Written by Sarah Travagline April 22, 2019
Leaders have conviction, ambition, and belief in achieving the envisioned goal. They have strength, courage, they believe in their abilities, and they walk their path in life just because they want to make the journey. Leaders are life – long learners that give and receive feedback openly. If people feel encouraged, they are more likely to be engaged. My personal philosophy of leadership is explained using my own personal values, beliefs, and assumptions.
Leadership is knowing your own abilities while developing the abilities of others. Leadership is not competition, rather it is the innovation of new ideas. It is creating a new idea or product that everyone loves. Leadership is continuous learning and expanding of knowledge in a fostering environment that promotes the well-being and collective action of everyone in the organization.
The supreme step to becoming an effective leader starts with personal core values. The tone of every firm or office comes from top/down leadership, so leaders are charged with the responsibility of setting the direction of the culture. In fact, neither can be successful independent of the other. It is the leader’s responsibility to clarify and/or model either ethical or unethical behavior in a firm or office. Ultimately, the leader’s actions and attitude relay the acceptable tone for the entire corporation. My five core values: Courage, Creativity, Personal Development, Consistency, and Recognition.
Courage: “Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right? “ (Stone) Ethical behavior is doing the right thing, just because it is the right thing to do. Ethical behavior is not always legal behavior, and legal behavior is not always ethical. A leader understands the difference and strives to make the best decisions that will result in a positive outcome for everyone. Embracing an organizational purpose/mission extends one’s leadership throughout all three levels, (corporate, business, and functional) of a corporation. Ethical leadership starts with the unified communication of the corporate mission and code of ethics. An ethical organization is the result of continuous collaboration between all departments and individuals throughout the organization.
Creativity: As a leader it is important to encourage employees to use their creativity and share ideas. It is not always the higher incentives that motivate employees. Employees that are encouraged to share ideas and use their creativity are more likely to stay with a company. It is important for employees to know their ideas are being heard and that the organization values their input. Robert Alan Black PH.D. gives a very colorful image of a truly effective leader using the analogy of a box of crayons. Black says, “it is important to see people as crayons with multiple talents and potentials.” (Black PH.D., 1995) Understanding the importance of each color (talent and potential) in the box, opens the door to endless potential.
Personal Development: Get a mentor or coach. A leader must always be aware and anticipate the expectations of their supporters/surroundings. Successful leadership must involve the bedrock consistency and visible participation of top leaders.
Consistency: It is through consistency that employees have a clear understanding of what is expected and acceptable in the organizational culture.
Recognition: Our society loves problem solvers. When one problem is solved, we quickly move on to the next. Pretty soon we feel empty. Solving problem after problem, the process seems to be mundane, and soon we feel like we are not making any difference at all. Effective leaders understand this and always include time to acknowledge accomplishments and encourage new ideas. It only takes a minute to hand write a short note saying, “Thank you for your time and continuous support” Everyone appreciates being appreciated.
Much of what Leaders do is solve problems (offer solutions) and make decisions. This is where the big mistakes are still being made in corporate America today. It is our human nature to react to what we think (assume) the problem is, using past experiences as our guide, instead of taking a moment to pause and reflect on the entire situation before we respond. A good leader will seek to understand the entire situation and ask lots of questions for clarification to determine why or if there is a problem to be solved in the first place. A good leader will use critical thinking questions such as: What caused the problem? Is this really a problem? Where is this problem happening? How is it happening? Who or Whom is causing the problem? Is the problem technical or adaptive? And finally, why is the problem happening? If after answering these questions it is discovered that there is a problem or several problems, the leader will prioritize which ones should be addressed first. It is amazing how effective answering these simple questions will answer . . . how much you really don’t know what you don’t know?
Successful leaders represent a variety of personalities, skills, and styles. It is the general belief within our society that an organization must be rough, tough, prepared to cut corners, twist the truth to fit the occasion, and squeeze what they can out of their workers, if they want to be successful. The name of the game is competition and the playing field is global/international.
So, how does a leader in today’s constantly changing work conditions ethically maximize organizations profits for its owners? Should there be a limit on an individual’s income and profit? In a country where “bigger” is often “better.” Limiting profits, so everyone has a fair chance may sound like a great idea, but in the long run will only lead to individuals not maximizing their efforts. If there is no reward for working harder than people will only give the minimum effort and less products/services will be produced and sold. Despite the dominance of this view, people persist in expecting the businesses to be profitable and fair. It is easy to get caught up in the process just for the sake of profit; however, a leader knows that for any organization to stay in business long-term, they must educate and encourage everyone in the organization to achieve their maximum potential.
As I come to understand more and more about myself and those around me, I have learned that I must embrace change and grow in my understanding of leadership. Leadership is displayed differently for each situation, demanding a different approach each time to achieve maximum results. Empowerment is the key to effective leadership. I feel that empowerment is about growth and development, whereas influence doesn’t always grow and develop a team. Empowerment is all about connecting the team and is the driving force behind raising the level of motivation throughout the corporation. Empowerment is about everyone reaching their fullest potential. I believe that the ability to identify and act on one’s own beliefs while finding the value in others is the foundation for building lasting connections and is the key force behind empowering others towards a positive vision. Shared values may change, but an effective leader anticipates the change.
Atherton, J. (n.d.) Knowing and not knowing. Retrieved April 22, 2019, from http://www.doceo.org.uk/tools/knowing.htm
Black PH.D., R.A. (1995). Broken crayons break your crayons and draw outside the lines. Athens, Georgia, United States of America: 3rd Printing by Cre8ng Placing Press. http://citaconference.com/robert-alan-black/
Stone, C.W. (1922, May 30). Quotes at BrainyQuote.com. Retrieved April 22, 2019, from https://www.brainyquote.com/authors/w_clement_stone