There are many characteristics that define effective leaders. Today in class, we had a discussion on leadership and listed some characteristics of effective leaders This list included, but was not limited to, being able to motivate, communicate effectively, make changes through people, create a vision, lead by example, being charismatic, proactive, fun, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, actively engaged, respected, trustworthy, optimistic, diplomatic, and grounded. I think that these are good descriptive characteristics of an effective leader. As I was leaving, I began thinking about the question that I asked during class - "is a hands off approach a method of trying to make future leaders?" Well, I was given the quick answer of NO and thought this was very interesting.
After I thought about it for awhile, I was actually able to come up with an example of when this is true - that it is not an approach to create future leaders, but rather an attempt to get the incentive involved (money, benefits, and job security). This summer I had an opportunity to work at the Super Target in Shoreview, Minnesota. It was an awesome experience, but I do not think that the leadership was that great. Yes, I realize that there are various styles of leadership but this seemed to be more of an attempt of the supervisor just wanting to basically get through the day and as stated in class "just come around when there were issues or problems in the department".
In this case, the individual did not have to have the knowledge to lead because he had team members who were more knowledgeable, he was unable to give direction and although the department did well in sales, I would never say that it was based on his leadership abilities. So, I guess the question is, was his inability to lead because of the fact that he was uninterested in the position and was in it for the money? You know, it seems strange that he is even in this position, because of the many people at Target in the Grocery Department; he was one of few with a 4 year degree.
Easy task, for easy money, and a lot of money at that!!
Posted by at November 29, 2005 2:28 PM
As I think about your question more, I'm not sure I would give it a flat NO (and if I did in class - my apologies). I had negative experiences with supervisors with a "hand-off" approach and whenever I hear those words, I make a careful, yet polite effort to learn about what that leader means by a hand-off approach. Looking to Situational Leadership, as you magnificently presented to the class on Thursday, a hands-off approach may be appropriate in a situation where your team members has an extradinary competence and commitment (knowledge and motivation).
So, my apologies again, if I was the one to too quickly answer your question. I do think that there is a dearth of effective leaders today and that we have a workforce and a country full of people starving for effective leadership. As you learned in class, effective leadership can be a mix of traits, behaviors, situations, and functions as well as transformational leadership, which aspires to transform people through true passion about a vision.
As far of your question: Was his inability to lead because of the fact that he was uninterested in the position and was in it for the money. Without being involved in the context of the situation, I don't know. I do believe that a degree (BA, BS, MA, MA, and even Ph.D.) in itself is not the magical key to leadership or any other success. For me, the key is learning as much as possible and harnessing that knowledge to maximize any situation or task or idea. It's also about learning as much about myself as possible, so that I can be better prepared to handle future challenges. I can tell that you are passionate about working with children, but I can also see a certain level of pride in your work at Target - even though it's not exactly what you're passionate about. I believe that says a great deal about your personal character - that you are willing to take the situation you have and work hard to maximize it. It really involves the Fish! philosophy in many ways - you are attending to your attitude as well as being present and making their day. To maximize your leadership potential, you might also keep thinking about play. Did you "Teach the Class" group have fun? In what ways could you, as the team lead, have encouraged play, yet balanced it with the work you needed to complete?