My view of leadership has been shaped from all the leaders that I have encountered throughout my life. As I grew up, I began to notice the impact that leaders have on the teams that they lead, and once I started learning about leadership, I have noticed specifically what makes a person a good leader. I believe that leadership is mainly a combination of traits, behaviors, and relationships. Leaders are able to empathize with others and understand what people need on a personal level in order to ensure that each person can complete work to their best potential. Some specific characteristics that I have observed in good leaders is empathy, confidence, and sociability.
One of the most impactful leaders I have encountered is Kim, the boss of the place I have worked at since Sophomore year of high school. Kim possesses all three characteristics that I mentioned are important for leaders to have. Her most evident trati was her empathy for others. On my first day, she could tell that I was nervous and she did everything she could to make me feel more at ease. When I would make mistakes, she would never yell. She would politely tell me what it was that I did wrong and explain to me what I could do differently. On days that I showed up to work particularly stressed, whether it was from a long day at school or if I was just not having a good day, she would immediately notice and try to make me feel better. She would have me sit down and she would give me some food before I started working so I could bring up my energy. Her empathy towards me while I worked for her made me eager to do a good job and made me excited to come into work every day. Because of her empathy, I felt comfortable talking to her about daily life and this relationship allowed me to thrive in the workplace.
Another leader that I encountered growing up who showed me the importance of confidence and sociability was the high school soccer team captain. As a freshman, I was nervous to be trying out for the soccer team, but watching the captain made me feel way more comfortable about the whole process. She was friends with everyone and she was always smiling, even during the worst workouts. The relationship she had with the team coach inspired others to come out of their shell and express their personalities. Through her confidence and determination to work hard while also having fun, she showed everyone that coming to practice was not a punishment, it was something to be enjoyed. She kept the energy of the team high and made sure that everybody was having a good time and wanted to be at practice in order to ensure that everyone was doing the best work.
My results of the Conceptualizing Leadership Questionnaire were a 14 for Trait and Ability emphasis, a 12 in Skill Emphasis (the lowest score), an 18 in Behavior Emphasis (the highest score), and a 17 in Relationship and Process Emphasis. The results were mostly in line with my self-perception of leadership. I thought that Trait Emphasis would have a higher score, but it makes sense that Ability and Skill emphasis had some of the lower scores. I believe that a leader’s success is not based on their intelligence. I believe that leading in a way that connects with followers is more important than trying to teach them skills. Having a genuine connection where the followers are comfortable and excited to work is something that from experience, I have seen has great results. I believe that skills and abilities are not as important aspects of leadership because these things have little effect on how others will listen to leaders. A leader with little skill and high confidence can still leave an impression on followers who may have the proper skill to carry out tasks that need to be done to fulfil a mission. I was surprised that trait emphasis did not have a higher score because having the leadership traits that I mentioned previously has a big impact on the way that I view leaders.
I believe that the way one thinks about leadership has a huge influence on their own practices. Growing up with the experience of certain successful leaders imprints a vision of what a good leader is. People tend to mirror the actions of those they look up to. If a leader you encounter is successful at leading, it is likely that you will portray the same traits as them in order to leave the same impression on others that they left on you.