The exposure to challenging work settings and situations places an individual in a better position to exercise their leadership skills to influence positive outcomes when things get disorderly. When put in challenging environments or positions of influence, the competencies and critical skills of leaders get to be seen. Leadership traits, whether innate or situational, get to be exercised depending on the requirements of the different environments. There are a lot of factors that go in, as per research, including task and relationships behaviors which are the criteria within which organization and management are done. When dealing with people, individually or as teams, the task relationships or behaviors facilitate the accomplishment of goals and objectives while relationship behaviors enhance trust, feel-good factors among the followers. The interrelationship factors play a major role in achieving goals. Having worked as an academic advisor at a local community college for many years, the leadership experiences I have gathered have contributed immensely to my development and understanding. The demonstration of leadership capabilities and competencies is a crucial acquisition not only in the general leadership settings but also in the advisory field. Various leadership experiences made my position successful as an academic advisor.
According to various studies, the leadership experiences that are gained while in the line of duty result into 70% of the development of any leader (Lowy & Finestone, 1986, p.34-47). This realization reached my ranks when I was a panel member of the academic advisory committee at the college in which I worked. Improving the academic experience of students was the core idea. Therefore, the committee took the mandate to develop a task force that was expected to review the delivery methods, advising strategies and the related outcomes. Also included were the innovations for service delivery, particular initiatives for specific student populations, and advisory support including professional training and development. I was given the responsibility to drive important objectives and projects that involved various people from different professional calibers. The very challenging part of leadership, in the beginning, is knowing the people with whom one would work. To first understand the team I was to work with, I utilized the team management behavioral approach Northouse, 2016, p.76). This leadership style allowed my team and me the opportunity to cultivate interpersonal relationships, enhanced participation, team spirit and commitment to the task.
The task force organized occasional meetings especially during summer recess periods to draft recommendations that would support and enhance academic advising. These initial recommendations were ideologies from each member of the task force team. Each offered a perspective and expertise supported by data and general inputs given by the administrators, advisors, and students in the community college. Research, national advising models, and practices provided an in-depth understanding of this task. One of the challenging moments was the difficult personalities of some members of my team; some were very short-tempered and radical, others were bureaucratic and commanding rendering this an interpersonally challenging experience. I chose to use this style it had been successful in other forums which I had attended earlier and for the knowledge that people enjoy working in a positive environment bearing support and a feel-good factor. Blake and Mouton (1964), as cited by Northouse (2016, p.74) highlight the significance of good social relationship among workers, followers or employees in as far as the achievement of objectives is concerned. That is another reason why I used this strategy.
Strategy development was another leadership experience with which I came out as an academic advisor. There were the need and the opportunity to provide strategic direction, initiatives and plans for the college. The responsibility was to create a framework that would incorporate the role, purpose, and principles that would guide college academic advising. That was a massive task as it shifted responsibilities and demanded sound knowledge and understanding of the organizational structure (Ferry, 2013, p.3) of the college. This task attracted the attention of the whole administration, students alike. The triadic guiding principles included the student as the central focus, the advisor satisfaction and allowing individual professional expertise to have the center stage. The first maxim emphasized on the betterment of the student advising experience; the second was constructed on the satisfaction of both the student and the advisor experiences while the third allowed specialization of expertise or approach in handling particular cases. Each student was assigned a collegiate advisor to oversee their college life and experiences.
The existing literature on leadership cannot overemphasize the significance of leadership skill in the development of a leader (Mumford, et al. 2000, p.3-6). As a matter of fact, leadership competencies thrive as per the demands of a given situation. The adaptability to conditions, also known as the situational approach, has been embraced and used in various organizational training and leadership development programs. The developmental continuum of followers comes out to be a major determinant on whether or not they can be supported, directed, coached or have tasks delegated (Northouse, 2016, p.94). This knowledge helped spearhead my advisory role particularly in the utilization of the coaching strategy due to its effectiveness with communication.
In conclusion, in as much as leadership experiences and skills are highly sought acquisitions, it could be a big challenge when one does not know how to handle people appropriately. The achievement of goals in any organization demands that behaviors are handled the right way to achieve the desired results. The tasks or objectives require various styles of leadership and experiences to achieve. Equipped with the experiences gathered from having served as an academic advisor in a community college, I can support some insights or leadership experiences to various degrees. Team management experience, strategy development, coaching and the interpersonally challenging experiences to which I got exposed played a vital role in my personal development as a leader. Ethically, the conduct, the character, the cultures, the norms and the customs of various organizations dictate how each is being run, especially if it has a valuable importance to the community around. The platform I was given at the college changed my perception of people, their ideologies and idiosyncrasies and the related merits and roles in an organization and the community as a whole. It was a great realization that in as much as various units and institutions support this venture, academic advising remains a sole responsibility of the colleges.
Ferry, K. (2013). Transitions in Leadership Experiences (pp. 1-6). Retrieved from https://www.kornferry.com/institute/557-transitions-in-leadership-experience-how-experiences-shape-leadership-at-every-level
Lowy, A., Kelleher, D., & Finestone, P. (1986). Management Learning: Beyond Program Design. Training and Development Journal, 40, 34-37.
Mumford et al. (2000). Development of Leadership Skills: Experience and Timing. The Leadership Quarterly, 11, 2x87-141.
Northouse, P. G. (2016). Leadership: Theory and Practice, 7th Edition. [Bookshelf Online]. Retrieved from https://bookshelf.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781483317540/
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