Feb 6, 2019 in Informative

Individual Leadership Growth Reflection

Introduction

Leadership is one of the most fundamental aspects that has greatly changed and shaped my life and brought me to where I am today. Understanding the entire concept of leadership and developing effective leadership skills has been nothing short of a life-changing experience for me as an individual. The people, with whom I have had a chance to interact, have also significantly influenced my personal growth as a leader. My definition of leadership and my leadership paradigms have evolved over time into concrete and meaningful insights; it is a clear indication of the great strides I have made on my personal leadership path. The following paper presents a comprehensive reflection on my leadership growth. The paper also discusses a leadership theory that has influenced my growth as a leader and three leadership development strategies that aim to support my position as a leader in the work settings.

Reflection on My Leadership Development in This Course

My individual growth as a leader has been a work-in-progress type of experience since the beginning of this course. As the course is nearing its completion, I am proud that I have successfully achieved my purpose in the leadership growth and development. There are numerous challenges that I have faced on my life journey. Many of these challenges were easy to overcome while others became a learning opportunity to equip me with all the necessary skills needed for developing myself as a leader. Other challenges, however, were a milestone for me. I must admit that at times, I could not foresee my future goals in life. The greatest hard luck that I had to experience was the loss of my vision due to an unknown medical condition. Despite extensive medical attention and the doctors’ assurance that my corneas were in perfect condition, my eyes could still swell almost completely blinding my eyesight. It was a challenge I almost thought I would never overcome. However, with time, I have learned to work my way through this terrifying medical condition. Looking back, this journey has taught me numerous life lessons. Given this medical condition, achieving my academic goals and having the opportunity to pursue a Master’s degree at the Murray States University, is considered by many as nothing else but a miracle. Nevertheless, it is the valuable lessons that I have learned from my life experiences; it has become the foundation of my leadership growth. Confidence is one of the greatest principles I have adopted while overcoming the obstacles along my personal growth and development path. The ability to believe in myself and my capabilities to do anything has opened up the doors for me to achieve my dreams that once seemed too far-fetched. Every leader should be able to set goals and objectives, together with designing a viable plan to achieve the set goals. Often, the transition from establishing the goals to achieving them does not guarantee the success with the existence of numerous other factors. However, I have learned that a truly prominent leader should be able to believe he/she can and will achieve all dreams regardless of the challenges met along the way. The ability to keep going while the others easily give up differentiates a remarkable leader from the common people. Confidence has indeed been my greatest tool in achieving the goals. I have always been sure that I can compete as an equal with everyone else despite my eye condition. This mindset has fuelled my ambition to lead other people, encouraging and reminding those facing difficulties that everyone has the ability to make positive changes despite any circumstances.

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Importantly, I have to admit that my leadership growth would not have flourished without the help of positive and encouraging people in my life. I have had a chance to receive a tremendous support from my family, friends, and school personnel. My family has provided me with the equal opportunities as my other siblings and I have never felt rejected by any family member. Moreover, appropriate accommodations have always been created for me to ensure that I participate in my classes including taking verbal tests, in which the questions are read aloud to me and I answer them orally. In addition, many of my friends have always consulted me on the minor issues and major life-altering decisions. As a result, I have always sought deep within my inner self in order to find out the best and most honest advice to give my friends according to my ability and knowledge. 

Through self-confidence, I have managed to stand out from the crowd and realize my mission of instilling positive change in other people. On the other hand, the impact of others, who have helped me throughout my journey, has built a foundation for me to become an authentic personality. The support influence I have received has been instrumental in shaping me as an authentic leader. I have seen the impact of positivity in changing the lives. I strongly believe that if I further develop my leadership abilities, I will be able to step out of my comfort zones and make a great impact on the lives of other people. My leadership development has instilled in me the crucial character traits of confidence, courage, positivity, and, above all, the ability to serve the others. 

Authentic Leadership

The definition of authentic leadership is primarily based on the self-concepts held by the leader and on how he/ she is able to translate them into actions for the benefit of the others. The hallmark of authentic leadership is the interpretation that the effective leadership is achieved by the contribution of a leader and his/ her followers. According to many leadership experts, authentic leadership is a reciprocal process; in such a way, an authentic leader affects his/ her followers while the followers influence the effectiveness of the leader (Avolio & Gardner, 2005). Therefore, an authentic leader cannot exist without the followers. The ability to develop into an authentic leader heavily depends on the individual’s life story. A life background provides a favorable environment to gain interpersonal and life skills that are detrimental to the shaping of an authentic leader. A life-story is a gateway to understanding different circumstances and recognizing the diversity of human needs with the aim of leading each group of people according to their needs (Shamir & Eilam, 2005). Additionally, since an authentic leader is well equipped with the life skills, which are essential for this type of leadership, genuine and original leadership traits are the common features.

