Developing leadership skills and abilities cannot occur in the absence of current self-assessments. Completion of personality assessments to define inherent behaviors, as well as additional assessments of specific leadership theories, shed light on areas for leadership skill improvement. In an effort to guide a leadership development plan for future opportunities, self-assessments provide a practical guide on necessary steps to improve leadership skills. Understanding skills that need to be improved contributes to formulating a set of personal convictions that help in the journey to become a transformative leader.
Keywords: self-assessment, leadership development plan, transformational leadership
Leadership Self-Assessment and Development Plan
Kouzes and Posner (2016) indicate that the first step in becoming a transformative leader is through establishing a set of personal values to guide corresponding management styles and techniques. Within this context, it is vastly important to understand principles and necessary adjustments within personal behaviors to maintain an effective work environment for others. Through becoming cognizant of current leadership behaviors as defined within the context of personality type and leadership assessments, one can formulate a leadership development plan to guide opportunities for growth. This leadership development plan relates to the larger framework by which leaders operate and integrates a discussion on organizational culture, gender, and leadership.
Personality Type Indicator
Throughout the establishment of leadership values towards development as an authentic leader, many exercises and instruments I completed could be understood with more depth after receiving my results from a pseudo “Myers-Briggs Type Indicator” (MBTI) personality inventory titled the “Jung Typology Test”. This inventory (Humanmetrics.com, 2017) revealed that I have a tendency to operate under the “Extraverted Feeling with Intuition” (ENFJ) personality type. Recognition of personality type heightens awareness of personal style and values.
ENFJ Personality Type
The ENFJ personality type is one with an extraverted personality, an awareness of one’s feelings, strong intuition, and favors judgment in making decisions. My specific profile within the ENFJ personality type is 3% extraversion indicating that I have marginal preference of extraversion over introversion, 22% intuition indicating a slight preference of intuition over sensing, 25% feeling indicating a moderate preference of feeling over thinking, and 9% judging indicating a slight preference of judging over perceiving (see Appendix A). (Humanmetrics.com, 2017). According to Hirsh and Kummerow (1998), individuals with an ENFJ personality are excellent communicators and enjoy leading and facilitating teams. Further, they undergo a participative style when managing people and projects, lead through enthusiasm and praise, and challenge their organizations to make actions congruent with values. (p. 21). I find that these qualities are indeed aligned with my personality traits, and they are also characteristics of a responsive leader. “The Jung Career Indicator” has determined that ENFJ personality types are the most fulfilled, content, and successful within the professional fields of social services, management, and technical/science. (Humanmetrics.com, 2017). I currently work within a field related to education and social services with long-term goals of establishing a career in management, which supports this claim.
ENFJ challenges. While many positive characteristics exist within the context of the ENFJ personality type, there are areas for improvement and behavioral considerations to be aware of as it relates to leadership style. ENFJ personalities, like myself, have tendencies to idealize others and suffer from blind loyalty, sweep problems under the rug when in conflict, ignore tasks in favor of relationships, and take criticism personally while being overly self-critical. (Hirsh & Kummerow, 1998, p. 21). Recognition of these tendencies heightens awareness for behavior modifications to maintain professionalism during critical leadership decisions. An example of negative outcomes related to blind loyalty was following incorrect advice from a colleague during my training period. While their information did not feel correct, its validity was not confirmed. This experience translated into learned behavior for trusting one’s instinct. Subsequently, a “trust but verify” mentality prevents the reoccurrence of potential misinformation. I ultimately learned that the information I had given was incorrect; however, I was able to relay the appropriate information before any business-type challenges were raised. This situation also prevents sweeping problems under the rug. While this specific situation had a positive outcome, other situations have the potential for negative reactions; including ignoring tasks in favor of relationship. This is another area for improvement within the ENFJ personality type. Finally, taking criticism personally and overexerting myself to perform better tend to be negative tendencies for the ENFJ personality style.
Understanding the positive and negative characteristics to having an ENFJ personality are critical in self-assessment and formulating an effective leadership development plan to strengthen my leadership, influence, and managerial skills. Having a solid understanding of my default behaviors provides a framework for what considerations need to be taken when making decisions and utilizing management and leadership tools. However, research has shown that individuals with ENFJ type personalities exhibit certain behaviors that are more aligned to leader-member exchanges than other behaviors. In a study on linking personality preferences to managerial behaviors, results found that managers with inclinations towards intuition, feeling, and perceiving were rated higher than those that did not exhibit these behaviors. (Berr, Church, Waclawski, 2000, p. 154). In my personal leadership development plan, a goal is to ensure that I continue exhibiting such behaviors, because they not only received well by peers and subordinates, but I feel that they are indicative of an overall supportive manager.
