Naturalistic Observation of a Leader in an Executive Setting

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Table of Contents

  • Level of the Leadership
  • Learning Loops of the Team
  • Leaders’ Service Behavior
  • Innovation of Leadership
  • References

To observe Executive Leadership Group’s behavior, I have selected Mayor in Carrollton City of Texas, where I reside. I attended two consecutive of Council meeting, which is opened to the public on September 17 and October 15, 2019, 19:00 to 20:00. The seats were almost full, except for at the very front on both days. The seven City Council members and the Mayor sat along a bench as if they were the judges at a hearing. During periods of observation, field notes on the Mayor’s leadership behaviors and team’s learning loops were recorded using paper and pencil. Observations began when the Mayor and Council members were greeted to the public. After greeting the session for 5 to 7 minutes, the regular session was started with a public hearing.

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The Mayor announces and leads throughout the Council meeting, such as enunciating positions taken, informing the public about the upcoming agenda, and reacting to questions about the city’s policies and intentions. This activity identified that the Mayor builds extensive contact with the public and the media, which can be a valuable resource in performing his roles. The Mayor promoted full expression to Council members and encouraged the Council to face issues and resolve them decisively. The roles considered that the Mayor has been coordinative and cooperative to improve interaction with teams and the public. Mayors and Councils are involved in complaint handling, oversight, making and implementing decisions, and adjusting program regulations during the meeting. The Mayor contributed to a smoothly and effectively functioning Council meeting with coordinative leadership. As a team leader, the Mayor kept Council teams in touch and interacted with the public to improve communication. Finally, the Mayor was perceived to be the coordinator and communicator.

Level of the Leadership

From my observation in the meetings, the Mayor was a Level 4 leader who is an effective leader and able to motivate the people toward a clear and compelling vision of an organization (Collins, 2001). Through the behavior analysis, the Mayor was a coordinator as a team leader, enabling information exchange, interacting with the public, and asking for and giving updates--- all contributing to improved communication and facilitated action by the teams. The coordinator is not able to become a Level 5 leader since a Level 5 leader is “a strong leader in own right, so driven, infected with an incurable need to produce results (Collins, 2001, p. 30).” A Level 5 leader enhances the best transition from good to great with satisfying and powerful ideas. However, the Mayor mostly provided effective guidance and coordination during the meetings.

Learning Loops of the Team

After introducing the public hearing agenda, the Council members started to argue and debate in searching for understanding to one another and the public who was brought the agenda. The Mayor promoted them to more actively engage in discussions toward goals that meet the needs of the community. Council members kept asking and answering one another in a respectful manner. They brought a range of perspectives from in-depth knowledge about their organization and operation. When all debate and discussion is completed, decisions were made regarding the issue.

In the context of the meeting, the entire Council members engaged in double-loop learning that individual team members were able to ask critical questions of others, and the exchange of ideas and experiences in the interest of enhancing the collective pool of knowledge (Argyris, 1991).

Leaders’ Service Behavior

The Mayor motivated the Council member to debate and argued throughout the meeting. The Mayor’s leadership was recognized as the basis for guidance rather the control. He put more effort into creating a climate where the facts of the current reality area found during the meeting. When they start with honest and diligent efforts to determine the truth of their situation, the right decisions will become self-evident (Collins, 2001). The Collins (2001) found that creating a climate where the truth is heard involves four basic practices, including lead with questions, not answers; engage in dialogue and the debate, not coercion; conduct autopsies, without blame; and build red flag mechanisms that turn information into information that cannot be ignored. Senge (1990) pointed out that in team learning, the discussion is crucial because different views are presented, defended, and provided a useful analysis of the whole situation. In my perspectives during the two consecutive meetings, the Mayor was actively involved in monitoring and adjusting issues through motivating the council member to learn shared vision.

Innovation of Leadership

The prevailing leadership style in the organization is traditional style, who set the direction, make the key decisions, and energize the troops, and are deeply rooted in an individualistic and non-systemic worldview (Senge, 1990). The Mayor, I observed, was a new view of leadership, guided and coordinated the Council member that can deal productively with the issues they face and develop double-loop learning environments. Senge (1990) viewed that innovative leaders are responsible for building an organization where people continually expand their capabilities to understand the shared vision. At this level leaders, they do not provide the answer but instill confidence in team members to learn whatever they need to learn in order to achieve the results they truly desire (Senge, 1990; and Collins, 2001).

The Mayor promoted constructive interaction is needed for effective performance. By the guidance of Mayor, the vigorous dialogue and debate infused with the brutal facts and guided by questions formed by cycles. Collins (2001) argued that to go from good to great requires a deep understanding of the useful mechanism for moving the process, which comes the idea from the Council. “Ask the questions, engage in vigorous debate, make decisions, autopsy the results, and learn—all guided within the context of the three cycles (Collins, 2001, p. 115).” Leaders who many of whom rose to the top “because of their decision making and problem-solving skills in mentoring, coaching, and helping others learn (Senge, 1990, p. 345).”


  1. Argyris, C. (1991). Teaching Smart People how to Learn. On Managing People (pp133-145) Boston MA, Harvard Business Review
  2. Collins, J. C. (2001). Good to Great. New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers.
  3. Senge, P. M. (1990). The fifth discipline: the art and practice for the learning organization. New York, Ny: Doubleday/Currency.

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