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Cherise O'Connell's e-Portfolio for EXL Scholars 


Leadership Skills

For my Leadership Theories class, the final paper we were required to write was about the meaning of leadership. In this paper, we were to express our definition of leadership, give our personal philosophy of leadership using theories, and include personal experiences that have influenced our philosophy. Here is a portion of that paper:


The definition of leadership that incorporates the foundational principles I believe are important in understanding leadership is by Komives, Lucas and McMahon. They defined leadership as “a relational process of people together attempting to accomplish change or make a difference to benefit the common good.” The first reason I chose this definition is because it refers to leadership as a relational process, which means that leadership is not simply task-oriented. Instead, leadership uses relationships to facilitate change. The second reason I chose this definition is the word “together.” This means that leadership is not the work of just one person, instead it is a collaboration of efforts. The final reason I chose this definition is the phrase “accomplish change or make a difference to benefit the common good.” This means that leadership must have a purpose or a goal, which is an essential aspect of leadership to me. 

                                                                                                                                                          Before this class, I had a very industrial paradigm view of these ideas, and I believed that leaders really did possess important in-born traits that non-leaders did not. I had always felt that a person could not be made into a leader. However, I now know that this idea is unsubstantiated by evidence. Early studies failed to support the idea that a person has to have a particular set of traits to become a successful leader. Also, any single trait has only a weak relationship to effective leadership, which contradicts this approach


One topic we discussed that I feel I will refer back to throughout my career is the Situational Leadership Model. This form of leadership says that there is no best style of leadership and leaders must adapt their style according to their followers’ needs. The leader’s style is determined by the readiness of the followers, which includes: maturity, development, motivation, and competence.

I have personally experienced this problem at my current job. My new pharmacy manager has a very micro-managing style and has not taken into consideration that everyone on our staff has been there at least four years. He is using authoritarian, or “telling,” leadership when his followers are at a readiness level of R4. On the other hand, if a leader is highly relational and low on task with followers who have never done the job before, they may feel stressed due to the lack of guidance on the task, which may decrease productivity. It is important for a leader to find an appropriate balance.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this class and feel I now understand the concept of leadership. I now know that a manager and a leader are two very different things, and understanding these differences can be essential to the success of an organization and its members. I hope to take away from this class a better understanding of myself as both a leader and a follower, because both are crucial in life. A leader would be nothing without followers.