Foundations of Leadership
Artifact: This final post from my Ignatian Questions Journal foreshadowed the rest of my organizational leadership journey.
The Question: What do you need to keep deepening your learning and curiosity?
At first, I thought the response to this question would be simple: more knowledge. However, I soon realized this was a very internal consideration. I do not intend to be an educator or academic, so the inherent value of knowledge for the sake of knowledge does not fulfill my goal for this program, and for my professional growth — no disrespect to teachers, PhDs, and other academics! What I need to keep deepening my path is a multi-angle approach, combining further knowledge, the opportunity to practice what I learn, and guideposts along the way.
The first of these needs is, I believe, the easiest. Plotting out my path in this organizational leadership degree, conversations with peers and my advisor have suggested the presumptive, most right series of courses to take. This will provide new knowledge I am both lacking and desiring. This will become the foundation from which to build.
With the knowledge learned through coursework, the opportunity to practice will be essential. Even in this foundations class, many of my colleagues’ behaviors — and in some cases their motivations — have been demystified, all because of the learnings in this class. I have been able to act and react appropriately in a number of situations by practicing and testing different approaches. This I believe is my path — to help develop the places I work and the people therein, to the best of their abilities. This points very much to my personal leadership philosophy:
Develop opportunities to engage with work and grow, for myself and others, to the fullest extent possible.
The more I have pondered this philosophy over the past several weeks, the more it has felt right. This is where the idea of guideposts is so important. On my team, I make it a practice to invite feedback every time I provide it myself. In this way, the colleagues closest to me are encouraged to keep me in check, and act as immediate guideposts. The benefits in doing so mimic the benefits Northouse (2015/2019) suggests with regard to Leader-Member Exchange (LMX). Research of LMX found that practicing it “produced less employee turnover, more positive performance evaluations… better job attitudes… greater participation, and faster career progress” (p. 141).
Beyond my teams, the guideposts most crucial on my continued path will be those who don’t hesitate to challenge me. From my modest experience, I have found my greatest growth comes during these times.
Northouse, P. G. (2019). Leadership: Theory and practice. SAGE. Original work published in 2015.