The following review is based on my association with a group leadership project and the activities of our group in ascertaining the different factors associated with the development of leadership. The critical reflection would comprise the learning I acquired during the group presentation activity. I have taken appropriate consideration for presenting clear arguments drawn from the project proceedings alongside appropriate evidence.
Furthermore, the reflection highlights the identification of the significance of intelligence as a prominent trait for the development of leadership in the practical case of Jack Ma. The critical evaluation was also helpful in evaluating my performance from the perspectives of a leader as well as a follower and the subsequent impact of my approaches on the group. I have also been able to highlight the leadership traits and qualities of Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba Group and reflective assessment helped me to present suitable recommendations for actions and modifications which can develop the strategic performance of the group project in future (Domingues et al., 2017).
The qualities of a leader have been apprehended differently and examples of leaders such as Jack Ma show that leaders are gradually shaped over years of experience. Jack Ma’s leadership style has been influential in the success and productivity of Alibaba Group, which has exhibited prolific improvements in global e-commerce. The organization was established in 1999 by 18 individuals headed by Jack Ma. Jack had a firm belief in the prospects of levelling the playing ground in the global market so that small organizations could also leverage their technological and operational capabilities to accomplish growth in global economies (Frankel & PGCMS, 2017).
The reflection on the leadership traits of Jack Ma would provide a critical perception of the notable strengths and weaknesses of personal leadership style in group leadership projects. Furthermore, I was able to apprehend that understanding the theoretical references to the significance of leadership could assist in the interpretation of new behaviours according to the different situations and possible responses in those scenarios (Forbes Welcome, 2017). I have also analyzed the essential references to the factors affecting leadership such as intelligence, honesty, determination, social competence, integrity and self-confidence. In the case of Jack Ma, the noted factor influencing leadership is intelligence since the essential facets of insight, language skills and thinking capabilities are noted in Jack Ma. The capabilities of Jack Ma as an entrepreneurial leader with intelligence as a prominent influential factor for his leadership could be observed in his insights, strong English language communication abilities, flexible market intuition and abilities for persuasion and public speaking (Higgs & Dulewicz, 2016).
Therefore these roles can be fulfilled only with the presence of a leader with high IQ such as Jack Ma. The hiring of competent employees is also meant to reduce the gap between the IQ of leaders and followers in the Alibaba Group which is a promising indicator of the productivity of the organization.
Evolution of leadership:
We also engaged in an understanding of the different stages of the evolution of leadership which primarily include control and centralization of power, traits approach, group approach, shared goals, organizational behaviour and leadership competencies. My reflection on the definition of generic components associated with the leadership phenomenon suggests the consideration of leadership as a process would have to involve planning and thereby preparation of contingency measures could limit the flexibility of leaders.
The plausible elements which have been associated with the evolution of leadership over the years suggest a consistent dilemma between the origin of power from birth or through experience. Intelligence, determination, honesty, integrity, self-confidence and social competence are assumed as major traits for a leader and hence individuals could acquire these traits for improvement of leadership styles (José, Dredge & Lohmann, 2014). The examples of present-day leaders such as Jack Ma suggest that leaders could be made from scratch as in the case of Jack, who was an English teacher and is now the richest man in Asia with a global e-commerce enterprise.
Leaders who are born and made are also noted in historical examples of the rulers of Egypt who were anointed with leadership privileges due to birth alongside acquiring the skills and mastery for ruling (Mohelska & Sokolova, 2015). The accomplishments of Egyptian rulers in terms of building a civilization, prospering it over the years and establishing milestones in construction as observed in the Great Sphinx. Therefore the necessity for intelligence as a formidable trait in nurturing a leader can be apprehended as an outcome of my critical reflection.
I was also able to apprehend one of the most prominent evidences which have been noted in favour of the response suggesting that leaders are made and are not born. Leaders are truly characterized by self-awareness and the noticeable consequences which I was able to observe in the case of my group activity. My extraversion was accompanied by neuroticism including vulnerability and insecurity which led to my profound weakness as a leader.
Therefore a clear development of self-awareness and personality traits could be suggested as a suitable action or method for improving leadership capability (Mahembe & Engelbrecht, 2014). Hence, I was able to conclude from my critical reflection that leaders could be made through inferential learning and therefore the significance of nurturing leaders can be posed as a solution to the query, “Are leaders born or made?”
The situational leadership style has been considered a promising leadership approach by various leaders. Identification of the prominent examples of situational leadership styles which can be adopted in the context of different situations is a prominent characteristic of the report illustrated below. It would be imperative to refer to the different situational characteristics of leaders and the levels of development of followers in the situational approach to leadership (Organ, 1996).
