A self- evaluation is a very critical tool to examine oneself and to try to determine where one stands in terms of leadership practices, and capabilities. I think the key here is to remain objective in order to benefit from such an evaluation. It would seem that feedback from others would be more appropriate since they are the individuals that are affected by one’s leadership. Given that, using past data and feedback given by my subordinates, and data gathered from current group activities held during the Doctoral program, as well as my own view point will be included just for the purposes of comparing and contrasting. I feel through the use of all forms of input I will come up with an unbiased assessment, thereby offering the greatest opportunity for growth. I will measure my level of effectiveness upon my subordinates, and colleagues as well as the manager that I report to. I will also take a detailed look at my day-to-day leadership practices and capabilities.
Peer and Colleague Methodology
First of all, it is of the utmost importance to be honest and objective in order to continue to improve as a leader. I think one must be open to new ideas and concepts, as innovation is truly the dictator of cutting edge performance in today’s business world (Rainer, Chaharbaghi &, Wargin, 1996). As a means of measuring self-leadership practices and capabilities, one approach is to ask for feedback verbally from colleagues (ie. doctoral team members). I requested feedback while participating in a two- week peer team environment where leadership roles were alternated throughout that time period. What was interesting was my self-perception of myself as a leader versus my team member’s perception of my leadership skills. I had a tendency to under rate myself and saw myself, as one style of leader whereas my team member’s perception of how I would be in my work environment was totally different. I use a participative style of leadership mainly because it works. The majority of my employees are males, so I immediately approached them as their new manager establishing a mutual respect environment. I have found that employees that are treated with respect by their managers are the employees that always reciprocate and are the most reliable and dependable. Feedback from my team members proved that their perception was that in a time controlled environment such as I work in, with everything being dictated by time schedules, that it would be necessary for me to approach the situation autocratically (Johnson & Johnson, 2000) due to the nature of the business (American Airlines). My team members felt I had strong leadership skills. One comment from a member was that I tend to allow myself to drift off at times. I agree this is possible as I work in a face-paced environment, and my thoughts tend to move quickly from one task to the other. I know we all process differently so I accept that. I think the negative side to this perception is that I could miss something real important or someone could perceive this behavior as lack of interest. This feedback gives me something substantial to build upon and improve in the area of listening and tasking.
One of the tools used to measure performance in my organization is the use of the 360-degree assessment. This tool generally is completed by one’s boss, colleagues, and subordinates and usually submitted directly to the company analyzing it. I had an opportunity to review the assessments, however this was only because my subordinates wanted me to know what they thought of my management style and felt I would learn from their feedback. The environment in the particular location I work in is conducive to this type of situation. My latest assessment was approximately six months ago. The information that was provided by my subordinates was interesting to say the least. Working as a manager is not always the best position to be in, as one has to play the bad guy or girl sometimes when the need arises. I found that several of the employees that had been reprimanded by me throughout the year for one reason or another, had rated me extremely high. Their explanation was that they felt that I had remained consistent among the employee group in terms of disciplinary action. This is an area I remain constant in. Traditionally my business requires that the company imposed guidelines, are followed to the letter. Take in mind this is an organization that when formed, only knew one style of management which was that of a military organizational chart. Where this is a somewhat restrictive way of managing, it is very effective across the board. Over the recent years the company has tried to follow step with the rest of corporate America such as the like of Herb Kelleher and such, to try to incorporate warm and fuzzy into the organization, though a bit late, they are slowly but surely getting there. As a manager, as long as I feel I am not in jeopardy of breaking any corporate rules, I use my discretion in my decision-making with regard to what is best for my subordinates. I think the key is to maintain some level of flexibility. The one thing I always try to keep in mind is the fact that every situation has to be weighed according to it’s own merit. There is not a cut and dried procedure for judging every situation the same. Granted carte blanche by my superior, this is an area I choose to exercise a little muscle in for the good of my employees.
Feedback from my direct manager was that I was a strong leader in every area with the exception of delegating. This is an area I will work to improve on however; I think this is embedded in me as work ethic and not passing one’s work along to someone else. I do realize that delegating is sometimes the best way to get a big job accomplished more efficiently and effectively and therefore I will draw from this area more.
