Document Personal Leadership Styles, Traits, and Theories
OLB 7004, Assignment 2
DuBose, Justin Z.
Dr. Rosa Cassell
21 January 2018
This paper is a self-examination of personal leadership styles, traits, and theories and is comprised of research and self-reflection. While several leadership theories will be discussed, the leadership theory of Core Self-Evaluation (CSE) and 360-degree assessments will be examined in detail and the advantages and disadvantages each adds to leaders and their unique style of leadership. These leadership theories and assessment tools will then be nested within a larger discussion of leadership theories and their unique contribution to the field of organizational leadership.
Style Questionnaire Reflection
A style questionnaire was provided to offer one type of assessment tool for leadership evaluation. Three style questionnaires were completed independently by subordinates and the three assessments were all within 2-3 points of one another. Each questionnaire categorized responses as either “task” or “relationship” and delineated leadership styles as either primarily task-oriented or relationship-oriented. Each category was scored on a scale from very low to very high, with categories including very low, low, moderately low, moderately high, high, and very high. These categories provided a baseline for the leader to understand their leadership style within the larger spectrum of leadership styles. This style questionnaire served as an assessment tool for the leader as a means of increasing self-awareness for the purpose of increasing leadership effectiveness. The three scores from subordinate assessments were as follows:
Table 1. Style Questionnaire Scores
The three scores from these assessments did not yield any unexpected results. The leadership strength of the author has always been relationship development over task fulfillment. When people are treated as the greatest and most valuable resource, relationships will be valued over tasks. This has always been the leadership philosophy of the author and, thus, the results did not provide any surprises. Furthermore, similar assessments and evaluations have previously been submitted to the author by other followers and subordinates which yielded results similar to this questionnaire.
Nevertheless, while relationships receive priority from the leadership, progress will not be achieved without the accomplishment and fulfillment of individual and organizational tasks. To become a more effective and efficient leader, an equilibrium must be achieved in balancing the development of relationships and the accomplishment of tasks. In the future, steps need to be taken to bring up the consistently “moderately low” score of task-oriented leadership. These steps could and should include intentionally and strategically developing a leadership team with task-oriented individuals as well as relationship-oriented individuals. On a personal level, cultivating an openness with subordinates and followers to communicate honestly about specific times and instances when task-oriented leadership is needed or lacking will prove to serve as a positive development to overall leadership.
This assessment is useful in that it positively contributes to awareness on the part of the leader and how his/her actions are perceived by those around them. As with all feedback from human subjects, one must keep in mind that no feedback is completely objective. However, the leader can use discernment and judgment to receive feedback from those around them to become self-aware of “blind spots” and, thus, increase in effectiveness. Showry (2014) notes that awareness is not learned in isolation but in dynamic relationships with others and with an accompanying openness on the part of the leaders to receive feedback from those with whom he/she has a relationship.
360 Degree Assessment
Table 2. Table of Advantages & Disadvantages
Input comes directly from followers, supervisors, and peers
Input is, in some ways, inherently skewed due to subjective responses
Input comes from those who work closely with you and who know and experience your character at a close level
Due to the close nature of the relationship, data can be skewed by a more distorted view of the individual being assessed
Provides a multi-view assessment of the leader from multiple perspectives of those close to the individual being rated
Questions can be worded so that the focus is an inaccurate reflection of the individual being rated and more of a reflection on the perception of the rater
The assessment affords the leader the opportunity to self-reflect on overall leadership style, including strengths and weaknesses, increasing the leaders’ self-awareness
The input which is intended to shape the self-awareness can also develop an inaccurate self-awareness on the part of the leader. Input may not be a true reflection but a composite of inaccurate individual perception
The 360-degree assessment is one tool for assessing leaders by allowing input from those directly impacted by the leadership style and characteristics of the leader. The 360-degree assessment provides input from supervisors, peers, followers, as well as external stakeholders, thus providing an assessment of the leader from all angles. Perhaps the greatest benefit of the 360-degree assessment is that it increases self-awareness on the part of the leader, which research has suggested is one of the most important characteristics of leadership. Showry (2014) suggests that self-awareness on the part of leaders is even more important than IQ and technical skills when it comes to contributing to their success.
