There are many ways a person can shape their personal beliefs on leadership. Throughout life we observe leadership structures. Examples of leadership are provided for us and we begin to learn what feels comfortable for us as individuals as well as what feels uncomfortable. We are able to use these experiences as a foundation in order to build our own ideas of what leadership should look like. My personal philosophy on leadership is based on the pride I feel when my students followed in the examples I set, becoming successful in their studies and as people.
My philosophy of leadership is based on a very simple idea: If I set a good example others will follow. Consequentially, I should also follow those who set a good example. My six months of teaching experience showed me the sense of pride I felt when my students would recognize me as a capable leader. Following my example and raising themselves to the standards I would set, they achieved high test scores and became polite, kind students who treated everybody with respect. I realized that if I could lead them in this way, I could apply this philosophy for leadership so all aspects of my life. The same precedent was set when I would meet with my superiors, as well. I would practice being an obedient subordinate because I made it a habit to follow good leaders who set the bar high, like myself, and made an effort to set a good example. The productivity I had made with students was often commended and rewarded which only ensured that I was doing the right thing by making these basic fundamentals my philosophy for leadership.
My philosophy on leadership connects in several ways to what I have learned about leadership traits. Leaders are often strong, become leaders by setting a good example for others to follow. I maintain a kind, polite, but forthright demeanor at all times. My students and the people around me eventually adopt these mannerisms themselves. These character traits reflect a positive, strong sense of self which is also indicative of a leader. I would often raise the bar for my students, as well as those around me. When somebody reaches one goal, it is my wish that they reach an even higher goal which means that I continue to raise my standards of people. Through my work with students I learned that, in a leadership position, if you begin to expect more of a person they will also begin to expect more of themselves. As long as they receive help and encouragement, they will often reach their goals and go on to achieve more. This act of continuously raising the expectations you have of those around you is also indicative of what I have learned about leaders. Leaders encourage others to discover their true potential by pushing them and encouraging them to test their limits. Setting new standards is an integral part of that.
The guiding principles to my personal philosophy are simple to define. To begin with one must always be forthright and honest. Kindness does not mean that a person must act like a doormat. Individuals are to be treated with respect unless given a reason to not be treated with respect. In these circumstances the situation is to be handled discreetly. Individuals are always also to expect more of themselves as well as others. The environment should be one that encourages and nourishes. Many leaders have set bad examples concerning this, believing that negativity and abuse were tools to force people into doing better or raising their own standards. This is not an efficient method. Individuals are more likely to be led if they respect their leader, if they are shown respect, and if they know that they are in an environment that will offer help if it is needed. Another guiding principle, as I learned being a follower myself, is to reward hard work. If a leader lets hard work go unnoticed, progress will stop. However, if hard work is recognized and individuals receive commendation and rewards for what they have done it is more likely that progress will not only continue but increase. Leaders do not need to spoil their followers; this might also halt progress and make followers greedy or unappreciated. Rewards only need to offer incentive and appreciation, as I was offered for proving that I could make progress with my students.
There is some literature offered that reflects my personal philosophy on being a leader. In an article by Edward Baker, entitled “The Evolution of a Leader: and published in Journal of Public Health, Management, and Practice the process of becoming a leader is outlined. All three of my philosophies are mentioned. Baker believes that the environment should be fostered on respect and recognizes that leaders should be just as respectful as the people following them (2011). Baker also goes into vague detail about setting standards. However, his reasons are different than my own as well as what I have personally learned about being a leader. I believe a leader should set high standards to help individuals recognize their true potential while Baker believes a leader should set high standards to ensure followers continue to struggle; it is a ploy that forces them to follow (2011). I do not agree with this. The article also outlines offering rewards, though Baker suggests rewards as a gambit to entice more followers to join instead of an idea to increase productivity (2011). While I do not agree with the idea behind Baker’s motive for rewards, I still think incentives are important because I have seen them work firsthand.
In sum, I have learned the most about leadership from my students. They inspired me the most throughout my development as a leader. I was able to use what I learned as a teacher, as well as what I learned from my students in order to build a successful leadership framework. I had heard many times before I began to teach, that they would be the ones teaching me. I was skeptical about this idea but in fact, it was true. Without my students, I would not have learned that to be a leader I would need respect, standards, and rewards. I owe them so much. People I lead in the future owe them a lot, as well.
Baker, E. (2011). The Evolution of A Leader. Journal of Public Health, Managment, And Practice, 475-477.