Personal Strategic Development Assessment

A Leader in the Making!

Personal Strategic Development Assessment

Some of the key characteristics of strategic leadership as outlined by Hughes, Beatty, & Dinwoodie (2014) include the enduring performance of the organization and achieving potential that will endure for a long period of time (Hughes, Beatty, & Dinwoodie, 2014, p. 24). In a previous course at TWU, I gave a speech to my classmates. In my speech I wrote about my dream of being the kind of leader who will make a difference or leave an impact that will live on, even after I am physically gone from the world. Success and results over time is an important component of strategic leadership (Hughes et al., 2014, p. 24).

I still have many things to learn about leadership. In this program, I hope to acquire a greater knowledge base and skill set in my experiences to enable me to become a more effective leader.

As a teacher, I exhibit leadership qualities on a daily basis. Within my classroom, I am a strategic leader for my students. I use a variety of strategies to teach concepts in a meaningful way so students will learn and achieve. I also take on leadership roles among my coworkers. For example, I developed a beginning teacher’s handbook which is given to new teachers to make them feel more welcome and less anxious about starting at our school. I have taken on the task of organizing and planning social committee events so that our staff can feel more like they are a part of a family. I volunteer to run extra-curricular activities to maximize the quality of the education provided by our school. I organize our spiritual formation team to inspire students and staff to be more spiritual, charitable and virtuous in their lives.

Hughes et al. (2014) discuss the importance of the leader using skills to inspire and generate a community of individuals who are committed to a cause (Hughes et al., 2014, p. 24). This is something I work towards every day. In my personal life, it is in my weight loss journey. I have used my skills, knowledge and passion to work towards achieving my weight loss and fitness goals. Through sharing my story and taking on a leadership role in my own life, I have demonstrated a passion for a cause, a commitment to a mission, vision and values which has inspired others to follow suit. In essence this is strategic leadership.

In my professional life, I continue to take on leadership roles each day. I demonstrate a passion and dedication to improving my skills as a teacher and in providing the best education for young minds. I volunteer to take on the more difficult tasks, such as taking more challenging students. I do this because I know there are teachers who struggle with extreme cases in their class. My grade partner for the 2017-2018 school year was one specific example. She had just returned from a maternity leave and was faced with a difficult group of kids with a one year old and a husband who had just gone back to work. I knew I had less stress in my life and offered to take one of the higher needs students in order to help her.  I did this as a leader, in the hope to encourage other coworkers by showing them we are a team.

In both my personal and professional experiences, my response to circumstance is consistently putting in hard work, showing a passion and dedication to a cause even in times of hardships and inspiring others to improve and be the best versions of themselves. I believe the leadership skills I demonstrate make me a successful teacher and valuable friend.

I am continuously faced with new challenges in my personal and professional life. These challenges require me to venture outside of my comfort zone. In my classroom, I did not realize the extremities I would face in dealing with students with severe special needs. I also did not realize how deeply I would desire to meet this challenge. Sometimes the most difficult students are the ones who need me the most.

In the staffroom, I sometimes find myself at a loss to comprehend the interactions and behaviors of the staff. They gossip and they have cliques. I believe I can and must make every effort to improve the most difficult situations. I want to be prepared to face new challenges as they arrive.

When determining my response to challenges and stressors, it is important to me that my team is supportive. I offer opportunities for members of my team to share their input before making a decision. I find the people I turn to are those with more experience, different background knowledge or can offer input I know is valuable. I seek input because I want to make decisions people will respect and implement. Teamwork is important in the field of Education.

If the superintendents, principals and other staff were making all of the decisions without input from the team, they would not be making effective decisions. “Strategic leadership exists beyond the executive ranks. It also exists in individuals and teams throughout the organization who are close to the customer” (Hughes et al., 2014, p. 31). In education, the teachers are the people who are closest to the ‘customer.’ The teachers may be able to offer better input in decision making processes because of their daily experiences.

