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Leadership Fundamentals

M. Taylor- LDR 2010

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Philosophy of Leadership

Leadership, a hot topic seen in action around the world. The question is, how does an individual bring forth and initiate any change? Part of this unique process requires the formation of a personal philosophy of leadership. The personal philosophy of leadership serves as a guiding principle for leaders and serves as a framework of top values and beliefs to abide by in the leadership process.

Through a series of reflective phases, I have developed my own personal philosophy of leadership. With this in mind, I have focused on maintaining a collaborative environment where I seek to hold high levels of accountability for myself and others while also maintaining a gracious attitude. The components of accountability and gracious attitudes have continued to be affirmed and reinforced this semester. However, the component of working within a collaborative environment has slightly shifted. Specifically, this has shifted to highlight the importance of collaboration through mentorship. This is due to my current enrollment in the Psychology Honors Program. In this program, I have been continually guided by my graduate student mentor through the process of producing an independent and original piece of research for my thesis. Through this relationship, specifically mentorship, my mentor has continued to play a significant role in inspiring me to attain a doctoral degree in I-O psychology.

Core Values

Additionally, core values play a significant role in the formation of an identity for leaders. Specifically, three values that have shaped my identity as a leader includes resilience, reflection, and work/life balance. Resilience is the ability to recover from various difficulties and hardships one experiences. Specifically, resilience has played a substantial role in enabling me to overcome both professional and personal hardships I have faced at throughout life. Without resilience, I would not have the capacity to progress forward and grow when faced with challenging situations. Resilience has significantly helped me serve as the President for the Undergraduate Psychology Association. A substantial amount of hard work goes into planning and organizing events. Unfortunately, there were times when the success of the event suffered from a lack of attendance. Using these moments as reflective experiences was instrumental in identifying more effective methods for the event planning process. Since reflection is a process of thinking and evaluating situations, its positive effects often span beyond the immediate situation. Reflection is a necessary practice aimed at increasing self-awareness, development, and growth.

Specifically, in high school, I learned the importance of maintaining a work life balance through reflection. Most times, my life consisted of only working. Whether the work occurred inside the classroom, at local organizations, or on the court, I experienced a severe deficit of the life element in the work life balance. Thus, when I reflected on why my life had become unbalanced, I knew changes had to be made for my freshman year of college. Through greater reflective states, I identified specific changes I needed to make in order to improve the life element. For example, I have always been a very active individual involved in a variety of sports. Largely, physical activity is stress reliever. Therefore, when I become overly stressed, I know going to the gym is important to maintain a healthy balance in my life. Through greater reflection, I have been able to identify the specific behaviors and thought processes that have led me to be both successful and unsuccessful in maintaining a work life balance. Thus, I have made great strides in maintaining a balance in my life which has ultimately effected my ability to overcome great difficulties along the way.

The Self-Concept vs. Self-Esteem Battle

Self-concept and self-esteem are two terms commonly discussed together, yet many are unable to properly distinguish between the two terms. Self- concept is defined as “how we objectively describe ourselves” and is usually used within the context of roles and attitudes (Komives et al., 2013). In contrast, self- esteem is the subjective attitudes and views you feel about yourself (Komives et al., 2013). These two terms are particularly important because they directly affect the amount of confidence individuals have.

For example, a statement about my self-concept could include the following: I am a junior majoring in psychology. However, a statement regarding my feelings about my role as a psychology major includes the following: I am proud of my academic achievements and role as a researcher in the psychology department.

Overall, self-concept and self-esteem are particularly important because without them, you cannot be a good partner, friend, or leader. More importantly, until you are truly upholding positive feelings and attitudes towards your roles, you cannot be the best version of yourself. Luckily, our futures are not predetermined by our current self-concept and esteem. Through cognitive reframing we are able to reframe how think about existing self-concepts and adjust accordingly to enhance our self-esteem. This is critical for fostering self-development to continuously promote better thinking, feeling, and being.

