Philosophy of Leadership
I believe that leadership is a true gift. It’s natural for some, but obtainable by all. To me, leadership consists of purposeful relationships joined by support, integrity and open-mindedness, which forms my views on how I aspire to lead.
I have not always been the extroverted, natural leader that I now consider myself to be. Starting at a young age I was involved in extracurricular activities such as my elementary school’s student council and cheer team, but I never really articulated myself in a manner that put me front and center as a leader. As time went on, I was a part of my junior high school’s Associated Student Body class, and further into my last years of high school I was captain of the color guard team. Although I had these experiences throughout my educational career, I believe that it was my first job as a teenager that blossomed me to become the leader I am today.
I started work at the young age of 14 at an amusement park. When I first applied my reasoning for wanting a job was for the extra money. As time went on, at the age of 16, I was promoted to be a part of the management team of a restaurant at the amusement park. It was then that I started to learn and was encouraged to voice my views and share my thoughts. Someone had believed in me when I was still trying to figure out who I was. I was given opportunities to work with others in a different capacity than I ever had before, all while bringing forth skills that I had never used before. As the years went on I was eventually promoted to supervisor and was able to continue to grow and learn as the new leader I was becoming. After my freshmen year of college I began to find more leadership opportunities and mentors to be a part of my journey. I began as an orientation leader at my university where I learned a lot about myself, others and leadership. From there, during my second year of college I became the Vice President of the Residence Hall Association and a Student Assistant for my university’s Leadership Office. The following year, I was elected to be President of the Residence Hall Association and was a Student Supervisor in the Leadership Office. I also gained the opportunity to be in positions with the Student Government. And over the course of those two years I was able to work side by side the Vice President of Student Affairs at my university planning a leadership retreat for my peers. Although the blossoming of my leadership skills began in high school, college is really where I determined who I was as a person and as a leader.
When it comes to my personal leadership style I consider myself a democratic leader. According to Peter G. Northouse (2012) in his Introduction to Leadership Concepts and Practices book a democratic leader as someone who “treats subordinates as a fully capable of doing work on their own. Rather than controlling subordinates, democratic leaders work with subordinates, trying hard to treat everyone fairly, without putting themselves above subordinates. Democratic leaders provide information, guidance, and suggestions, but do so without giving orders and without applying pressure (p. 56).” I believe that because this leadership style is the one that I use most often, people respond to me well. I love working with people and truly getting to know and understand them, not above them, but working side by side with them. Looking back a different leadership moments in my life, I would say that because I use the democratic leadership approach, I am constantly gaining new relationships with people and that is one of my favorite parts of life; meeting new people and maintaining a relationship with them. People that I have worked with when using the democratic leadership style, from children to adults, seem to be more trusting and willing to build that relationship as well.
Purposeful relationships are a necessity when you are a leader. Subordinates feel more comfortable in situations they find themselves in when relationship leadership behaviors are used (Northouse, 2012). I personally am glad to be able to say that I enjoy building relationships with the people that enter my life, whereas others may see this more of a chore. When you are able to maintain both a professional and personal relationship with someone, it enhances the work environment. Working to achieve common goals in the work place is what a team is supposed to do. Creating positive and healthy relationships should allow for a positive line of communication, and I think that we can all agree that good communication is crucial in almost all situations. Not only should the relationship focus be with those that you work with, but also with those that you may come in contact with in your work place. “The relationship dimension refers to the participants’ perceptions of their connection to one another (Northouse, 2012, p. 176).” These people can vary from students and parents to customers and clients. You never know when a relationship will blossom, so why not look at every opportunity as a possibility.
Three traits that I find the most important within myself and other leaders are support, integrity and open-mindedness. Support is important when working with others. This gives off positivity that is always needed. Giving support while leading shows humanistic compassion that I think subordinates need and enjoy in the work place. Although giving support is not always easy, I believe there are times when it is a priority. Integrity is a trait that I think is most valuable. Doing the right thing at all times shows true character. There may be times that it is tough to maintain integrity, but leaders who are respected always do so. Peter Drucker once said “management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Leaders with integrity are great mentors, and that is what our current generations need. Lastly, open-mindedness is a trait that I feel people often look past and forget at times. Often times hearing other people’s ideas and/or critiques can be difficult. Being receptive towards these as a leader shows your willingness to listen and to grow. As a leader, Eleanor Roosevelt was a good listener who felt it was important that people had the ability to disagree without fearing any repercussions (Northouse, 2012). I feel as though leaders never stop growing, even when they are at their peak. There is always room for improvement and being open-minded to others will only enhance your opportunity to grow. Showing open-mindedness to those you interact with encourages those you interact with to have open communication with you. This may also be a difficult task to complete because this gives the opportunity for people to truly state how they feel, which can be harsh at times, but the key is to remember that open-minded entails listening, not necessarily agreeing or changing.
As I come close to obtaining my bachelors degree, my future seems as though it is right in front of me, which means new leadership and career opportunities will be presenting themselves. For the future I plan on obtaining my multiple subject teaching credential and eventually moving on to my Masters of Educational Leadership. My long-term goal is to become an administrator for K-12 education system. In the future, with whatever positions I may hold, I plan on having open communication with those that I work with so I am able to receive constructive feedback from my collogues. I also believe to assess progress I will also have to use self-reflection, as I do now. Self-reflection comes easier for some than it does others. I personally try to practice self-reflection in everything that I do, from my academics to my personal life, so I am often applying self-reflection to maintain that skill.
All in all, I believe that a leader should hold themselves to the highest standard possible, and expect others to do so as well. As Ray Kroc said, “The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves (Ray Kroc leadership, n.d.).” By upholding purposeful relationships joined by support, integrity and open-mindedness, leaders will be able to be successful. Building relationships allows for networking and the ability to provide substantial support. Sustaining traits such as integrity and open-mindedness allows for the respect a leader deserves and the ability to continuously be able to grow.
Northouse, P. (2012). Introduction to leadership: Concepts and practice (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, Calif.: SAGE Publications.
Ray Kroc leadership. (n.d.). Retrieved December 13, 2014, from