I am young and have much to learn about being a strategic leader. I came to the MAEL program to learn new skills and to enhance previously learned skills. I want to take my career to new levels and in order to do this, I need to enhance my skills as a leader. One of my weaknesses is I sometimes demonstrate an insecurity or lack of confidence in my decision making abilities. This is because I feel like I do not have the knowledge or experience to make the best decisions yet. I am confident this will diminish as I gain more experience, improve my skills and develop a stronger background knowledge.

I have developed my mission, vision and values based on careful consideration of the goals I hope to achieve and who I am as a person.

Mission:

To provide my current place of employment with tangible suggestions for change that will build a healthy and supportive morale and culture among staff.

Vision:

Improved relationships between staff members and improved feeling of belonging.

Values:

For this assignment, I have used the values derived by a team of 3 classmates and myself from LDRS 502. Behind this set of values was a group of adults who are working towards similar goals. Our team spent a great deal of time developing this part of the assignment. The values created in the assignment are the values I will adhere to in my own endeavors.

Communication

Communication is foundational to effective and meaningful relationships within a team.

Respect

Respect means I will take the time to listen, understand, and assist each member of the team as we grow together.  It means I will not speak about others unless we are together, and will show grace when members fall short.

Trust

When members of our team commit to doing an action or task, I will allow them the freedom to complete this task. I will allow those with special skills to showcase them, and trust they will be contributing them to the fullest of their ability.

Humor

“I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.”  Ecclesiastes 3-12-13

(Thompson, Stewart, DeHaan, & Keith, 2018, p. 5-8)

My mission, vision and values align with the professional development I desire. If I am successful in my journey, I will have taken on a leadership role in my work place which will benefit me in my leadership journey as well as in my career. Hopefully I will be successful and I will work in a supportive environment that fosters growth among staff members instead of destruction and exhaustion. I know this mission will benefit me in my personal life as well. It will build my strength and skills as a leader which will benefit me in the future. In my personal and professional lives, I will feel proud and will be encouraged to be a team motivator. These feelings will improve my self-efficacy and job satisfaction which will positively affect my overall happiness.

The strategic driver best for my situation is ‘operational effectiveness.’ Currently, the atmosphere is ‘every man for himself.’ This is not effective in a school setting. “Teaching has been regarded as one of the most stressful professions” (Shkembi, Melonashi, & Fanaj, 2015, p. 1). In stressful positions, it is important for people to work as a team. Staff members come into the school in the morning feeling exhausted and defeated and many share a negative energy everywhere they go throughout the day. This is felt by the students, parents within the school community and is becoming a well-known fact within our community. Currently, we are not operating effectively.

If our staff had a team attitude, people would be motivated to be a helpful team member, and individuals would derive more satisfaction from their contributions. This would improve morale and would undoubtedly improve the quality of education, the attitudes of the students and the reputation of the school within the community.

In my endeavors, I know I will excel in the areas of creativity and innovations. I am the kind of person who always tries to make things unique, engaging and appealing. One specific example is when my principal asked me to lead the staff in a prayer session. Every time our staff does prayer, we do it the same way. People gather around and something is read in unison. For my prayer, I decided to ‘think outside the box.’ I had our staff each design a symbol and then together, we made a tree out of the symbols, demonstrating our togetherness in Christ. I also included a song which I played and sang and then had the staff join in. Although it may not be everyone’s ideal prayer time, I had many staff tell me his was more meaningful to them than just reciting words from a pamphlet we were given.

In our school, I want to establish a culture where each person feels valued, respected and part of a team. I want people to enjoy coming to work every day. I want our staff to look forward to seeing each other and working together to learn from each other and provide our students with the best education possible. I will set aside time, to discuss what is working well and what is not working well. Leaders who encourage an openness to sharing ideas stimulate innovation and creativity (Himot, 2009, p. 24). When staff are encouraged to be innovative and to explore new ideas, they become more positive about their work experience (Himot, 2009, p. 24). I want our staff to be excited about providing more than just an education as well. Currently, our staff resents having to do Christmas concerts, fun days or talent shows for our students as these things require a lot of extra time and planning. These events are very magical and exciting for young learners and they will often remember these moments for a lifetime. I want our staff to have a positive attitude about these events in our school as it is not only exciting for the students, but also benefits our reputation within the community. My goals for culture align with my mission vision and values. I will try to encourage others on my staff to share the same values I will adhere to. I will set a good example and be a role model for others to follow. With enough people practicing the same mission, vision and values, more people will be encouraged to follow suit and believe in the cause.

