The hectic conversations about leadership started in the middle of the 20th century, after the Great Depression and the II World War. Scientists started to discover the most impressive personalities of the political and social life in the Western World. The history of 20th century introduced such great names as Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, Hitler, Romanov, Gandhi, Thatcher, etc. The list of incredible people can increase to hundreds, and each of the listed personalities is a leader for his nation.
One of the reasons, why the 20th century is so rich in names is the incredible history development. Changes provided by new approaches to the standards of living touched and influenced all spheres: from household development to the ways of representation of the country’s policy on the world arena. The United States of America are the first one, who mentioned and pointed on the capacity of one person to influence the whole community and country’s development. The American society underlined and highlighted that one is responsible for his future, and the best way to succeed is to make impossible possible. To support this idea and create the image of a powerful human, TV industry started to produce and develop the concept of the superman on TV screens. In this way, appealing that everyone who has strengths can become a leader, the one whom congregation will admire and follow as the example.
If to look deeper into the concept of the term leadership, it consists of two words: lead and ship. In addition, leadership is often connected with word leader. The verb to lead is the definition of the process, while the noun leader defines the state of the person. Nevertheless, there is no leader if he has nobody to lead. Usually the word ship associates with something similar to boat, while there is another meaning as crew. As a result, leader is responsible for the tools and methods while leading the ship on the way to achievements.
The example of leadership in this essay is based on personal experience. A friend of mine from former USSR country in Western Europe has been a member of an international youth organization AIESEC for a long time. The purpose of the organization is to develop the leadership potential in every young person in the world. As a new member joins the organization, he starts to work in a project as a team member, so each can see what processes are happening within the project and the team. The next step on the way to the excellence is organization of the project as a team leader. While the member of organization works in the project as a team member, he engages parallel in the functional team. The structure of the organization allows developing in different fields, namely project management, finance, communication or help, to receive the experience of youth exchange in the home country of the organization or abroad.
The project organized by friend of mine, was named “Step by Step” and aimed at developing English among youngsters and teenagers aged from twelve to seventeen. As my friend was a leader, he needed a team, with which he could organize the project. To make the situation clear, there are usually team members in AIECES , who have never met before, or those, who have never worked together. In the team, there are usually eight members, not including the leader of the team. There are situations, when the team members can leave the team in the middle of the project, without warnings and explanations. As a result, in order to analyze how many team members left the team, there is a concept of the retention rate in the team.
The preparation period of the project “Step by Step” lasted about two or three month. During that period, the friend of mine had a team, which consisted of eight people, who were differently aged. The average age was eighteen and a half, while the youngest was seventeen and the oldest was twenty-four. On one hand, this created the dichotomy of the leadership concept as a whole. Moreover, the team members came from different social clusters. On the other hand, there were all grounds to claim that this team experienced dichotomy of leadership. The reason was that the right to become a leader received only those, who had more experience and knowledge of the organizational work. All team members were newcomers. According to the judgment, the leader was superior.
The team leader tried to follow the well-known concept of behavior, when the leader tries to be autocratic, controls each step of the team, and indicates when and where the job was done badly. Nevertheless, the team leader managed to highlight the success of those, who were lucky to find the place for classes or made an agreement with the new partner. Such behavior of the leader caused the problems in the acceptance of the team member as one unit. This person worked on the achievement of the common goal, such as organization of the project, aimed at helping kids to improve their English and learn more about foreign countries.
In overall, the DISC model, developed by Marstone in his book Emotions of Normal People, published in 1924, consists of four management styles: dominance, influence, steadiness and conscientiousness (Marston, 1928). The team leader decided that the best way to organize the work was to implement the idea of dominance, based mainly on the time involved in the organization and influence. However, the second style of management did not succeed, due to the difference in age.
According to Tuckman, each team has four phases of development: forming, storming, norming and performing. The team was at the stage of storming the leader who lost his control. The performing rates decreased; the team lost two local committee campaigns. The leader was torn between the desire to continue preparation of the project and idea to form the team into one body. McKenna calls this trait approach, according to which an individual is trying to refer to tendency to act or react in certain ways.
