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Free «Leadership: An Authentic Journey» Essay Sample

Executive Summary

The primary objective of accomplishing the report is to conduct a self-evaluation in order to critically examine one’s style and effectiveness as an Authentic Leader. During the self-evaluation, various leadership models will be reviewed and used as benchmark in order to measure ones knowledge, skills, and capacity as a leader. Further research will be conducted by referring to readings, lectures, and other reliable resources in order to support the outcomes of the evaluation. The evaluation will focus on three areas of one’s personal life story: self-awareness, values, and motivations. Each area will be explored by initially conducting research about the role of self-awareness, values, and motivations on leadership, followed by a reflection of three areas on one’s personal life (character, behavior, values and morals, strengths and weaknesses, etc.), which will be measured through a series of tests, and finally, an analysis of how research converges with one’s self-evaluation.        In the report, research emphasized the idea that good leadership begins with self-awareness because it allows an individual to understand the human condition and needs and therefore, knowledge gleaned from self-evaluation transforms to positive values worth emulating. Consequently, values determine the quality of thoughts and decision-making a leader would make in certain situations. Moreover, a leader’s motivations also influence a leader’s decision. After conducting significant research regarding leadership and leadership models, I took several tests to determine my leadership style. Based on the evaluation, the researcher’s level of self-awareness, knowledge of my values, and motivations are mediocre at best when compared to the standards of authentic leadership. The researcher is self-aware enough, displays positive and contributive values enough, and is motivated by the right things but should work on developing one’s strengths and cultivating existing positive traits and skills in order to reach the standard or benchmarks for authentic leadership.

Introduction

Leadership constitutes various aspects and elements that a leader should posses or aim to achieve in order to ensure success and productivity. However, in this particular report, authentic leadership will be the focus of evaluation and report. In reviewing authentic leadership, three areas will be explored – self-awareness, values, and motivations –, which will be backed up with independent research and the researcher’s life story based on a series of leadership tests that will be taken. The first stage of the report involves conducting research. Therefore, the first part of the report will be about theories, concepts, and models of leadership that prove the importance and roles of self-awareness, values, and motivations in leadership. The second stage of the report involves reflection of the researcher’s life story, character, and leadership style. Leadership style will be determined through evaluative tests that seek to provide a profile or type of leadership that is inherent in the researcher. The third part of the report will be an analysis of both research and self-evaluation outcomes. The analysis will involve an assessment of the researcher’s current leadership style to leadership benchmarks or standards identified during preliminary research. After the discussion, the report will be concluded and a set of recommendations will be discussed in order to address the various issues, positive or negative, that could contribute to the researcher’s development of leadership strengths and positive character or behavior that would ensure success as an authentic leader.

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Leadership: Authentic Journey

The authentic journey of a leader begins with a careful self-evaluation of experiences that form an individual’s character. Significant past experiences that determine the character or make of  a leader include childhood experiences, educational background, and the outcomes of social interaction and exposure to external stimuli including reality, human interaction, observations of various human mechanisms, among others. Therefore, self-evaluation should begin with self-awareness, through which one attempts to reflect on the past and realize one’s roles and life at present time to answer a basic existential question: “Who am I?” Answering this question involves an identification of one’s interests, preferences, thoughts and ideals, principles, behaviors, knowledge, morals or values, skills and talents, and strengths and weaknesses. Self-awareness is critical to the success of a leader. According to Martocchio (2006), the quality of human interaction in an organization as well as people’s responses to a leader depends on how he displays his beliefs and values. When leaders display authentic behavior, other people will more likely respond by following the leader’s examples. Leaders who show genuine behavior “are more likely to apply a positive moral perspective to lead by example as they communicate through their words and deeds” (Martocchio, 2006, p. 277).

However, displaying authentic behavior requires a great deal amount of effort from an individual to know himself. The importance of self-awareness to leaders is grounded on psychological science. In the field of psychology, self-knowledge or self-awareness is highly significant for an individual’s realization of the role that he plays in the well-being of other people. A self-aware leader, for instance, who knows himself also knows the needs and concerns of other people because he himself is aware of his own thoughts, needs, and concerns as a human being. Therefore, self-awareness brings about a leader’s display of positive behavior (Wisner, 2008).  The transformational leadership model adopts the concept of self-awareness in promoting effective leadership. The leadership model requires managerial self-awareness, which involves a leader’s participation in constant evaluation to determine “perceptions of leader effectiveness, and the impact of the leader’s behaviour on direct reports’ levels of job satisfaction, motivation, commitment, and performance” (Robertson, Callinan, & Bartram, 2003, p. 210).