My authenticity journey began while I was battling my eyesight condition. As mentioned earlier, this was a trying time for my family and me. I largely depended on the support from those close to me due to my poor vision. With time, I have learned how to take care of myself to the very best of my abilities and appreciate the role of other people in supporting my personal development. My authentic leadership style has become more profound over the years, and my interaction with other people has greatly contributed to the development of my personal leadership style. One of the reasons of why I closely identify myself with authentic leadership is because my personality and values in life are deeply embedded in this style.

Authentic leaders demonstrate a great deal of integrity and the ability to lead and live their lives according to their fundamental principles. Despite the life challenges, I have managed to uphold my life values and remained unshaken even during the most critical moments. Growing up in the Islamic environment, I firmly followed my religious virtues that require each person to remain and do well despite any hardships faced in life. In addition, I have been able to make my own choices and take responsibility for my actions whether positive or negative. Such disciplined values have helped me immensely in shaping my character as an honest individual who is not afraid to take a stand and not be swayed by the external pressures. My mother has also been instrumental in guiding me into developing effective leadership skills. In creating a belief system, she encouraged me to pursue my dreams regardless of the setbacks that I constantly faced. As a result, I have been able to make important life decisions and learn from my mistakes, thus, gaining an understanding of the difference between what is morally right and wrong.

Authentic leadership aims at influencing the followers’ behaviors by their leaders. Therefore, authentic leadership demands a profound sense of purpose and empowerment of other people (Luthans & Avolio, 2003). The impact of authentic leadership has largely boosted my individual development and growth as a person. I have been able to nurture positivity in the lives of other people; by  using my life experiences, I have become a source of encouragement for those facing various obstacles. Moreover, what I have found to be extremely important is my increased ability to lead other people and gain their trust, which have proved that I can provide effective leadership. For instance, my friends have continuously consulted me for advice on various issues. Many of them consider me a true leader who can deliver a viable plan of action; however, most are of the opinion that as a leader, I am dependable, empathetic, and diligent. As a result, through understanding my unique role in making a difference in the life of each and every individual I met, I have had the opportunity to grow both as a person and as a leader. Authentic leadership has altogether allowed me to identify my purpose and comprehend meaning of life, giving me a chance to analyze my strengths and weaknesses, to capitalize on my abilities of an effective leader fully. Today, my ability to grow as a leader has been greatly influenced by the authentic type of leadership that has emphasized my personality and my leadership skills.

Individual Leadership Development Strategies

An effective leader should be able to assess each situation and develop an appropriate plan of action. Strategies are fundamental in providing effective leadership especially under critical circumstances. The need to adopt certain leadership strategies is essential as the future leaders will work in different organizations and face a constant need to give direction and guidelines (Amagoh, 2009). I was once told that leadership is not a position; thus, regardless of the work setting and job position, I as a leader intend to maximize my capabilities to contribute into changes at all levels. In order to become an outstanding leader in my future work setting, I have identified three leadership development strategies that will support my leadership as a mean of maximizing my potential. They include the following strategies:

Creating a positive atmosphere

The ability to foster positive thinking even in the wake of challenges is critical in ensuring that employees remain motivated, and performance is maintained. It is always better to work with small groups of people since it is easy to influence each person’s life directly. Creating a welcoming environment, in which all individuals feel at home, will influence the positive impact of the leader on his/her followers. In addition, ensuring positive ways and measures to disagree will boost the development of both the leader and the employees.

 Openness to change

Today, the concept of leadership has been transforming with the global changes witnessed across the globe. The modern-day leadership concepts are gradually replacing the traditional leadership skills in many organizations (Mumford et al. 2000). It is important for a leader to maintain an open-minded and embrace change. Although a change is not often easy to implement, as a leader, it would be my role to prepare and encourage other employees towards the adoption of new policies, cultures as the means of remaining relevant in a given sector. 

Initiative

It is the role of a leader to instigate the establishment and implementation of the new organizational policies, programs, and ideas (Avolio, 2007). When a leader takes up the task of motivating and initiating the change, smooth transitions within the organization are attained. 

Conclusion

My path of a leader has largely stimulated my personal growth and development, giving me the opportunity to identify my strengths and weaknesses. I have continuously been working on improving my leadership skills with each passing day; these small strides have allowed me to grow and develop as a leader. Given the context of my life experiences, I identify myself with the authentic type of leadership. I have gradually learned along my leadership journey that bringing positive changes results in positive outcomes. With my main mission of influencing and empowering individuals in achieving their dreams, I have developed an authentically and uniquely individual leadership that best describes my life as an individual.

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