Leadership can be defined as a set of traits, influences, role relationships, behaviors, interactions, and occupation of an administrative position (Yurl, 1996). Questions regarding leadership have been mainly based on speculation because scientific research on this subject did not begin until the beginning of the 20th century. Much of the research conducted has been based on the effectiveness and the source of great leadership. This subject has generated many discussions and interest among people. Opinions, such as leaders are born and not made and vice versa, has dominated the topic for years with researchers and scientists coming up with different and sometimes conflicting evidence in support of each point of view. Regardless of these positions, it is no secret that good leadership is a skill that is possessed by very few individuals. This skill is developed as a result of several strategies that are followed with the aim of achieving self development. The gift of proper leadership is not just given. It is earned as a consequence of commitment to adoption of leadership strategies.
First of all, I believe that general personal management is a precondition to professional excellence in any position in an organization. Improved self-development provides a leader with the ability to resolve conflicts, achieve suitable peak performance, cope with stressful situations, manage change, build and lead teams and influence organizational operations and cultures. In order for one to achieve self-development, one has to have elements such as knowledge, attitudes, skills, consciousness, and creativity.
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One of the most important stratagems in sharpening leadership skills and realizing self-development is assessing ones development and learning needs. I agree with this strategy because soliciting feedback from employees can be an integral component as it provides individual with both: a different kind of perspective as well as a comparison point. As Rothstein (2010) reports, there are two different kinds of comparison points: chiefly comparing oneself against a role model or expert and comparing oneself to an individual at a par level. Additionally, an individual could make a downward comparison with those, who are regarded subordinate to them. According to the author, these are important comparisons, which are basic elements of self-development techniques that one should be able to make. I believe these are valuable questions that different colleagues should be asked in order to gain an insight and get feedback on what one is doing wrong or right. One can be able to define future and current performance requirements, against which an individual is able to evaluate gaps.
Contrary to this, however, I believe that the benefits that are associated with mentoring programs for these leaders are overstated. Rarely did any successful leader in history or the recent past came out and declared what an invaluable asset a certain mentoring personality has been to his/her success that led to greater impact and productivity in his career. Perhaps this might be their vanity speaking, but I stand by this assertion. The research I have conducted on leadership has confirmed that mentorship is one of those areas that are regarded as valuable, but the same people praising it are ignorant of it. Most of current world leaders and corporate CEOs do not have mentors. Astonishingly, very few beneficial books have been written on the subject. Most of leadership courses available in schools of higher learning eulogize the intrinsic worth of mentoring but provide very little insight on practical, proven, and hands-on assistance it provides (Pue, 2005).
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As opposed to looking at secondary sources for direction, one important element in acquiring leadership skills is through the development of personal vision of one’s career objectives. Person’s performance is often better when the task at hand is appropriate for one’s skills and when the same individual has some stake in the outcome of his actions because they affect his career objectives. Career planning and implementation of objectives is a lasting process for an individual. In fact, according to Rothstein (2010), career planning should commence as soon as placement for a leadership position is done. In many cases, orientation process becomes the commencement point for any individual’s career development, but a leader is expected to have his/her priorities straight right from the beginning. A prerequisite for any career planning program is that each individual should have personal career goals, especially leaders. Leader’s career objectives are valuable because these often have positive or negative consequences on his environment. Setting these standards beforehand will ensure that individual’s decision to undertake certain tasks will contribute to fulfillment of personal development (Porter-O’Grady & Malloch, 2011).
By seeking to take on challenging tasks during the early stages of leader’s career, one is able to explore new fields and gather as much experience as possible. I believe that challenging oneself is the only way for a person to learn. For a leader the strategy can only serve as a valuable resource. Posner and Kouzes (2010) observe that these challenges can be picked up from anywhere at any time. The call to lead can appear in a small business or a large one, in public or private. The bottom line is that motivation and energy that are used to lead come from areas that one least expects. Moreover, what characterizes a great leader is the ability to take up any challenge. Some leadership skills grow out of the necessity, while others grow out of challenging oneself (Posner and Kouzes, 2010).
