Where am I now?
Where do I want to be?
My SMART action plan
Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others. —Jack Welch
In recent decades and especially since the start of the twenty-first century, views on leadership have changed. Analysing the relationship between manager (as the leader) and employee (as the follower) has produced new insights about how to lead efficiently. “Leadership […] is basically the process by which leaders influence the attitudes, behaviours, and values of others toward organizational goals” (Lusthaus, Adrien, Anderson, Carden, & Montalvan, 2002, p.44). Globalisation brings with it changes to the work environment including the market, technologies, work force and work force expectations (van Eeden & van Deventer, 2008). These are closely linked to the importance of leadership because the leader, through his employees, influences the organisation’s effectiveness and especially the turnover rate of the company (Hsin-Kuang Chi & Dorjgotov, 2012; Hamstra, Van Yperen, Wisse, & Sassenberg 2011). Therefore, the shift away from management competencies towards leadership competencies must be a major step in any contemporary organisation to ensure an efficient workforce including managers which are able to inspire employees with new visions and challenging goals. Jack Welch is right in saying that before you become a leader you have to grow, improve your ethics, and strengths to eliminate your weaknesses. Then when you are successful and you are a leader, support others so they can show their best performance and grow with the challenges the company faces. I share the same perspective as Welsh and I want to become the kind of leader he is talking about, someone who is supporting and accompanying people so they can achieve more. In order to do this I first need to focus on my growth and development. I want to become the kind of leader that I would follow.
In the first section of this report I analyse my personality with self-assessment instruments and my educational and professional experiences to examine leadership competencies. In the second section I define an overarching objective, which is presenting my professional future in the most optimistic way. In order to achieve this I examined my results from the first section to identify strengths and weaknesses which will assist or hinder me achieving my primary goal. The third section includes an action plan developed on the basis of SMART goals. The last section concludes the report with a summary.
Where am I now?
In the following section I will briefly describe where I am currently standing in my professional and educational life. I will examine some of my results from the self-assessment instruments used in the past course work and experiences I’ve had throughout my life to connect them with leadership competencies. To narrow down the content and to show what is important for my personal development I will focus on feedback skills, cultural intelligence, emotional intelligence and the transformational leadership style.
I am currently in my last year of postgraduate studies in HR-management. Soon I will be going back to Germany to start an internship at a HR-department for six months before writing my master thesis in my final semester. In my past I had a lot of chances to train, shape and improve my leadership competencies throughout my four years of university, thirteen years of school, various casual jobs and a lot of experiences outside of my home country, be it travel-related or educational. Not to mention the development of certain competencies from growing up with three sisters, two which are older and one which is younger.
I started the evaluation of my leadership competencies with the Fear of Negative Evaluation (FNE) scale, my score was relatively high (3.83). A high score is related to certain personality dimensions such as submissiveness (Leary, 1983a), avoidance of social comparison (Friend & Gilbert, 1973) and social anxiety (Leary, 1983b). Over the past months I have realised due to the course work and a couple of job interviews how I deal with receiving and giving feedback. It is not that I don’t want to be evaluated, I always ask for feedback and suggestions for improvement, however I am sometimes anxious about what it will be. For example: I had a job interview and even though everything went fine and the interviewers were friendly and open and didn’t criticize once, I was pinching my leg after every second answer I gave them, because I was instantly thinking about what the others might think, how I could have answered differently and what will happen next. Luckily the job interview was on Skype so the interviewers didn’t see my tension. I am aware of the irrationality of my feelings since there is no need to worry, and usually I can control myself in real life situations and face-to-face interviews. In the end I got the job and I am even more aware now that my feelings, thoughts and behaviours need to be adjusted for these kind of situations. The other issue is that of giving feedback. The first feedback we handed up in class was not anonymous, since we all gave our evaluation sheet to the group leader personally. I felt uncomfortable giving feedback because I had given my group leader a very low score on all scales. I was looking on my group members sheets to see how they evaluated the group leader and I was frustrated because I saw that they gave her straight 10s on each scale. I adjusted my rating up to 2, but felt uncomfortable afterwards for a couple of reasons: (1) Why did I even adjust my rating? (2) Why did the other members give such a – in my opinion useless – evaluation? (3) What will the group leader think when she sees my feedback sheet? I felt relieved after hearing that the evaluation of group leaders will be conducted online. In the end I realised that I really need to improve my feedback skills. I want, and need, to be able to give negative feedback without losing integrity.
When I was 16 years old I spent one year in New Zealand attending school. This experience fascinated me and motivated me to travel around the world: Zimbabwe, Egypt, Chile and so on. Whenever I got the chance to stay for a longer time period in a foreign country I took it. During my bachelor studies I spent one semester in New York and during my master studies one semester in Australia. Additionally I attended a global-leadership workshop at the San Jose State University in 2014 where I learned even more about cultural differences and intercultural conflicts. This training helped me to improve my cultural intelligence, which “refers to an individual’s capability to function effectively across cultures” (Van Dyne, Ang & Livermore, 2010, p.131). Early and Ang (2003) described cultural intelligence as a multidimensional construct, that is built on the intelligence-based approach to intercultural performance management (Livermore, 2009). The four capabilities are:
1. Motivational CQ = The capability to channel energy and attention towards other cultures.
2. Cognitive CQ = The knowledge gained from education and personal experience about differences and similarities between different cultures.
3. Meta-cognitive CQ = The level of conscious cultural awareness to develop new strategies for intercultural interactions.
4. Behavioural CQ = The capability to demonstrate appropriate verbal and nonverbal actions when communicating with people from a different culture.
(Ang, Van Dyne & Tan, 2011)
My motivational CQ is quite high, because I am a curious person and interested to learn more about other cultures. Through my studies, including intercultural business psychology, social psychology and global leadership, and my experiences in living and studying in other countries I have greatly improved my cognitive CQ. All of my courses in this past semester mainly consisted of foreign students, meaning I had to deal with different cultures especially during group assignments, presentations and skill builders. I noticed that I had to get used to the cross-cultural barriers in the beginning but I quickly familiarised myself with most of the cultures. Nonetheless I experienced some difficulties with the Indian culture. Even though I knew about the differences between the Indian and the German working behaviour, I had never worked with someone in real practice. There were a lot of misunderstandings which led to stress and frustration before becoming aware of the difference in cultural work ethics. Therefore my meta-cognitive as well as my behavioural CQ need improvement.
Over the past years I have analysed myself with a number of personality surveys promoted by my universities in order to get to know my weaknesses and strengths as well as for the purpose to learning how to conduct a survey and interpret it. I gained insights about the idea of emotional intelligence, which refers “to an ability to recognize the meanings of emotions and their relationships and to use them as a basis in reasoning and problem solving” (Mayer, Salovey, Caruso & Sitarenios 2001, p.234). Further it is “described as a set of abilities that refer in part to how effectively one deals with emotions both within oneself and others” (Palmer, Walls, Burgess & Stough, 2001, p.5). Mayer et al. (2001) defines emotional intelligence as a four-dimensional construct consisting of (1) perceiving emotions, (2) facilitating thought with emotion, (3) understanding emotion and (4) managing emotion. Just recently I completed a personality trait questionnaire. I scored high on morality, empathy, emotional expression, adaptability and self-control. These are all factors that are indicative of emotional intelligence (Petrides, 2011).