The estimated reading time for this post is 4 Minutes

1 Introduction

This document contains my understanding of leadership and self-assessment of my leadership qualities as well as some definitions and explanations from our textbook The Art and Science of Leadership, Afseneh Nahavandi.

2 What is a leader?

Afsahneh Nahavandi talks about a variety of definitions of leadership and lists the common elements they share in her book, The Art and Science of Leadership,

  • “Leadership is a group and social phenomenon; there can be no leaders without followers. Leadership is about others.” (Nahavandi, 2015)
  • “Leadership necessarily involves interpersonal influence or persuasion. Leaders move others toward goals and actions.” (Nahavandi, 2015)
  • “Leadership is goal-directed and action-oriented; leaders play an active role in groups and organizations. They use influence to guide others through a certain course of action or toward the achievement of certain goals.” (Nahavandi, 2015)
  • “The presence of leaders assumes some form of hierarchy within a group. In some cases, the hierarchy is formal and well defined, with the leader at the top; in other cases, it is informal and flexible.” (Nahavandi, 2015)

Combining those shared features, she defines a leader “as any person who influences individuals and groups within an organization, helps them establish goals, and guides them toward the achievement of those goals, thereby allowing them to be effective.” (Nahavandi, 2015).

“Some researchers, such as Fred Fiedler, define leadership effectiveness in terms of group performance” (Nahavandi, 2015). Looking at this approach and my personal experience, I can say a leader can lead a group effectively when she/he believes in the task herself/himself. I had been given the lead role in a task that I had no interest in or ambition about; my team had failed terribly as a result. Since I was the leader, rightfully, I was blamed for the failure. That was a lesson, comparatively early in my life, that made me avoid any position of leadership for a long time.

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3 Personal experiences and expectations from the course

I personally don’t have a clear idea of what a leader should be. It seems like a skill that is really hard to master. Although the word has a substantially negative meaning, I believe leading people also requires skill in manipulation to some degree and some people are natural manipulators. I have observed many people who are just skillful manipulators to have been called leaders. I can say that I lack this trait and I am not sure if it can be gained through any study or even experience.

I didn’t have many opportunities that I had to act as a leader in my professional life. Therefore, my evaluation of my abilities to lead might be partial. I was the leader of a music band that I had formed with a friend in my university years. Actually, I had become a natural leader in time for I was taking the responsibility of arranging the band’s rehearsals and planning our next step during that time. One day, one of my bandmates told me; “You take all those responsible but you also communicate that we need to get ready for the rehearsals with our partitions and we need to be on time, and in place without really saying it.” It stuck in my mind until that day because I took it as a compliment on my leadership skills. But frankly, I don’t know how I was doing it. It was totally an effect on my bandmates that I had no control over.

So, I am fairly confused about the notion of leadership. I hope this course will teach me the somewhat systematic and scientific structure of leadership and give me the basis to understand the various characters and different needs of people. Also, I hope to learn the ability to influence and lead those different personalities toward a common goal, at least in theory. I believe that these skills can only be truly mastered through experience and in due time.

4 Conclusion

I understand that no course can turn a person into a leader and some of the most important skills, which make a person a natural leader, are innate. Nevertheless, I hope to learn the theory behind leading a group of people effectively and I hope to discover that I have some of those necessary skills in me.

As it is my goal to become a project manager in my future career, I am sure that I will need to use the information that is in the content of this course.

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