Knowing the personality type in which I operate provides a baseline for further understanding of how my behaviors relate to leadership assessments and provides insight for improvement. Understanding how my behaviors relate to various leadership theories and approaches enables me to seek out personal opportunities for improvement and areas of competency. In conducting a self-assessment of my current leadership skills, a better cultivated leadership development plan will be created for future leadership growth.
Within the context of my ENFJ personality type, I feel that I have a fairly balanced skillset that can be used in multifunctional ways relative to the larger environment and culture of the organization. This balanced skillset is synonymous with my personality type due to the versatility that it imparts. While a skills-based approach to leadership tends to focus on technical, human, and conceptual skills, which is a singular approach to leadership within numerous other approaches, it is especially important within the changing construct of post-industrial organizations. “Under these conditions, the kinds of skill under consideration here are likely to become progressively more important determinants of leader performance. They permit leadership on a distributed net where actions are words, ideas, and systems.” (Mumford, Zaccaro, Connelly, & Marks, 2000, p. 167).
Within my personal set of capabilities, these skills are proportioned equally, as I received scores of 23 for each technical, human, and conceptual skill category (see Appendix B) according to the Skills Inventory Assessment presented by Northouse. (2016, p. 67). The score of 23 is within the high range of the scoring interpretation, so it can be determined that I have a balanced approach to leadership skills, which correlates with my personality type.
A behavioral approach to leadership focuses largely on the two areas of task and relationship. While employees will always differ in their response to task and relationship, one of the most important responsibilities that a manager has is to create an environment for their employees conducive to their needs. “Management requires a keen understanding of human nature, the basic needs, wants and abilities of people. Managers at all levels cannot cause an employee to become motivated; they can however, through their actions and more participative attitudes help to create the environment for individuals to motivate themselves.” (Rad & Yarmohammadian, 2006, p. 15). Managers who are relationship-oriented often focus on the stability of relationships and emotional needs of employees more than they focus on task-oriented behavior. Being a relationship-oriented person is also indicative of the ENFJ personality type; thus, it is no surprise that this behavior aligns with related leadership assessments.
On the “Blake and Mouton Managerial Grid Leadership Self-Assessment Questionnaire” (1985) and the “Leadership Behavior Questionnaire” (Northouse, 2016), I received scores of 6.8 and 43 on relationship-oriented behavior, which were higher than the scores of 6.2 and 39 that I received on task-oriented behavior (see Appendix B). Despite my higher scores in relationship-oriented behavior, I also received high scores in task-oriented behavior. On the “Blake and Mouton Managerial Grid”, my scores would place me under high task and high relationship, which describes me as a team leader. Team leaders lead by positive example to foster a team environment in which all team members can reach their highest potential as team members and as people. (Vision Council, n.d.). Therefore, it is safe to assert that I would likely exhibit both relationship-oriented and task-oriented behavior as a leader.
The situational approach to leadership is unique in that it incorporates task-oriented and leadership-oriented behavior but places it on a fluid scale; i.e. situational occurrences involving employees require a leader to alter their management style accordingly. Hersey and Blanchard (1972) developed a matrix in which a manager gauges their employees’ development and adjusts their leadership style to correspond. This matrix incorporates a directing leadership style for employees with low maturity that places an emphasis on high task and low relationship. The coaching leadership style for employees with low to moderate maturity places an emphasis on high task and high relationship. A facilitating leadership style for employees with moderate to high maturity places an emphasis on high relationship and low task, and an observing leadership style for employees with high maturity places an emphasis on low relationship and low task. (Hersey & Blanchard, 1972). A situational leadership approach appeals to me due to the logistical nature of diagnosing employee development. I personally believe that there is no one specific style that incorporates a preeminent management technique; therefore, my philosophy of leadership aligns closely with situational leadership principles.
