MGMT 225 – Summer 2014

Thoughts and reflections of undergraduate students from MGMT 225 – Lansing Community College, Lansing, Michigan

Posts From Students:

Makenzie Shafer –  Sara Ludwick  –  Louis Brown –  Joshua Hamilton – Shelly Harbenski –  Jenna Pacic – Morgan Blackburn

I Believe In Leadership From Ourselves

Leadership success always starts with a vision. Warren Bennis’s vision for example:

“The point is not to become a leader.  The point is to become yourself, and to use yourself completely – all your gifts, skills and energies – to make your vision manifest.  You must withhold nothing.  You must, in sum, become the person you started out to be, and to enjoy the process of becoming.”

Leaders share a dream and direction that other people want to share and follow.

Vision provides guidance to an organization by articulating what it wishes to attain. However, vision is more than an image of the future. It has a compelling aspect that serves to inspire, motivate, and engage people. The leadership vision goes beyond your written organizational mission statement and your vision statement. Many leaders begin with a personal vision realizing that it ultimately will be implemented by others in the organization The vision of leadership permeates the workplace and is manifested in the actions, beliefs, values and goals of your organization’s leaders. Good leaders are made not born. If you have the desire and willpower, you can become an effective leader. Good leaders develop through a never ending process of self-study, education, training, and experience. To inspire your workers into higher levels of teamwork, there are certain things you must be, know, and, do. These do not come naturally, but are acquired through continual work and study. Good leaders are continually working and studying to improve their leadership skills; they are not resting on their laurels. You must have an honest understanding of who you are, what you know, and what you can do. Also, note that it is the followers, not the leader or someone else who determines if the leader is successful. Leadership skills can play a large role in career development. Taking initiative, critical thinking, listening effectively, constant learning, discipline, motivation others and handling conflicts are all important technical skills to help one move forward in a career. I will take all of those skills and become a good team leader one day. The most important and most difficult person to lead will always be myself. It is the aspect of leadership that will require the most discipline, commitment and determination. I am finding myself in the process of becoming a team leader by example. Everything in an organization starts at the top; as a leader, the attitude that you set will generally set the tone for how members within your organization interact with each other as well as others outside of your organization. The democratic style of leadership is the leadership I always use and find to be the most effective. Democratic leaders make the final decisions, but they include team members in the decision-making process. They encourage creativity, and people are often highly engaged in projects and decisions. As a result, team members tend to have high job satisfaction and high productivity.

– – Makenzie Shafer, Lansing, Michigan

I BELIEVE… We all have a chosen path

In reflecting on leadership and the quote by Warren Bennis, I envision a true leader as someone who has a destined path. They know what they want, and how to go about getting it without allowing others to get in their way. Each and every one of us is born with certain traits and personalities, not all of which will provide us with the ability to be a leader. However, I do believe that our pride, visions of excellence, the drive to be successful, and our ambitions to make a difference help mold the best to become those that others will follow, and strive to be like.

My voyage in learning about leadership has allowed me to look at my own inner strengths, and help me course my own path to success. Being well organized is a trait that I hold dear to my heart, and I have learned that it is also a main component in being a great leader. Personally, I have seen myself grow during this process, and I see that my ability to see the bigger picture, while focusing on minute details will help propel me in my future endeavors.

I have realized that not everyone is equipped with a take-charge type of personality, and only those that demand the best in others will rise to the occasion and be deemed a true leader. These are the people that want to succeed personally, and don’t mind helping others during the journey. Being able to motivate those around you, while allowing them to grow individually is another aspect of leadership. Ultimately, people are more willing to follow someone who brings a positive, unselfish attitude to the table.

True leaders cannot be afraid to fail, after all no one is perfect. In looking throughout history some of the most poignant leaders have had mis-steps, made mistakes, and failed at one thing or another – but yet they did not give up, and learned from them. By being able to accept our own faults, we learn to see the greatness in those around us, and allow them to help us adapt in a creating a successful future.

Mr. Bennis said it best in that “… become the person you started out to be, and enjoy the process of becoming.” This makes me realize that the best we have to offer, may not be that of Kings, but in understanding our own qualities, and becoming the best “us”, that we can become.

                                                                                                         – –  Sara Ludwick – Lansing, MI

 

I Believe I Can Touch the Sky

 

Growing up in Lansing, Michigan I see a lot of kids graduate high school and just feel so accomplished in life. Nevertheless, graduating high school is an accomplishment. But why stop there? Why not pursue bigger and better things like college degrees, owing businesses, or becoming what you told your mom you were going to be when you were a little kid? Most of the people that I graduated with are satisfied with their job at some factory or warehouse. They graduated high school and gave up on their dreams. At first I wondered why so many gave up, but then I looked around and noticed that they have nobody to look up to. There are no leaders.

