Leadership is a function of knowing yourself, having a visionthat is well communicated, building trust among colleagues, and takingeffective action to realize your own leadership potential.” -WarrenBennis.Warren’sdefinition of leadership is self-explanatory and defines how I can relate toleadership, especially in the context of a work setting. Having a clear visionon what goals and targets you plan to reach is very important in leadership andmanaging people. Especially when building trust, a leader should be able toinform its people on its strategies, direction and also result. As communicationshould be a two way Street, both parties that include the leader and itscolleagues should be able to communicate freely and convey the businesspurposes. This paper will be exploring parts ofthe leadership experience text by focusing on my first leadership experienceand understanding the full meaning and my potential in a leadership role,outlining my own traits, relationships and behaviours as an effective leaderand lastly exploring the power of business chemistry.
LEADERSHIP CAN BE LEARNEDIn theworkplace, people are sometimes promoted to managerial roles without priorexperience or training. In some cases, people in this position do tremendouslywell while others do not. When people are put in a position to direct a team ofpeople, it is because of their past experiences and a reflection of theirperformances, ethics and business acumen for leading. Being put in a managerialrole for the first time can be advantageous but also an overwhelmingexperience.
A yearafter completing my first degree, I moved back to my home country Nigeria for awhile and got into the family catering business. I was the assistant manager atthe time and this role focused on different areas ranging from sales,operations, human resources, event planning etc. This was going to be my firstleadership experience and I had to make sure I came prepared. Barry and Jamesstate: Learning to lead all startswith what you think of yourself and the assumptions you feed.
Learning to leadis about discovering what you value, what inspires you, what challenges you,what gives you energy, and what encourages you. When you discover these thingsabout yourself, you’ll also know more about what it takes to lead thosequalities out of others 2016 (p.36). This explains the first few months as an assistant manager for me, I woulddescribe myself to have been a learning agile leader as I was very open to thechanges that were occurring in the business and also learning from my lead andsubordinate.
This also helped in the growth and improvement of the team. As forself-discovery and finding what I value, that would be the family business, asthe end goal is to create a legacy and ensuring there will be a successfultransitioning between each generations to come. As a first time manager, I discovered that I was lacking some softskills, which would be needed in other to be productive and have a great team. Patienceis not in the top qualities being looked for in a leader but I think it is asolid foundation in good leadership. As a first time manger, I needed to have alot of patience and tolerance, as I would be in different situations where myteam would require me to be very understanding. The food/catering industry can be very competitive and itis expected to be very productive and quick in delivering top-notch services toyour clients.
I had to learn that with all my staffs everyone comes withdifferent capabilities and all learn at different rates and would require myleadership to make sure we were always on time. If I chose to be a leader withlittle to no patience and lacked the tolerance to understand that a few of myteam members might require more time in production than I would have expected,I would have missed out on working with great people. Patience is an important factor in leadershipespecially when I had big catering events to plan. Often times the difficultiesthat came with these projects required me to male rapid decisions, which Isometimes regretted. If only I had given myself time and a little amount ofpatience to thoroughly think about the impact my decisions might affect. KNOW YOUR STRENGHT Accordingto the Richard daft, he describes strength as being a natural talent or abilitythat has been supported and reinforced with learned knowledge and skills. Beingmindful of one’s strengths has a lot to do with self-awareness because byknowing who you are and what you are good at while acknowledging the differentareas that need to be worked on will be beneficial to the business and yourteam members.
Some of the strengths I had that werebeneficial to the team included having a clear vision, being courageous,cooperative and optimistic. According to Theodore (1987) “The very essence ofleadership is that you have to have a vision. It’s got to be avision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. Youcan’t blow an uncertain trumpet”. As this is a family business, my siblings andI have been fully dedicated to the company because we all share a strong desireto grow and improve the business. Before I took up the role as an assistantmanager, the staff and the lead at the time never used to have hurdles beforestarting the day’s work.
Subordinates were usually given instructions on whatto do and the deadline for each task. Coming in, I felt this was not being a productivemethod for the team. I decided to make changes by organizing hurdles few timesa month just to reiterate my goals and plan for the business with my team,which is to be the top catering company in the city. This was important toshare because it helps to motivate everyone to put their best foot forward andkeeps everyone going.
Even when faced with adversities or obstacles, we willlearn to work through them and understand what we can do better next time.Beingcourageous also served as a strong factor in this business because I was able totake risk and not being fully sure if it would lead to successful ending.Without being courageous one cannot make big changes while being a leader andalso the right conversation that should lead to better adjustments would not bemade. One of the difficult things I had to do sometimes were to deliver badnews.
Instead of giving a team member the job to either lay off a staff memberor discuss losses with our clients or investors, I made sure I tactfullydelivered such information on good terms. Also whenever we experienced a change, being acourageous leader has always helped my team to find different solution and alsoI am able to think differently and the difficult conversations, which everyonemight be avoiding. With the role as a lead assistant,optimism and corporation come as pair. According to Napoleon (1938) “if youimagination leads you to understand how quickly people grant your requests whenthose request appeal to their self interest, you can have practically anythingyou go after”. I had the ability to get everyone working together even whensome of my team members had their own difference and various methods in doingthings.
Being cooperative also involved showing appreciation to the team. I didthis by making sure they knew how appreciative I was and sometimes giving outawards to members who contributed outstandingly. Being in a leadership role should not preventone from learning from his or her team member. Leading a business requires leadersto be good followers as well. As this was a new experience for me I wasdetermined to learn from my employees and this created a balanced workenvironment where we all learnt from each other. Optimism is also a very strong factor inleadership as this enabled me to see the bigger picture even when there mightbe various uncertainties and despairs.
POWER OF BUSINESS CHEMISTRYJust likethe article stated, personality is very important in business and with the fourpatterns of business being the driver, pioneer integrator and the guardian Isee myself having more of a guardian personality. While having a strong workethic, I pride myself as being very helpful to my colleagues during my role. Ioften put a lot of thinking before making a big decision, which might affectthe business and also strived to minimize financial losses and risks. I wasalso able to motivate my teammates especially when things were not going asplanned. The ability to understand my teams personality and appreciate their differentcapacities was also important as this would enable me to understand what taskeach of them would do tremendously well and deliver efficient results. At theend this helped create a better relationship within the team and run anefficient business in the long run. CONCLUSIONLeadershipis an evolving concept but can also be defined as a relationship between aleader and its followers.
Leadership is about uplifting ones vision, empoweringothers and also setting goals for the future. My first leadership role was agreat learning experience. I got to understand some parts of me, worked on someof my strengths and weaknesses. Most importantly I understood how to work withpeople with different personalities in business. This is sometimes taken forgranted but by learning more about my team members, I was able to strategizeeffectively and being able to handle challenges I faced during my stay with thecompany.