisingly, Collins seems to believe otherwise. This made me question why I have not volunteered or expressed the interest to lead a team previously. I always thought that team leaders and people who actively seek out this role were outgoing, egoistic, friendly, and involved, and that having a shy and quiet team leader would be looked down on, or not as ‘respected’ by their team. Although I have previously had thoughts that I could lead a team in the right direction, or that I could effectively lead my own company, one of the biggest reasons that I have never been in a leadership role is because I fear leading people in the wrong direction. This may mean that I do not believe in myself or my “professional will” as much as I should. I enjoyed this reading as I agreed with Collins in that good-to-great transformations need leaders who possess and encompass humility and professional will, as egoistic leaders irk me.
Although I had previously thought that I didn’t possess the qualities to be a good leader, I didn’t class myself as a “follower” either. I am the type of person that likes to silently take charge of their own work and make my own decisions without being regularly checked up on or managed by anyone else. However, in the reading by Kelley (1998) qualities of followers were described as managing themselves well, being committed to the organisation, building competence and focus their efforts for maximum impact, being courageous, honest, and credible. I started thinking that perhaps I am indeed a follower rather than a leader, as self-management and thinking for myself and ways to improve efficiency is something I applaud. Kelley then went on to say “qualities that make effective followers are confusingly enough, pretty much the same qualities found in some effective leaders” which I found very interesting. This helped me to understand that companies (and teams on a smaller scale) do not rely on the one leader for the success of the company (unless the company uses micromanagement). It is everyone’s input that is valuable. People play different roles with different titles, but all are equally as important in the successful running of a company as everything in interlinked.
This resonated well with how my MikesBikes team have been working in the first week. Although we have a CEO, everyone plays their respective roles on their own without guidance (unless it is requested). Everyone is a leader of their role which then makes the company successful. This showed in our first rollover where we all came together with our information and decisions, worked well to make sure everything fit together nicely, and consequently gained the highest market share and SHV of the 4 firms in our market. This was surprising and gratifying as our team was one of the ‘under $20’ teams, with none of us successfully mastering SoloMike. I feel like I am finally learning rather than stressing and that everything is coming together nicely. I hope that we can keep this up for the rest of the semester.
Collins, J. C. (2005). Level 5 leadership: the triumph of humility and fierce resolve. Harvard Business Review, 83(7/8), 136—146
Kelley, R. E. (1988). In praise of followers. Harvard Business Review, 66(6), 142--148