Create Your Executive Leadership Philosophy
OLB 7008, Assignment 7
DuBose, Justin Z.
Dr. Rosalind Gaines
9 June 2019
Columbus Christian Academy
Columbus Christian Academy is a private, Christian educational institution which serves approximately 175 students from grades pre-k through 12th grade with a full-time staff of approximately 15. The current operating budget of the organization is approximately $500,000 which is managed by an appointed school board of 6 individuals. The campus encompasses 30 acres of land which includes an education building, a gymnasium, and several athletic ballfields. Our staff-to-student ratio is 1:12 and our current campus allows us plenty of room to grow.
In deciding on the executive leader of Columbus Christian Academy, it is imperative that the board understand the personal leadership philosophy of the executive, the first year initiatives they wish to execute, as well as their plans for future initiatives and continued sustainability. As a potential candidate for the executive leader of Columbus Christian Academy, this letter outlines each of those important elements.
Personal Leadership Philosophy
While many leadership theories and styles exist, the leadership theory of servant leadership is what best describes my leadership style and which, I believe, is most suited to successfully serving in this position. In 1977, Greenleaf developed the theory of servant leadership (Landis, 2014). Servant leadership states that leaders who serve others make the most effectual leaders (Landis, 2014). Servant leadership espouses the idea that leaders who genuinely care about the people they lead will generate the greatest level of motivation and dedication throughout all echelons of the organization. Beyer (2012) noted that behavior traits of servant leaders include helping following to succeed and grow, bring emotional healing, empowering followers, and creating value for those within the community and/or organization.
Servant leadership establishes trust by genuinely caring for those within the organization. As concluded by Landis (2014), this trust will generate the greatest level of motivation in followers to excel as members of the organization. Due to the building of trust between leader and stakeholder, servant leadership also creates open and honest lines of communication. As employees are encouraged to communicate, their input is invited into the decision-making processes of the organization. Servant leaders will also relationally invest in their employees as a result of their genuine care for their well-being. Servant leaders who demonstrate a care for those within their organization will base such care upon ethical stances and values rooted in compassion and empathy. Washington (2014) concluded that servant leaders are integral in establishing ethical climates, and that establishing ethical climates drives those within the organization to increase their own ethical standards and behavior. Servant leaders establish an organizational climate where employees are not only motivated to perform and behave well, but also to continually increase the standard of their performance and behavior. Leaders are poised to not only tap into stakeholder motivation and personal values, but, more importantly, to increase and expand motivation and personal values by motivating them to take such values to higher levels (Washington, 2014). These reasons highlight that servant leadership is not only the most effectual means of motivating employees to perform in a general sense, but specifically in the not-for-profit sector.
While serving with the philosophy of servant leadership, there are several initiatives I would like to implement in my first year. While there are many initiatives that could be implemented, these initiatives are, I believe, the most urgent. These proposed initiatives target not only a commitment to a culture of servant leadership, but also aim to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the organization.
First Year Initiatives
One of the major issues for Columbus Christian Academy is the ongoing struggle with Information Technology. This struggle not only leads to an increasing gap in our ability to deliver educational content in a practical, relevant way, but it also will contribute to a healthier staff culture. As many of you know, one ongoing staff issue centers around our faculty and support staff not feeling adequately prepared and trained in the execution of their duties. After speaking with many of you, this seems to largely be seen as a funding issue. In other words, the funding is not there for either adequate equipment or training. Thus, my first (and perhaps most important) initiative is a commitment by the leadership to invest in IT equipment and appropriate training for staff is needed to continuously improve organizational impact.
As for our use of technology, I recommend that we shift our focus in utilizing and implementing technology strictly from a cost-saving measure to more of a revenue-generating measure: from a bottom line approach to a top line approach (Colvin, 2006). While this will require initial investment in the form of new and upgraded technology, the result, if integrated deliberately and properly, will likely be increased revenues over time. The staggering and sustained growth of the Australian economy in the 1980’s and 1990’s was proven to be directly tied to their own revolution in information technology (Shahiduzzaman, 2014). There is reason to believe that this would be true for Columbus Christian Academy as well.
The second recommendation is to set organizational goals which are specific and measurable and which strategically align with fulfilling the organizational mission and vision. The most obvious measurable goal that can be set deals with assisting local churches. At present, there are no initiatives which are strategically aimed at building relationships with local churches. These initiatives can be implemented in the upcoming school year and can be measurable in a certain number of churches, or number of presentations given. Most of our teachers are actively involved in various local churches, and this would empower them to be an advocate for the school in a way which would positively contribute to both the growth of the school and, simultaneously, make them feel like a trusted and valued member of the Columbus Christian Academy team.