One of the tools used to measure my leadership skills was the Leadership Assessment Inventory in the Learning to lead workbook (Bennis & Goldsmith, 1997). This particular tool asked a series of questions with regard to where one might fall on a continuum in the areas of characteristics, functions, philosophies and results orientation of leaders and managers. In the area of characteristics I scored high on the leader side. Out of five questions with the scale ranging from 1 to 5 (5 being the highest to leadership qualities) only one question was scored a 2 where the other four questions were scored a 4, leaning high on the leadership side. In the area of functional differences using the same scale, out of seven questions, I scored 4 a maximum of 5 times and 5 a maximum of 2 times, all of these answers leaned high on the leadership side. The next category was the area of philosophical differences, where out of five questions I scored two 5’s, two 2’s, and one 4. The results in this area indicate to me that there are some inner conflicts internally with regard to philosophical differences. Clearly this is an area I will have to work on. The final category was Expected Results of Management and Leading. In this area out of three questions I scored two 5’s and one 4. By using this particular tool, I am clear on the areas I need to change in terms of my behavior. I recognize the barriers that exists that have in the past blocked my growth in these area, and I know the support systems that I need in order to make the changes in the deficient area.
I also used a self-assessment form found online to formally assess leadership skills to see if there would be a large variance. This particular from is called the LAT or Leadership Assessment Tool (Interlink Training and Coaching LLC). This particular tool measures the areas of personal stability, productivity, self-management, communications, boundary setting, work quality, teamwork and leadership. The range of the scale for scoring is the categories of “simply, always, most of the time or sometimes.” At the end of the assessment one totals the number of responses in each column and then multiplies by the number assigned to each column for a total for each column. The rating is from 90-100 is considered “well done and one’s skills should be shared with others.” Scoring 75-90 is categorized as “the way to go, and it’s time to enjoy the skills you have and develop new ones.” The lower categories were below 75 indicating, “It’s time to set specific goals and to develop as a leader and a coach.” The final category was a score below 50 and clearly in that area one needs help. I scored in the upper level from 90-100, which I was quite pleased with. I answered the questions extremely objectively looking to improve my leadership skills. I found this measurement was not as tough as the one used in the model by Bennis and Goldsmith (1997).
The bottom line to leadership is that the style is going to be dictated based on the given situation. In my industry safety is a key factor. When it comes to safety I have to jump into an autocratic leadership style (Johnson & Johnson 2000) for the well being of all involved, that is my job. Unfortunately I have been in the position to have to recommend the dismissal of someone for not following safety procedures. This is definitely a hard thing to live with as no one wants to take another’s’ livelihood from him or her. As a member of management of an airline, safety has to come first and anyone who wants to second-guess that practice is in the wrong place, and in the wrong industry.
Throughout the course of a normal day I practice a participative style of leadership (Johnson & Johnson, 2000) because it is more effective within the work group. It truly required teamwork to accomplish tasks working with the public all day long. I think it is key to know which style to practice and at what time, as followers are more receptive to this.
My goal is to be as strong, and ethical a leader as possible. I choose to think about every decision I make, and consider everyone involved before I make a final decision. Leadership is truly the heart of the game. This game I speak of, is the game of life. Without true leadership our society suffers. Anyone in a leadership position must examine his or her heart for sincerity, morality, truth, and justice, because everyone that is involved, is affected by the decisions made.
Bennis, W. & Goldsmith, J. (1997). Learning to lead. Cambridge, Ma.: Perseus Books.
Interlink Training and Coaching LLC (). Leadership development. Retrieved May 19, 2002, httpL//www.interlihnkt.com/assessment.html
Johnson, D. & Johnson, F. (2000). Joining together group theory and group skills (7th ed.). Needham Heights, Ma.: Allyn and Bacon.
Rainer, F. Chaharbaghi, K. & Wargin, J. (1996, January). Developing creative teams for operational excellence. International Journal of Operations & Production Management, 16, 5. Retrieved May 8, 2002, infotrac database
Renson-Armer, R. & Stickel, D. (2000, May). Successful team leadership is built on trust. Ivey Business Journal, 64, 20. Retrieved May 8, 2002, infotrac database