When people do not become who they want to be it is usually because they have nobody to look up to. They have not seen people go down the same path they want to go down so they fear failure. The fear of failure has overpowered their will and ambition. Most of the people I talk to think it is darn near impossible to accomplish their dreams since they have not seen other people accomplish theirs. Then I ask those same people why they want to be a doctor, a lawyer, or whatever it is they want to be. The response I always get is “that is me, I can see myself doing that. I feel like I was born to be that”. So if that is you, why aren’t you doing it? Why have you let the lack of other people ambition around you hinder you? Why have you let the lack of leadership around you stop you from accomplishing you dreams? It is sad because those same people do not wake up to the life of their dreams. Instead they wake up to the life they see around them. Instead of being who they are, they get sucked in to the life that is around them. They have not seen people get up and work for what it is they want to be. They have not seen success.

I want to be the one that changes the way of life Lansing, Michigan is used to. If people see me become a successful supply chain manager, they will realize that it is possible to accomplish their own dreams. I want them to know that if some city boy with no father figure, who almost dropped out of school because of poverty can become a supply chain manager then they too can become whatever it is they want to be. I will lead them by my actions. I love showing people that they can do something. I want people to stop thinking that life is accomplished once they graduate high school. There is more to accomplish in life, and I am going to show people that. I want them to know that the sky is the limit, I will lead them there.

 – – Louis Brown, Lansing, Michigan

I Believe leadership may be learned through both training and experience.

Characteristics of an effective leader

Think back in your experience of the person who you recall having effective leadership skills, and another person who lacked effective leadership skills. Consider the traits that each person had and what gave them their abilities. If we were to list the traits of the most effective leader we would likely identify things such as honesty, obvious skills, knowledge of their job, willingness to teach, respect for their subordinates, good communicator, and characteristics that demanded respect. In contrast, the less skillful leader probably lacked many of these traits and either did not demand respect or failed to understand its importance.

Let us isolate several of these traits that are necessary and discuss how a person may adjust their behavior to learn and utilize effective management skills. It’s necessary for the leader to be very familiar with job necessities so that person can provide guidance and training to their subordinate. An honest and open dealing with the employee is essential in gaining their respect. A leader must be capable of communicating effectively with both subordinates and their superiors to articulate factors related to the business. To some extent these skills may be learned through an effective leadership course and other training. Often however, skills such as effective communication and interpersonal relations may be elements of a formal course, they may be more effectively acquired through direct communication with others providing that the new leader is consciously aware of results and successful changes to their behavior.

Different approaches to leadership

Leadership methods range from dictatorial, leadership by example, leadership by recognition as being knowledgeable in an area, and confidence with a positive attitude towards achieving a common goal. One might expect that a person who leads a labor union may require very different skills from a military leader who is responsible for the lives of their subordinates. In each case however, the subordinates must have respect and confidence in the leaders abilities to respond as expected. So we have identified respect as a key characteristic of an effective leader. The new leader must be aware of the unique skills necessary for their responsible position. As discussed in the previous section those skills may include effective communication, knowledge of each employee’s job and job description, and always seen as a respected representative of the employee. An effective leader is also respectful of the employee’s needs.

How may the new leader measure their effectiveness?

As with all processes effective measurements are necessary to determine the degree of success in its development. Measures that may assist the leaders to assess their skill include such factors as, their employee’s ability to work effectively and productively as their job description requires, willingness to work with the new leader, and their attitude toward their job. Some factors are difficult to measure, for example, an employee’s respect and confidence in the new leader. An employee may not be willing to share those measures with their superior and must be evaluated differently. A new leader, therefore, must study and be skilled in assessing employee interpersonal relations and behavior.

Conclusion

It is clear from the above that leadership skills require not only training in the job but also training in interpersonal skills and behavior. The new leader is also responsible to earn the respect and confidence of the employee through the leader’s demonstration of those skills.

In my opinion the effective leader utilizes formal training to learn fundamental skills in human relations and then expands that training through the person’s job activities and observing effective methods through personal contact with the employee.

– – Joshua L. Hamilton, Howell, Michigan

I BELIEVE IN MYSELF

                I believe in myself. I have been working as an employee to someone else for twenty five years (not including babysitting). In that time I have observed a lot of different managerial styles. Occasionally I even get to be a sub-manger to student employees within my job or acting manager when the office administrator is absent. I feel that I could be a successful leader.

I often notice that these students or other employees come to me rather than the manager who is the head of the department. This is not just people below my level, but includes project managers and the director. They ask for my knowledge, direction, or opinion. I believe it’s because I treat them like people with individual needs and experiences. I truly listen to what they are saying and I want to help them. I put their priorities first and my daily work second. I try to make sure I give them what they need and that I can answer their questions when asked in a knowledgeable and accurate way. I want to treat them with respect and make sure they feel good about their job or thoughts.

I find the quote from Warren Bennis inspiring: “The point is not to become a leader.  The point is to become yourself, and to use yourself completely – all your gifts, skills and energies – to make your vision manifest.  You must withhold nothing.  You must, in sum, become the person you started out to be, and to enjoy the process of becoming.” I want to be myself and use myself completely. I do have gifts and skills to share and better the establishment I work for or to better myself. I feel this is a profound statement by Bennis for a person at any age to meditate on. To truly look at oneself, not try to fit the mold, but to use your own  unique characteristics to better things around you.

