In our first class we started talking about the basic fundamentals of leadership. In this case, we analyzed the difference between leading and managing, nature of leaders and the meaning of leading. We examined some historical leadership styles and political leaders. We gave examples of the past political leaders, and the current political challenges facing leaders were analyzed as well. The discussion was contributed mainly by students, and it helped me to understand a lot of various leadership concepts. The discussion revealed that the leaders face a lot of challenges, when it comes down to leadership; especially now that Arab countries are trying to rise against injustice and oppression.
We had group activity towards the end of the class. We were given a task to criticize our grade weight in both team performance and individual performance. Most students were eager to participate in this decision. Arguably, they were more interested in this course, because it focused on leadership, which was also reflected in the activities of the first group. The activity gave us a chance to share our leadership knowledge and experience, while we learnt the importance of making meaningful decisions for the sake of the student fraternity; just like a leader can make an important decision for the sake of his followers.
The instructor has conducted our class in an inspiring manner. For instance, we were allowed to give suggestions and ask questions on some issues. As a result, we find sharing of ideas being quite enjoyable and easy. I have attended some classes, where speaking freely was not allowed to speak freely, because the lecturers did not let them either to answer or ask questions. In this case, one will find that there is unjustified tension within the class, which forces students to hold their questions back. In our class, however, we have had a free atmosphere; and I believe that by the end of this course I have acquired a lot of leadership skills.
In our next class, we used a coursework textbook in order to discuss the issues of leadership. The major issues addressed here were the manners, which leaders emerge in. We tried to find similarities and differences between managers and leaders. This debate attracted many contributors from the students’ fraternity. Some argued that leaders are born, while others claimed that leadership skills are learnt. Most students, however, agreed that good managers are not necessarily good leaders. In the past, I have tried to examine the qualities of a good manager. During this class, I’ve learnt that a good manager may not necessarily be a good leader. A leader and a manager have different personal qualities that one acquires during the course of work. These qualities may include optimism, self-confidence, attitude, personality, etc.
Notably, a lot of quotes have popped into my mind, and some of them include “leaders are like gardeners”, and this means that a good leader must make the good use of the resources he/she has at hand. Another quote that appeared in my mind was “leadership is about change”. Personally, I believe that we are living in the era of rapid changes, where the world keeps expanding in different fields, such as cultural change, political change, technological change and social change. Arguably, we have always formed a part of change in our life, which one cannot hide from, because change will eventually reach us.
Most organizations aim to get high profit margins, and experiences in these organizations tend to change frequently. Changes do not have to big; instead, these are the small changes, which can improve an organization. In some cases, organizations may face resistance to change. These negative emotions can come from the employees or from the stakeholders. Some organizations tend to impose changes without taking into consideration those, who will be directly affected by their implementation.
In the week that followed we started by discussing the tools used by leaders in order to influence others. Perception and understanding are important tools in leadership. During this class we discussed a movie called “Argo” which describes a story of the six Americans, who were taken care by the Canadian Embassy during the Iranian revolution. I had the opportunity to watch this movie one week before this class, and it enabled me to understand the brief description given by the instructor that “a fairly good in what to do and what not to do in leadership”. By watching this movie, one would be able to understand the difference between the senior leadership in America and the perception of a person, who was trying to evacuate the six Americans from Iran in a safe way.
Among the several leadership styles, I learnt that the most effective one is the ability to see clearly and help others to do the same in a given situation. The term “exceptionally realistic perception of a situation” describes a successful leader, who can assess his/her own experience in the changed circumstances.
During this class the instructor asked us to do a situational questionnaire on leadership. The questionnaire contained twelve questions that indicated the scores of adaptation of leaders. After answering the questioner I managed to score 27 out of the possible 36 points, and this means that I was at the middle range of adaptability. This questionnaire enabled me to understand the kind of personality I have, when dealing with others. I discovered that I do not have a high locus of control, and therefore, I would struggle to control situations. I’ve learnt a lot of things about myself, which in the past I believed could not be changed. Therefore, I have to put some more effort to change for the better.
The class that followed was equally interesting. We discussed a leader, as a person with a heart and mind. The aspects of heart and mind are all covered in chapter five of the book. We used the attribution theory to discuss the external and internal elements of attribution in leadership. We also discussed the ways, in which employees and managers are supposed to work as a team in order to have a successful organization. For instance, a good leader or manager should have clear intentions. This means that his objectives and goals must be shared with other workers and spelt out clearly. The employees should also carry out frequent assessments, where they will gauge their organizational potential. They should also examine how this potential can be harnessed for the benefit of the organization. Employees need to understand their strengths and weaknesses, so that they can work on their strengths and look for ways of disposing their weaknesses.
The knowledge gained in this class enabled me understand the importance of independence. I will always try to make my decisions independently. I will also analyze situations independently before taking any course of action. However, this does not mean that I will not pay attention to the opinions and ideas of others. I have also learnt that I should accept my own mistakes, and I should not blame myself if I made mistake unconsciously.
In the week that followed we discussed chapter six of the book. The chapter discusses the “Moral and Courage of Leadership”. We discussed the ethics of leadership during the course of this week. Moreover, our instructor explained the meaning of motivation. We started the discussion with important questions on motivation. We were told how we should behave whenever we face similar challenges. For instance, we were told how to behave when you see your colleague at work stealing office supplies. The response by students in this question varied. Some said they would report him to their boss, while others said they would not. Some questions were complex to answer. For instance, we were asked how we would react if our boss told us to lie about a given situation, so that the company we work for would benefit financially. Other ethical issues discussed included child labor in developing countries.
Ethics starts with a leader, and it is his/her responsibility to promote the values of ethics in an organization. Leaders face challenges in motivating their employees. Without motivation, an organization is likely to loose the spark that promotes its growth. Personally, I believe that motivation is the best, when it comes from one’s heart rather than trying to motivate others.
In this class, I’ve learnt that ethics is about the moral principles that govern the behavior of a person or a group. In business ethics a person makes an individual decision between what is wrong and what is right. Personally, I believe that ethics is based on the wrong and the right standards of an individual or company. It describes what people should do in terms of obligations, rights, and fairness benefits to the society and virtues. It also combines the virtues of compassion, honesty and loyalty. Notably, social norms, laws and feelings can deviate from the ethical values. As a person, it is important that I continue examining the ethical and moral standards.
In the week that followed we discussed the concepts of mission and vision. In this case, we were able to differentiate between those two. We also found some time to practice on developing mission and vision statements. This area was the most excited for me. As a master’s student, I discovered that I need to have a clear mission and vision in order to succeed in my education.