In assessing my ability to practice situational leadership, I believe that I need more preparation to adequately perform the various leadership styles within Hersey and Blanchard’s model. On the “Situational Leadership Style Summary/Self-Assessment” that was adapted from Hersey and Blanchard (Learninganddevelopment.org, n.d.), I received a score of 7 in the coaching style, which was much higher than the score of 1 that I received in directing, and the score of 4 that I received in facilitating. I received a score of 0 in the observing leadership style (see Appendix B), and I feel that is where I must work towards growing myself as a leader the most. Allowing employees to thrive within their own approaches to delegated tasks means that they themselves will grow as leaders and expand their skillsets. Yukl and Fu (1999) surveyed managers to identify reasons why they delegate to their employees. The most prominent reasons they identified were for employees to develop skills and confidence, to support subordinates in dealing with problems more efficiently, and to improve employee decision making by providing them with more responsibilities. (1999, p. 225-230). These are all areas in which I hope to improve my leadership skills. Because I favor high task and high relationship, as noted within a skills approach to leadership, I feel that it could be challenging for me to lead in a manner that favors low task and low relationship.
Leader-Member Exchange Approach
Leader-Member Exchange (LMX) theory places an emphasis on relationships with employees as being an important factor in leadership skills within 3 domains consisting of the leader, the follower, and their relationship. This theory proposes that each employee establishes a relationship with their supervisor that either positively or negatively contributes to their individual job performance. This theory has interesting components to its design, but I believe it places an emphasis on external locus of control rather than on internal locus of control in the sense that the employees’ motivation and performance heavily relies on their leader. “Internals relative to externals, have been reported to have higher work motivation, effort, performance, job satisfaction, and higher starting salaries and greater salary increases.” (Kinicki & Vecchio, 1994, p. 76). Internal and external locus of control provide largely different outcomes based on the perception of where individual control lies within an employee, which means that effects of the LMX would largely vary between the leader and each of his or her subordinates due to the individual characteristics of each person in the relationship.
The “LMX 7 Questionnaire” (Northouse, 2016) indicates that I scored high as a leader and a follower within this leadership assessment with a score of 27 as a follower and a score of 25 as a leader (see Appendix B). These scores could very likely represent that I have more experience in a subordinate position than in a leadership position. Although the threshold for a high rating ranges from 25 to 29, which places me in the high range for both leader and member roles, it nevertheless provides me with opportunities for improvement in my leadership abilities to assure that when I do reach a leadership position I am fostering equitable relationships with those that I am leading.
Not to be confused with transactional leadership in which reciprocity exists between a leader and a follower so that each receive something of value, transformational leadership focuses on a leader’s personal beliefs that influence others through motivation. Behaviors exhibited by transformational leaders include formulating common goals and developing motivation in followers. “These behaviors can convince and motivate followers without bartering for good and rights, which characterizes transactional leadership.” (Kuhnert & Lewis, 1987, p. 650). These behaviors align with Kouzes and Posner’s principles of “Inspire a Shared Vision”, “Enable Others to Act”, and “Encourage the Heart”, which is not surprising, as The Leadership Challenge (2016) provides steps towards a transformative leadership process.
Transformational leadership includes various factors of leadership as described in the “Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire”. (Bass & Avolio, 1992). My personal scores on this assessment place me in the high range for the factors consisting of idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and management-by-exception. I scored in the moderate range for individualized consideration, contingent reward, and laissez-faire leadership. Although I technically scored in the moderate range for laissez-faire leadership, it was on the cusp of low and moderate with a score of 5 (see Appendix B). In describing the “Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire”, it can be determined that the “first four areas identify transformational leaders. Items five and six identify transactional behaviors. Finally, the laissez-faire characteristic identifies individuals who do not possess leadership characteristics.” (Kelly, 2003, p. 2). From my scores, I can conclude that I need to work on individualized consideration, which is a characteristic of transformational leadership. Further, I need to underutilize my contingent reward and management-by-exception behaviors, which are characteristics of transactional leadership. Laissez-faire leadership describes individuals that do employ useful leadership skills, so I similarly need to work on using this style less.
Authenticity in leadership is founded on positive leadership and organizational behaviors that encourage developing strengths within employees in a workplace. Much like transformational leadership, a leader must be aware of their personal convictions to be successful as an authentic leader. “Authentic leadership focuses on the self and presupposes that doing so is beneficial to others because it provides a genuine example.” (Bishop, 2013, p. 4). Much like Kouzes and Posner’s “Model the Way” principle (2016), it is important to behave in the ways you wish others to act.