“Strategic leadership is a process, not a position, and increasing numbers of individuals share in the responsibility of its development and practice in organizations” (Hughes et al., 2014, p. 21).  In my organization, I want to see an increasing number of individuals share in the responsibility of developing the culture in our organization. The current situation is not something I can solve on my own. I will need a team to help with my mission and vision. This is somewhat of an older economy way of working in that our power will come from the team working together and not necessarily from the ‘controllers’ or the people in positions of power. Hughes et al. (2014) tell us that even the most knowledgeable CEO’s or the best CEO’s don’t have all the power or hold all of the knowledge, but they “rely on and nurture input and insights throughout the organization to set the strategy, enact the strategy, and help in understanding how well the strategy is working” (Hughes et al., 2014, p. 31). An effective strategic leader needs the help and expertise of the whole team. I find it motivating when Hughes et al. (2014) write, strategic leadership “is in fact a learning process, and leaders must enter into it with a learning orientation, including curiosity, inquiry, humility, and collaboration with others” (Hughes et al., 2014, p. 32). This is exactly the mindset to have when entering this experience.

I have a strong mission, vision and values and a passion for all of these. Hughes et al. (2014) suggest one’s mission, vision and value need to create meaning and purpose for all those involved in the organization. They need to clearly see the benefit of aligning with the mission, vision and value and need to know they will somehow make a difference.

Strategy is maximized when it also involves aspirational dimensions that touch the emotions of all the stakeholders involved: employees, current and future clients and customers, the general public, owners, and shareholders. Organizational mission, vision, and values are important aspirational components that create meaning and purpose for these stakeholders. These components serve to help people understand why the organization exists, how it intends to make a difference in the world, and what the important beliefs are that drive and connect the people in the organization (Hughes et al., 2014, p. 36).

I need to work towards improving my knowledge of strategy drivers and how I can effectively use these drivers towards my cause. I also need to learn how to develop effective strategies I can be use in the process. I will do this through obtaining feedback, opinions and ideas from my colleagues and team members.

Thus far, my efforts have not been effective. Hughes et al. (2014) tell us “the critical issue for strategic leaders is how to make changes that progressively build on each other and represent an evolving enhancement of the organization’s well-being. That is, they must not just keep trying different things; although that is good, it is not enough” (Hughes et al., 2014, p. 33). In the future, I will change this. I will abandon the trial and error process in favour of an approach based upon skills and experience I acquire in this program. I have realized I may need to make small changes, one step at a time, rather than to try and change so much all at once.  People need to change gradually over time, and one has to be patient, otherwise, you can become discouraged after pouring your heart and soul into new ideas that have failed to produce results. “Finding time to be together at social events, (such as birthdays, awards ceremonies, special occasions) and educational events (such as conferences, retreats, workships, etc.) help staff to support each other and grow together in harmony” (Himot, 2009, p. 24) In reading this chapter, I realize there are many areas for growth and improvement in the process I use.

References

Himot, O. (2009). Achieving results through joy. Reader Forum, 28 (6). Retrieved from

Hughes, R. L., Beatty, K. C., & Dinwoodie, D. L. (2014). Becoming a strategic leader: your role in your organization’s enduring success (2nd ed.). San Francisco:Jossey-Bass.

Shkembi, F., Melonashi, E., & Fanaj, N. (2015, October 1). Workplace stress among teachers in kosovo. Leadership in Action, 5(4). https://doi.org/10.1177/2158244015614610

Thompson, S., Stewart, N., DeHaan, T., & Keith, J. (2018). CABJ youth program: team manual. Trinity Western University.