My Philosophy of Leadership
This paper is to be critically reflective, yet scholarly in nature and exhibit and high level of competence and understanding of leadership style, approach, method, and overall theory. Because this paper is based on your own philosophy of leadership, there is considerable leeway for your discussion. However, your discussion should stay within the constraints of the overall concepts, ideas, and topics covered throughout the duration of the course.
Only use scholarly sources most preferably peer-reviewed literature.
Key Terms are
Conflict Functional conflict Negotiation
Conflict and negotiation
The conflict process
The negotiation process
My Philosophy of Leadership
The following exercise details the key values and principles I hold dearly when it comes to the subject or rather process of leadership. It details the generic leadership model that I use relative to the different situations I find myself leading in whether in an academic scenario, personal relations or in a workplace environment. My behavior as a leader and to a large extent as a private individual is closely aligned to this leadership philosophy. To me a leadership philosophy is something that should work in the same way a mathematical formula works. The manner it operates remains the same regardless of the numbers in question.
I consider myself to be an observant person and in the course of this I couldn’t help but notice the debilitating impact that conflicts between people has on productiveness and development. A lot of opportunities tend to go down the drain as a result of conflicts that arise between individuals. The main problem is not actually the conflicts but the ineffective strategies that these individuals tend to employ in a bid to resolve the conflicts. Many a time this only makes the situation worse and the minor conflict exemplifies the “anthill into a mountain” transformation. These conflicts usually degenerate from something functional such as a formal academic goal or work objective into personal issues and this severely complicates the process of conflict resolution with time and other resources being wasted.
While the term conflict tends to bring about a whole set of negative connotations, it is worth noting that the manifestation of conflicts is different in the organizational context as its manifestation in everyday language usage. Conflicts mean disagreement of opinion and this can at times be a bad thing and in other times a good thing. I must admit that on a personal level, the term conflict usually brings about thoughts of wrongness and rightness with the conflicting sides taking the respective positions. I have also however come to learn that a difference in opinion does not necessarily mean that one person is wrong and the other right. At times it is a case of two good ideas colliding in a scenario where there is only room for one of them to be fully implemented. This is termed as a functional conflict since the people or groups on opposing sides of the conflict that has ensued are keen on the achievement of a common goal, only that they want to do it using different paths. With functional conflicts, the common resolution strategy in my view is compromise. At times it may mean the compromise of letting one idea prevail over the other or in other instances this may mean that both parties yield from their positions moderately for the common good (Arai, 2014).
While conflict avoidance is a good thing in most instances, I personally believe that functional conflicts need to be encouraged. While the complete avoidance of conflicts in the place of work may seem like a good thing, it is actually retrogressive for an organization as it denies the rest of the group the best possible ideas. The mettle of ideas being proposed needs to be tested and compared to other ideas aligned towards the objective of the organization. If I happen to be in a position of formal leadership it will be my goal to ensure my subordinates and those at my level become and remain confident about expressing the ideas they have even if they contradict those that have already been put forward. The fear for conflicts should not in my opinion be a reason for retrogressive ideas and redundancy. I want people to see the importance of functional conflicts since these tend to be healthy discussions if steered and moderated in the right direction. The steering and moderating of such discussions can be done by an effective leader who will ensure that this does not degenerate to an interpersonal conflict (Hartnell et al, 2011).
When interpersonal conflicts arise, the status of the conflict can be termed as dysfunctional. Dysfunctional conflicts are those that only have negative consequences for the organization, group or individuals involved. Unlike functional conflicts which arise as people are working towards a common goal, dysfunctional conflicts lead people to having different goals and the main aim becomes to achieve some form of victory over the other person. When this happens the organizations suffers a slow down as well as wastage of organizational resources. The individuals or groups conflicting lose or let go of their willingness to work alongside each other. This can be worsened if they apply their conflict to the work they are doing as it may lead to sabotage, further complicating the problems the firm has. Leaders need to be careful to ensure that such conflicts are not manifested in the place of work. As a leader I will be careful about the policies I put in place and advocate for. The manner in which I relate with the subordinates will also have an impact on the environment being created. If I show some form of favourism or victimization towards workers based on their comparative performance, it may lead them to compete for positive favor. If the workers are pitted against t each other through things like sales targets or otherwise with threats being issued against those who perform dismally, I am likely to breed an environment for dysfunctional conflicts. This is because the employees will be on ‘survival mode’ and this makes people insensitive and self-centered. While such rigid measures may help in the short-run, they have a likely impact of breaking down bonds between workers as activity narrows down to individual performance (Chatman et al, 2014).
It is very important for workers to be aware that they are working as a team. From my personal experience, the singling out of individual performance and giving one person credit for a collaborative achievement tends to be counter-productive. As a leader I may feel like I am motivating the person because I saw them give their best, but from the level of the other members they will feel that their contribution was not significant. This is worsened if the individual receiving undue credit takes it with a stride. A likely situation is an improvement in the output of the individual while the other members of the group take a back-seat. Leaders need to be on the lookout for such symptoms and strive to eliminate such situations. As a leader the first thing that I will do is to make sure the members of this group see themselves as a team and not as individuals (DeWit et al, 2012). This however starts at the simplest level of the team which is the person. Each person needs to believe that their contribution is important and contributes towards the end result. If a disappointment has been registered I believe that the entire team needs to be addressed as the failure is a communal thing. If there is success on the other hand, the entire group needs to be praised for the job well done. Such a team is only possible if the type of conflict taking place is functional. Functional conflicts are cohesive since each member participating has the common interest at heart. This means that the conflict and its solution will add value and propel the organization forward with the best possible option available rather than what was simply available as a solution (Ramezan, 2011).
