A Personal Experience
Once Peter Drucker said the following:
“Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.( Drucker, quoted in BrainyQuote.com)”
One realizes the significance of this statement when exposed to real life scenarios which necessitate skills of management and leadership. All the knowledge which one gains through analysis of several prominent literary works in the duration of academic life is still incomplete unless one learns, through practice, the knack to employ the studied theories and theses in real life. A few months ago, I was caught in a similar situation where I was expected to manage multiple tasks along with leading a group of people to accomplish a target (Smircich & Morgan 1982). Though I earnestly endeavored to accomplish the tasks assigned to me and tried to motivate the people under my supervision, but somewhere I failed to be a good leader. And when I look back to review, I can see what my faults were and how I could have handled it differently. This short essay aims at illuminating my personal experience as a leader which got me acquainted with the loopholes in my approach and hence, correct those. Also, it presents a brief overview of an article as a supporting evidence of this short analysis.
I do not believe in the trait approach in understanding leadership which states that a leader is a leader under any circumstances and there is no hope for those of us not born with certain gifts or talents for leadership (Grint 2001). So, when I was assigned the task to guide and assist a group of students for their annual project, I did not care about the fact that I had not undertaken any significant professional project before which could prove that I had inherent qualities of leadership. I was engrossed already in a number of assignments for my class. But I chose to guide the students for their project. I would not say I failed badly but it is for sure that
I could not live up to even half of my own expectations. Managing time schedules is one of the most crucial real-life scenarios for all of us in terms of management. And I was to manage my time for completing my assignments and preparing for an upcoming exam, preparing guidelines for the project and supervising them in every stage and motivating them to work well. I started with half an hour of motivational speech on how we can work in a team effectively for an efficient end–result. As explained in What Managerial Leadership Behaviors do Student Managerial Leaders Need?, student managerial leaders need to learn to inform organizational members about their responsibilities in implementing the solution to the problem along with keeping organizational members informed about progress toward completion (Peterson 2012). I assigned a particular set of jobs to each student and made sure I visited them every now and then to know how they were accomplishing their targets. But I forgot that leadership is an essentially social phenomenon and I should have motivated them to be a part of one team. They rather aimed at outshining each other rather than working to complement each other. I myself never did the part of project assigned to me in front of them and chose to show them only the final product with a brief explanation. They could never relate any qualities in common between me and them which proved to be a hurdle (Grint 2001). A few weeks before the deadline, I reviewed the project in totality and discovered the subtle, underlying incoherence which was negatively hampering the entire project. Overconfidence was never my call. I have known this from this childhood and learnt this while studying in higher academics too. As explained in The Influence Personality and Leader Behaviours have on Teacher Self-leadership In Vocational Colleges, confident teachers who believe they can cope with difficulties in their work environment are likely to deal better with all kinds of scenarios (Glenn, Peterson & Soutar 2012).
But this should never be mistaken for overconfidence. That is why, I took a step back, resuscitated my entire academic know how and devised a plan to help strengthen the project before it was too late.
I should have handled the entire project and my personal academic learning at that moment with a different approach so that no aspect suffered. Ann Cunliffe elaborated that when we accept that management education enables a person to more than just help managers become better at organizing resources and work but also to cultivate in them a tendency to be critical thinkers and moral practitioners (Cunliffe 2007, p 408). I should have motivated the students to be morally inclined towards this project rather than inspiring them to prove their worth and might. When a learner becomes critical thinker, he/she is able to visualize what is best for him or her and the team in which he/she is working. There is no question of selfish motives but essence of effective team work. I should have been an active part of the working in group so that I could demonstrate the team work. As told by Cunliffe (2007, p 410) a ritically reflexive practitioners hold subjective understandings of reality and think about the impact of their own actions in creating reality and knowledge. Also, I should have encouraged the students to think about
how they construct realities and identities in a team, not only individually (p 411). This is what I could not do, adversely affecting the entire project in a way.
The two main sources I used for this analysis are ‘On Becoming a Critically Reflexive Practitioner’ by Ann L Cunliffe and ‘The Art of Leadership’ by Keith Grint. These two articles have very poignantly presented the arguments on how a critical thinker and reflexive practitioners can be an effective leader presenting an example to his followers to be a part of the team and work towards a competent accomplishment of the goal. Both of these works have
presented a clear argument along with employing various statements and examples from history as well as other literary works to support their argument.
Both of these articles were available on the database of University of Liverpool library. Being recognized works on leadership, these were immensely helpful in understanding and perceiving the concepts required for the analysis in this essay. The authors have used a very powerful and clear tone and tenor to explain the art of leadership along with the essential qualities of a leader in motivating his followers towards the accomplishment of a goal. In conclusion, the study of these articles along with few others like The Influence Personality and Leader Behaviors have on Teacher Self-leadership In Vocational Colleges and What Managerial Leadership Behaviors do Student Managerial Leaders Need? An Empirical Study of Student Organizational Members’ helped in perceiving the concept of reflexive management and leadership, adding to my analysis of where I failed to be a good leader.
- BrainyQuote.com-‘Quotes on Leadership’. 2013. Available from:
- Cunliffe, Ann L 2011. On Becoming a Critically Reflexive Practitioner. Journal of Management Education 2004 28: 407 Available from
- Glenn, M, Peterson, S.K $ Soutar, G. (2012), The Influence Personality and Leader Behaviours have on Teacher Self-leadership In Vocational Colleges. Available from:
- Grint, K 2001, The Art of Leadership. Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011 Available from:
- Smircich, L. & Morgan, G. (1982) ‘Leadership: the management of meaning’, The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 18 (3), pp.257-273, Sage Journals [Online]. Available from < http://jab.sagepub.com.ezproxy.liv.ac.uk/cgi/reprint/18/3/NP-b DOI: 10.1177/002188638201800303 > [20 April 2013]
- Peterson, Tim O. (2012) ‘What Managerial Leadership Behaviors do Student Managerial Leaders Need? An Empirical Study of Student Organizational Members’, Journal of Leadership Education. Page 110. North Dakota State University. Available from: