Leadership through Personal Experiences
Leadership is a trait/quality which has been the mark of great people in history and leaders give out an aura of meditation around them inspiring others to reach where they are and go further. Such leaders are also simple individuals at a certain point in life but events in their life or happening around them that shape these individuals to become better leaders in life. Leadership is not just a quality that is applied by an individual in business, but in every walk of life and in every scenario. Leaders become great managers, doers and problem solvers in life through initiative, vision and faithfulness. Leadership cannot be learned at time but it is a quality which can be developed over time with zeal.
Leaders get better with time as they have the vision to do so and the events that made them a leader constantly push them to become better. Leaders are also creative as just taking initiative is not enough and making the right choices does matter. Leaders are not limited to success in a limited area but every initiative they attached to, becomes highly refined and accurately directed towards goal and this is due to the quality of developing vision in their lives and then adhering to it with determination. Another invaluable trait that leaders have is that when an endeavor fails, or when mistakes happen, they do not dwell on it but learn from them so that the same mistakes never happen and set higher standards for themselves that doesn’t leave a threshold for more mistakes. This perseverance towards purpose has made them what they are and the same element guide them to become better in every aspect.
A leader has many a times been pictured as a person as alone and no one beside him at a top spot but it is also to be observed that he is the captain of the ship that sails the followers to a higher spot and to further success which could only have been achieved with the help of a leader. Without the presence of the leader, attainment of a single direction and unified efforts from a team are not possible.
It is a great opportunity if an individual in the early phase of his/her life gets to gain valuable insight from a successful leader who is willing to share his/her experiences which can also help others look for experiences in their own life which can make them understand the usefulness and necessity of leadership in life. This is an account of an interview with an Emirati manager in which he has shared her experiences of herself as an individual, which inspired him to become a successful leader in what he does and his life.
Teamwork is everything
I learned about teamwork at a very young stage in my life and through a critical event that might have changed everything. It is about a time in my life when I was 13 years old and on a trip with my brothers and cousins. It was a family trip in which we went together to Europe for travelling. This particular incident revolves around the day when we (me and my brothers) went to explore an area of the Alps mountain range on our own which was near our hotel. The idea was my brother’s but as they were all younger than me I thought at the time that I should at least accompany them to ensure that they are safe. It was supposed to be a small trek as we planned that we won’t go very far and would return in 15 minutes. It was already a risk factor that we were going without informing our parents.
We took precautions regarding the attire we were wearing (we wore jackets and other accessories for protection from the weather) and took some chocolates and chips. We took off to the way we through was safe and not steep and was visible from afar at there were tree-lines. We began our trek in the afternoon when our parents were resting and planned to come back at the hotel in half an hour. We were 5 people walking into what looked like a forest, we weren’t stopped by adults as was rather tall and seemed like an adult myself. The forest area around the hotels was deemed safe as there were many buildings and activities going on in the area and the establishment had occurred probably due to the fact that dangerous were not present in the area.
We had a fun time trekking in the area and saw some wildlife like different kinds of birds and other small animals and found the journey easy and alluring. After some time had passed, we realized that we should head back to the hotel. We started heading backwards but we found ourselves in a totally new area which had a pond. This started to concern me while the younger brothers were enjoying themselves, concerning only because it was getting darker and finding our way back would get difficult. Another factor concerning me was that I was made responsible for my brother in case we were playing outside.
I took initiative and gathered all my brothers and started asking each one of them to remember some signs or interesting objects like big rocks or peculiar looking trees in the trail and describe them and I started noting them down in the small pocket diary which I kept for drawing in the order which they saw them to try to plot a trail. Starting from the youngest as he observed things in more detail, we were reminded about some markings on the way, some signboards and other visual cues from the surrounding mountain peaks which helped us figure out the directions.
As one by one the brothers started describing the trail, other people in the group also started remembering clearly about the trail in which we came and where we made the wrong turn. The details helped other people get a clear idea about the way we came in before. Soon, all of us had a clear idea about where exactly we should be heading. Eventually, we were able to reach the trail which we took before and had a feeling we were going in the right direction, in ten minutes we came close to the hotel area as we began seeing lights of the signboards around the hotel.
Our parents had just woke up and thought that were playing in the hotel area. Finally we reached the hotel two hours after we had left. At the time it was a personal victory as well as a mistake from which we all had learnt something. It was a victory because if I hadn’t decided in time to try to plot our way back, the time factor wouldn’t have been on our side, with a low visibility we wouldn’t have been able to track the signs properly and would’ve got lost again in the area and our parents would have started getting concerned which would have ended in them getting angry on me as I was assigned the responsibility for my brothers.
It was a mistake because if anything had went worse, the time would have been different or if any of us got hurt, I would not have been able to do much. My brothers thanked me later for the idea and also that enjoyed the experience even if things got concerning. This taught me to never go in such areas without supervision, proper accessories and resources to find out way back.
• Teamwork is very essential to be able to lead successfully. Without the efforts of the whole group a task cannot be accomplished and the efforts of one team member can help other do their tasks better through motivation. As a team, the tasks get accomplished faster through the initiative of the leader. This also suggests that coordination will be required from team members and that can be achieved from a good leader.
• The best thing is to always think ahead. Many problems can be avoided with proper planning and risk assessment. If the leader wouldn’t have been concerned about the factor of time which would have made things worse for all the kids later, and just kept on enjoying the trip with his brothers, then they might have got lost in the forest for a long time. Similarly, small problems shouldn’t be avoided even if an enterprise is making progress as the problems can cause a high level of damage later on. The responsibility to assess problems and think of a possible solution relies on the leader.
• Right choices at the right time matter the most if taken at the right time. If a leader makes right choice for the organization but either when it is not required, people aren’t ready or if it is too late then it doesn’t work. Figuring out the right time for an action is the trait of a true leader and that trait saves the organization from getting side-tracked, losing a contract and other similar problems which can occur in an organization.
This event took place when I was in college studying management. Groups had been assigned in the class on account of a marketing activity which was to be assigned to us. I was assigned as the leader of my group of 6 people as it was my favorite subject and I always projected a high level of interest in the subject. Our group consisted of 4 boys and 2 girls out which 3 people excluding me performed better than average and showed good potential and enthusiasm for the assignment and the rest of the people were average performers and relied on theoretical knowledge to score on exams and it was apparent that this practical task would prove difficult for them.
The assignment was create an advertisement regarding any product of choice with the enacting of the ad in front of the class. The advertisement was not to be extended beyond the time of two minutes. The choice of topic was difficult first of all as without a final execution idea, things might not work out at a later stage. Each member was vouching for their own idea of product and were not ready to go with other ideas. 2 of the ideas seemed plausible to me from the 6 but it was difficult to come to a consensus.
I had good relations with 2 of the people in the group and so I decided to talk to them privately and we discussed all our ideas, possible reactions, applicability, public appeal, and the ad possibilities in a brief manner and we all agreed to go with one of the advertisements of my friends who had thought of an advertisement for an ice cream company. Later, we all met together for a discussion and asked the people with other options to clearly portray their overall idea for the advertisement and due to individual drawbacks of cost, plausibility and lack of public appeal the final decision came to go forth with the Ice Cream advertisement and it was accepted as a fair decision. There were possibilities of certain members no contributing well to the idea or the non-cooperation.
Unfortunately, the deadline of submitting our idea has passed due to the delay caused by the indecision and we were called on by the professor in charge and demanded reasons for our delay. I stepped up to reply saying that I couldn’t choose between some ideas and the choice took time. This would have given us a penalty but the idea was liked by the professor and he told us to go through with it any with a note that he expected an excellent execution from our group.
This action of mine sparked a row of emotions in the group and the team became even more determined as I “took one for the team” being a leader and still got us through with the assignment. This appreciation transformed into their contribution of hard work and enthusiasm in the group which brought further creativity into the advertisement and people listened to my suggestions and ideas regarding the decisions which were deemed fair by them as I asked for suggestions from everyone and decisions were approved after due analysis and fact checking among the group.
The advertisement was finalized and the enacting was later polished by more practice but the zeal and enthusiasm of the team pushed the whole team ahead as a feeling of general acceptance was clear in the group. We approached the professor with the final advertisement ready with our reports 3 days ahead of submission and the professor was impressed and said that he was proud that we as a group didn’t disappoint him and made good use of his decision to not give us a penalty. The enacting in the class went great and we got the second prize in among both the batches. The group was really happy as we didn’t expect such a prize from the event as we didn’t have an excellent group to begin with but with good performance as a team, the prize could be achieved.
• The most important lesson that can be learnt from this event is that it is necessary for a leader to have good relations with his subordinates in order to get overall approval from a team and get things done faster. This requires good communication skills from a leader which are extremely important to build and retain a bond with employees. This helps remove confusion on a long term.
• The other vital lesson is to listen to your employees and co-workers as listening to the needs of other helps to get an idea about what would motivate an employee what would drive an employee towards hard work and persistent efforts. Listening to others brings a democratic and fair approach to leading and also leads to a myriad of useful ideas which can useful in any task. A democratic approach brings creativity and ensures that the employees are satisfied that their ideas matter and they stay motivated to work.
• Taking responsibility for the team is very essential to show that the leader is accountable for the whole team and the actions of the team matter at a higher level. The sense of responsibility and answerability acts as a motivating factor for the employees and taking the fall sometimes for the team is necessary for the team to succeed. If a leader displays this kind of behavior, it can motivate the employees to devote their best for the sake of the team which can ensure the success of the whole team.
Not a Replica
This event is regarding an event which happened after I took charge as a manager and was involved also in the certain recruitment processes. This event is regarding recruitment which was going on 4 years ago and the results of the event. The recruitment process was regarding the marketing department and I was also sitting in the recruitment as I am concerned about the employee because I have to work with him and manage him so I would like to have a hand in the recruitment process. Among the three employees that were selected, one had similar attributes and outlook as I had which made me decide that the employee should be hired. Another employee among the employee showed very high intellect and zeal for working in the company and his past experiences suggested that he was highly appropriate for the job. The third employee was hired on account of his trait of hard and consistent working which also required. He came from a good educational background and was creative in his answers which is good for a man in marketing.
The employees went through the predesigned training process for a month and started working later on. The performance report of the employees and my observation of the their work suggested that all employees except the one which I shared equal qualities with, worked in a better manner and were found to have creative inputs in the project. Further analysis led to the realization that the employee not only shared the good qualities I had, but also the bad qualities.
This realization made me willing to have a personal session with the employee in order to analyze what caused the low performance. After the session it became clear that he was facing a lack of motivation and certain job roles were not suitable to his skills. With a proper talk and assigning him certain new duties which were appropriate to his skills, and removal of some of the older job roles. After the session, his performance improved and he became enthusiastic regarding his working making him work at par with the other two employees which were recruited along with him.
When the occasion of promoting any of the three employees came, I did not promote him but the employee with the best performance and creative inputs to the process. In my opinion, the employee was smarter than me but it did not stop me from promoting him as the caliber of the individual was such that could take an organization further.
After the promotion, this employee projected a very good demeanor in a work perspective and worked with discipline. He was grateful for the promotion and worked with a good potential to achieve further success with the company and helped in increasing the sales of the product he was in charge of marketing. This was a record high increase and helped the company expand further in scope.
• The first lesson which can be learnt from this event is that listening to the employee’s needs can enhance his performance and also that assigning the correct roles to the employee is the key to higher performance and dedication. Understanding the woes of an employee related to work can help a leader channel the potential of an employee appropriately so that he can perform to the best of his limits.
• The second lesson which can be learnt is that promoting or delegating an individual similar to the leader’s traits is a common mistake which should be avoided. It is because the organization currently would have the strengths bestowed in the leader and there is no use accentuating it further. The weaknesses are not to be addressed. Bringing a replica to the company doesn’t provide a new outlook or quality to the company workforce which is in the end, a downside to the workforce.
• The third lesson which can be learnt from the event is that employees smarter than the leader should be hired and promoted over other employees. If a leader hires employees smaller than the leader, the organization becomes smaller considering the aspect of qualities and performance, if a leader hires employees smarter and better than the leader, an organization becomes better and takes the organization to a higher level of success and performance standards.
In the first event, the challenging issue was the subject of teamwork. Teamwork was a quality that was required in the event to get through the challenge encountered in the event. If there was an absence of teamwork during the event, the kids would have either stayed and got lost or wouldn’t have been able to find their way out resulting in the same outcome. The correct way to overcome the issue regarding teamwork according to this event is to be democratic, take views of everyone in the team, pooling resources together and then acting as a single unit.
In the second event, communication gap proved to be an issue which led to disharmony and indecisiveness in the group. In order to overcome such issues this event teaches us to take initiative and try to bring harmony through the formation of a good bond with team-mates and subordinates. Another lesson this event taught us was that taking responsibility for the group’s actions through initiative builds motivation which helped in overcoming the issue of disharmony.
In the last event, the issue that could be observed was incorrect decision in recruitment area by a leader in which the leader opted to hire a replica personality. This issue could have been solved with a prior insight on effective recruitment but it took trial and error to understand the folly of hiring a replica. But the event taught us that understanding the needs of employees can bring an improvement in their performance and that leaders should hire smarter employees for the future development of the organization.
The events described by the manager are taken from the various phases from his life and the events individually teach us different and valuable lessons leadership. The first story focuses on team work potential and the vitality of taking decisions at the right time in order to save the company from the ill-effects of a problem and enhances the performance level of a team as a whole unit. The second event is from the time when the leader was in college and learned the qualities of leadership during an important part of the career. The third event emphasizes on the leader’s role in hiring employees and recognizing the needs of the employees.
These events touch many vital qualities that a leader has and how events in the life span of an individual can motivate a leader to become what he is and shape him as a better leader. Leadership comes along with the requirement to fulfill many responsibilities as a leader and pay heed to the ones that are following the leader in order to make them achieve success because even if the leader is considered to be at a higher spot, his followers and the leader make a complete unit. Without the followers, there cannot be a leader and the quality of taking initiative and making the right choices makes a great leader which can be observed from the above mentioned events.