The Leadership Improvement Plan is an excellent tool to utilize as a self-assessment plan for the manager of the future. An individual can assess or evaluate his or her strengths and deficiencies that would aid him or her in transforming themselves into the ideal manager in the future. In completing the self-assessments provided with the book, I ensured that I completed all of them so that I could receive a well-rounded analysis of my personality and my leadership potential. I took the liberty of approaching the Leadership Improvement Plan as I would a SWOT analysis of my organization. I ensured that I employed Porter’s SWOT analysis to every aspect of my assessment. Typically, SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. A key to an effective SWOT analysis involves being realistic about your company’s strengths and weaknesses, analysis should distinguish between where your organization is today, and where it could be in the future. I avoided grey areas, always analyzed my current status in relation to my ideal vision of a manager i.e. better than or worse than the ideal. I attempted to keep the analysis short and simple and ensured that the Leadership Improvement Process just like the SWOT process should avoid complexity and over analysis and that it is subjective.
Part B: Analysis
The assessment evaluates team development behaviors in five areas such as diagnosing team development, managing the forming stage, managing the storming stage and managing the performing stage (Stoner, 2007, 18). The score ranges from 18 to 108 and it can help measure my aptitude at building and leading a team in comparison to a group of 500 students.
My score on this assessment was 86, placing me in the second quartile (72-94). A score of 95 or above would have placed me in the top quartile. A score of 60 or below is the bottom quartile indicating a deficiency in effectively managing and leading a team. I believe that I am well versed in the different stages of development that teams undergo in their life cycle from initiation to disbanding. Also, I am knowledgeable about guiding the team during the trying stages of forming and storming. My experience as a team leader in a Six Sigma project and Six Sigma Black Belt certification from the American Society for Quality is considerable.
One of my strengths is that I give immense feedback to team members regarding their performance and help them hone their skills and facilitate unfettered exchange of ideas. One of my weaknesses is that I often cannot exude a certain charisma or passion required to communicate an exciting and passionate vision of what the team can achieve. Some action I can take is to practice yoga and meditation on a regularly in order to focus my mind on the positive and gain a sense of optimism for the future. I can also review how successful managers exude their charisma and passion to obtain buy-in from their employees and team members. One of the books I can read is ‘Creating Optimism: A Proven, Seven-Step Program for Overcoming Depression’ written by Bob Murray and Alicia Fortinberry. By doing exercises in the book, I will gain a new positive outlook of life. I wish to learn and experience new and more positive ways of looking at my past, at my relationships, at my work, at my family.
Part C: Leadership Style
Talking about my personal self, I believe that two qualities in particular characterize my leadership style: the ability to establish a clear vision and the ability to set an example. Establishing a clear vision up front allows me to convey a sense of purpose and responsibility to every member of my team. A clear vision also provides a roadmap for setting goals and developing action plans. As each action plan is implemented and each goal is accomplished, project milestones are reached and overall progress is observed. The impression of progress — as well as evidence thereof — is key to maintaining a motivated and productive team. (Tichy, 2002, 25)
Once a clear vision has been established, I seek to set an example for my colleagues. Specifically, I work to gain the respect of my team through action. People are more apt to mobilize after they have observed another person in action. When team members realize that I am willing to put in the effort, they feel compelled to act accordingly. In addition, they become more responsive to my leadership and more confident in their own work. (Schein, 1995, 187; (Topping, 2002, 26)
In order to become a more effective leader, I need to improve my skills in both management and organization. The proper management of resources can make or break a project operating under a tight financial or personnel budget, while efficient organization promotes resource management. A leader who understands organizational philosophy will be a successful resource manager. (Arnold, 2001, 21) Since my primary role has traditionally been a resource rather than a manager of resources, I have had few opportunities to practice these skills. These skills will become a necessity as I step into positions of increasing managerial responsibility and organizational leadership.
Part D: Group Dynamics
Group dynamics is an important theory that has enabled me to understand my own approach to interacting with others. People work in-groups quite frequently and in many different areas of their life e.g. at work, school/college, sport, hobbies. A group can be defined as ‘two or more people acting interdependently in a unified manner towards the achievement of goals’ (Bateman, 2004, 98). There are different types of groups; they can be primary or secondary. A primary group ‘consists of members who come into direct contact’ (Bateman, 2004, 98), e.g. project teams, small department teams, sports teams. A secondary group ‘are larger, less personal, and lack immediate direct contact between members’ (Robbins, 2002, 28) e.g. long assembly line. This is where there is little interpersonal communication. Groups can also be formal or informal. Formal groups tend be created by management deliberately. Management will pick the members and the methods of doing work. However informal groups are usually established by people who have things in common and they will decide members, methods etc. (Covey, 2004, 54)
There are different stages of group development. If people are put together then it doesn’t automatically mean that they will form into a successful group. (Covey, 2004, 54) developed a theory that looked at the stages of the development of groups. The first stage is forming, this is the stage where ‘members choose, or are told, to join a team’ (Covey, 2004, 54; Nicolaides, 2002, 45)
The people in the group will come together and start communicating with the other members to find out more about them. Information exchanged between members tends to be superficial because people are trying to establish their position within the group. The second stage is known as storming. It is at this stage that people’s views and opinions start to show and this is when conflicts among the members can arise if these differ. The third stage is Norming. (Daft, 2002, 08) This is when the differences are excepted and people start to try to work together. People’s roles will be established and so will shared norms and values. The next stage is performing; this is when the group has bonded and interacts with each other to get the set task done. The last is adjourning; this is when the group has completed their objectives or if they agree that the group is not going to work. (Daft, 2002, 08; Nankervis, 2002, 26)
In my experience with groups I have found that at times group work can be very difficult. While at college we had to get into groups of 5 to do an assignment. We were all friends so I had no doubt that we wouldn’t get on. However it was a lot different to what I had expected. We started at the storming stage because we already knew each other; this is where the disagreements began. It was at this stage that I realised that we had a conflict of opinions on how the assignment should be carried out and by whom. Finally after a lot of disagreements we got to the Norming stage through interaction and communication. It was decided that a voting system needed to be established. This worked because it allowed all of us to view our opinions and then take votes on it. This interaction and communication allowed us to complete the assignment.
There are many theories on leadership style and behaviour. There are 4 main styles of leadership. One is authoritarian, this type of leader is the ‘absolute authority on all matters, and little attention is paid to the views of others’ (DuBrin, 1989, 21; Myers, 2002, 14)). Participative or democratic style is when a democratic leader will consult those involved or who will be affected by the decision and ‘delegates authority to others, encourages participation, and relies on expert and referent power to influence subordinates’ (Kets de Vries, 2001, 47). The third style of leadership is laissez-faire. This leader does not really direct people and lets them get on with the task based on some guidelines given. The last is a charismatic leader who ‘influences and motivates others because they have outstanding personal characteristics’ In my experience I have found that this kind of leadership doesn’t always work. I have worked (Kotler, 2003, 15).
Part E: Moving Forward/ Next Steps
My leadership improvement plan would comprise of varying facets of professional and personal adjustments that would enable me to prepare and align with my vision of an ideal manager. In summarizing my results, I discover that I need a well-rounded approach to tackle some of the deficiencies I have. I have to attend emotional intelligence workshops, take courses in ethics, read books, and consider enrollment in management training programs. Additionally, I need to hone my skills in the areas I have competence or mastery in order to avoid having them dull over time. I believe that evaluating my strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats continually in the future as I have done so with the Leadership Improvement Plan here will greatly aid me in my aspirations of realizing and sustaining a successful and effective managerial position.