Currently, I am employed as a Procurement Manager. It is a mid-level management role and the second role that I have held with Company over two years. I have also held several mid-level management roles over the past six years with other organisations. Until just recently, I had a career goal to progress into a more senior level management role, within the next one to three years, either within Company or with another company. Due to the downturn in the current economic climate with the coal mining sector and the potential for myself to be made redundant I decided to activate a backup plan and apply for several other very senior management positions.
I have summarised the self-assessment instruments offered throughout the first six weeks of this course, discussed what I have learned about myself as a result of these self-assessments, discussed these learnnigs with two confidants to obtain their opinions, how a core weakness and strength, if not resolved or managed could affect my outcomes on my working relationships with others and the lessons learnt and an action plan to minimize the potential for damage to myself as a manager. Self-Assessment Summaries
Below, I have summarised the results of the self-assessments from weeks 1-6 The self-assessment `Readiness for the leadership role’ (DuBrin, Dalglish, Miller 2006, p. 9) revealed a moderate readiness for a leadership role, scoring 88 out of a possible 100. The self-assessment `Are you a strategic thinker’ (DuBrin, Dalglish, Miller 2006, p. 401) revealed a score of 45, indicating that I think strategically. On `The Assertiveness scale’ (DuBrin, Dalglish, Miller 2006, p. 31-32) my outcome was 21 on the scale, indicating assertiveness.
On `The LPC (Least preferred co-worker) Scale for measuring Leadership Style’ (DuBrin, Dalglish, Miller 2006, p. 177-178) I scored 66, being a high LPC leader who is relations-motivated. On the diagnostic survey for `Developing management skills’ by Whetten & Cameron (2005, p. 42-44), I ranked in the top quartile overall with a score of 59 out of 66. This indicates that I have an openness to feedback from others, an awareness of own values, cognitive style, change orientation and nterpersonal orientation. In Rokeach (1973) `ranking your values’ self-assessment, the instrumental values that I rated as the top three are, competence (capability of achieving), ambition (achieving through hard work and dependability on others) and being able to be counted upon or being reliable. In regards to my top three terminal values, family – taking care of loved ones, wealth and prosperity and accomplishment (making a lasting contribution) were those that I ranked as my highest values.
The `Cognitive Style instrument’ by Carlopio, Andrewartha & Armstrong (2001, p. 63-64 & 632) indicated that I was an intuitive type in gathering information (score of 7) and thinking type in evaluating information (score of 7). On Bunders (1962) `Tolerance of Ambiguity Scale’ I scored 61 and was well above the standard average and that of the comparison data. This score indicated a greater intolerance for ambiguity. Rotters (1966) Locus of Control Scale resulted in a score of 8. A low score equates to an internal Locus of control.
The control indicates that events result mainly from one’s own behaviours and actions, that they have better control of their own behaviour, exhibit political behaviours, are more likely to attempt to influence people, are more likely to assume that their efforts will be successful, they are more active in seeking information & knowledge concerning their situation & have the propensity to engage in political behaviour. The self-assessment `Can you build team spirit’ (DuBrin, Dalglish, Miller 2006, p. 84-285) revealed a score of 11. On the scoring interpretation scale this ranked me between 8-12, meaning that I have a firm grasp of the essentials of team leadership but could be more systematic in a few areas. The Thomas-Kilman Conflict Mode Instrument (1974) revealed that I scored on the 79th percentile for competing (forcing), 87th percentile for Collaborating (problem solving), 27th percentile for compromising (sharing), 34th percentile for avoiding (withdrawal) & 16th percentile for accommodating (soothing).
According to the profile of scores above, there are two outliers, accommodating (soothing) being in the bottom 25th percentile and collaborating (problem solving) sitting on the cusp of top 25th percentile. The self-assessment `rating a managers power’ (DuBrin, Dalglish, Miller 2006, p. 210-211) revealed that I had a score of 74. According to the interpretation, I ranked low on the moderate power scale. The self-assessment `survey of influence tactics’ (DuBrin, Dalglish, Miller 2006, p. 242-243) results revealed that there was no level of significance amongst the scores and that I fell within all the normative means.
About Myself After recording the results of the self-assessments & reading a range of white papers throughout the first six weeks of the course readings, I have come to realise there are several areas I have come to understand about myself. Through the weekly readings, I have also discovered a list of tools that I found will be applicable when going about my role as a leader. The tools that I will utilise when required are Kotters (1995) `Eight Steps to transforming your organisation’. I found that these clearly defined steps will be useful in the regular programs of change I go about in my current role.