An additional benefit of the 360-degree assessment is that the data comes from those who work closely with the leader. These people are the closest to the leader and are the most likely to experience the effects of, and reap the benefits from, their leadership. Research has even suggested that the people and circumstances closest to the leader work together through situations to draw out the leadership qualities of the leader. Steinhoff (2015), speaking of leadership in general, noted that leadership only surfaces itself when circumstantial demands bring it out from within the leader.
These benefits, along with others, comprise the greatest benefit of this tool, which is primarily in the fact that it enhances the awareness of the leader by providing a time and space for the leader to reflect on his or her own leadership and increase self-awareness. This reflection is never a negative process in and of itself. Leising et al (2013) pointed out that even inaccurate self-awareness may provide certain benefits to individuals over individuals who exercise no self-awareness. The example used to highlight this point was the process of applying for college. Leising illustrated individuals who apply for highly selective colleges, noting that those who exercised inaccurate self-awareness by an inflated view of “self” allowed themselves an opportunity to attend such universities while those who did not apply due to a lack of self-reflection guaranteed their non-selection.
CSE and the accompanying tool of the 360-degree assessment, while serving as a new and developing leadership theory, also serve a greater purpose. Self-reflection and self-evaluation can serve to enhance the leadership of the leader regardless of their leadership style; CSE is not a static theory but has dynamic application to every leadership style. For example, Nubold et al (2013), in a 2 X 2-design study, discovered that CSE can serve as a substitute for transformational leadership “in terms of its influence on follower motivation and performance.” Thus, while there exists a plethora of leadership theories (Great Man Theory, transformational leadership theory, servant leadership theory, etc.), CSE and the 360-degree assessment can serve to enhance leadership of any category or style.
This is evident in the traits of CSE, which themselves can be adapted and applied to leadership theories of all varieties. Chang et al (2012) acknowledged four traits of CSE: self-esteem, generalized self-efficacy, emotional stability, and locus of control. While these four traits do not serve as individual leadership theories, or even comprise a single theory, they can be applied to leaders of any style or theory. In this sense, CSE and 360-degree assessments can prove effective when applied by any leader, in any organization, of any size, with any purpose and vision, and across any cultural boundaries. In a very practical sense, CSE can and should be coupled with any existing leadership theory to increase leadership efficiency and effectiveness by enhancing self-awareness.
The author, for example, excels in relationship development, according to the input of a small sample of followers and subordinates. However, there is a noticeable lack in the task-oriented leadership style as well which was also reflected in the responses of subordinates on the style questionnaire. If a more thorough 360-degree assessment were to be submitted by supervisors, peers, and external stakeholders, similar input would no doubt be gathered which would reinforce this opinion. The practice of CSE on the part of the author would continue to not only highlight the strength of relationship development and build upon that strength, but it would also continue to highlight the leadership deficiencies in the accomplishments of individual and organizational tasks. Consequently, CSE and 360-degree assessments would increase overall leadership and organizational effectiveness by building on and developing strengths and marginalizing and eliminating weaknesses.
Chang, C., Ferris, D., Johnson, R., Rosen, C., & Tan, J. (2012). “Core Self-Evaluations: A Review and Evaluation of the Literature”. Journal of Management, 38(1), 81- 128. Retrieved January 21, 2018.
Landis, E., Hill, D. & Harvey, M. (2014). “A Synthesis of Leadership Theories and Styles”. Journal of Management Policy & Practice, 15(2), 97-100. Retrieved January 21, 2018.
Leising, D, Borkenau, P., Zimmermann, J., Leonhardt, A., & Schutz, A. (2013). “Positive Self-regard and Claim to Leadership: Two Fundamental Forms of Self-Evaluation”. European Journal of Personality, 27, 565-579. Retrieved January 21, 2018.
Nubold, A., Muck, P.M., & Maier, G.W. (2013). “A new substitute for leadership? Followers’ state core self-evaluations”. The Leadership Quarterly, 24, 29-44. Retrieved January 21, 2018.
Showry, M. & Manasa, K. (2014). “Self-Awareness – Key to Effective Leadership”. The IUP Journal of Soft Skills, 3(1), 15-26. Retrieved January 21, 2018.
Steinhof, R.L. (2015). “Natural Born Leaders: Use of a Self-Assessment Tool and Benefits to Coaching and Development”. Journal of Practical Consulting, 5(2), 19-28. Retrieved January 21, 2018.
NG, LR, & NCU
My collection of personal papers written over the years