My Attitude Towards Leadership
This paper will be an examination of my personal leadership philosophy. In order to get a focus on this philosophy, the paper will look at a specific leader--in this case, Jimmy Carter, after he left the White House--and investigate the various traits exhibited by Carter in order to see how they fit into an overall pattern and program of leadership..
I deeply admire the way that Jimmy Carter conducted himself after finishing his presidency. He was once governor of Georgia and President of the United States. He was a powerful man who could have made a lot of money after he ended his term in the White House. But he chose not to do that. Instead, he chose a path of service, including spending much of his retirement years working with Habitat for Humanity. He actually went out with everybody else, picked up a hammer, and started doing constructing work just like any other regular human being..
What I find admirable about this is his lack of pretension and his humility. To me, it sets a powerful example, and its an instance of a leader leading by example, and by keeping himself on the same level as everyone else, not lecturing people from a soapbox. Also, he built relationships with people on the ground, simple person-to-person relationships based on shared work on shared task. This deliberate choice of taking a humble path is a tremendous strength. The imperfection here, though, is in choosing a leadership path that requires giving up a lot of power, and money (which equals power). In other words, Carter probably could have wielding more power and influence if he sought out a high-paying consulting or lobbying or corporate position. Yet his personal ideals would definitely have been compromised..
I believe a leader is a person just like everyone else. I believe the strongest leaders lead by example. But I also believe that leaders need to be firm. But firm does not mean a leader has to be "tough"--as in threatening, or mean, or punitive or retaliatory. By firm I mean a leader with clear expectations and firm interpersonal boundaries..
I also think that workers in the workplace should be trusted to do their work. Micromanagement I think is as much a disease as is that of laziness and poor morale, and that there can be a negative feedback loop between them. But based on my own experiences, I have noticed that strong, effective leaders are the ones who provide a clear, admirable example for people to follow. People will naturally follow them people because of respect..
On the other hand, I've also noticed that there are leaders who try to rule others using fear and threats. I don't think this is an effective. It may look that way in the short-term, but I definitely don't think this works in the long-term. I think fear can motivate lazy people to do things, but I also think that as soon as the pressure is off, they will slack off harder than ever. Moreover, I think a culture can be created where even conscientious workers become slackers who only work when they think the boss is watching..
My thoughts will ___________________________..
My words will _____________________________..
What is your general attitude in the workplace and in your neighborhood? What type of words do you use most often? What type of good thoughts do you think about when working with others or when preparing for a meeting? As you put yourself in this frame of reference, write out your statements. After you have several written down, read through them and discern what each say about your desired attitude. Write down your attitude attributes..
- My thoughts will focus on what is possible even when things seem impossible.
- My words will try to encourage everyone to do their best and spark a laugh when appropriate.
I will lead by/with ___________________________..
What is non-negotiable? What are your imperatives? To be a stellar leader, what needs to shine brightly and fully in working with others, making decisions, and holding all accountable..
- I will lead by always trying to do my best in whatever I do.
- I will lead with empathy - listening attentively, seeking to understand, and leveraging the experience and talents of others fully.
- I will lead with learning mindset, knowing that situations change, people change, and learning equals growth.
I expect to _________________________ in _________________________ situations..
Behavior is where your leadership philosophy gets tested. Behavior determines whether your leadership philosophy is just a bunch of lofty words to be used in team meetings or visible in your everyday actions. Identify what you expect your behavior to be, given your theories, attitude, and principles. Think through success and failure. Think through achievements and tough challenges..
- I expect to respond rather than react in challenging situations.
- I expect to focus on the process to understand and change in challenging situations.
Check Your Leadership Philosophy
After you think each through and write out your responses, the next step is to go have a conversation with people around you and ask them how they would answer each of the questions:.
- What do you think I believe?
- What do you think my attitude is in good and challenging times?
- How do you think I lead?
- In good and challenging situations, what did my behaviors say about my leadership?
Test drive your leadership philosophy, ensuring how you want to lead matches with how you actually lead. This doesn't mean you need to lower the bar of your leadership philosophy. The opposite, in fact. Understand the work ahead and the possibilities of leading fully within your philosophy.