As each team, this one also had an informal team leader. The oldest team member, who worked also in functional track of talent management, came with suggestion. The idea was the following: to organize a team day in order to fasten it and see what the leader can do in order to cope with the team, to improve the results. In this situation the leader managed to reach the next stage according to the DISC model in order to develop steadiness by asking thoughtful questions aiming to do it right.
All team went to play table tennis. The results surprised both the initiator of the team day, the group leader, and the team. According to the results, the team considered their leader to be the best in everything, what he started to do. The disappointment of the team was great, when the leader lost the first set. The team was not ready to see the human in their leader, who could make mistakes. In addition, the leader was not ready to convince his team, that he was not the best in everything.
The corner stone in this case was emotional intelligence, because at some point it defined the way of the leadership style. The higher emotional intelligence is, the better results are. As a team leader found an ally among the team members, who organized the team day, he started to hesitate between different leadership styles.
The situation in the project was not the best one, and the deadline for preparation was coming. Schools, which were willing to support the project and provide classes for conducting lessons, refused to support it. In this situation, with the usage of the great vision the team leader acted as a coercive leader, who set strict deadlines in order to achieve result. In addition, he started to say the truth. Classes within the project had to be conducted by the foreign interns. The exchange department did not found anyone. There left about two and a half weeks to the project launch. At school, supervisors often asked for schedule.
The leader was aware of the fact that the project was not as he saw it. The leader decided and recommended his team members to say the truth. The consequences of such decision could lead to the “dead” end, therefore, the project could have been easily closed. However, the emotional bonds the leader created with the team were better, than the pointing of wrong decisions and failures. The responsibility taken by the leader was divided equally among all team members. The team and leader became the one whole. The climate in the team became better. Everyone could ask questions related to the project or to some other subject. The team changed the attitude to the leader. They saw that this person was trying his best to manage the project. At some point, the team started to work without asking the permission on the deed. The circle of trust was so strong, that by chance every member could come to another and ask for help.
In the eyes of the team, the leader was not a tyrant anymore, who wanted to see result and humiliated people. The connection in the team was build through the participation of each member. Another main thing the leader wanted his team to use was the idea of sustainable action. There were around twenty-four projects created in the organization during the year. Most of them were educational or cultural. Once, the leader of the team suggested to his members communicating with the team members from the other projects, in order to explore the main ideas, purposes and target audience. The next step was to use this information during the negotiation, if the potential partners were not interested in the support of their own project.
Coaching leadership aims at preparing people for the future. The organizational measurements are the following: the better job done by the team leader, the more newcomers are elected to the leadership position. From the team of eight people, one left the team due to the family situation, and six other became team leaders before the end of the project.
Considering the main five factors according to the dimensions of extroversion, the leader of the team was a sociable, outgoing, but timid person. The last factor can give the hint, why it was so hard for him to organize the work properly at the beginning. It is quite hard to cope with a different aged team if one, as a leader, is not able to cope with himself. The team leader was persistent on the way of achieving the goal. The sense of obligation and duty created often the pressure of uncertainty in the team. Nevertheless, the team managed to cope with this task, when the leader conducted the sharing session. It was the challenge for the team and their leader, because facts, which arose, helped to understand, where the problems were. After the project, the whole team was ready to find solutions straight away.
On one hand, the leader tried to act as independent individual. On the other hand, this was a kind of illusion, as the emotional connections created during the work helped somehow to keep discipline within the group during the work in the project and leisure time. The emotional stability was a question of personal development and growth. The leader of the group confessed to his team that the last month of the project realization he had “dark nights”, namely the period when person has no desire to do anything.
To conclude, leaders are not born. This essay is evidence that everyone can become a leader. The only thing the person needs to understand is that this is more the personal choice, then the social opinion.