Unit 5 – Stronger Strengths or Weaker Weaknesses?

In Unit 5, we discussed the Clifton’s Strengths Finder assessment, as well as the reading that went along with it.  The class thought about how the system worked and the benefits and constraints of the model.  The assessment is used to determine strengths of the subject and kicked back to help them find their role in the team and to better understand areas of strength.

This assessment has been helpful for me in multiple ways, starting with my employment and branching to school work and group work.  My strengths are Ideation, Communication, Woo, Restorative, and Context.  I am able to take these strengths that I have been introduced to, per say, and apply them during tasks.  I know while I am out at the fields that I am able to come up and start a dialogue with participants as well as officials, and have been able to more efficiently evaluate by using my strength of communication.  I also realize that one of my strengths is restorative, but that I have to hold it in check to make sure I am holding my constructive criticism for after the game.

In knowing that Ideation, Communication, and Woo are all strengths, I have become more open to acknowledging that I have good ideas for a team and that I can communicate them effectively.  My teammates all commented on the fact that I have good ideas for going forward, and that is a testament to the Strengths Finder assessment in helping develop my strengths based leadership.

You could consider the fact that weaknesses are no longer focused on a weakness in itself, but so long as you don’t forget the areas you are weak in and understand how to effectively use your strengths to overcome your weaknesses, you can be even more efficient at whatever task you are trying to accomplish, making this system very effective when handled correctly and applying common sense.

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Unit 4–Good Questions?

During class we addressed Unit 4, which addressed many different aspects of leadership, including how to handle situations and problems that arise throughout a leadership process.  The most effective method, and one we spent a large amount of time on, was called “appreciative inquiry.” Appreciative Inquiry, known as AI, seemed to be an effective means of emphasizing strengths and building around them rather than addressing a specific problem and trying to fix it.

This approach seems like it could be effective for many situations where a problem may arise and production is not where a company wants it, but there are other aspects to take into account.  In comparison to a typical situation where many companies would try to solve a problem by addressing the problem and trying to correct mistakes.  There are pros and cons to each that I feel need to be discussed.

In an Appreciative Inquiry, you tend to look at the glass as “half-full” and you look at what is going right.  You start to plan around the future of the organization by focusing on what is done well by the team, then you discuss these ideas and begin to try to implement them. This can be very effective in terms of efficiency of production, but I still feel like this type of system is just trying to cover up a problem by burying it under what is done well.

In a problem-solving method you would find the source of a problem and identify causes, then come up with solutions for the issue and implement them.  This system can be demeaning at times, but it can be effective at weeding out issues in a system.  Problem solving can lead to finger-pointing and blaming, which can also be detrimental to a team.

So, a full-fledged attempt at each of theses methods can have some serious downsides, which is why I believe a method of integration between the two would be the most effective system for increasing the efficiency of a team in an organization.  In this system, which I have named Appreciative Problem Solving, you would take the time to use Strengths-Based Leadership by focusing on what a team does well and using that in multiple facets.  You would use what your fellow team members are proficient at and implement them to start to solve a problem present in the organization.  As the problem is being resolved, you focus on the strengths of the group to mask the issues that are being resolved using the strengths of the team.  Some problems do have point sources for their arousal, thus this side of problem-solving must also be integrated.

There is no doubt that each system have positive results, as show in this article.  However, I feel this system of integration creates an atmosphere of efficiency, while also focusing on and promoting the use of strengths by the team as well as removing point sources of problems that are present.

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Unit 3- Big headed?

Unit 3 of our text book discussed servant leaderships, among other forms of leadership.  In addressing servant leadership, the role of psychological “size” was discussed along with the implications that it can carry.  The article linked discusses implications that can surround psychological size.

In a leadership role, one often will often find his or herself in a role that is viewed as “higher” or “larger” than the role of others that work around them.  This is what is associated with psychological size, where the leader may think they have a larger role and feel superior to the others that work around them.  On the other hand, others working with the leader may feel that their role is less significant as compared to the leader.

I find this particular focus of the unit interesting as I can relate it to my work as an intramural supervisor.  In working alongside officials that I have helped train, but also officials that I worked along with before I became a supervisor, there are situations where psychological size can come into play.  There are times, which are more prevalent to see with officials I was trained with, where officials may not confide in me certain things, or feel less skilled when working with me.  As I have recognized this over time, I have worked to try and make sure that as I work as a supervisor, I keep an open mentality and realize that I am there as a help to them, and less as a safety net for the program.

I have tried to make sure that in being at the courts that, for the officials, I am just another resource.  Not that I am some head honcho that is breathing down their neck about the smallest things.  I try to evaluate them to show them areas to improve, but also spotlight what they are doing well and relate my own mistakes as an official to what is going on in their particular situation.

This section speaks volumes about how important it is to ensure that psychological size is not an issue that is in the workplace and that as a leader you are helping others realize that, although you may hold a position that has more “authority” that you are no more important to the program than they are.  Servant leadership incorporates the idea of lowering your size to help others shine around you, which is also an effective mean of creating an equal playing field and making psychological size a non-issue.

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Leaders: Teachers, Heroes, Rulers, or All the above?

Leadership is an interesting area to study, as there is much to debate on whether it is an art or an exact science.  Many say that just because there are different styles, doesn’t mean they don’t follow a scientific pattern across the board.  Others say the different styles create the feeling that although there is common ground shared, they have the ability to be different, and also that these different ways can see different results.  In our book, “The Art of Leadership,” we also have found that there are three different forms of leaders.  There are teachers, who lead by teaching others and providing motivation.  There are also Heroes, who often lead by example for causes most would consider noble, taking into account all the people affected as well.  And finally, there is a group known as Rulers.  Rulers seem to be more authoritative and have less of a feeling toward the followers, being much more focused on the best results possible by whatever means.  This article below hits on actual teachers and how they show leadership in their educational efforts.

http://www.leadershiparticles.net/Article/Educational-Leadership/152995

When you consider leadership through these three different forms, you have to step back and realize that to fit into these groups, you must be a leader.  The greatest part to this classification set is that it incorporates ALL leaders, though.  Many people still don’t realize that people like Hitler and Mussolini are really “leaders” by definition.  This system allows them to fit in as rulers, and there are few that would disagree.  This article supports that, almost immediately in its name, “The Fascist Leader.”

http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/people/A0859843.html

After learning about this classification, as well as taking part in the StrengthsQuest assessment, we are able to take our strengths and learn where we fit in the spectrum as a leader, where we can be effective leaders.  As a person with Woo, Communication, Restorative, and Context, it is easy for me to see that I fit in well as a “Teacher” as I am able to learn from the past and want to help everyone, thus I am happy to help other learn from their mistakes, as well as others and myself.  We have to also realize that there were good people in every classification.  There have been strong leaders that had good causes and were considered “rulers.”  In accepting that, and applying our information from StrengthsQuest, we can fit ourselves into a classification and learn how to be even more effective rulers.

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