Strong leadership skills begin with honest self-examination Elizabeth Lingafelter Regis University Thesis Statement In today’s society, there are as many different leadership styles as there are personalities. The challenge for managers is to find a way for these varied styles to work together effectively and productively. The first part of making any change is realization and acknowledgment of a person’s strengths, weaknesses and leadership skills absent for the individual person. An area that is required for strong leadership is the ability to create an environment that encourages people to work together well.
In most cases, when employees are in good spirits and happy with their employment, they are more productive, have fewer instances of not coming into work, and complete tasks more efficiently with co-workers compared to those who are not happy with their employment situation. Although we rarely have to opportunity to choose who are co-workers are, the challenge is to find the best way to complete daily tasks with as little conflict as possible. When a person is generally cheerful throughout the day, and encouraging to others, the productivity increases, and the staff has a much better sense of positive accomplishment at the end of the day. First and foremost, individuals are not accurate self-perceivers. Most people rate themselves as better than the average person on any number of dimensions such as honesty and competence. ” (Brown, 2007) How interesting this statement is, when we personally are evaluating our own leadership abilities. Especially with the recent series of unethical events in businesses, one has to wonder if these “leaders” became blinded to their own actions, that choices were made, to the “outside world” it is almost impossible to believe could ever be made in the first place.
Even worse, that no one put a stop to events before serious damage occurred. To “look into the mirror” and be as honest as possible, takes real courage, the willingness to be honest, followed by the choice to make changes as needed. I believe that my strongest leadership quality is the ability to create a team environment. I understand the need for people to have good working relationships. This does not necessarily state that all co-workers are “best friends”. Working well together does not require that staff all have the same idea of what a strong work ethic is.
One way that I have accomplished this, is by allowing time, even If it is outside of the work area, to get to know each other’s “story”. I have found that if you know more about a person’s background, lifestyle and issues in their lives, it becomes much easier to understand why they do the things they do, and how to respond to them. Having this information is much more productive than having negative feelings toward a person and not understanding why they make the choices they do. It is also important to realize that, my own thoughts and expectations for myself are usually not the same as my co-workers.
Allowing the time to get to know your staff on issues that are not necessarily work related, opens the opportunity for better relationships between staff members. One technique I have found very useful is the personality studies by Dr. Gary Smalley. Often known as the “lion, beaver, otter and golden retriever”, Dr. Smalley gives detailed information, strengths and weaknesses for each type. Once these types are defined, it is almost a “road map” as to how to approach co-workers, how to lead and instruct when necessary and how each person has different ways of responding. Smalley, 1996) Allowing people to have time to be “people” with each other, and not simply co-workers, also give validation to staff, that they are respected as individuals, and not simply “warm bodies to fill the needs”. Showing appreciation, a simple “thank you”, words of encouragement, conveying the compliment to them you have heard from others, gives staff a sense of appreciation and security. This adds to a more positive attitude from the staff, which leads to better work relationships. Consequently, when people work better together, productivity increases.
A negative work place is usually filled with gossip, backstabbing and is non-productive in most ways. If I were to categorize myself with others in my profession, nursing, it (unfortunately) is that nurses as a group, tend to be very controlling, territorial and fixed in doing things “my way”. Humility is not the most common trait among RN’s I have dealt with, and in honesty, I fit into that category more than I would prefer to. RN’s are all required to pass the board of nursing exam, we have all gone to school, although in various parts of the country, or even other countries.
Yet there are many ways one can do something, that is very different from the way another nurse performs the same duty. This is not to say that one way is right or wrong. Tasks or procedures can be correct, even if completed differently. I am not always understanding of coworkers or those I am managing, if they do not realize that the way I do things is better than the way others are doing it. Even if it has the same outcome. A simple task of starting an intravenous line can be performed with multiple of techniques.
The way a procedure room is set-up for the staff that particular day, is often very different from the way I set up a procedure room for myself. We all have the same tasks to complete while assisting the physicians. In addition, after I have been in a room one day, I notice that the nurse the next day often completely changes the room set up for their own particular preferences. Ego is often a part of this negative characteristic. One of my “official roles” within my organization is the social director. This may sound like all I have to do is plan parties and picnics, etc.
However, it also involves finding ways to improve teamwork. Hence my above statement of what I feel my strengths are. During a staff meeting, I passed around three sheets of paper to each member in the room. On the first piece of paper, the staff was instructed to write down how they wanted to be thought of and perceived by their co-workers. On the second sheet, they were instructed to write down how they thought the staff actually thought of them. The third sheet had their names on it, and that piece was passed around and the staff actually did write down one to two sentences describing the person whose name was on that sheet.
