The leadership development and team building course has taught me a lot about how to be a leader, how to manage my time, and how to use these tools in my personal life as well. In this paper I will reflect on learning about the Plato’s theory of whom should be leaders, and how women play a huge role in leadership. I also will reflect on the immense amount of information I learned as to why it is so important to be an ethical leader, reading about Stephen Covey’s book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, and how to build a successful team.
Deciding what the best form of government is and whom would be the best leaders have been an argument amongst people since the beginning of time. Plato, a Greek philosopher had a theory that philosophers should be the chosen leaders. He called them the Philosopher Kings. His beliefs were born into a dialogue known as, “Republic”, in which he states that in order to have a “just” city, the leaders must be selfless, loving, intelligent and free from greed (Lane, 2013).
The idea of the “philosopher-king” is that the philosophers are morally and intellectually suited to rule because a philosopher’s nature is to live and love in truth (Lane, 2013). They are so dedicated to learning that they free themselves from greed and gain full knowledge of reality (Lane, 2013). He believed that it is important to have a genuine sincere “perfectly just man” as a leader, rather than a leader who appears to be a “just man” in order to get whatever he wants (The Paradox of the Philosopher King, Republic 471d - 480a).
Many Athenians did not take philosophers seriously and considered them as almost a joke. To them, philosophers, “skulked in corners and muttered about the meaning of life, rather than taking an adult part in the battle for power and success in the city” which is why they believed philosophers should be the last to rule (Lane, 2013). The Republic argues that this is exactly why philosophers should be the chosen ones to rule and states that “only those who do not wish for political power can be trusted with it” (Lane, 2013).
Learning about Plato’s theory of whom should be leaders was interesting, but I enjoyed even more learning about women as leaders! Women began working in the workplace in the 60’s and in my opinion, it has truly evolved in a positive way. When women first began working, men and companies would say that they had to “leave their values at home and conform to whatever they found in the workplace-to adapt, to fit in, not to try to change things.” (Helgesen, 2018). The two books, “The Female Advantage: Women’s Ways of Leadership” and “Lean In: Seek & Speak Your Truth” are great books that show how women changed this way of thinking and showed that “women in the workplace had talents, ideas, attitudes, and ways of working and leading people that were in many cases just what organizations needed to adjust to the demands of the changing economy.” (Helgesen, 2018).
I found that I connected with “Lean In: Seek & Speak Your Truth” because I believe the two angles that Sandberg approaches to this subject is how I have always strived to be in the workplace. Her two angles are “first, how we offer honest/constructive feedback to others in the workplace, and second, how we seek and hear honest feedback about ourselves.” (James, 2013). In a way, I feel that communicating honest feelings to someone in a delicate way, shows them that you care and that you are listening. I agree with how Sandberg approaches uncomfortable discussions with employees as a “spark of discussions” rather than a disagreement (James, 2013). I believe women positively evolved the workplace by “approaching work with a sense of confidence that what you bring as a person is unique and needed. It means finding your authentic voice and speaking honestly from your unique perspective and experience.” (James, 2013).
Combining those key factors and leading ethically, I feel is so important to be a strong well-liked leader. It is more beneficial to be an ethical leader rather than a boss in all situations, including the workplace, being a parent, organizations in communities, teachers, and so on. “Ethical leadership is defined as, 'leadership that is directed by respect for ethical beliefs and values and the dignity and rights of others.' It is mainly concerned with moral development and virtuous behavior.” (Kuligowski, 2019). A leader guides and a boss orders; a boss manages, a leader inspires (Kuligowski, 2019). Standing with the individuals that the leaders are guiding and leading by example will ensure positive feedback, positive reactions, and positive behavior.
Reading about Stephen Covey’s book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” really got me motivated to achieve my business goals and personal goals. “This book is a self-improvement book. It is written on Covey's belief that the way we see the world is entirely based on our own perceptions. In order to change a given situation, we must change ourselves, and in order to change ourselves, we must be able to change our perceptions.” (Hussain, 2019). Covey believes that following 7 specific habits will lead a person on to the road for success. The 7 habits include, be proactive, begin with the end in mind, put first things first, think win-win, seek first to understand, then to be understood, synergize, and sharpen the saw (Hussain, 2019).
After achieving the goal of becoming a leader who leads ethically and follows the above 7 habits, it is then important to know how to build a successful team. This can be a challenging task to bring tons of different personalities together to make one successful group. It is challenging but very rewarding for me and the individuals that are brought together. There are 10 key steps to follow in order to achieve this task. They include defining the purpose of the team, hire the highest ranking team member first, define the teams culture, build relationships, create a team with empowered employees, have effective communication, build good habits, create guidelines, encourage team-building activities, and lead with goals. In this lesson, I felt strongly about this point, “As a leader, have a goal-setting conversation with each employee at the beginning of the year. Encourage them to set SMART goals. Make sure each employee has at least three goals but not so many goals they are overwhelmed. Use their goals for continuous improvement throughout the year. And focus on performance against goals at the end of the year.” (Slade, 2013). If each individual has their own goals to achieve, this will lead to greater success for the team to achieve the larger goal for the organization.
This course has taught me that a leader is someone who leads an individual or a group to achieve small and large goals. A good leader leads ethically and leads by example. A huge difference between a leader and a boss is that a leader guides and a boss orders; a boss manages, a leader inspires (Kuligowski, 2019). Standing with the individuals that the leaders are guiding and leading by example will ensure positive feedback, positive reactions, and positive behavior. It is important for a leader to lead through their values and mission. Every task that is given should demonstrate how the task at hand is adhering to specific values and how it is benefiting the mission of the organization (Kuligowski, 2019).
- Helgesen, S. (2018, February 11). 'The Female Advantage: Women's Ways of Leadership' by Sally Helgesen. Retrieved August 31, 2020, from https://sallyhelgesen.com/sallysbooks/female-advantage/
- Hussain, A. (2019). 7 Habits of Highly Effective People [Summary & Takeaways]. Retrieved September 28, 2020, from https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/habits-of-highly-effective-people-summary
- James, C. C. (2013, June 5). Lean In: Seek & Speak Your Truth. Retrieved August 31, 2020, from https://carolyncustisjames.com/2013/06/05/lean-in-seek-speak-your-truth/ (Links to an external site.)
- Kuligowski, K. (2019, June 13). 4 Things You Should Do to Be an Ethical Leader. Retrieved September 09, 2020, from https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/5537-how-to-be-ethical-leader.html
- Lane, M. (2013, November 04). Philosopher king. Retrieved August 27, 2020, from https://www.britannica.com/topic/philosopher-king