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Educational Leadership Development

Reading John C. Maxwell’s book allowed me to reflect on my own leadership qualities and assess how well I am faring as a leader. While I reckon that I may still have much to learn in order to become as effective as the leaders exampled in this book, I have selected five particular qualities from Maxwell’s book that I am well able to identify with. These leadership traits are commitment, competence, courage, self-discipline and focus. Commitment. Maxwell writes, “Commitment is what separates doers from dreamers.

” The leadership training courses that I have attended illustrate commitment in much the same way Maxwell has in his book. I see the truth in people not following uncommitted leaders. Commitment can be displayed in various ways but mostly in terms of following through and completing an accepted task. It is about setting goals, committing to them, and paying the price in order to achieve them. I believe that I am a committed person and that I am capable of measuring my commitment to see through the achievement of my goals.

As a leader, it is important for me to lead by example and I know for certain that I am only able to truly inspire

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people if they see how committed I am. When I am entrusted with a task, I will see through its completion and make sure I exceed expectations, much like Michelangelo did and how he had seen through the completion of his masterpiece in the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo was tasked by Pope Julius II to paint the 12 Apostles in the chapel, and he overdid himself by including nine scenes from the book of Genesis and at least 400 other Biblical characters. Competence.

Maxwell made an example of Benjamin Franklin who was one of the fathers of American Independence. Franklin was a regular tradesman who excelled in everything he did for several decades, establishing a reputation for his incredible competence and his desire to keep improving his knowledge and skills. We all admire people who display great competence. Cultivating this quality requires showing up everyday and being ready to work; always striving to learn, grow and improve; following through with excellence; accomplishing more than what is expected; and inspiring and motivating others to do the same.

To become a great leader, I have learned that I must always think that “good is never good enough. ” Competence is developed through diligence and the desire to go the extra mile. I am confident that I have the competencies required to become a leader, and I know for certain that I have to keep improving myself that order for me to stay competent as a leader. This is not to say that my competence is a fleeting thing, but as the world around us continues to evolve, as a leader I must continue to improve on my competencies in order to remain ahead of my game.

I cannot settle for being just a good leader when I know I can be great. Courage. According to Eddie Rickenbacker, “Courage is doing what you are afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared. ” A leader is often faced with many uncertainties, obstacles and opposition. Having courage does not mean not having any fears – courage is, in fact, the ability to conquer fear and to be able to move ahead towards a goal. As a leader, I expect many great challenges ahead of me as I work towards achieving my goals.

I wish to one day be able to say, “I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along,” just as Eleanor Roosevelt did. In order for others to see me as a leader, I must first be able to show them that I am capable of conquering my own fears. It is only through this that I can hope to inspire courage among those that I lead – courage to work upon their own goals, as well as our shared goals, and to continue striving until those goals have been achieved. Difficulties will always be present, obstacles or even people who voice out their lack of faith.

These are among the many fears a leader must overcome, as I know I should if I am to prove myself as a leader. Self-Discipline. The author John Foster wrote, “A man without a decision of character can never be said to belong to himself… He belongs to whatever can make captive of him. ” Jerry Rice, the world’s best ever wide receiver, said, “Don’t quit, because once you are in that mode of quitting, then you feel like it’s okay. ” Working towards the achievement of a goal requires great self-discipline. Quitting on that goal is said to be caused by a lack of discipline, as much as it is a lack of commitment and courage.

Some people regard “winning” and “losing” as a force of habit – a winner strives toward his goal no matter what the cost and even if others beat him to it, while a loser quits before he even realizes that he could have won after all. A marathon runner who envisions himself as a winner will continue running until he crosses the finish line even while he sees others cross that line before he does. I see self-discipline as an invaluable leadership trait for the lack of it spells disaster for any leader. If I am to motivate others into working for their goals, then I must first show them that I have the discipline to work for my own goals.

Focus. Maxwell explains that the keys to becoming a focused leader are priorities and concentration. He writes, “A leader who knows what his priorities are but lacks concentration knows what to do but never gets it done. If he has concentration but no priorities, he has excellence without progress. But when he harnesses both, he has potential to achieve great things. ” Knowing what my priorities are will help guide me towards my goals. Concentrating on those priorities, and how I am expected to work in order to achieve my goals, will help me focus my time and energy towards accomplishing what I have set out to do.

