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Managing an Organization and Leading People

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Task two required students to conduct a leadership evaluation of their own leadership styles by completing the “Seven habits profile”. The “Seven habits profile” assess seven habits of highly effective people based on principles. The self-scoring profile was created to help evaluate an individual’s current level of effectiveness. The scoring scale states the higher you score the closer you are aligned with the seven habits principles (Coper, 2003). The categories that you scored low in would indicate areas that you would probably like to improve. The Seven Habits represents a proven process of personal and interpersonal growth that can have an immediate and lasting impact. The seven habits of highly effective people include: Be proactive, Begin with the end in mind, Put first things first, Think win/win, Seek first to understand then to be understood, Synergize, and Then Sharpen the saw.

The 1st of the seven habits principle is being proactive. The dictionary definition of being proactive usually involves identifying and preventing problems. According to the seven habits, being proactive involves taking responsibility for your own life, and not blaming others, genetics, circumstances, upbringing or condition on their behavior. Proactive people work on things that they can change or do something about, and reactive people tend to focus on things that they have little or no control over. The 2nd seven habits principle “Begin with the end in mind” suggest that you start your day, task, and project with a clear vision of the direction you wish to go in. You should approach any role with your values and directions clear. The 3rd habit “Put first things first” is created from habit one and habit two. Habits one and two are characterized as leadership, which comes first, and then comes habit three which starts the discussion of management. The 4th habit “Think win/win” refers to seeking mutual benefits in all human interactions. To have this mindset you believe and practice the thought that solutions and agreements are mutually beneficial and satisfying to all parties involved. The 5th habit is “Seek to Understand”.

According to the 5th habit in order to interact with others effectively and influence them, you will first need to understand them and then to be understood. The habit insinuates that when people mutually understand each other it opens the door for those “Win/Win” solutions and agreements. The 6th habit is “Synergize”, this relates to teamwork and open mindedness. The dictionary definition of synergy is the cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects. According to the seven habits “Synergy” means two heads are better than one. The 7th and final habit is “Sharpen the Saw”, which recommends that you carve out time every day to do things to renew yourself in the four dimensions of human nature. The four dimensions include mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual. Sharpening the saw involves you continuously practicing the first six habits. This theory states if you continuously practice the first six habits you will be able to increase your capacity and handle challenges that may arise around you.

On the “Seven Habits” self-scoring profile I completed, I did outstanding in two categories, very well in five categories, and good in two categories. The two categories I scored the highest in were “Be Proactive” and “Put first things first”. I consider myself to be proactive according the dictionary’s definition which states being proactive is “creating or controlling a situation by causing something to happen rather than responding to it after it has happened”. I am also proactive according to the seven habits profile because “I focus my efforts on things I can do something about rather than on things beyond my control”. I personally find that giving my attention to things I can’t control is mentally, emotionally, and physically draining and will usually end with undesirable results. My thought process is that I can only control what I put into something, not what the outcome is.

So I don’t stress myself over things that don’t go as planned as long as I know I put my best efforts forward. Being proactive according to the “Seven Habits” also mean taking responsibility for my mood rather than blaming others and circumstances. I believe what you put out is what you get back when dealing with other. If your approach is welcoming, you have a better chance of the response being welcoming, and if your approach is aggressive you may be met with that same or worse aggression. I also scored high in the “Put first things first” category. Effective people that put first things first do meaningful things and contribute to their overall goals in life every day. Every day I spend time doing things that fit in to my personal mission, like finding time to study every day because it is not just a goal but a necessity that I earn my degree.

I scored “very good” in the “Think Win-Win” and “Synergize”. I genuinely care about the success of my subordinates and other people around me. I am only considered successful as a leader if my team is successful, and I enter into all human interactions with the hope that it is mutually beneficial for all parties involved. I think the “think win-win and synergize go hand and hand. Synergize implies that two headers are better one, and success is more attainable with team work and cooperation. Synergized human interactions have a greater chance of ending with mutually beneficial outcomes from all parties involved.

