We have all met successful leaders that we wondered what enabled them to be effective. Some were like diamonds, smooth and some are rough. Some are charming and some….. lets that leave it at that. However you see yourself, whatever your age may be, as soon as you are the one who makes decisions or exercises authority or make that exciting first hire, you have taken the first steps in becoming a powerful leader. While research suggests that the possession of certain traits alone does not guarantee leadership success, there is evidence that effective leaders are different from other people in certain key respects.
Stogdill (1948) concludes a person does not become a leader by virtue of the possession of some combination of attributes. His research revealed that situational factors also played a role. For example, military leaders do not have attributes identical to those of business leaders. The introductions of my leadership attributes are important for they are some of the values I regard highly that identify my character as a professional leader. However, there many leadership attributes that stand out as being more important than the others including my own.
The good news is that each of these leadership attributes can be learned, and they must be learned by continual practice and repetition. My key leader attributes traits exemplify achievement, motivation, ambition, energy and tenacity. Clearly, the ability to associate the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium Standards (ISLLC) with my valued attributes is principal in any leadership situation are aligned and can be further developed within myself. I think that integrity and fairness / integrity and honesty attributes should be on every list that we have seen.
Clearly, this alignment is critical in any leadership situation and in the classroom. For example, classroom conversation is one of the most effective preventions to academic dishonesty. There is no substitute for faculty members engaging students in dialogues about the importance of integrity and honesty in their academic, personal, and professional lives. Such conversations and emphasis on standards and displaying them consistently, you will hopefully encourage and influence students to reflect on their own values and actions, and to be active partners in promoting a culture of integrity both internally and externally of the classroom.
By the same token, leaders who do not ‘practice what they preach’ stand to lose credibility. Another important leader attribute is of learning culture / competency to merit a separate discussion. Writing about this standard and attribute is worth remarking about a leader. To express the ability to do something successfully or efficiently is this combination of the leader to reach out and learn from others whether they be above hierarchy or lower.
They are willing to learn along the way on how to effectively facilitate, create an environment conducive to the learning environment, share their experiences with others for professional growth and meet the crises and challenges along the way as greater competency is achieved as the leader gains additional on the job (OJT) experience. Learning from experience and then communicating that experience to others is a strong communication tool. The leader must be willing to listen to a variety of ideas, compare them with his or her own, and eventually select a course of action that is best for their students.
Smith (1986), in his list of 20 Fundamentals to Remember, states that a leader must be open-minded, interested in hearing new points of view, and eager to deal with new issues. When it comes to managing the learning environment and the knowledge of profession/job educational leaders must hire teachers who have a solid basic understanding of their job as well as be flexible and adaptive to meet the needs of students. Teachers and staff members must manage the organization, operations, facilities and resources in ways that maximize the use of resources within their instructional organization.
During my time as a noncommissioned officer assigned to both Basic and Senior Leadership Academies, I have learned total quality management approaches are one way in which to manage a school and classroom. Glasser (1998) emphasizes that leaders manage things while they lead people in the books. He authors that Total Quality Management (TQM) delineates things such as finances and inventories as manageable but people are to be led. William Glasser emphasizes those leaders manage things while they lead people.
I have had the fortune to have worked with an excellent supervisor who had taught me a lot and even though did not always agree, it was always about figuring out what was best for the leadership school and student environment. Truthfully, he encouraged the push back method for his main concern revolved around “what was right” as opposed to “being right”. The two years with him as an instructor stood out as one of the best learning experiences that I have ever had for his focuses were on the organization and the students.
A leader, effective or not will sometimes find themselves in a dilemma or situation where they have to trust their instinct and sense of judgment. One attribute of good leadership is the ability to discern right and wrong; and also making the right decisions when in a dilemma. This is when a leader finds themselves managing the learning environment, accepting responsibility for their actions or lack thereof and using a good sense of judgment for the betterment of the organization and students.
All leaders are sometimes faced with situational cases; sometimes, you have to settle a teacher or staff conflict, and trust people and their judgments. That’s why having a good sense of judgment and taking risks is beneficial to becoming a good leader. The final leadership attribute that I view as essential is shared vision and communication. Leaders continue to demonstrate the ability to communicate the vision to staff, parents, students, and community members through the use of symbols, ceremonies, stories, and other activities.
Knowing what you want accomplished may seem clear in your head, but if you try to explain it to someone else and are met with a blank expression, you know there is a problem. I am sure that we all can relate to that experience at some point in our lives. If this has been your experience, then you may want to focus on honing your communication skills. Being able to clearly and concisely describe what you want done is extremely important. If you can’t relate your vision to your team, fellow colleagues and students, you won’t all be working towards the same goal.
A leader’s strength in communicating is enhanced by humor, trust, and ability to listen to other viewpoint. In comparison to the attribute of knowledgeable and how it aligns to the ISLLC standard. Knowledge aligns with facilitating improvements in instruction and student learning. As of September 2013 I am living a dream as a teacher. I have recently retired from the U. S. Army and now a Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps, Army Instructor, at a high school in Virginia.
I have acquired an understanding of teaching and learning via the military as both Basic and Senior instructor at three Leadership Academies and continually seek innovative ideas from directorate leaders, superiors, and fellow instructors to improve on professional development, innovative student learning ideas, and implementation of new curriculum, etc. I like to bring new ways of instruction into the classroom ensuring a tap into the different styles of student and fellow teachers learning to keep their interest.
Additionally, being aware of any required resources to assist in instruction. Is it impossible to find any one leadership attribute that all leaders have and many non- leaders do not have? My personal valued leadership attributes: integrity and honesty; communication skill; approachable; sense of humor, self-confidence and creativity. The Situational Leadership Model suggests that there is no “one size fits all” approach to leadership. Depending on the situation, varying levels of “leadership” and “management” are necessary.
However, leaders must first identify their most important tasks or priorities. Second, leaders must consider the readiness level of their followers by analyzing the group’s ability and willingness. Depending on the level of these variables, leaders must apply the most appropriate leadership style to fit the given situation. The four different types of situational leadership are: Directing Coaching Supporting Delegating Situational Theories Is it a guarantee that, if a leader possesses these attributes traits that she will be successful? I would say, ‘no.
Leaders, and, particularly, aspiring leaders, must recognize that there are many factors that affect the success or failure of a leader. Many external factors come into play in determining how well a leader can do his job, for example, under extreme pressure, time constraints, or the loss of technology. Can someone who does not possess each of these five traits be a successful leader? I believe so, therefore, the possibility exists. My opinion is that these five are the most meaningful traits of leaders that one should possess or learn with practice and repetition.