is great difficult in self-examination. Especially when assessing
one’s current performance as a leader. To accomplish a
thorough and minimally biased exploration of myself as a leader, this
historical influences that have disproportionately affected my
outlook on leadership
personal points of strength such as: mindfulness, authenticity, and
these traits to relevant situations, management mythology, and
skills as described in the referenced articles.
up in a working-class family of eight, I distinctly recall my father
consistently imparting a simple emblematic task that shaped my
perspective on work and, by extension, leadership: “Stand in
the front yard, close your eyes if you must, and point in a
directions, and go!”
picking a direction, and earning the scholarships necessary to
achieve my collegiate dreams. I found myself trapped between an
opportunity to attend Emory & Henry College and ungovernable
pressures from an escalating conflict with another student. One day
after leaving school, this student and a group of his friends
followed me to my neighborhood to initiate a confrontation. I
vividly recall him screaming at me, “Who do you think you are?
What do you want to do? What are you going to do? I’m not
scared.” These questions have transformed into my personal
vision. When I think of leadership, my immediate thoughts go back to
that moment where I first encountered my simple yet clear vision.
do I think I am? A man with average talents and above average
do I want to do? Succeed at every task ahead of me
am I going to do? Demonstrate my motivations through effort and
unwavering belief in the attainability of my goals. Push others to
define their own goals and pursue them with the same fervor.
I scared? Yes.
tell this story because it has had a disproportionate impact on my
attributes as a leader, and seemingly underlies some other
opportunities for development. I would argue that this simple vision
positively expresses itself through mindfulness, acute social
awareness (culturally and emotionally), and expressed authenticity;
however, may be seen as unwieldy or tyrannical to others.
of Mindfulness, Authenticity & Awareness
2006, Anne McKee, Frances Johnston and Richard Massimilian published
an examination of the inner conflicts that result from the pressures
of leadership and concluded that mindfulness, hope and compassion
have a remarkable ability to relieve and renew a leader. Most people
would agree that there is a physical and emotional toll that results
from good leadership (described as Power Stress in Mckee’s
work). In dealing with this power stress it is proposed that
mindfulness, or self-awareness, is a foundational element on the path
to renew. Starting with the day of the unfortunate after school
encounter described above, I have recognized that one of my best
leadership attributes is the intimate understanding of myself, which
can be referred to as mindfulness and practically characterized as
self-control, consistently high energy levels, and low levels of
power stress. As it happens, mindfulness is also an important
component of skillful authenticity.
the first chapter from “Why Should Anyone be Led By You?”
Robert Goffee & Gareth Jones reinforce the importance of
mindfulness from a slightly different perspective. For one to be
themselves more (with skill), Gofee & Gareth look at three
tenants of authenticity:
the situational, non-hierarchical and relational nature of
leadership, practicing skillful authenticity while being self-aware
has a tendency to builds trust and enable higher levels of focus on
meaningful goals and objectives. After years of sales training and
high stake client interactions, I have found this to be true in my
attempts to establish and maintain relationships with my clients.
Considering the primary goal of these relationships are to influence
decisions, it is also imperative to change surface level behaviors to
accommodate cultural differences, and sense the current status of
your relationships in varied situations, which is explored in depth
in P. Earley’s and Elaine Mosakowski’s “Cultural
only did Earley address the cognitive, physical and motivational
elements of cultural intelligence, but he also identified several
profiles. I identify with the natural, meaning I rely heavily on
intuition to identify and adjust to others. While this approach comes
with positive and negative attributes, I have been most successful in
situations where I was able to immediately and accurately recognize
the cultural elements at play.
my primary strengths as a leader are my intuitive ability to identify
culture and the needs associated, self-awareness, and authenticity.
Leveraging and continuing to develop these strengths have had a
tremendous impact on my ability to lead my clients and colleagues
toward desirable results. Nevertheless, as characterized in Henry
Mintzberg’s article, “The Manager’s Job: Folklore
and Fact,” the chaotic nature of my day-to-day leadership
experiences have led to a hired gun | chosen one persona as depicted
in “The Paradox of Management Tyranny” by Hao Ma, Ranjan
Karri and Kumar Chittipeddi. Naturally, there are considerable
opportunities for personal development.
father’s advice and my personal vision are sufficient
provocations for tenacity and decisiveness. Per contra, my over
reliance on intuition, injunction and forcefulness is an opportunity
Sims Jr., Samer Faraj and Seokhwa Yun provides support to this
thought, specifically concerning forcefulness and injunction, in
“When should a leader be directing or empowering?”
Recognizing the value of situational leadership, I consider this a
high yield opportunity for growth. Furthermore, systematizing my
approach to individual cases and reducing my reliance on intuition
could reduce the risk of inappropriate responses or behaviors in
varied circumstances. Utilizing some of the schematics from Philip
Rosenzweig article, “National Culture and Management”
there is potential for mastery of ‘silent languages’ and
indices of work related values.
development opportunity can be found in “Effective Managers Say
the Same Thing Twice (or More)” by Tsedal Neeley and Paul
Leonardi. Having a tendency to expect others to anticipate, I have
regular communicated needs only one. While Leonardi suggest there
may be an upper threshold for over-communication, I am likely closer
to the other extreme.
Am I Doing?
This self-examination of my leadership characteristic does not
provide a definitive answer, but it does begin a healthy inner
conversation. When considering personal and professional results of
my leadership, one could argue that my successes are the result of
positive inertia from situations and opportunities beyond my control.
Regardless, I will remain focused on continuous improvement and