Through the leadership courses that I have attended, I have learned that a leader without focus cannot expect to accomplish the tasks he has set out to do in a timely and efficient manner. There will always be distractions that may deter me from working towards my goal – some are welcome, like an invitation to take a break from work, and some are not welcome, like the lack of available resources needed to complete a task. Staying focused on tasks I have at hand means I must concentrate my efforts, time and resources towards the accomplishment of my priorities.

In conclusion, I have gained these five traits over the years and learned to improve on them in the leadership courses I have taken. To become the great leader I aspire to be, I must show great commitment to my goals and strive to become as competent as I can possibly be to achieve those goals. I must show true courage in overcoming obstacles to accomplishing my goals. To become effective as a leader, I must have self-discipline and focus to finish what I have set out to do and inspire others to do the same. Part 2. Anticipative Connections

After having established the leadership qualities described in Maxwell’s book that I believe I already possess, I now enumerate five leadership qualities that I hope to cultivate in order to become the leader I wish to become. I have learned that initiative, positive attitude, problem solving skills, servanthood and a sense of security are also needed in order to become a true leader. Initiative. Hotel Executive, Conrad Hilton once said, “Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.

” In order for a leader to make things happen, a leader must know what he wants, be able to push himself to act, take more risks, and make more mistakes. Knowing what I want will help me define my goals and set my priorities. Pushing myself to act upon these goals means I can depend on no one else but myself to take action towards the fruition of my goals. Taking more risks means I must discover ways and means to get to my goals, even those that I have never tried before. Making more mistakes will allow me to learn and improve upon myself in order to see the path towards my goals more clearly.

If for example I am faced with a task no one else wishes to take for the task is difficult or complex, I can take up the challenge of that task and take the initiative. However, taking the initiative means more than just being the one to take the first steps towards accomplishing a task or solving a problem. It requires the ability to take the next steps after the first one has been taken, continuing to move towards the desired outcome. This trait is something I wish to improve on in order for me to become the kind of leader I wish to be. Positive Attitude.

Thomas Edison once said, “being a genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. ” I have learned in my class that the drive towards achieving a goal is never complete without an inspiration to guide it. However, maintaining a positive attitude is not as simple as it sounds. As Maxwell writes, “maintaining a good attitude is easier than regaining one. ” Positivity fuels the motivation of an individual to work towards the accomplishment of his goals. For me to become a good leader, I must exude with that positive attitude that will not only inspire others to take my lead but also inspire me to take the lead.

Attitude is a matter of choice and it also determines what courses of action will be taken. This is one trait I intend to harness and develop in order to succeed as a leader. If I am able to maintain a positive attitude in everything I do, I believe I can accomplish anything. I can easily motivate myself to press forward even when the circumstances seem grave. Conversely, if I am unable to maintain positivity, a dreary situation or pitfall in my work can easily cause me unneeded stress and anxiety which can very well undermine my ability to achieve my goals.

Problem Solving. Obstacles come in the way of men every time they work towards the achievement of a goal. These problems may be big or small, but no matter what these problems are, a good leader who was the problem solving skills will always be able to conquer them. According to Maxwell, a leader with good problem solving skills is able to anticipate problems, accept the truth, see the big picture, handle one thing at a time, and don’t give up on a major goal when he is down. Problem solving requires an individual to become analytical and observant.

Anticipating problems in any given situation is never easy, but a leader who is able to look ahead will be able to discern different possibilities. Accepting the truth is even more difficult. Situations that may seem hopeless can easily lead a person into anxiety and even denial. Accepting the reality of the situation requires a lot of courage from a true leader. Seeing the big picture in that situation allows the leader to analyze what went wrong and what can be done to set things right. Handling one thing at a time requires the ability to prioritize, and delegate if possible.

Never giving up on a major goal despite existing setbacks will ensure success, no matter how painstaking it can get to achieving success. If there is one thing I learned, it is that solving problems clear the road towards accomplishing something. Problem solving skills are learned over time. Often, people find making mistakes first before getting to really solve problems. Also, solving problems need not be done individually. Some people find it difficult to ask for help with problems, especially when the way to solve the problem they are faced with is by asking for help.

