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What It Means to Be a True Leader

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What is a leader? Is leadership an ability you’re born with or can it be developed? Leadership by Wikipedia’s definition has been described as “a process of social influence, in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task.” A leader can be defined in a multitude of ways. There are many different types of leaders for every faction of life. There is no single definition for what makes up a leader as there are leaders of nations, countries, militaries, religious organizations and there are also leaders of modern businesses and households. The aim of this paper is to examine my personal leadership style, in the context of an established leadership theory. I will aim to apply the analysis of this theory to my own leadership style, and identify areas of strengths and areas in need of improvement.

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There are many different traits and skills that can make someone an effective leader. I scored a 68 on the Mind Tools leadership assessment. According to the Mind Tools site this score means, “Excellent! You’re well on your way to becoming a good leader. However, you can never be too good at leadership or too experienced – so look at the areas where you didn’t score maximum points, and figure out what you can do to improve your performance.” Basically I portray the qualities of what makes a good leader but there is always room for improvement. Before completing the assessment I more or less knew which qualities I possessed and which to build more on. I received an 8/10 in Self-Confidence, 9/10 in Positive Attitude and Outlook, 7/10 in Emotional Intelligence, 7/10 in Transformational Leadership, 8/10 in Motivating People to Deliver the Vision, 7/10 in Being a Good Role Model, 7/10 Managing Performance Effectively and 15/20 in Providing Support and Stimulation. Overall, my results are aligned with what I know about myself as being self-confident, having an positive attitude and outlook, motivated, inspirational and supportive of myself and others. I’ve always known and struggled with most of the areas that according to the assessment I need to work on. The assessment tells me that I need to work on developing my empathy which is a trait that I believe has to do with me being an introvert. According to The Jung Typology Test, my personality type is INTP which stands for Introvert (25%) iNtuitive (6%) Thinking (3%) Perceiving (9%). Individuals who score as INTP are often described as quiet, pensive and analytical. They enjoy spending time alone, thinking about how things work and coming up with solutions to problems. INTPs have a rich inner world and would rather focus their attention on their internal thoughts rather than the external world. Hence, the undeveloped lack of empathetic feeling. This segues into my development on being a good role model. I don’t have the patience when it comes to working as a team. I prefer to work by myself instead of having to explain or keep going over the same instructions. This is a characteristic that I have also been working on. Healthcare requires you to work in teams with the patient, other providers, nurses and others to attain the best outcome and deliver the best care. My fieldwork assignment is at an outpatient clinic that provides physical and occupational therapy. My daily activities consist of helping an occupational therapist and physical therapist set up before meeting patients and observing as they treat these patients. My original fieldwork assignment was supposed to be that of shadowing a Physician Assistant as that is my current career trajectory. These past few weeks watching the therapist interactions with their patients have helped in the development of my empathy. Watching the therapists and staff empathetically listen to their patients helps them to better grasp an understanding of their injuries and how it affects their daily lives. I see how this information is then used to create and develop their treatment plan. Each plan and exercise is specifically designed for each patient. Through the patients reactions I am able to see how appreciative they are that someone actually listened and understood them. They are happy to come back not only for the treatment but because they are comfortable and feel at ease almost forgetting why they are there in the first place all because of a little empathy. This is the kind of feeling I hope to inspire in my future patients.

Leadership is an idea that has been thought about for many years and the theories that developed from these thoughts have been the source of numerous studies. There are eight major leadership theories. These leadership theories describe the different aspects of what it takes to be a leader as well as the skills and traits of those who are considered leaders. These theories are the Great Man Theory, Trait Theory, Behavioral Theory, Participative Theory, Situational Theory, Contingency Theory, Transactional Theory and Transformation Theory. Early leadership theories such as Great Man Theory and Trait Theory focused on what qualities distinguished leaders, while subsequent theories looked at other variables such as situational factors and skill levels. After reviewing all of these theories, they all have some attributes that I agree with and it was hard to come up with one singular theory that I agree with the most. With that being said and based on my INTP personality, the one theory that related the most with me and is the Contingency Leadership Theory. The contingency leadership theory is based on the premise that no theory is universal perfect but the implement of theories depends on the variability, the leadership style, qualities of the followers and aspects of the situation. “The best action of the leader depends on a range of situational factors…When a decision is needed, an effective leader does not just fall into a single preferred style, such as using transactional or transformational methods.” Contingency leadership theory can be seen throughout history wherein situations have arisen when men and women have had to step up to take the helm as leaders because the situation called for it. However, they never would’ve been able to take that helm without a good team behind them. Leadership isn’t solely handling situations but also how you carry yourself. It’s how you interact with your colleagues, family, friends or people in general. The responsibility of achieving objectives is a shared responsibility as the leader alone cannot attain them. This leadership theory applies in my life but mostly in my job. At my job, in my particular department, I have been employed there the longest and because of this I am expected to help supervise the new hires that surround me despite not being a part of my job description. I was informed by my bosses that I am held to a different standard not only for my longevity but because of personable attitude and ability to work with others. Depending on the day and who’s present, I give out the day-to-day tasks and instructions on the processes required to achieve these tasks, but they have total control and freedom on how to accomplish the said task. I always tell the new hires there is no right or wrong way to accomplish these tasks and to do the best that they can leaving them with the option to consult with me as needed. I give them encouraging remarks in order for them to develop their self-confidence and I’m receptive of their ideas and suggestions. This builds trust and shows them I truly care about that person as an individual. However, I cannot take this approach at my fieldwork site because it is a small office with leadership well established. The staff consists of one physical therapist, one occupational therapist and an assistant for each The small size and defined roles leave no real opportunities where I would apply my style of leadership. The atmosphere is very relaxed, friendly and family like. I hope to create this same atmosphere if not already established in my career as a healthcare provider whether as a physician assistant, physical or occupational therapist.

Leadership and what it means to be a leader is a very broad topic. When implementing a leadership style, I have learned that one size will not fit all. However, the contingency leadership theory will allow a leader to adopt a variety of different theories and styles based on different variables rather than an emphasis on one end of the continuum. Things do not always go as expected. Sometimes special circumstances develop and temporarily take priority over in certain situation. As results, a leader, regardless of style, must quickly make necessary decisions and direct their implementation. Hence, a leader’s success in leading is contingent upon factors such as the task, the situation, situational control, the motivation of the leader to exert his or her influence and the support and loyalty of his/her followers. 

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