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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Of Leaders and Followers

When the word leadership is mentioned, what comes to mind is the highest person in authority, the one who is in-charge in an organization, the leader. However, in the accomplishment of a goal, the leader cannot do it alone. It has to be a product from the cooperation of both the leader and the followers. Therefore, one can say that personal interaction between the key people in the organization is vital in the achievement of success. This is the reason why in the most common definition of leadership, it is emphasized that it is a process of influencing people to get things done with the best of effort and willingness. Begrudged or uninspired followers simply cannot be helpful in the achievement of goals and so leaders should concentrate on the best way to encourage their followers to contribute the best they could.

Kouzes and Posner in their book “The Leadership Challenge”, identifies actions that are key to successful leadership. These five actions particularly concentrates on the interplay between the leader and his followers. These five actions are to model the way, inspire a shared vision, challenge the process, enable others to act, and encourage the heart. This reading has impacted me most amongst others because it is something that I can relate to in my experience as a follower. The leader that I want to specifically address is my supervisor at the department of corrections. She is Brenda Everett and I would say that she is great as a leader. Personally, she is someone that I want to imitate and if I could be a leader someday, her methods would serve as a guide for me. As to “modelling the way”, Brenda works as a mule and gives everything her 100% percent. She is always on the go and it is very infectious since we are all motivated to do the same. We strive to equal her input for us to achieve the most positive output. She inspires us to “share the same vision” by constantly communicating with us. We feel that we all have the same cause and doing our best to have it realized. She is also good at “challenging the process”, her hardcore personality and strength in dealing with adversities is very notable and it sparks the same strength in us. It seems that whenever there are problems and issues that challenge the organization, we worry less because we feel confident that Brenda is very competent in thinking and producing ways to succeed through it. She is also very adaptable to change and encourages us to do the same. Change is inevitable, but we embrace it and live through it. She “enables others to act” by constant motivation. She never instills fear in us, instead she is very compassionate and gives us the reassurance that she's got our back. This gives us confidence and makes us feel that we can have our ideas put into action because our leader believes in what we can do. Lastly, she “encourages the heart”, being a firecracker herself. She seems very passionate about her work and of us. She cares about her people so much that it was inculcated in us that we have to care for everyone and the organizaton as well. The drive in us to all contribute in making our jobs worthy of praise is always a burning ember because Brenda sets a very good example. However, perfect as she may sound, she is not. What I think is her top weakness is that she does not care for her self enough. What use is a sick leader to a pack of robust followers? Too much of something is bad enough and too much passion and drive can sometimes prove unhealthy. Taking our part, we constantly remind her that before everything else her health should be a priority because her leadership is required in the organization.

Leadership is one very important aspect in an organization and leaders should constanly be aware of their performance. To cite Clawson, “before you start thinking about influencing others, you might want to think about refelection and introspection”. Therefore, leaders should start from their inner self before they can be effective in dealing with their subordinates. Another important knowledge imparted by Northouse, “the way you think about leadership will influence the way you practice leadership.” It is a must to expend effort in strategizing the best way to become an efficient leader. This can be remedied by practice, study and active learning.

Clawson, J. G. (2008). Level three leadership: Getting below the surface (4th ed.).Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Northouse, P. G. (2008). Introduction to leadership. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publishing

Kouzes, J. Posner, B. (2007). The leadership challenge (4rded.). San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

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