The 21st century is characterized by rapid changes in technology, rising global population and scarce resources (Barton 2016). All these external influences have developed new opportunities, but also developed new challenges for aspirational leaders (Wharton 2016). The leaders of tomorrow need to develop both short-term and long-term strategic plans, build a network of managerial support for improved decision making and apply a leadership which is “fit for purpose” (Barton 2015).
My Inspiration: The Late Steve Jobs
In the past, I was lucky to work with a few great leaders from whom, I like to think that I’ve picked up, precisely what makes their leadership style effective. A successful leader, in my opinion, always starts with a clear vision. Steve Jobs is one of the leaders I admire, and I believe that I have plenty to learn from his leadership style. By watching his biographic movie “Steve Jobs” (2015), I’ve learned that Jobs was a visionary leader, always obsessed with excellence, making everything perfect, and not settling for less. Throughout his career at Apple, he has inspired me (and many others) to “dream bigger” and “change the world!” (Gallo 2015). Alike Steve Jobs, I’ve always been an idealist and a dreamer, working extremely hard and passionately in my job, while also visualizing to change the world into a better one.
My Vision of Leadership
If I were a leader today, I would choose to apply a combination of situational and inspirational leadership styles, as I consider that there is no single leadership style that fits all circumstances and effective leaders need to adapt their style to a given situation (Mullins 2010). The diagram below summarises the situational leadership behavior model by McKinsey & Company (McKinsey 2014).
McKinsey (2014) discovered that the importance of applying different leadership styles will vary according to a different level of organizational health. The Baseline (Figure 3) is a generic starting point, where leaders should evaluate the current situation of an organization by encouraging teamwork (McKinsey 2014). In the second stage, a leader should focus on fact-based decisions, such as effective problem solving and recovery from failures (McKinsey 2014). Organizations which are “moving on up” need leaders who are able to keep teams on task and direct them towards well-defined goals, while companies in the top quartiles are most effectively lead by inspirational leaders who employ motivational behaviours (McKinsey 2014). Although it seems simple to apply, there are many managers who cannot identify correctly the stage of the organization, and therefore, fail in implementing the situational model.
What Have I Learnt so Far?
Throughout this course I have improved my knowledge in various areas of leadership which can be applied in my future leadership role. Firstly, I’ve learned that in a work environment it’s important to adopt an ethical approach based on the coexistence of deontological and consequentialist ethics. Additionally, I’ve studied Tuckman’s team formation model which can minimize conflicts and discrimination in teams. Next, to become an effective leader I will account for continuous changes and use communication skills to manage employees’ resistance to change. Finally, I’ve learned that leadership and management are different concepts and the efficiency of leadership styles varies based on the context.
Fig. 4 DISC Personality Test shows that my personality is high on dominance (44%) and influence (25%) and low in steadiness (18%) and compliance (13%). This test indicates that I thrive in competitive situations and enjoy preforming challenging tasks. I find this description accurate, as I have always enjoyed challenging duties which require stepping outside of my comfort zone, allowing me to exercise my critical thinking skills. Another benefit of my personality is that I have a strong inner motivation to influence people and circumstance.
What Skills Should I Improve?
To become an aspirational leader, I should learn how to apply different sets of skills and actions in different situations. Although I have developed some leadership skills, in my previous job as a business development executive, such as managing a diverse team, there are still some areas that I would like to improve. By applying the Johari Window and receiving feedback from my MBA classmates throughout this course, I’ve learnt that my colleagues perceive me as a perfectionist, with a dominant personality but that I tend to forget about time management. To develop these skills, I’ve worked out a 6-months personal development plan which aims to track my performance against my skills development goals.
Ultimately, I consider that leadership is taught, not inherited, and only by continuous development, thirst for knowledge and persistence, one can become a successful leader. As Thomas Friedman, a New York Times columnist, said “the age or average is over” and thus, being able to lead in the 21st century, an aspiring leader requires added “creativity, imagination and persistence” Gallo (2015).
Barton, D. (2016) Dominic Barton [online] available from <http://www.mckinsey.com/our-people/dominic-barton> [12 November 2016]
Gallo, C. (2015) How Steve Jobs Inspired People To ‘Dream Bigger’ [online]available from <https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/251476> [12 November 2016]
McKinsey&Co. (2014) Leadership In Context [online] available from <http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/leadership-in-context> [12 November 2016]
Wharton (2015) Mckinsey’s Dominic Barton On Leadership [online] available from <http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/mckinseys-dominic-barton-on-leadership-and-his-three-tries-to-make-partner/> [12 November 2016].