Principles of Leadership Sociology Essay Example
The aim of the current report is to address the question of what need to be done to become a better leader in the face of people and challenges that exist in my organization. The report begins by re-stating the leading of millennials in the contemporary organizations and the challenges that people can encounter when trying to lead in an old-fashioned style of leadership. As dynamic and outgoing are the millennials, trying to maintain the status quo will work only in extremely rare occasions. However, most of the time, millennials will resist any attempt to stop change, exclude them from where decisions are made, or inhibit their attempt to grow professionally or receive recognition and promotion. The paper uses a number of theories in leadership and change to describe different approaches that could be used by leaders leading a millennial-packed organization.
SELF-REFLECTION: PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT NEEDS TO LEAD MILLENNIALS
Upon discussion of the theories and principles of leadership and change, the paper also inculcates my personal journey towards attaining the principles espoused in the theories. It highlights the personal transformation process that I have had to undergo, including overcoming my fears and doubts, and adopting an open door policy to allow smooth and constructive communication between millennials themselves, on one hand, and me as their leader on the other hand.
There is an action plan in the report which encompasses the following areas:
- Personal transformations including self-confidence and open door policy for leadership;
- Having the feeling of being first among equals, and the adoption of servant leadership as my primary style of leadership;
- Opening up communication channels to encourage and promote learning through opinions and views; the regular briefing meetings where people say what they have learnt and how they want it applied in the organization.
The conclusion offers a re-statement of my commitment to pursue humble and effective leadership for my team.
Leading a team of outgoing and dynamic millennials can be both exciting and challenging at the same time (Sorensen 2007, p. 12; Northouse 2010, p. 4). As a leader, it is paramount to regularly check the level of satisfaction and contentment of the people in a team, especially one that is dominated by millennials. It is for a reason that the tastes, preferences, and desires of millennials fluctuate with what is going on in the world. Furthermore, most millennials are well educated and well informed people who have a strong sense of independence and resolve (Tyson 1998, p. 49). They want democracy and involvement in decision making and their opinions must be heard even if it contrasts with the culture or policies of the organization.
For this reason, any person who leads a group of millennials must have better professional development programs that allow him or her to have capacity to guide and lead the organization in a way that is acceptable to the majority of the people in the organization. This, however, does not mean that professional development will eliminate all the challenges that an organization and its people face in the daily operations. It means that the leader must embark on a lifelong learning in terms of acquiring different leadership approaches to accommodate different preferences and desires of the people in the organization (Quinn, Spreitzer & Brown 2000, p. 89).
The purpose of this self-reflection paper is to expound on what I should do, as a leader of a team of millennials with a variety of needs. During my practice, I have discovered that members of my team are well acquainted with the fast-changing and challenging environment that is today’s contemporary workplace. Thus, they know what is needed to be done and can identify the goals appropriately, although they want incentives to accomplish the goals. Millennials are also fond of recognition in which form the organization chooses to, including mere mention of good work to compensation for work well done and promotion. They are ready to embrace change provided they know what they are changing, which means that they are involved in major decisions at the organization. Interesting, millennials have timelines as to which position they should be occupying in the organization. They also want to be included in the process of decision-making especially in matters that touch their work. Moreover, millennials want a servant leadership approach without the conventional boss-servant relationship that defines traditional organizations.
The process of leading has been always expressed in the context of the principles and practices of the leader. However, with changing times and needs of the work environment followers and situations are coming into play. The world today is in the need of a leader who is a servant and transformational (Quinn, Faerman, Thompson & Clair 2007, p. 15). I have always tried to espouse these kinds of leadership styles with my team of millennials. Even though I am in the process of learning about change, I always encounter situations that conflict with my principles and values. Millennials want to be involved in the process of making decisions even though it may be inconsequential to them. This can be good and bad at time in relation to my style of leading. However, I have put in place action plan to help me cope with the challenges from within and outside of myself.
Countering my Fears and Doubts and about my Ability to Lead
One of the obstacles for good leadership is the fear of failure and the doubt about the decisions that ought to be made. Leading a team of millennials that want change instigates fear in me because I think that I may not satisfy what they want. As people who are always dynamic and acceptance of change, some of these changes may not be pleasant or welcome to the leader. Nevertheless, the challenge comes into play when the leader is under obligation to honor the call for change. As Quinn (2000, p. 6) noted, change is not something that comes easily although it may be the only constant in nature. The question that lingers in my mind as I go to my place of work is what the next change is going to be at my organization. In a way, I act as an agent of change, although with doubt and fear. This does not, however, mean that I am under pressure to facilitate the change that my team members want. Northouse (2010, p. 50) argues that leaders should allow their followers to influence them although leaders ought to accept only the influence that is positive towards the common goal of the group.