The challenge with dysfunctional conflicts is the fact that each party often feels completely justified to take up their respective positions, something that makes it incredibly hard for them to solve the problem on their own without any external intervention. This in my view is where leadership comes in. When I refer to leadership I don’t necessarily mean leadership through the occupation of a formal position within the chain of command or a similar hierarchy. Leadership in this context is more closely aligned to assertiveness and taking up the initiative by objectively helping others in their quest to resolve a given conflict they have. While a conflict generally refers to a serious disagreement between two or more parties, it is unrealistic for anybody to think that all conflicts are manifested in the same way. If this were the case, there would be a ‘one size fits all’ solution to all types of conflicts be they personal or inter-communal (Minizenberg et al, 2015).
One of the best examples for the manifestation of leadership is within an organization. This is because organizations provide countless opportunities for the occurrence of conflicts, mostly of an interpersonal nature. The conflicts are not necessarily a good thing but they are best analyzed in this scenario. Leadership within the organization also takes place in two main ways, formally and also informally. Both types of leadership are necessary for the resolution of conflicts. In the event that I am stationed in an organization it is highly likely that I will be positioned in either of the two forms of leadership. What is important to me is not the position I am in but rather my ability to adequately resolve the problem at hand. This means I need to have a good understanding of the structure of the organization, the culture that exists within the organization, existent conflict mitigation procedures or policies and also the key functions of different individuals in the positions they work.
I also need to be well aware of the various ways conflicts manifest themselves and the different ways of going about it. For me, a leader needs to be well equipped for his or her job so as to resolve each challenge with the appropriate tools and in the appropriate way. The proper resolution of a conflict brings about multi-faceted wins. At the basic level, the relationship between the individuals is protected. From a much wider point of view, the department they work in also gains, the goals become achieved and all in all the organization moves forward achieving its objectives to the various stakeholders (Arai, 2013).
Leadership and the Organizational Structure
The organizational structure whether in its graphic expression or the actual manifestation of the same usually makes up a hierarchy where some form of hegemony is applied with some individuals being superior and other being subordinate. The superiors will conventionally act as leaders and the respective point in the organizational structure they are in will determine how they lead, who they lead and how many people they lead. It also determines who they report to or who leads them. For a conventional organization there will be the top management, middle management and then ground personnel or an added layer of supervisory staff depending on the scope of the organization’s work. The top management can either be the owners of the organization or people entrusted by the owners to oversee the functioning of these entities. A manager at the top tends to have a few people reporting to him or her; these are the departmental administrators. The departmental administrators on the other hand oversee the supervisors in the various components of their sectors. The supervisory staff then oversees the workers on the ground that makes up the largest proportion (Chuang et al, 102).
This structure directly impacts the role of a leader and also the elements that are at stake for the group the leader is overseeing. Conflicts could occur at any of these levels, at times horizontally and at times vertically. Horizontal conflicts are those which are manifested between people at the same level of work within the organizational hierarchy. Vertical conflicts are those that occur between people who are at different levels of management. A leader needs to be prepared and able to work with the conflicting parties towards the achievement of a solution at any of these situations. If the leadership is formal and has some official title attached to it, the person will be obliged to spearhead the conflict resolution process as early as possible. This is because their terms of work give them express authority over a group of people working together. Informal leadership however limits the scope of the person attempting to solve the problem since their authority is mostly attributed to the level of familiarity they have with the two conflicting individuals or entities. A receptionist cannot for instance easily step in to resolve a conflict between two branch managers. A branch manager can however authoritatively oversee the resolution of a conflict between two receptionists.
From my experience and literature I have been exposed to, I have learnt that the success or failure of companies is often pegged on the relationships that exist between the key decision makers. Articles about the boardroom activities of the most successful organizations usually feature stories of serious disagreements that arose during the design and implementation of product ideas. The message is not about how much freedom people have to express themselves but about how the organizations have developed work environments where ideas can be freely shared. I would like to lead an organization in this manner, ensuring the organizational culture is one that is conducive for functional conflicts and also with adequate room for the resolution of dysfunctional conflicts. This can be best communicated across the organization through the top-down flow of information and ideas, basically starting from the top. If I disagree with my peer over a matter I will openly express my alternative approach to the issue at hand. At the same time I will be ready to listen to individuals whose ideas and thoughts are contrary to mine with respect to the solutions being put across. It will be necessary for the subordinates to witness these conflicts in reasoning take place in a respectful manner. At times one can present an alternative idea in a manner that appears to be an indirect attack on another person. This can quickly degenerate to a dysfunctional argument (Roemer, 2012).
Besides leading, I believe that leaders need to empower those who are following them. When this happens they will be able to make the most out of functional conflicts and also eliminate the negative impacts that can result from dysfunctional conflicts. This obliges me to take those I am leading through the constructive ways of bargaining and negotiating. The differences that people have in opinion and personality have the power to bring about gains or losses (MacKian and Simmons, 2013).
In conclusion I need to state that I see leadership as a continuous transformational process for the organization. With respect to the issue of conflict solving and conflict management, I believe the leader needs to use his or her discretion to ensure that the end result is an ethical one, bringing about the greatest possible good possible. I need to have a good understanding of the nature of conflicts, how they arise and also the implication they have to the organization. While the resolution of conflicts is my priority, I will not necessarily be on the ground solving each and every conflict that arises; on the contrary I will do my best to ensure the environment is suitable for the quick elimination of dysfunctional conflicts while ensuring that the best decisions are realized from functional conflicts.
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