by Maggie Brocklebank, Betsy Cutler, Michael Donovan and Paul Keyes Jr
Four CSL graduate students believe who they are contributes to the kind of leader they strive to be
I have always explained my leadership style as “Humanistic”. What I mean by that, is to engage my team where we all connect: our humanity, not just a hierarchical relationship. I feel as a “Leader” it is important to show the team we are all humans and desire all the same things; love, acceptance, encouragement and yes, success. If my team members feel that I genuinely want the best for each one of them, we begin in place of honesty and authenticity, what a great place to start! If in the onset of our relationship they understand; the collectively, “we” want the same things, I believe any goal can be obtained.
As I consider how I would like to grow as a leader, several things come to mind I must improve. I want to be the kind of leader that lets people make mistakes even if I see them coming. I want to be the kind of leader that listens to ALL angles before making a decision. I want to be a leader that lets those around her have ultimate control of a project and learn not to micromanage. If I keep myself aware of these improvements, then I will strengthen these traits every day and grow into the leader I know I am called to be.
When I think of leadership and the type of leader I want to be, the first word that comes to mind is charismatic. Having the ability to be compelling and inspire others is something that sticks out to me from other leaders and it’s a characteristic that I strive to mold my style after. Furthermore, the best compliment you could give me is to call me a good teammate. Therefore, I want to be able to lead others, however at the same time I believe it is extremely important to be a good teammate and cohesive as a unit. I believe being approachable and personable as a leader is extremely important and it’s something I always try to emphasize through my personality to others. Finally, the last thing I like to embody as a leader is being calm and collected in any situations, whether everything is going 100 mph or if everything’s under control. Being even-keel is something that my dad always preached to me and I believe it is valuable to exercise that skill as a leader too.
I think it’s important as a leader to reflect and think, “would I like to be led in the same way that I lead others?” When you take the time to reflect on your own leadership qualities, you can grow and get better. When I think about becoming a positive leader, I also think about the importance of not being a pushover. Although it is important to me to maintain a positive environment in order to mitigate stress levels, it’s also important to have the respect of your peers and respect them in return. Finding a balance between an efficient and a nurturing work environment would be ideal in my quest to becoming the best leader that I can be.
I would like to be the type of leader that encourages and empowers those around them by recognizing their accomplishments and helping them to overcome their weaknesses. Although everybody responds differently, I prefer to use positive feedback to let others know that their work is appreciated. By creating a positive culture, I would hope that my colleagues would feel comfortable coming to me for help and advice when they need it so that there can be a strong sense of teamwork amongst us.
When thinking about leadership, and the type of leader I want to be, there is one word that comes to mind, compassion. I believe most leaders understand the importance of strength. Most leaders understand that they must be organized. And almost all leaders know how important it is to be able to communicate. But not all leaders understand the role compassion plays in becoming a good leader. Compassion is an interesting trait, and is usually difficult to act on daily. However, the healthy mix of a compassionately-strong leader is perhaps one of the most important characteristics one could have.
Being able to look at your teammates or coworkers and show them you understand and can empathize with what they may be going through is a very easy way to earn their respect. Sure, anyone can be a loud or passionate leader, but the ability to let your team know that you truly care will get you a whole lot further in life. People can spot a fake just as easy as they can spot the truth. Trust and respect are usually earned, but showing your group that you are compassionate is the best way a leader can begin to build his or her relationships.
Although we are four different people who have different leadership strengths and weaknesses, we each reflected on how would we want to be treated by a team leader. Interestingly, we all started with the Golden Rule. Each of us began our leadership reflection by looking at what is important to us as human beings: what motivate us, encourages us and makes us trust others. Several different traits were expressed but each of them speak to a kind of authenticity and genuineness we believe should be the heart of exceptional leaders. As we develop and fine tune our own leadership style, we assert if we ALWAYS begin at the heart of who we are, we will successfully lead others into their own success.