Maxwell writes, “You can measure a leader by the problems he tackles. He always looks for ones his own size. ” For me to be successful as a leader, then honing my problem solving skills should be among my priorities. Servanthood. Many people tend to think that leaders are born leaders. I learned that leaders are not as effective as leaders if they cannot follow others. In order for me to get ahead, I must be able to put others first. Eugene Habecker wrote, “The true leader serves. Serves people.

Serves their best interests, and in doing so will not always be popular, may not always impress. But because true leaders are motivated by loving concern rather than a desire for personal glory, they are willing to pay the price. ” I discovered during the courses I have taken that pride usually gets in the way of serving people. The irony is that leadership entails serving people and if a person does not have the stomach to serve then he does not have the stomach to lead. Putting other people’s best interests first is a difficult task but, to a true leader, this task is most worth while.

Seeing that a person is able to deliver what is best for others no matter the cost, and no matter how little the action impresses others, inspires others to follow that person’s lead. Security. Industrialist Andrew Carnegie said, “No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit for doing it. ” A sense of insecurity destroys a leader because he becomes obsessed with overcoming threats rather than solving problems. Margaret Thatcher wrote about her father’s words of encouragement, “You don’t follow the crowd, you make up your own mind.

” Overcoming insecurity is generally a difficult thing to do, but getting it done could spell the difference between success and failure. Having a strong resolve and high confidence defines a person’s sense of security. No amount of criticism should be able to shake the foundations of a person’s sense of security. As Maxwell writes, “It takes a strong, secure person to succeed as a world leader – it is especially true when the person is a woman. ” Margaret Thatcher was regarded as the most unpopular person in Great Britain during her time, but no amount of criticism could get in the way of her achievements.

She rose up to the challenge instead and was elected prime minister three times. She became the only British leader of the modern era to achieve this feat. Her skills and secure conviction made her first choice among her comrades when faced with difficult situations and heavy debate. She had achieved so much in what people would call “a man’s world,” especially during the time when women entering the world of politics was highly criticized. She had indeed become an image of a secure leader, achieving excellence in all that she endeavored.

To summarize, the five traits I wish to improve on greatly, as described herein, are difficult to acquire for they require a complete attitudinal change. However, developing a sense of initiative, maintaining a positive attitude, improving on problem solving skills, respecting the need for a sense of servanthood, and having a strong sense of security can make a huge difference in a leader. Without these traits, I believe, a leader is doomed for failure. Part 3. Review Dr. Glen M. Segell wrote in the Spring 2007 volume of the Advancing Women in Leadership Online Journal about the role of then Prime Minister Mrs.

Margaret Thatcher’s role in the advancement of gender equality in recruitment, roles, pay, and pensions in the armed forces. Prime Minister Thatcher, known as the Iron Lady for her strong conviction and sense of security as the United Kingdom’s first female Prime Minister, and Dr. Segell’s article discussed various insights into her personal agenda, ideological position, policy priorities, relations with women organizations, the domestic and international political situation she was in, and other such concerns that have raised criticism.

Mrs. Thatcher remains a strong influential force among men and women in Europe even today because of the way she has kept her head held high against all sorts of criticisms. Her leadership has inspired millions across the globe, including other world leaders at that (the late President Ronald Reagan, for instance), through her autobiographies and writings. Her stand on the issue of gender equality and social injustice is calculated and analytical, as discussed in Dr. Segell’s article.

She refers to her stand as being that of social justice rather than feminism, and the holistic perspective she brought into the Parliament with regard to this issue has brought several other world leaders in support of her endeavors. The strength in Mrs. Thatcher’s conviction, her sense of initiative and servanthood, her commitment, courage and passion, and her vision of social justice and equality are just some of the traits I would like to harness myself in order to become a true leader.

I believe that she is the embodiment of all 21 leadership traits described in Maxwell’s book and I look up to her as my example. REFERENCES Maxwell, J. C. (1999). The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader: Becoming the Person Others Will Want to Follow. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc. Segell, G. M. (2007, Spring). Prime Minister Mrs. Margaret Thatcher Advancing Gender Equality: Recruitment, Roles, Pay, and Pensions in the Armed Forces. Retrieved May 6, 2010, from Advancing Women in Leadership Online Journal, Vol. 23: http://www. advancingwomen. com/awl/spring2007/segell. htm

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