According to the “Authentic Leadership Self-Assessment Questionnaire” (Northouse, 2016, p. 218-219), four components exist to measure authentic leadership skills including self-awareness, internalized moral perspective, balanced processing, and relational transparency. I received a score of 16 for the self-awareness category, which rates me as high; however, I received scores of 15, 13, and 14 for internalized moral perspective, balanced processing, and relational transparency that place me in the low category (see Appendix B). These low scores indicate weaker authentic leadership in these areas. It is speculated that individuals in their early career, like myself, seek out tangible measures of success such as money, fame, power, or status. (George, Sims, McLean, & Mayer, 2007, p. 3). “As they age, they may find something is missing in their lives and realize they are holding back from being the person they want to be. Knowing their authentic selves requires the courage and honesty to open up and examine their experiences. As they do so, leaders become more humane and willing to be vulnerable.” (George et. al, 2004, p. 4). This perspective of young leaders is instrumental in motivating me to become an authentic leader by establishing my weak areas of internalized moral perspective, balanced processing, and relational transparency. To become an authentic leader, I feel that I need to place less of a focus on advancing in my career and focus more on my personal convictions to ensure that I develop a holistic framework for leading others.
An ethical and moral approach to leadership is unique in that every person has an individualized context for what constitutes their personal ethical discourse. Perceptions of good and bad, right and wrong, and good and evil are extremely subjective depending on formative experiences. “Depending upon such worldview and beliefs, a religious leader may morally justify a holy war and a Marxist may justify class warfare and dictatorship of the proletariat.” (Bass & Steidlmeier, 1999, p. 184). Despite the subjective take on ethicality, a scale exists in which individuals can judge another person’s moral behavior for perceived integrity called the “Perceived Leader Integrity Scale” (PLIS) (Northouse, 2016). Although this is not a self-assessment of my own behaviors related to ethics, it allows me to examine my moral compass in response to another’s demonstrated ethics.
Using the PLIS, I scored a colleague as having moderately ethical behavior with a score of 36 (see Appendix B). Wimbush and Shepard (1994) found that “employees’ ethical behavior is influenced greatly by their perceptions of organizational policies and practices, which constitute ethical climate.” (p. 645). Using this notion as a basis for my own ethicality, I would agree that organizational climate largely influences a leader’s ethical behavior. However, as a leader, it is important to understand this concept and use it as an opportunity for strategic organizational transformation. Influencing organizational climate through personal ethics has the potential to initiate a transformative process that could eventually influence others to contribute to positive organizational change.
Tuckman’s stages of small group development (1965) consist of forming, storming, norming, and performing. I find this topic to be highly relevant within the context of a team approach to leadership, because it provides for a context in which conflict (storming) can be helpful to team development if facilitated in an appropriate manner. Trust, communication, and feedback are important elements that foster performance in a high-functioning team. Thus, it is a leader’s responsibility to accelerate and provide input where deemed necessary. “The role of this person is to continually draw the groups' attention to the group process and to suggest structures and practices to support and enhance the group skills.” (Blair, 1991). While this is a short-term process until the team can function as a self-managing unit, a leader has a significant responsibility to ensure that every group member contributes equally to its successful performance.
The “Team Excellence and Collaborative Team Leader Questionnaire” (Northouse, 2016) provides for an assessment of team excellence and leadership. I completed the assessment with my current organization’s team in mind and received an average score of 3.2 out of 4 (see Appendix B) meaning that the it is more true than false that my team is effective in its overall performance. While this score is on the high end of the scale, there still leaves room for improvement in my abilities to contribute to my current and subsequent organizational teams. As an ENFJ personality type, I thrive on creating significant relationships; therefore, this is an area that I can continue to develop. “Collectivistic values reflect preferences for working in groups, a motivation to cooperate, and tendencies to prioritize group goals ahead of personal goals.” (Randall, Resick, & DeChurch, 2011, p. 529). By forming strong relationships within my organizational teams, I have the capacity to influence a shared vision through collectivistic values that have the potential to inspire motivation and strong group objectives.