The researcher took the Emotional Intelligence – Quick Indicator Test, which evaluates an individual’s self-image and how one compares it to how one thinks other people see him or her. The results of the evaluation revealed that although the researcher is self-aware, emotionally resilient, motivated, and able to show empathy, the researcher cannot consider these characters as strengths. The score the researcher obtained from the test reveals that there is still much to conquer and accomplish, especially when it comes to strengthening these abilities. When the researcher asked family and friends to answer the questionnaire, their responses also mirrored the researcher’s responses. The Johari Window is similar to the Emotional Intelligence test because it allows an individual to talk about one’s self-image and how other people see one’s personality. The Johari Window reflects four aspect of my personality – the things I know about myself but not other people know about me, the things other people know about me but I don’t know about myself, the things other people and I know about me, and the things other people and I don’t know about me. The results of the Johari Window revealed that the researcher is transparent since one’s self-image is similar to what people think of myself. In the researcher’s list – hard working, goal-driven, and organized are three top characteristics while other people who were asked to participate also said the same things about the researcher.

Aside from the Emotional Intelligence – Quick Indicator Test, Johari Window, Character Mapping, and interviews and conversations with family and friends about the researcher’s personality, taking the Jung’s Typology Test came next in order to identify one’s personality type. Based on the results of the survey, the researcher’s type is moderately expressed Introvert, moderate expressed intuitive, slightly expressed Thinking, and slightly expressed Judging (INTJ). According to Kiersey (N.D), the INTJ type is a mastermind. Masterminds can make good leaders but these types are not very eager to lead. Instead, masterminds spend their time moving, organizing, and achieving goals, thus, these types are valuable to any organization. Moreover, masterminds (INTJ personality types) work hard and make sure that all systems and parts of the organization are running smoothly (Kiersey, N.D.). For INTJ personality types, computer programming, engineering, management and entrepreneurship are the top careers suited to their typology (Humanmetrics, N.D.). Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences model revealed that the researcher is skilled or adept in spatial-visual perceptions. Although the objective of authentic leadership is to be initially self-aware through intrapersonal perception, the researcher scored an intermediate rating for it (Businessballs, N.D.)

The next part of discovering one’s authentic leadership style is reflecting on values. The theory of Social Cognitive Processes of Authenticity highlights the importance of values to leadership because it enables an individual to self-regulate accordingly. Moreover, awareness of one’s values is important in leadership because one’s value systems determine an individual’s goals in life, belief, and emotions. The Social Cognitive Process works in such a way that an individual’s values determines the quality of his social interaction, while the cognitive process enables him to regulate or adjust his behavior and those interactions based on prevailing social systems like norms. For instance, when an individual is fulfilling a leadership role, cognitive processes allow him to determine the proper type of behavior, action, or response that would bring out the best results. “Self-awareness is evidenced by the leader’s ability and motivation to identify and assess the components of these schemas, and have meta-cognitive oversight with respect to the cognitive processing of self-information during leadership performances” (Gardner, Avolio, Walumbwa 2005:13).  

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An individual’s values also contribute to authentic leadership because it links his purpose and goals to his motivations and passion towards being a leader and setting an example for those he leads. An authentic leader displays transparent integrity by showing and allowing his values to guide his actions and decisions (Marquis & Huston 2008: 58). Bass and Bass (2008: 168) referenced an example that shows the importance of values in leadership. A spiritual leader’s display of values helps his cause and contributes to effective leadership because that values that he represents also represents what the group or organization stands for. The spiritual leader who displays positive values keeps the group together and leads by example. In addition, if a leader is known to possess positive values, he will be willing to put the needs and concerns of those he lead over his personal needs and concerns. Values transform people and as the leader transforms to exhibit good values, other people follow suit. The values of an individual could be determined or evaluated by reviewing various aspects of his life. According to Bass and Bass (2008: 169), the determinants of values include educational background (an educated leader would more likely display fairness in judgment), cognitive perceptions (a leader who thinks is able to view a situation or problem from various perspectives, focus on problem-solving, and adhere to organization), personal considerations (a leader’s knowledge, skills, talents, and interests influence his values), status (a leader’s position in a hierarchy or bureaucracy affects his values), the nature of the job (the nature of the job and the leader’s experiences by fulfilling his responsibilities at work affect his values), and societal developments (a leader’s social interactions and observations also affect his values).