In the past not all eight steps have been deployed or used on projects that I have been involved in, enabling me to strengthen and improve my change management practices. Another tool I found to be useful that I will keep handy is the `The Seven Seismic Shifts` by Watkins (2012). Of these, I found that my strengths lay in the `bricklayer to architect` & `tactician to strategist` functions, which are in line with my self-assessment results, that being I am strategic thinker & provide strategic leadership.
As Goleman (2004, p. 4) points out in his studies, a driver for outstanding performance was the cognitive skills of big-picture thinking and long term vision. I find this relevant to self in striving to achieve outstanding performance and thus I intend to continue to evolve strategic thinking as part of my repertoire of skills for they will serve me well in my current & future roles. I also found that although one of my strengths lay in problem solving, I need to make an adjustment to my mental process, that being from a `problem solver to agenda setter` and that I need to make an adjustment in my behaviour to support that move.
As mentioned in my introduction, I have the potential to begin a new role with another organisation in a more senior position and this role will have the potential to be engaging international governments at all levels. I will seek to move from `warrior to diplomat’ & further develop the skills of negotiation, persuasion, conflict management & alliance building. I have learnt that I am a relationship-orientated leader (Nelson et al, pp. 188) and understanding that I am that type of leader, I have uncovered a weakness hat requires my attention, that being empathy. From my research, I may have learnt that other types of leadership styles possess the characteristics I require to improve my leadership qualities. Thus I may blend my relationship-orientated style leadership with that of a `servant style leadership’ (DuBrin, Dalglish, Miller 2006, p. 128-129). The reason for this is that the servant type leader incorporates characteristics of both listening & empathy, where empathy needs my serious attention.
Another area that I have gained insights into is in the area of emotional intelligence. `It has been suggested that effective leaders require the ability to recognise and manage emotion in oneself and in others…emotional intelligence is made up of several competencies, including self-awareness, empathy, adaptability and self-confidence’ (Nelson et al, p. 195). Again, my area of weakness here is empathy with my strengths lying in self-awareness and self-confidence. This will be discussed below under perceptions.
I thought it worth mentioning that in completing the `Cognitive Style instrument’ by Carlopio, Andrewartha & Armstrong (2001), the results of the instrument indicated that I was of the intuitive type in gathering information and thinking type in evaluating information. I found these results interesting as I am an ESTJ sensing type, as reported in my `Personal Style Inventory’ (PSI) self-assessment (Hogan & Champagne 1980, p. 89-99). The results of this instrument are conflicting with what an ESTJ type character personality normally displays.
I have yet to explore this difference and don’t have the capability to discuss it here in this paper, but it may seem that after 20 years of being an ESTJ sensing type, that I may be evolving as a person and as a leader. The Thomas-Kilman Conflict Mode Instrument (1974) also revealed an interesting outcome in that my percentile for accommodating (soothing) was very low. The reason I found this to be interesting is that I had recently completed Kolb’s (1985, p. 20) `Learning Style Inventory’ (LSI) self-assessment with the results indicating that my learning Style is an accommodator.
As above, I have yet to explore this difference and don’t have the capability to discuss it here in this paper. As a result of the self-assessments, weekly readings and other white papers surrounding those topics, I have come to learn a great deal about myself. Below, I will discuss whether some of these are substantiated or require further work. Perceptions To further understand one-self, I invited two confidants to discuss my findings about the self-reflection assessments mentioned above.
I asked them to indicate whether they agree or disagree with those insights, what they have observed about me since knowing me and to provide any other feedback they thought useful to further leadership qualities. To get a balanced view, I asked a manager in a position above me as well as one of my team members. There were several learning’s that resulted from their reviews. What I share below are those findings that lead to further discussions. Those measures with which they agreed have not been detailed.
After reviewing the `Readiness for the leadership role’ self-assessment (DuBrin, Dalglish, Miller 2006) with my manager, he indicated that he thought I had a high readiness for leadership and was currently performing in that manner. He commented that all managers have the capability to continuously improve on communications as a leaders and that I too should continue to focus on this area self-improvement. My team members’ comments indicated that I was a good leader and that I was fair when making decisions about the team & team members.
On the `The Assertiveness scale’ (DuBrin, Dalglish, Miller 2006) my manager and both my team member agreed that I was assertive in my behaviour. It was pointed out by my team member that at times I can be aggressive in my assertiveness when becoming frustrated with certain team members and at times I could be a little more empathetic. In asking other team members about whether I was high or low on empathy, I have discovered and established that this is now one of my core weaknesses.