Leadership Development Plan
To successfully implement appropriate behavior within the context of the leadership approaches previously discussed and my self-assessments within those approaches, it is necessary to develop a guide for future leadership behavior. As previously discussed, if a leader is not aware of their own convictions and beliefs, they will have a challenging time carrying out successful leadership approaches. “Your Leadership Development Plan”, an assessment based on Kouzes and Posner’s The Leadership Challenge (2016), is extremely useful in guiding personal forethought for future leadership opportunities. “Model the Way”, “Inspire a Shared Vision”, “Challenge the Process”, “Enable Others to Act”, and “Encourage the Heart” are the five practices discussed in Kouzes and Posner’s The Leadership Challenge (2016). Understanding my personal capabilities within these practices are essential in defining future goals. The strengths, weaknesses, and patterns discovered through the “Leadership Practices Inventory” (LPI) assessment reveal areas for personal improvements that I may not have previously been aware.
Developmental Needs and Efforts
The LPI assessment broke down each principle from The Leadership Challenge (2016) and provided me with a baseline for understanding my capabilities within those principles. Each category was broken down into five parts, and I averaged each of my answers out of a total of five to gather my scores. In the “Model the Way” category I received a score of 4; “Inspire a Shared Vision” was a score of 3; “Challenge the Process” was a score of 3.8; “Enable Others to Act” was a score of 4.8; and “Encourage the Heart” was a score of 4.6, respectively. These scores provide for quantitative results regarding additional self-assessment and evaluation.
Strengths. Areas of strength within my LPI scores include “Enable Others to Act”, “Encourage the Heart”, and “Model the Way”. Both of these principles are relationship-oriented dimensions that coincide with my ENFJ personality type. The ENFJ strengths that coincide with my LPI scores consist of good verbal communication skills; perceptiveness about people’s thoughts and motives; motivational, inspirational, and bringing out the best in others; and warm, affectionate and affirming behavior. (Pauw, 2011, p. 47). Thus, the ENFJ personality traits double as strengths within the realm of the aforementioned principles.
Weaknesses. Areas for improvement that exist within the LPI are “Inspire a Shared Vision” and “Challenge the Process”. Weaknesses within my personality assessment align with these two categories and include a tendency to be smothering and over-protective, a tendency to be controlling and/or manipulative, not paying enough attention to my own needs, and being critical of opinions and attitudes that do not match my own. (Pauw, 2011, p. 47). Being critical of others’ opinions that are not in agreement with my own aligns with having a weakness related to “Inspire a Shared Vision”, because if you are critical of others’ opinions, then you are less likely to incorporate others’ opinions when developing a shared vision. Similarly, not paying enough attention to my own needs could conflict with the “Challenge the Process” principle, because if I was to be so focused on improving organizational processes, I may become overwhelmed, which could be detrimental to the cause.
Improvements. Practicing the principle of positive psychology would help me improve on my weaknesses and flourish with regards to becoming an authentic leader. Positive psychology focuses on maintaining an optimistic perspective on life to attain authentic happiness. (Seligman, Wellick, & Hoover, 2004). By intentionally maintaining a positive perspective on life events, I think that I will purposefully develop my weaknesses into strengths. Seligman (2004) suggests that “we can develop unprecedented levels of happiness by nurturing existing strengths such as optimism, kindness, generosity, originality, and/or humor.” (p. 59). He argues that by nurturing these strengths, we can transform our lives to a higher more positive plane. (2004). Within the context of authentic leadership, I believe that the practice of positive psychology will function to support the longevity of my career as a leader and focus less on the tangible aspects of success, as discussed within the authentic leadership approach.
Future Leadership Practices
Taking into consideration my strengths, weaknesses, and ideas for improvement, I have decided to commit to the following actions to support my growth as a leader, as discussed in the “Leadership Development Plan” based on Kouzes and Posner. I will make positive verbal statements to others, collaborate with others on projects, ask if my teammates need help when they are overwhelmed, tell others when they do a good job, refrain from making negative comments about others, help others learn new skills, listen to others’ opinions if they differ from mine, behave in ways that I would want others to act, and talk about the successful future of my team. These actions will allow me to foster a transformative environment of collaboration, trust, and communication as a future leader and continue the internalized practice of positive psychology as a self-improvement strategy.