To assess the researcher’s values and awareness of it, the character map was filled out in order to identify values. The first question in the evaluation requires an identification of the key areas where one’s values may have been shaped. The researcher’s values may have been shaped during the childhood years and social interaction with the family. During childhood years, family and familial relationships taught the researcher to show respect towards the elderly and other people, respect the privacy of other members in the family, to offer help when capable, and show loyalty. In school, values of social interaction were taught, following rules and guidelines, setting goals and accomplishing them, showing passion and interest towards ones crafts, and the importance of friendship were learned. During later years, specifically in college, the researcher realized the importance of self-sufficiency, of freedom and independence, of responsibility, focusing on goals, and showing determination to accomplish them.

Based on the results of self-evaluation, the researcher primary values showing good faith towards other people because the quality of social interaction and what comes of it reflect on the researcher’s knowledge, experience, and character. Moreover, the researcher values direction, focus, and organization. The researcher believes that a life with purpose is one that follows a good and straight path where the individual aims to learn and fully realize his talents and skills in order to contribute to the greater good. The researcher also values perseverance and determination. The researcher feels contentment and satisfaction when all goals and responsibilities are accomplished through honesty and hard work. Moreover, as an envisioned leader, the researcher will more likely show support, interest, and approval towards individuals who are able to prove their knowledge and skills through hard work. Although loyalty and social relationships are very important, the researcher believes that they are not highly significant or worth prioritizing when it comes to arranging one’s value system because both can be the products of a good value system. Loyalty and good interpersonal skills follow when an individual is naturally perceptive about people and situations.

In the self-evaluation task, the researcher should also be able to prioritize values that should be developed or strengthened in order to ensure effective leadership. The previous discussion only revealed a few values but if the researcher needs to prioritize ten values, then the following will be chosen: (1) sense of responsibility, (2) determination, (3) honesty, (4) genuine interest in learning, (5) good sense of right and wrong, (6) fairness, (7) genuine concern for the interest and wellbeing of other people, (8) modesty, (9) respect, and (10) trustworthiness. The research strongly stands by these values and because these are personal values, the researcher believes that as an envisioned leader, one will not be able to commit the following acts: (1) hurt other people physically or verbally, (2) lie or cheat for one’s benefit, (3) allow others to take the blame or suffer the consequences of one’s actions, (4) allow other people to fulfill one’s responsibilities, and (5) treat other people poorly. Another concern that involves leadership and values is that there are some events in one’s life when certain circumstances prevent one from exhibiting personal values. Some circumstances challenge one’s values, however, these experiences are also the same things that strengthen an individual’s moral sense. For this reason, there is a need for every leader to work on developing and strengthening their personal values that are related to their craft.

Table 1. Value Awareness Table

Rank

Values

Why is this value really important to me?

What does this value mean to me?

Why have I ranked this value here?

1

Good sense of right and wrong

This value is important because it allows the researcher to discern right from wrong and does make good and careful judgments and decisions

In leadership, a good sense of right and wrong means that one is able to know how to act accordingly and treat others in a group

When an individual knows right from wrong, then he is more likely to commit wrong judgments and destructive decisions

2

Concern for the interest and wellbeing of others

This value is important because it proves who I am as a person

Showing genuine concern for others proves one’s sense of humanity

This is second most important because leaders deal with other people and their decisions affect the lives and future of those he works with. Therefore, showing genuine concern for others mean that the leader’s decisions ensure positive outcomes not only for the leader but for other people as well.

3

Respect

Respect is valuable because it determines the quality of social interaction

To the researcher, respect means one’s ability to think maturely and understand the different situations and conditions of people

Respect is most important when leaders deal with people from different walks of life. Respect is having the ability to acknowledge their differences and not let them affect the relationship between the leader and other people.

4

Fairness

Fairness is valuable because it ensures that the leader does not use his power to treat others unequally.

To the researcher, fairness is primarily about self-control.

Fairness grounds the leader and limits him from taking advantage of his power and using them to treat other people unjustly.

5

Sense of Responsibility

Sense of responsibility is valuable because it determines whether an individual is ready for leadership or not.

To the researcher, sense of responsibility means having the ability to prove one’s worth.

This has something to do with the leader’s ability to achieve goals.

6

Determination

Determination is important because it propels leadership and ensures achievement of leadership roles and responsibilities.