This is where servant and transformational leadership come into play. Servant leadership means that I want to serve the people that I lead. I do not want them to feel that I am imposing and coercing them to do things that they do not like. Transformational, in the sense that I want them to see and appreciate the common shared goal at the organization and strive to work in support of that goal. Coupled with a sense of being a leader, sometimes I am fearful that I will not achieve the two seemingly opposing view of having to embrace the characters of my team while also focusing on the goals that we must accomplish as an organization.
Doubt comes in when I fail after accepting the influence of the millennials in some decisions. While my team of millennials is outgoing and want to be involved in making decisions, a good part of their contribution may not work for our organization. In some occasions, I have allowed their views to be inculcated in the decisions we make as a group. Unfortunately, a few of those occasions ended up disastrously. However, this does not mean that I should not allow their views in decision-making as that will be more disastrous towards the goals that we have as a team. The Lewin’s model calls for unfreezing of doubts when trying to accommodate the views of the followers in a team (Quinn 1996, p. 33).
I know it works in very many occasions; but I can also fail much more in a very significant project that can bring the organization down. To counter this doubt, I have embraced a transformational kind of leadership where I make sure that the millennials that I lead understand the consequences of the decisions that they are suggesting (Penrose & Pitelis 2009, p. 17). In many occasions, they have come to appreciate the dangers involved and changed their minds to a better approach. However, I have also changed my mind as a leader to follow their opinions where we are all convinced that it is the best direction for our organization.
Feeling Lonely but Not Alone
Leadership can be very lonesome especially where the followers and the leader are not concurrent with one another. Concurrence means that these two should support one another in ideas, decisions, and general management (Nohria & Khurana 2010, p. 21). As a leader, I have tried to be close to the people that I lead to avoid being alone at the top of the organization. Loneliness and uncertainty come when the leader is not in tune with the needs of the people that he/she leads or does not respond to the needs of the people that form the group. My millennial team members are fond of promotions, they want transparency in the running of the organization, and they want recognition in their work. These are the things that I have put on my list to draw them closer to me as I try to satisfy their needs as members of the group.
The ability to feel part of the team does not come easily. It involves a process of personal transformation, discarding one’s values and principles, and attainment of new systems of perspective to be able to identify and respond the to the needs of the people in the team (Kofman & Senge 1993, p. 9). Millennials have unpredictable behavior changes. They want to respond to the changes and things that are happening thousands of miles away from them, having seen or read them through the Internet. Some of these behaviors can cause me as a leader to be indifferent or question what the millennials want. They are likely to delineate me from the people that a lead; seeing that I do not need to embrace them as they demand.
The Model II of leadership developed by Argyris (1976, p. 57) explains what may happen in such a circumstance. He argues that a leader who is under pressure from the followers is likely to develop defensive mechanisms and control measures that establish a boundary between him/her and the people in the team. I have always strived to avoid reaching a level where I become differentiated and removed from the people that I lead. I strive to embrace them even as they embrace me. My role as a leader is to listen to the people, minimize anxiety, and embrace the spirit of learning and accommodation of divergent views on different matters that affect the leadership and general operations at the organization.
The self-reflection journey as a leader is important as it assists to question ones weaknesses and strength (Joyner 2006, p. 19). More often than not, leaders tend to think that they are immune to discrimination or isolation by the rest of the people. Previously, I used to come at my place of work and go straight to my desk and start responding to issues and complaints. I discovered that I had no time for personal interactions with the members of my team. When I started interacting with them, I began to appreciate the roles that they play and get a glimpse of their needs and agitations, which for some reasons were not reaching me as their leader.
The rest of the leaders with information were also afraid to approach and discuss it with me even after they got the information. However, after opening up to the rest of the team members, we have become equals and are free to share everything that affects any of our members including family issues. The journey of transforming the way I lead and manage the team of millennials that work under me began by personal transformation. It was evident when I started considering them as equals. I have been able to cultivate confidence, integrity, honesty, openness, creativity, and innovation both on my side and on the side of the people that I lead. This is in line with Demming’s observation that personal transformations can open doors for every possibility, especially for a leader of millennials like me (Joyce, Nohria & Roberson 2003, p. 34).
A Servant or a Leader
Millennials are fond of both. They want a person who is a servant first then a leader second!