The two habits that I would like further development are “Seek to understand” and “Sharpen the Saw”. Over the years I have struggled with understanding why task weren’t completed or properly done, instead of trying to understand what barriers prevented the task from being completed or properly done. When I started to think things the other way around, things made more sense. Once I understood what barriers my team faced, I was able to better understand why task weren’t completed or done correctly. I then understood what their barriers were, and I was able to make the appropriate adjustments to the process that would help them better understand the task, the process, the desired outcome, and the importance of the task.

As a leader you should seek to understand before seeking to be understood. I also need to do better with the “sharpen the saw” habit. “Sharpen the Saw refers to renewal of the four dimensions: spiritual, physical, mental, and social. I am certain the reason I scored low in this area is because it’s rare that I work out and my physical activities are very limited, most of my food choices are not very nutritional, and I am introverted unless I’m at work. Renewal of the four dimensions are extremely important because not doing so can possibly stump the growth of leaders and their subordinates.

I associate my style of leadership with the Transactional leadership theory. Transactional leaders are tasked focused, define goals for their followers, and offer clear incentives and rewards (Brymer & Gray, 2006). As a transactional leader I make sure I clarify roles and task requirements of subordinates, initiate structure, provide appropriate rewards, and try to be considerate and meet the needs of subordinates. Some of my strengths as a leader is that I am task focused, I’m organized, and I believe in rewarding a job well done. As a leader it is extremely important to clarify roles on tasks to minimize error, meet deadlines, and accountability. Recently I was given the task to assemble a team, and organize an event for our clients. Once I gathered the team I assigned tasks to each team member depending on skillset and attitude. If everyone knows what their roles are there will be little to no overlapping, task will get accomplished at an increase rate, and you can easily identify who should be held accountable if there is failure. As a leader I try to make sure there is always structure. Providing structure can serve as a guide, and can also be sense of security for my subordinates.

Providing appropriate rewards helped me to gain the respect of my team, and has been a great motivational tool. An example of providing appropriate rewards include approving comp days for staff that volunteered to help with events outside of scheduled work hours, or sending Kudos to staff that did something that went above and beyond the job description. Kudos are awards of recognition, and a gift card with small monetary value. Staff work harder and produce better quality work when they know that there is an incentive or reward other than their standard compensation for employment. This type of motivation can have a domino effect with other employees. When incentives or rewards are given it may motivate others to want that same reward and recognition, which will encourage them to do more and better work.

Some of my strengths as a leader are also my weaknesses as a leader. I am tasked focused to ensure that all tasks are appropriately completed on time. I try to take into to consideration the goals and the needs of my subordinates, unless it interferes with appropriately completing the task on time. Being task focused can give my subordinates the perception that I’m inconsiderate, and I don’t care about them as individuals. However, being task focused is my way of making sure that we all have jobs. In the past the organization suffered major lose, and was forced to close programs, and lay multiple people off. Making sure we are successful and productive is my focus, which may not always be aligned with subordinates personal goals and needs.

Part of the way that I continuously provide structure is to make it clear what warrants a reward and what warrants disciplinary actions. My current leader is a servant leader, and he believes punishment and discipline are usually unnecessary. I beg to differ on the subject of rewards and discipline. We provide rewards and incentives to not only show appreciation, but to also ensure that the desired behavior continues. So it would only be fair and appropriate to discipline or punish those that are not displaying undesired behavior and poor work performance. Discipline and punishment can also be a motivational tool to increase desired behavior. Subordinates will usually perform better when they know in advance that there will be consequences associated with poor performance, and the level of severity the consequences it carry. I don’t believe in micromanaging, so it is a priority that subordinates know their roles, have an understanding of their assigned task, and understand that there will be consequences for poor work performance.

This creates a lack of trust for some of my subordinates, because they are not used to being held accountable. When this is the case they tend to feel like the punishment is a personal attack. I follow a chain of discipline when there is a need for corrective action. The disciplinary chain starts with verbal counseling on the behavior, the next step is a verbal warning if the behavior continues, then comes a write up, and finally a suspension or termination. Another weakness I observed in my leadership style is that there is a perception from others that efficiency and productivity take precedence over everything. Certain subordinates have difficulty understanding that my agenda is for the best of the subordinates and the agency, so they have issues forming connections with me.