Determination means proving one’s sense of purpose and responsibility.

Determination ensures the accomplishment of goals and objectives.

7

Honesty

Honesty is important because it is essential in building good social relationships.

Honesty means the ability to admit one’s faults.

Honesty is important in leadership because it builds open relationships and communication.

8

Trustworthiness

Like honesty, trustworthiness also contributes to the development of good social relationships.

Trustworthiness is not merely exhibited by other people towards the leader, but also of the leader towards himself.

Trustworthiness enables the leader to build alliances.

9

Genuine interest in learning

Genuine interest in learning is important because it gives way to change or transformation.

Genuine interest in learning signals the researcher’s capacity to embrace learning as a responsibility in order to further improve one’s leadership skills.

Genuine interest in learning stirs development in any organization.

10

Modesty

Modesty is valuable because it highlights the values that an individual prioritizes most – not power or fame, but achievement.

Modesty means not letting one’s success and achievements get in the way of continuous learning and self-development.

Modesty grounds the leader and makes sure that he is capable of evaluating his performance.

The third part of the report involves an evaluation of the researcher’s motivated capabilities. During this part of the research, the researcher will need to evaluate one’s extrinsic and intrinsic motivation drivers, identify strategies that would ensure balance between those motivators, identify the researcher’s strengths and weaknesses, and establish a personal development plan that will be based on the outcomes of the evaluation from the first part of the report. The recommendations on the latter part of the report will also be based on the Personal Development Plan. Based on the readings, motivations influences leaders to develop the desire and passion to act - make plans and fulfill them. Therefore, determining one’s motivations and setting them right affects how effective a leader would be. According to Daft and Lane (2007: 226), motivation is important because it determines the quality and quantity of an individual’s work. For instance, leaders who are highly motivated are able to produce high quality outputs and increase their productivity (Thomas 2002: 109; Gaspar : 264). Internal and external motivation theories state that motivation comes from different sources, but not exclusively from one source. Therefore, individuals could be internally or externally motivated (Chance & Chance :128). In this aspect of leadership, what is most important is creating the balance between the two in order to make sure that the leader is highly motivated to accomplish his roles or responsibilities. Balance could be achieved by ensuring that motivations come within both oneself and the external environment (Sansone 2000: 386; Frey & Osterloh 2002: 186).

Based on the researcher’s evaluation of personal motivation, intrinsic motivation includes: (1) genuine desire to learn, (2) desire to achieve something, (3) desire to set an example for other people, (4) genuine interest in dealing with various situations and people, and (5) interest in problem solving and decision-making. On the other hand, extrinsic motivation include (1) a potential career in the future, (2) being acknowledged and revered by family, friends, and colleagues, (3) the thrill and satisfaction of competing with others, (4) discovering various opportunities for personal and professional development, and (5) gaining friends. The researcher’s motivations clearly highlight one’s interests as well. When it comes to strengths and weaknesses, the self-evaluation chart that was accomplished in the earlier part of the report emphasize the fact that the researcher’s strengths include organization, genuine yearning for knowledge, hard work and determination. On the other hand, weaknesses include lack of interest in social interaction.    

Conclusion

The report shows the importance of self-awareness, values, and motivation in authentic leadership. Authentic leadership requires these elements because self-awareness or knowledge of one’s traits and characters pave way to one’s understandings of personal values and motivation. Consequently, understanding one’s personal traits and characteristics, values, and motivations help the individual determine his skills, interests, knowledge and experiences, and strengths and weaknesses and contribute to a development of a plan aimed at personal and professional development. The researcher’s self-evaluation leads to the conclusion that one has still a long way to go before being able to exhibit authentic leadership.

Recommendation

The Personal Development Plan constitutes recommendations on how the researcher could improve his leadership standing. Part of the plan is constant self-evaluation, which will be set on a regular schedule – monthly or yearly. Self-evaluation will be conducted based on personal and professional goals and objectives. Part of the plan includes writing down personal and professional goals, listing the steps or the ways in which these goals could be accomplished and fulfilling these goals at best. Self-evaluation will include an identification of one’s actions and decisions that contributed to the accomplishment of these goals and an identification of the wrong decisions or mistakes that prevented one from accomplishing other goals. In this way, a balance between the personal values and motivations and plans and goals will be formulated. After the results of the evaluation, the researcher will list down a plan of action on how one’s performance may be improved in the coming months. Standards or benchmarks will be set in order to ensure quality outcomes.

   

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