The report also discusses the strengths and limitations of the situational leadership approach since it is subjective and can be preferred most urgently in crisis scenarios. Critical reflection on the different aspects of situational leadership theory allows me to draw suitable inferences about personal strengths and weaknesses concerning situational leadership. The recommendations could be influential in determining plausible actions for future group leadership projects.
The critical perception of literature related to leadership styles presents a viable impression of the significant aspect of situational leadership which indicates the liability of leaders to cope with the competence level of followers to accomplish strategic objectives. The consistent references to adaptability and variation in different situations are observed as a characteristic indicator of the proliferation of distinct leadership styles. I was able to apprehend evidence of four different leadership styles which could be implemented according to the situational leadership approach from the literature.
The model of situational leadership is characterized by two distinct forms of behaviour i.e. direction and support with the four quadrants indicating different leadership styles (Parry & Kempster, 2014). Furthermore, the perception of the situation is the driver of the leader’s decision and their interpretation of follower capability for accomplishing situational objectives. The leadership style behaviour pattern is dictated by the situations and is characterized by varying combinations of supporting and directing behaviour. I was also able to reflect on the different development levels of followers according to the criteria of competence and commitment to accomplishing a specific objective or task (Stander, De Beer & Stander, 2015).
The different development levels of followers include followers with low competence and high commitment, followers with moderate competence and low commitment, followers with high competence albeit with low commitment and a final development level comprising of high competence and high commitment. Therefore the presentation in the group leadership project formulated the distinct leadership styles in unison with the development levels of followers and the approaches of directing, coaching, supporting and delegating were observed. My critical reflection on the four leadership approaches in situational leadership enabled me to apprehend the interplay between leadership behaviour patterns and the development level of subordinates in the realization of efficient situational leadership initiatives (Tourish, 2014).
For example, the supporting leadership style is characterized by leaders with a higher inclination towards supportive behaviour and minimal directive behaviour. In such cases, the minimal provision of directions requires subordinates with moderate or high competence so that they can cope with the low directive nature of leadership alongside leveraging the high support and flexibility imparted by leaders to cater for their low commitment.
Strengths and Limitations:
From my critical reflection of the presentation, I was able to apprehend the strengths of the situational leadership model such as the flexibility of leaders and provisions for adapting to the competence levels of employees. The individual leadership styles which have been noticed in the situational leadership model are associated with distinct combinations of leadership behaviour patterns and subordinate development levels.
The critical reflection on this strength suggests that leadership must always be responsive to change and situational leadership offers prospects for managers as well as followers to respond to market situations through change (Tian, Risku & Collin, 2016). The flexibility of situational leadership styles is noted in the provision of flexibility for followers to acquire motivation and direction as per their requirements and leaders could be equally benefited through capabilities for selecting followers with appropriate development levels suiting their leadership behaviour pattern. For example, the delegating leader can be able to select followers with high competence as well as commitment since the leader would not have to engage in the provision of support or directions (Tafvelin, Hyvönen & Westerberg, 2014).
Recognition of value and capability differences can also be identified as a prominent strength from my critical reflection. It enables leaders to motivate followers with lower competence to capitalize on their strengths through high commitment. The situational leadership styles also allow the leaders to frame modifications in the relation between follower and task according to changes in situational parameters.
On the contrary, some profound pitfalls have also been identified from the critical reflection of the group leadership project. The first setback is the subjective judgement of leaders which is based on human assessment and knowledge of tasks (Wong, Cummings & Ducharme, 2013). Underestimating as well as overestimating the competencies and commitment of followers can be detrimental aspects to task completion.
Situational leaders are also required to apprehend the cultural differences which require prolific knowledge of cognitive and psychological development theory. Furthermore, the lack of formal research in the estimation of factors responsible for distinct combinations of leadership behaviour patterns and follower development levels as well as the suitability of their outcomes is also a clear disadvantage of the situational leadership theory.
The reflection suggests that situational leadership is associated with the noticeable significance of the elements of competence and commitment on behalf of followers and support and direction on behalf of the leaders. The model has to be improvised by the formulation of remedial measures such as the recognition of gender and cultural disparities alongside the evaluation of long-term strategies of situational leaders (Tourish, 2014).
Assessment of long-term strategies and politics of situational leaders is necessary to apprehend the relevance of the leadership styles followed by them for organizational performance and future assistance in group leadership projects.
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