Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Monday, October 21, 2013
A Few Words on Leadership
Dr. Jonathan T. Jefferson
Leadership is one of those areas that has been, and continues to be, thoroughly researched. I am one of those guilty academics who spent years in a doctoral program immersed in the topic. Ironically, it is not empirical peer reviewed literature that has taught me the most about leadership, but personal experience and observations. My observations of transitional, transformational, democratic, autocratic, and laissez-fair leaders have molded my methods of influencing others.
Transitional leaders are those in positions of authority during a time of change; specifically, when shifting from one paradigm/policy to another. Today’s shift to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) has exposed a lot of leaders. Those who were proactive in learning as much as they could about the CCSS before implementation, and sharing what they learned with their colleagues, have not been overwhelmed by its emergence. The same can be applied regarding the new federal health care legislation. Don’t simply accept the hype. Do some homework.
Transformational leaders arise from every walk of life, and have the ability to move people to give of themselves for the betterment of all without those individuals expecting anything in return. Malala, Martin Luther King Jr., and Ghandi just to name a few have exhibited transformational traits. Democratic leaders need to gain the consensus of a majority in order to get issues addressed. As noble as participatory leadership appears, it can lead to divisiveness, favoritism, and downright cruelty if wielded without integrity.
On the extremes, there exists authoritarian leaders and those who chose to simply delegate. Not validating what others bring to the table can only benefit a leader for a limited time. When their own innovative ideas dry up, so does their effectiveness. Putting off direct involvement until absolutely necessary can lead to chaos and disorder. Therefore, those extremes are to be avoided as much as possible.
How have I been molded by my experiences? First and foremost, I am not the perfect leader. Being human, knowledge of the best leadership approach in specific situations does not always equal application of such. I do try to be proactive regarding changes coming to my areas of responsibility. On many occasions I go above and beyond in order to model for my staff the potential benefits bestowed upon the group if each individual can manage to give a bit more. When I speak from the heart, it often motivates others to further exert. Validating the opinions and expertise of subordinates never hurts, but the final decision still falls on the shoulders of the person in charge. Rarely, if ever, am I autocratic. When I delegate, it is always from a position of trust. Yet trust, ultimately, is a two-way investment. The more I procure my subordinates’ trust, and the more they gain mine, the more easily our joint-objectives might be attained.