Although I have received numerous Kudos and awards of recognition from upper management, I would like to form stronger connections with my subordinates. I currently do bi-weekly supervision with my subordinates where we discuss task that were assigned to them, barriers they encounters, level of satisfaction with the completed task, and tips or suggestion on improvement. One thing I could do to improve connections with my subordinates is make only fifty percent of supervision task and productivity based, and the other fifty percent of the supervision can be spent addressing the goals, needs, and concerns of the subordinates. Doing this will not only give me the opportunity to discuss assignments, but it will provide an opportunity to get to know my subordinates better forming a stronger connection. Another thing that I would recommend to maximize my success is providing my subordinates the security they need so they will trust me as a leader. The reward and punishment system is still extremely important to maintain structure, but I can start to gain the trust of subordinates by sharing with the importance of the task and what will possibly be at stake. I wouldn’t be able to share all managerial details, but communication is key in gaining the trust of my subordinates.

I think it is important to let them know upfront that there will consequences for poor work performances, but I will try to make sure the message they receive relates to the importance of the task and not the punishment itself. I am a firm believer in team work. My personal goal and dream is to make sure the organization is able to sustain and have longevity. I would like to make sure the organization is around for a long time so that they could continue to provide the community with the services they need, and continue to provide jobs for staff that is dedicated to organization’s mission. It may be helpful to share my goals for the organization, and let them help develop ways for that dream to come to fruition. Including them in planning stages of task may encourage my subordinates to work harder on task.

In order for me to improve my leadership practices, there are a couple of short-term SMART goals I need to accomplish to make this happen. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. The most important SMART goal I am working on is trying to obtain my MBA in Healthcare Management in the next twelve months. With proper preparation I am certain that I will have my MBA in twelve months. Proper preparation will include setting aside time to study, setting dates to complete my assignments in advance, and just taking the course work head on without procrastinating. I spend most of my free time reading urban fiction novels. Instead of reading my novels I can dedicate that time to reading course material for one hour every day on my lunchbreak, one hour after work, and a few hours on the weekend when I’m home relaxing. In addition to dedicating time to study, I will set due dates for my assignments on my phone and wall calendars. Being able to see what needs to be done in plain sight will be constant reminders of what I have to do and when it needs to be done. I always remind myself that I am the only person that can get in my way, so I will take all assignments head on until I have my degree in my hand.

The other short-term SMART goal that will help with my leadership practices is professional self-development. I plan to work on my professional self-development in the next six months. Professional self-development for me will include working on self-care and spending more time on the floors with my subordinates instead of in my office. Self-care is the first step and the most important in my mission for professional self-development that will improve my leadership practices. In our monthly manager’s meeting one of the topics that came up is self-care. The meeting facilitator discuss how self-care is important for all managers, but especially those in social services. Not practicing self-care can cause you to be irritable, stressed, withdrawn, and burned out which will prevent you from being an effective leader (Rsw & Walsh, 2011). My first step to self-care will star with disconnecting from the organization once I have punched out. I have a horrible habit of checking my work cellphone and emails any time of the day even when I’m on vacation. This bad habit causes me to feel like I never left the office even when I’m not there. This was causing me to return to work feeling drained and easily agitated.

Another thing I plan to do for self-care is either going to the gym or take up boxing two to three times a week. This physical activity will help me mind and body fit. Going to the gym or boxing will give me something else to focus on beside work, and will be a great tool to release stress. I already have a gym membership I will schedule time to go in the next week to start. I need to make sure I have some inner peace in order for me to lead other people. The second part of my professional self-development is to simply re-engage with my staff by spending time on the floors with them. I have several responsibilities that prevents me from always being on the floors with my subordinates. The only time I’m on the floor is when I’m doing rounds, called to manage a crisis, or call to manage a complaint. Making myself more accessible on the floors will help me connect with my staff, witness systems or processes barriers they encounter, and keep me monitor processes and work flows I created. My calendar is extremely busy, so I will take one day every week and spend time on the floor with the staff I supervise directly and the staff that I co-supervise. Practicing self-care will help with mental clarity, and making myself more accessible to staff will help with my goal of profession self-development which will enhance my skills as a leader.


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