The third sheets where then given back to that particular person. The idea of this exercise was to see if you were thought of how you wanted to be perceived, or how you thought you actually were perceived. This offered great insight to the staff, allowing them to see through the window at themselves. The negative that I received, was that I did not always take direction without requiring more than usual explanation as to why I was being told to do something. I realized that I did question things, but attributed that to being inquisitive and validating.
However, some found this irritating, and that is required more time than needed for simple tasks. Although nurses tend to be controlling, in defense this has strong ties to fears of making mistakes and even medical law suite possibilities. It is hard to do something different when you have done a task the same way for many years without any problems. Change is difficult for most people, however nurses are easily one of the most stubborn group of people I have ever known! Moreover, as new graduates come into practice with the newest ideas and information, accepting them and what they say is very hard on my ego.
Yet, in reality, as dynamic and complicated as the field of nursing is, I should be excited and happy that people keep me updated. Again, ego is a hard “pill to swallow” for me. Something I need to put aside and learn to be open to new trends and regulations as they arise. Not only do these new ideas provide better patient care, it is my responsibility to keep up with current practice acts and perform as directed. If I am to lead by example, being closed minded to change and other people’s ideas is the area I need to STOP. “Ethical people are humble. “To summarize, biases in self-perception can cloud a leader’s ability to accurately evaluate his or her own ethical leadership. Ethical leaders must be sensitive to how they are perceived by others. “ (Brown, 2007) Continuing that same thought, START would include being more open and less controlling as described above. Another area that I know I need to start is self-realization of my own work ethic and personality. I personally need to try to use the “Lion, beaver, otter, golden retriever” ideas more. My own work ethic is that, you do not leave the facility until everything is in place the way you would want to find it the next morning.
In actuality, I acquired this trait while working at a McDonald’s while in high school. Of course, this was way before the days of the 24-hour drive through! When we closed at 10:00 pm, you could not leave until every aspect of the restaurant was ready for the morning crew to walk into and start operations. And to this day, this is how I act and believe is the correct and ethical choice. No one wants to come into a mess or have to do other people’s work that should have been done the night before, when a busy day is already ahead of them. After all, if every leader and employee acted honestly, treated others the way that they wanted to be treated, (I. E. The Golden Rule), and remained immune to greed, then there would be no leadership scandals to discuss” (Brown, 2007) However, I have realized that not all of the staff feels this way. They take care of their own issues and then feel that they are finished for the day, even if that means other employees have to stay later. Is this ethical? Yet, what do you do when your administrator asks you why you were there later than the rest of the staff hat day? The administrator has to explain to the physicians who own the company why one nurse has more hours each week than the others. “Upward ethical leadership describes leadership behavior by employees who act to maintain ethical standards in the face of questionable moral conduct by higher-ups”. (Mary Uhl-Bien, 2007) Although I would not necessarily consider this particular example either “moral or immoral”, being questioned by management why I did something that I felt was the right thing to do, can often cause me to feel defensive, and unappreciated.
Especially when being compared to others who, in my opinion, do not work as hard or care about the facility as I do. In response to this type of situation, I need to start “letting go” of areas that are, in actuality the responsibility of the administrator to enforce. Even though I do believe in leading by example, I cannot and really should not feel that it is up to me to make sure everything is completed correctly. This also corresponds with the area I discussed for “stopping”, the control factor.
I need to let go of taking things as personally, when one staff member does not see things the way I do. Realizing even more, that people are different, and accepting them the way they are, will take away much stress and actual irritation I often place on myself. And if I do choose to continue being very particular about the way I complete tasks, then I need to have more confidence and approach my administrator with a positive response when questioned about why I was “on the clock” longer than other RN’s were the same day.
If I am told not to do these types of issues, then I need to, again, “let go” of that responsibility and allow the “chips to fall where they may”. This is NOT easy for me. I have pride in my profession and the job I complete. Complaining about what needs to be done, usually does not make a situation better. Acknowledging the position of my administrator is another ego-issue I need to let go. I do respect this manager. She is slow to react and quick to respond-an attribute I strongly desire to become more proficient. Letting go of these issues are the areas I definitely need to START within my leadership program.
Along with leading by example, this is and should be an on-going part of character building, both professionally as well as personally. References: Brown, M. E. (2007, April 23). Miscomceptions of Ethical Leadership: How to Avoid Pontential Pitfalls. . Organizational Dynamics, 36(2), 140-155. Retrieved from Organizational Dynamics, Volume 36, Issue 2, 2007 Pages 140-155: http://dx. doi. org. dmi Mary Uhl-Bien, M. K. (2007). Being Ethical When the Boss is Not. Organizational Dynamics, 187-201. Smalley, G. (1996). Making Love Last Forever. Dallas: Word Publishing.