The third recommendation is to align our leadership positions throughout the organization with individuals who fit a certain leadership style which has been pre-determined by the board to be the most beneficial to organizational needs at that time. Specifically, at this time, I would initiate putting together a profile for individuals who embody collective leadership characteristics (Dinh et al, 2014). This leadership style is inherently innovative by working collectively with others to bring out both problems and creative solutions which will expedite the process of innovation. This exercising of “collective leadership” creates a “dynamic process in which a defined leader, or set of leaders, selectively utilizes the skills and expertise within a network as the need arises” (Friedrich, Griffith, & Mumford, 2016). This process of “collective leadership” would allow and encourage input from all participants, while still leaving a focal burden on goal attainment and missional fulfillment (Friedrich, Vessey, Chuelke, Ruark and Mumford, 2009). One study focused on organizations that implemented such collective leadership and concluded that such leaders bring out a curiosity which “contributes to creative performance” (Hardy, Ness, & Mecca, 2017). This leadership profile can be developed collaboratively by the existing leadership even if there is no pressing need or vacancies for such leadership. This recommendation allows for a proactive approach to leadership which allows for a profile to be compiled before the need and arises and allows leaders to be scouting such a leader before the time is pressing. With that, we will examine the effectiveness of such a leadership action plan.
How exactly will these recommendations increase effectiveness? In other words, what exactly will be the positive effect of implementing these changes? Firstly, technological initiatives directly improve mission fulfillment and goal attainment by providing a more excellent service, better training for staff, and a more complete development of student potential. The greatest hindrance to technological improvement has been lack of funding. However, future fund-raising efforts and campaigns should be geared toward improving our technological knowledge and expertise. This will greatly improve our goal attainment of delivering excellence in education and greatly help fulfill our mission of developing young people to their full potential.
Secondly, setting incremental and measurable goals increases awareness of the degree to which our efforts are effective. As discussed previously, we have no existing framework by which we can objectively evaluate our efforts to assess whether they are accomplishing the objectives we desire. Setting incremental and measurable goals will allow the leadership to examine various initiatives and programs and determine whether or not they should continue and how much more or less they should be resourced.
Finally, a pro-active approach to employee selection and training improves organizational culture and brings greater stability. In the past, staff hirings have largely been “emergency situations” in which no profiles have been compiled to see what individual would actually be the best fit for our organization and culture. This pro-active approach not only brings a sense of stability to those inside the organization, but it also improves organizational culture by each staff member being an intentional and strategic hire rather than an emergency hire who may stay for twenty years but who should have never been brought on to begin with.
Sustaining our strengths
These areas of information technology, adequate training for faculty and staff, realistic and measurable goal setting, and strategic hiring are all best accomplished by a servant leader and will lay a solid foundation for future sustainment and continued effectiveness. Since servant leaders generate enthusiasm and motivation by personally serving and working alongside staff members, they generate deep levels of trust between themselves and their staff (Landis, 2014). In this way, the initiatives are perceived as something which each staff member has an active voice and role in shaping. As for the initiatives themselves, the world of Information Technology is constantly evolving and will require a significant present investment if operations can be sustained and, ultimately, grow. Likewise, any organization can only grow as deep and wide as the staff serving filling the ranks. In this way, investing in the staff for proper training will not only positively impact organizational culture, but it will also create a sustainable foundation for future growth as their own capabilities increase. Finally, strategically targeting the right types of leaders for positions of leadership ensures that staff members can be led and managed in a direction consistent with organizational goals and desired outcomes. Each of these intiatives will lead to sustainability for Columbus Christian Academy.
Colvin, G. 2006. “The FedEx Edge,” Fortune, March 20 (available at http://money.cnn.com/2006/03/17/magazines/fortune/csuite_ fedex_fortune_040306/index.htm). Accessed June 9, 2019.
Dinh et al. (2014). “Leadership theory and research in the new millennium: Current theoretical trends and changing perspectives”. The Leadership Quarterly, Vol. 25, 36-62. Retrieved June 9, 2019.
Friedrich, T. L., Vessey, W. B., Schuelke, M. J., Ruark, G. A., & Mumford, M. D. (2009). “A framework for understanding collective leadership: The selective utilization of leader and team expertise within networks”. The Leadership Quarterly, 20, 933-958. doi:10.21236/ada544438
Hardy, J. H., Ness, A. M., & Mecca, J. (2017). “Outside the box: Epistemic curiosity as a predictor of creative problem solving and creative performance”. Personality and Individual Differences, 104, 230-237. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2016.08.004
Landis, E. A., Hill, D., & Harvey, M. R. (2014). “A synthesis of leadership theories and styles”. Journal of Management Policy and Practice, 15(2). Retrieved June 9, 2019.
Shahiduzzaman, M. & Khorshed, A. (2014). “Information technology and its changing roles to economic growth and productivity in Australia”. Telecommunications Policy, 38(2), 125- 135. Retrieved June 9, 2019.
Washington, R. R., Sutton, C. D., & Sauser, J. I. (2014). “How distinct is servant leadership theory? Empirical comparisons with competing theories”. Journal of Leadership, Accountability and Ethics, 11(1). Retrieved June 9, 2019.
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