Inverted Organizational Structure

The inverted organizational structure is the traditional pyramid flipped upside down so the members are represented at the top and the president is at the bottom (Komives et al., 2013). This type of structure was especially interesting because it changes our perception of traditional organizational structure paradigms.

This was very applicable in my student organization I was involved in. At some events, we lacked attendance from our club members. It becomes difficult to be a leader if there are no followers. Therefore, in order to draw more interest from our organization’s members, we had to restructure. Our structure became an inverted pyramid because we had to adjust our event scheduling to activities or socials our members wanted. Specifically, members wanted to join a club where they can get resources that will help them boost their resumes. As a result, our organization strived to adjust accordingly to meet for our member’s needs. An example of this was our Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Trainings. Much of the club was interested in clinical psychology. These trainings were well aligned with their career goals since they became certified and could add it to their resume. When the executive board noticed the greater demand for the trainings, we worked to host them more regularly since that’s what helped the members accomplish their specific goals.

Positivity Ratio

The positivity ratio is split by every three positive encounters for one negative encounter (Komives et al., 2013). Even though all people have had a negative encounter with somebody else, the event itself can have a lasting impact on the individual. However, I value the positivity ratio concept because it emphasizes how the one negative encounter is equally as important as the three positive ones. This is because the negative encounter leads to conflict which can ultimately lead to productive outcomes versus destructive ones (Komives et al., 2013). Therefore, the one negative encounter can foster growth and learning.

For example, when a student goes to office hours to get help on an assignment, the professors may not very helpful or kind. However, the student knows his/her other friends have gotten a lot of assistance during office hours. Therefore, he may reflect on how he acts in lecture. Realizing he is distracting and always on his phone, he works to change his behavior immediately to show greater respect for the professor. By this one negative encounter, he was able to see where his behavior caused an issue. Therefore changing his behavior in lecture ultimately led to an overall positive change with his professor.

The Power of Resonant Leaders

Resonant leaders are leaders who take time to learn and develop specific practices that help themselves manage the physiological ups and downs involved with leadership (Komives et al., 2013). Leaders who are the opposite, dissonance, suffer from stress and a lack of renewal (Komives et al., 2013).

Being a resonant leader is meaningful because it is an issue we struggle with in everyday life. It closely pertains to my core value of maintaining a work life balance. For example, even though I want to do everything in my power to prepare for graduate school, I still place a large emphasis on having other activities in my life that enable me to combat burnout. This semester, I joined the club volleyball team. I still have time to do research, but I now also have time to renew myself through other activities completely unrelated to graduate school. However, other activities like volleyball still provide me with an abundance of positive effects such as being a stress reliever and providing me a way to meet other people with similar interests.

Weaknesses or Non-Strengths?

Nobody is perfect. With that being said, all humans have weaknesses or “nonstrengths”. There are competing perspectives whether we should focus on our weaknesses. While some believe focusing on weaknesses can be a barrier to improvement, I think weaknesses, big or small, provide valuable insight for where we can work on personal development.

This was a significant take away from this semester as I started my on campus job as a tutor for the athletes. I primarily tutored students in American Sign Language (ASL). This position deals with identifying weak areas of knowledge and working with the student athletes to help them understand the material. I think weaknesses are equally as important as strengths and without them, there would not be a fundamental base to start with improvement. In this scenario, it includes figuring out where to spend more time studying. Regardless of the context, I believe the tutoring process highlights weakness through gap of knowledge. However, it deals with the issue in a sensitive manner thus resulting in greater efforts to understand the material and improve.

Ending Remarks

Overall, concepts and examples discussed in this course have significantly shifted my view on the conventional leadership paradigm. With my main interest in the field of industrial organizational psychology, I have always studied leadership in the context of the rights and wrongs of effective leadership. However, this course provided me various great examples of the connection of all fields in psychology and leadership. I expect my own leadership philosophy to change significantly as I continue through life and have many more experiences. I have already seen how my leadership philosophy has changed from collaboration to mentorship. Regardless of the changes, I will also hold myself to high expectations in the leadership process to be a model for others by being honest, loyal, and respectful.

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