In my time working with millennials, I have come to the conclusion that more millennials are inclined to a servant-like kind of leading. It contrasts with my previous style of leading which was more of confrontational. This is the style practiced around the world in many organizations (Freeman 1991, p. 54). Servant leadership is based on the ideas, philosophies and practices of the leader with the aim of enriching the lives of both the leader and the people being led. This is according to Robert Green leaf who first coined the term “servant leadership.” Greenleaf puts it correctly in his work when he notes about servant leadership “It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. The conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant–first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served” (Criswell & Campbell 2008, p. 44). I have aspired always to become a servant leader who is capable of addressing the needs of the people that a lead to maximum level possible.
The philosophy and actual practice is presumed in the tenet of being “first among equals.” This can be a challenging fete to achieve especially in the contemporary world where everybody is looking for power and influence. However, the good thing about servant leadership is that it helps the leader to grow together with the team members. The leader sees himself/herself as a servant of the people with the intention of helping them to grow in the personal aspirations.
One of the enduring qualities that I have acquired as a servant leader is the ability to listen to others (Clawson 2006, p. 67). Listening and communicating are the qualities that I work for in my action plan of conquering my sense of entitlement and desire to achieve greater things for myself and team members. I ensure that the language which I use to communicate with millennials is perfectly suited to their needs. I also give them time to air their views through forums and regular meetings at the organization. The aim is to help millennials to get what they need in honest and truthful way. This has not been easy always because of the resistance from other leaders at the organization, who may not be as progressive as I am.
Some of the leaders at the organization are old folks who do not understand the dynamics of leading millennials in the 21st century (Cameron & Quinn 1999, p. 23). They want to maintain the status quo by suppressing the millennials and thwarting any attempt to have change at the organization. Nevertheless, I also listen to their argument, communicate with them in a clear manner, where we want to go and marshal their support for the common good of the organization. This approach has worked in most cases and I have found that I do not even need to be present for some creative ideas to be implemented or the needs of the millennials to be addressed. An example is the organizing of training and conferences at the organization where different groups in my team are able to learn what is new in their professional areas. This is a part of the larger professional and career development which is at the heart of the millennials.
Change as an Agent of Harmony and Unity
The millennials are awash for change. They have glamour for change that can only be quenched by change itself. This is a fact that I have always strove to include in my leadership approaches. As people living in a world controlled by technological advancements, innovations and creativity, the millennials sometimes can be persistent in agitating for change without knowing why they want it (Bridges 2001, p. 30). Knowing why change is needed is a significant part towards the attainment of that change.
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According to Simon Sinek, millennials want change because they feel entitled to new things. As outgoing and dynamic people, they want to move with the rest of the world. Thus, what works for one organization well must also work for this organization (Boyer1994, p. 56). It is a part of the global movement spearheaded by millennials who view themselves as agents of change in their places of work. However, knowing why change is needed is a better point than just calling for change. This is my area of interest; how to make them see the actual reason why change is needed. Sometimes, I have come to discover that the change we agitate for could knock us off as an organization.
As I leader, I always communicate with the millennials about the need to have well thought decisions about change. Sometimes, it seems like my views are contradicting what they want for themselves, but as a servant leader, I know that my desires is to develop and help them to achieve their needs (Belasen 2000, p. 70). One of the ways that I use to bring harmony and unity among my teams is meetings and conferences, where everyone has the opportunity to be heard while also listening to the other people. The act of involving everyone in the decisions about change has allowed me to have a calm and inclusive leadership void of feelings of desperations.
I do not struggle when I want to pass any ideas to the people that I lead. Leadership is somehow coming to me as a natural predisposition even though deep inside myself I know that I am afraid of failure. I am also afraid that the people I lead might be more intelligent than I am. This is a good thing but is also a challenge to me to embrace learning and professional growth in my career as a leader. As much as I want the best for myself, I also want to grow in my knowledge and wisdom and I have been doing this by interacting with others in my team and learning from them as well. The focus is to become what I am not by learning and experiencing difficult and challenging circumstances and situations in my leadership (Bandura 1986, p. 32).
The millennials in my team are people with high affinity for knowledge. I do not feel embarrassed to ask something that I do not know from anyone of them. In fact, many of them are excited to teach me something new and we are almost forming a habit of having a learning session every week. It allows people to say what they have learnt throughout the week, and what they would like incorporated in our daily management of the team. In true sense, I am following through the Lefton & Bozzotta’s (2004, p. 17) and Bessler’s (1970, p. 80) theory of change by striving to become what I have always been rather than what I have not always been. I knew in my heart that I am a servant leader, but the conventional way of leading in many organizations forced me to start with an autocratic way of leading.