After discussions on the Thomas-Kilman Conflict Mode Instrument (1974) collaborating (problem solving) was again mentioned as one of my strengths and accommodating (soothing) emerged as one of my weaknesses. The discussion further alluded to the need for me to be more empathetic. The self-assessment `rating a managers power’ (DuBrin, Dalglish, Miller 2006, p. 210-211) sparked an interesting conversation with my manager who was under the belief that I had more control than what the assessment revealed.
We discussed this further with him taking away an action to see how we could further empower me in my position. The self-assessment `survey of influence tactics’ (DuBrin, Dalglish, Miller 2006, p. 242-243) discussion was an interesting outcome between both confidants. On one side I had my manager informing me that I could be more persuasive at times and on the other I had my team member commenting that she thought at times I was a little too over persuasive. The action from this discussion was to balance my persuasiveness between the different levels of people within the organisation.
In summary, throughout the discussions with both confidants, the key areas that were raised in these discussions was empathy, communication & resolving problems and decision making, with the latter being mentioned by both to be one my strengths. Working Relationships As an outcome of the self-assessments and feedback from my confidants, I will discuss what I have discovered to be a major weakness and how they could affect my working relationships if not well managed or adjusted. I will also discuss a strength, if not well managed could have some serious implications for me as a manager and leader.
As Goleman (2004, p. 9) points out empathy means thoughtfully considering employees feelings. It is particularly important as a leader for several reasons. The increasing use of teams, the rapid place of globalisation & the growing need to retain talent. As this is a weakness of mine this could affect my working relationships. It has the possibility for me to be seen as a self-centered leader resulting in the perception that I lack great leadership qualities. This could also affect the team therefore and moral, but also could lead to not completely understanding the position and issues of employees, therefore not having influence over them.
This could affect team collaboration among members. It could also be detrimental in managing resistance to change. It may be seen as a poor reflection on me and an inability to be a great leader and miss future management opportunities. With the potential of my new role to have heavy involvement with the unions, governments, government authorities & government departments and a range of sensitive issues, not showing empathy could result in a range of catastrophes such as a costly & devastating workplace strike or the ability to lose or extend licenses required for shipping into ports.
Thus empathy has a raft of negative outcomes. If well managed and employed well it could also turn into strength. At this point in time it is a weakness that I will actively seek to improve by further understanding its use and by developing an action plan to tackle my current gap. Decision making is a critical activity in the lives of managers (Nelson et al, p. 149) and is one of my skill strengths. I have often solved problems under the structure supported by Martin (2007, p. 2) and others of gathering the required information, analysing the alternatives and then `creatively resolve the tension between two ideas by generating a new one that contains elements of the others but is superior to both`. What could be problematic is if I don’t relying heavily on other people for information, I may stand to be arrogant by others, but also seen to be non-trusting of my team members in accepting their data and suggestions. In doing so, if continued this may have the reverse effect in that eventually they may not offer their suggestions for consideration.
Not only that, if I fail to include important data that has been offered to me form others, I have the potential to make a catastrophic incorrect decision. By understanding the key weakness & strength discussed above, the next step in the process is to engage in an action plan to improve in both of these areas. Lessons learnt and action plan To minimize my weakness in my use of empathy as leader and to eventually turn this into a strength, the first step is to recognise that this is a weakness. This is now evident to me that this is the case as I was under the false belief that I did show empathy to my team.
Secondly, the action to improve this is by reflective listening. I will employ the four active listening techniques. Affirming contact with the speaker/team member by reassuring the speaker/team member that I am attentive, paraphrasing expressed thoughts and feelings of the speaker/team member which provides reflection back to the speaker/team member that I have heard them, clarifying any implicit thoughts and feelings that the speaker/team member may not have explicit conveyed and when suitable, to reflect on the `core` feelings which are the deepest and most important ones to the speaker.
I must be aware to exercise caution in this space if there is no empathetic relationship with the speaker/team member (Nelson et al, p. 118-119). In order to maintain my strength in making decisions, I will attempt to gather more information through the pooling of team members, increased acceptance of and commitment to including team members in the decision making process and providing them with a voice and involving, were possible team members throughout the various stages of the decision making process (Nelson et al, . 159). In summary, the reflective journal has been a very informative and worthwhile exercise. Through a range of self-assessment instruments and white papers, for me it has uncovered a raft of useful tools, a list of strengths and weaknesses that will further develop my leadership skills, provided me with interesting dialogue between my management & my team members and provided me with some wonderful insights into who I am as a manager.