Barriers and Concerns
The “Leadership Development Plan” has influenced me to consider possible misgivings regarding leadership practices and approaches within my realm of capabilities. There are four possible barriers that could conflict with my abilities to be a leader, and they consist of a lack of skills, fear of being seen as weak, lack of training and development opportunities, and few opportunities to take on challenging assignments. I believe that to overcome these barriers, I need to seek out professional development and growth opportunities to practice leadership skills before I am in a leadership position with no practical experience. I have a strong relationship with my current supervisor, and having a conversation about means in which I can gain experience will not only show that I am willing to take initiative, but it will allow my supervisor to take a transformational and observing approach to supporting me in reaching my long-term leadership goals.
Best Leader Exercise
An approach to developing my own leadership skills is through the interpretation of behaviors of effective leaders that I have experienced in my professional career. By incorporating these effective leadership styles and tools into my own leadership techniques, I can learn how to be an effective leader myself. The “Step Up to the Leadership Challenge—Best Leader Exercise” provides concrete examples of such leadership tools. Understanding the theory behind why these leadership techniques were effective is instrumental in applying them to situations that I might experience as a leader; thus, an analysis of such behavior will allow me to learn how to be an effective leader for individuals that I hope to eventually lead.
The best leader that I have worked with coached and mentored me into the job position that I currently have through providing me opportunities for growth and development. This person showed genuine interested in my talents and abilities and delegated tasks appropriately that he knew I would successfully accomplish. Throughout my completion of such delegated tasks, I was rewarded with numerous promotions to advanced positions, and successively given more responsibilities and opportunities for growth. Of course, my advancement within my organization would likely not have occurred had I not shown the initiative to accomplish these tasks in a timely manner, but because of my creativity and resourcefulness in completing tasks efficiently, the coaching and mentoring that I experienced from this leader was transformative and important to my professional development.
The specific behaviors that this leader did to make himself effective in his role was substantial. This leader would ask for advice and feedback not only from other staff members, but also from undergraduate students in work study positions. He provided opportunities for professional growth, as noted above. He awarded good work with small tokens of appreciation, as permissible. He allowed the entire staff in the organization to celebrate holidays and events together and would spend hours cooking in preparation. Although he could often not provide raises or promotions to staff, he showed his appreciation in alternative ways to influence motivation. He set expectations within job roles and functions to allow for success on behalf of the staff. Finally, this leader stayed true to his commitments. There was not one instance in which I experienced him falling back on promises. These behaviors followed all of the principles within The Leadership Challenge (2016), and inspired motivation within all of the employees in the organization.
The abilities that this person has that I admire generally correspond with the specific leadership behaviors that he would exhibit. These abilities consist of honest and transparency, contributing to the development of others, sitting at the front desk if it is needed despite the vast difference in pay grades between supervisors and administrative assistants, providing emotional support in times of need, and giving advice freely on how to succeed not only in the organization but also in life and professional advancement. These abilities enormously contribute to the concept of modeling the way and provide an example for the abilities I hope to demonstrate when I am in a position of leadership.
The major lessons that can be learned from this individual’s effective leadership skills are loyalty, forgiveness, and encouragement. While ENFJ type personalities suffer from blind loyalty, as previously noted, loyalty in this sense is given with a mutual understanding through a transformative process. Relying on a coaching and mentoring process is also in line with my personality type, so it is not surprising that the effective leader I admire practices similar applications of leadership styles to which I am receptive. Inspiring motivation and modeling the way are two important elements of leadership that I have noticed and will practice myself as a future leader.
Leadership and Culture
Organizational culture in relation to leadership is a synergistic combination that exemplifies the importance of comprehensively trained leaders and managers navigating the complexities of organizational interrelationships and environment. An interesting paradigm exists, put forth by Douglas McGregor (1960), in which Theory X and Theory Y describe parallel organizational environments where managers either see subordinates as lazy, avoidant of responsibility, and needing control and coercion (Theory X), or as liking work, accepting and seeking responsibility, and needing space to develop (Theory Y).
Similar to situational leadership, I tend to take a fluid approach within the context of Theory X and Theory Y. I feel that certain situations call for different leadership practices, and these practices relate to the overall culture. Some employees in an organization may have the capabilities to take on additional facilitated or delegated responsibilities, because they are in a different professional space developmentally than their colleagues. These employees should be given the opportunity to expand upon their responsibilities. “Highly determined people should be involved in business-unit turnarounds and cultural change efforts. Employees with high levels of engagement should be asked to manage small teams and work with key clients.” (Fernández-Aráoz, Roscoe, & Aramaki, 2017, p. 90). The manner in which employees are managed, whether by Theory X, Theory Y, or a combination of both, highly contributes to the overarching organizational culture. Thus, it is important as a leader to be mindful of the way in which employees perceive they are valued, because it is imperative to the larger corresponding organizational culture.