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However, all this cannot be achieved without one important factor. This factor is the establishment and implementation of self-monitoring strategy that is aimed at ensuring that one does not swerve off the path to speak. The need for effective leadership has been very prevalent in organizational frameworks for a long time and an individual’s ability to lead is a fundamental job skill. In order for any organization to achieve success, it has to have an effective leader. According to conclusions made by Verdigets (2008), self-monitoring remains one of key factors that play a significant role in determining how effective a leader is. Common self-monitors find it easier to instigate conversations, discern the need of his subordinates as well as have rewarding relationships with them. Additionally, they possess very high referent power and can easily gain approval of others. Based on conclusions from Verdigets (2008), researchers hypothesized that the “big five” character traits of agreeableness in leadership theory are positively related to self-monitoring. Respondents, who were found to be agreeable also characterized their model leader as perceptive. Moreover, since common self-monitors regard themselves as self-perceptive, high self-monitors want bosses and leaders who are similar. Self-monitoring was an important leadership tool derived from these results.
Kekale (2006) also claims that another significant tool to ensure self-development in leadership is awareness of various conceptual models that are available in every situation in an organization. A good leader seeks to understand his environment by viewing situations from multiple rather than single perspectives (Kekale, 2006). I agree with the view that multiple perspectives can provide a more realistic and richer picture of an organization and leadership under study. Multi-perspective approach may help not only leaders, but all other individuals be more creative and flexible in their thinking and be able to capture administrative and organizational complexities in a productive way. I agree to some degree that this is an important tool for great leadership. However, there are several problems associated with this type of broad approach to management. I agree that multiple perspectives can make organizational leaders use better practices, but I cannot help but raise concerns about the extent to which this application is possible, especially after considering limitations of time, understanding, and resources. In practice, leaders may be forced to choose from different interpretations during times of urgent decision making. If the preliminary point is that each perspective is equally significant, then on what basis can final decision be made between contradictory interpretations? It is likely that with regard to multiple situational perspectives available, assumptions, power and values of different leaders are likely to come into play when important decisions have to be made.
Engaging in self-development strategies in shaping one’s leadership skills are valuable ways for a leader to grow in an individualized manner. This will work best to ensure success of their personal career as well as that of their followers. These are typical traits among leaders, who take into consideration appropriate methods, resources, and strategy in conducting successful activities. It is the main opinion of this paper that individuals should be in a position to take self-development as a form of personal-instructional system. Individuals should also implement such stratagems as soliciting advice and feedback from others, taking multiple perspectives on situations, setting personal visions of career objectives, seeking new challenging activities, and, most importantly, establishing a self-monitoring strategy to guide through other self-development activities. Mentorship programs are important but should not be heavily relied on as a vital source of development. Discussed supportive and preparatory strategies aim at achieving appropriate leadership skills for an individual in development and shaping of a leader. Facilitating personal development activities requires particular skills and is imperative to develop these skills through specific training and practice. As is the case with all major leadership work practices, it is important for the individual to have a proper training setting where these strategies can be molded to create a great leader.
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Personal Self-development Leadership Plan
Table of Contents
- Areas that require development
- Action plan
- Key contacts
Introduction to the study
In order to ensure success and effectiveness of a leader, one has to have a wide range of skills related to leadership and management. These skills can only be developed through implementation of certain strategies. Based on the current situation and role that I play, these tools have laid priority on the most essential areas that a leader needs to concentrate on to ensure self-development.
It is important to remember that as long as the plan is prepared and saved online, then one can access it anywhere anytime, update it, and assess how much of one’s skills have improved.
Areas that Require Development
Skills that need development:
- Challenging oneself;
- Setting personal objectives;
- Self assessment.
It has been identified that I have inefficient skills in each of the following areas. However, these results do not indicate that I have not done these activities well in the past or cannot perform them presently. This only means that in order to be successful in these departments, I have to adopt some strategies that will truly help.
- Information management;
- Problem solving;
- Thinking strategically;
I have recorded high achievement in the areas named above. This simply means that I have the knowledge and capabilities to carry out tasks though I may require assistance along the way from key contacts.
- Encourage soliciting of information and feedback from colleagues and subordinates.
- Local departmental heads;
- Office assistant;
- Senior and chief executives.
- Participate in a mentorship program, though in a limited capacity.
- Local peer membership associations;
- Local business contacts;
- Current and past leaders’ biographies;
- Find local events on mentorship from events directory.
- Find local courses about mentorship programs from the relevant websites.
- Reevaluate and develop personal vision of career objectives.
- Consultant firms;
- Mentorship programs.
- Seek new challenging tasks.
- Find local events about the challenges for leaders;
- Attend conferences on leadership programs and participate;
- Read materials and magazines on overcoming challenges.
- Adopt personal self-monitoring system;
- Practice taking multiple perspectives in viewing situations.
- Local business contacts;
- Acas: runs training programs on a wide range of employment and leadership areas;
- Websites including learning directories;
- Employees and personnel.