In order for your place of work to be happy, you yourself have to be happy with what you are doing and accomplishing. There will be ups and downs, but it’s how you handle these things that will determine if you are a great leader. You can’t be afraid to ask questions or grow as a person. I have a vision to clearly set direction and purpose to my employees. I hope to inspire loyalty and caring among the office environment. I will point out unique strengths, values, and direction that we have as a unit and individually. I want to help the employees feel a part of something bigger than themselves by their contribution to our goals.

It is an art to become yourself as Bennis describes. I like to always remind myself of the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” With this thought in mind to become an effective leader you should always conduct yourself at the same level of control and maturity that you expect from those that work for you. It has taken life and educational experiences to bring me to the conclusion that nobody always knows the right answer, but when you don’t act superior and listen to those around you, you can learn and develop a successful business. When you learn that everyone is an individual and we all have different needs, experiences, contributions, etc…you can learn to develop your business into a well working machine. It is your job to help, to use your employees abilities, and to give the motivation and guidance needed with your developed leadership skills.

 – – Shelly Harbenski, Mason, Michigan

 

I Believe Being a Great Leader is to Inspire Others & Realize Your Own Possibility

There is a full spectrum of qualities that one must possess to be a great leader.  One must have the ability to not only motivate, inspiring excitement and enthusiasm for the ideas and goals that they wish to achieve; they must also effectively organize others into a cohesive team, to be able to accomplish the objectives at hand.  It is not necessary that a leader have a 100% pre-determined path down which to lead their team; rather, a leader should have clear ideas about what their goals are; this in and of itself will inspire confidence from the others.  Concise communication is a key factor, as well as a two-way street; the leader should communicate their ideas to the team, and then listen to the others’ thoughts and opinions.  By gaining the perspective of the others and taking them into consideration, while retaining the truth that one’s own viewpoints offer, doubt can be shed; then the best path can be forged and set out upon, and positive feelings of growth, contribution and accomplishment will be cultivated amongst the entire team.

Learning these skills of leadership are crucial in any situation, whether it is work, school, the community, or within a multitude of other various organizations and institutions; even if one is not specifically placed into a role of leadership, knowing these skills in general helps you to work more effectively and fruitfully with others.  It also gives you the insight to be able to identify strengths and weaknesses in other members of your team; in these instances, you will be well-equipped to be able to either fill these gaps, or help to direct others in their roles; knowing the human resources at hand for the project helps you to allocate the time and energy needed for its completion.  While these inputs can be minimized with the correct distribution of responsibilities amongst the team members, the quality of the effort can then be maximized to its full efficacy.

Most importantly, a truly great leader is born by taking this basic blueprint of how to lead, and then adding in one’s own unique talents and skill-sets. A great leader becomes effective through experience; it is a personal journey that one embarks upon, and by stepping up to the plate and taking the chance to lead others, much can be gained.  By becoming an effective leader, you can learn a lot about yourself along the way, becoming the person that you were always meant to be, and thus realizing your true potential.

– – Jenna L. Pacic, Midland, Michigan

I Believe I Can Lead

When I envision the ideal leader, I few main qualities come to mind immediately.  The first of which being honesty, it is very unlikely that employees will willingly follow and respect a leader who is dishonest or unethical. An honest leader promotes honesty from their employees and earns respect.  Communication is the second quality I find important, it is essential that a leader can clearly communicate what is expected of employees, properly delegate responsibilities, and be able to discuss successes and mistakes that occur in the workplace. Without proper communication a leader is not going to get very far with a team of employees. My vision of a leader is someone who is also confident. Confidence in the company they work for and in their employees is inspiring and boosts employee moral.  The last quality I believe is important for a leader is a sense of humor, without the ability to laugh when the website crashes work would just become to stressful. A good sense of humor lightens the mood, and allows employees to be themselves around the leader as well.

I will take many different experiences to help myself become a good leader. I will take the knowledge I have gained from this class as well as my experiences with managers and leaders throughout my own life.   I could read all of the books available on leadership and know all the techniques and theories of how to successfully run a team or company, but honestly I think that the only way to become a real leader and a successful one is through experience.   I would need to go into a position and try out different techniques in order to see what would work for me, for the people I was leading and for myself.

In the process of becoming a leader, I have begun to learn what works for me and what does not.  I know that I want to be a leader that employees can look up too, and go to for anything.  I will be fair, kind but firm and make my expectations know to those I am leading.  I feel like I have always known what type of leader I do not want to be, taking this course and reading the text has helped me see what I can do to be a truly great leader it is just a matter of putting them to good use. It’s important not to allow my own personal life to influence my attitude towards employees.  That is what is most important to me, to not let anything get in the way of my influence upon them and to be the strongest leader I can be so that they have someone to rely on during any situation.

 

– – Morgan Blackburn, Lansing, Michigan

 

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