Keeping in mind the way that individuals perceive organizational culture, and understanding that their perceptions of the culture is ultimately what contributes to its climate, Edgar Schein made numerous points in Organizational Culture and Leadership (2016) about the theory behind the contributing behavior to culture in organizations. First, Schein’s discussion of the three prominent subcultures consisting of operator, engineer, and executive culture is entirely relatable within my current organization. Each of these subcultures has their own identity, and if they become misaligned, then conflict will occur. However, by maintaining appropriate relationships and keeping the overall wellbeing of the organization in mind, leaders have the possibility of sustaining a positive organizational climate. If they indeed contribute to a positive organizational change in critical times, then they have the capacity to be transformative in practice. In discussing such misalignment illustrated by mergers, acquisition, or bankruptcy, Schein discusses that “new change managers or ‘transformational leaders’ are likely to be needed to unfreeze the organization and launch the change programs.” (Schein, 2016, p. 293). The transformational leadership approach discussed by Kouzes and Posner (2016) provides a context by which leaders can engage in positive organizational behaviors that influence organizational culture.
The “Dimensions of Culture Questionnaire” (Northouse, 2016) allows for a self-assessment of the perception of my culture compared to others’. My score was approximate to Anglo culture for the areas of uncertainty avoidance, in-group collectivism, gender egalitarianism, assertiveness, future orientation, performance orientation, and humane orientation. It was closer to the GLOBE overall for power distance and institutional collectivism. What this tells me is that I have a strong sense of culture within a similarly affiliated group of people. This questionnaire also shows my biases as an individual within that group, and Schein (1990, p. 109) provides insight as to why, “One probable reason for this diversity of approaches is that culture, like role, lies at the intersection of several social sciences and reflects some of the biases of each—specifically, those of anthropology, sociology, social psychology, and organizational behavior.” It is conceivably impossible to live life in a manner that does not allow for culture to influence every aspect of society; however, as a leader, perhaps one of the most significant roles is to ensure that employees feel respected within their respective cultures.
Gender and Leadership
Northouse (2016) argues that we will soon see more women in elite leadership roles in addition to changes in workplace norms and development opportunities for women, greater gender equity in domestic responsibilities, greater negotiation power of women, effectiveness and predominance of women-owned businesses, and changes in the incongruity between women and leadership. (p. 408). In fact, Northouse also discusses that women are slightly more transformative in their leadership practices despite attempts at being undermined by male subordinates (p. 402-403). In addition to the contemporary research related to gender in the workplace, it is important to note that the effects of gender within the context of organizational culture relate to leadership. “A direct parallel exists between the dynamics that are due to culture and those that are due to gender. Both culture and gender have physical (visible) and value (invisible) components. Both affect identity and group cohesion, interpersonal interactions, and access to power and resources.” (Ayman & Korabik, 2010, p. 159). Further, the same characteristics by which individuals are associated within culture and ethnicity have the same effect on gender. Thus, while it is important for me to remain conscious of gender differences as a leader, it is equally as important to assure it does not interfere with my individual perceptions of employees’ development.
In trying to keep interference of gender differences out of personal behavior and actions, the “Gender-Leader Implicit Association Test” exists. (Northouse, 2016). Within this assessment, the timed trials between gender associations allow for the associations of leader and supporter compared to male and female to reveal positive or negative associations. My negative score of 1 exposed that I do not have biased associations in favoring males in leadership. In fact, my score could potentially indicate that I may slightly favor the association of females in leadership positions over males in leadership positions. However, I am quite close to a score of 0, which also indicates that I am pretty much fair across the board when it comes to leading both males and females. As a future leader, I hope to continue my perpetuation of unbiased gender leadership values and work on being a transformative woman leader.
It is important for leaders to be aware of their position and ideology within the various approaches to leadership to ensure strong convictions in leadership values. Understanding personality types and correlating the instinctual behaviors to self-assessments within LPIs provides a solid foundation for learning personal stances and beliefs in relation to these areas. Once a strong assessment of personal behaviors takes place, a leadership development plan can be developed and implemented to guide future leadership behavior and assessment.
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