I cannot precisely recall when I recognized that organizing Girl Scout or Little League meetings, overseeing events, or managing my household required leadership skills, resulting in leading others toward their desired achievements. My roles and responsibilities changed as I transitioned into my career. Subsequently, I held micro, mezzo, and macro positions in various organizations where my responsibilities went from administrative duties to management duties, where I managed a team and became responsible for delivering department and organizational strategic objectives. In these roles, I gradually understood the criticality of leadership and how my approach could affect those within my sphere of influence. During the initial stages of my career growth, I initiated a study of leadership, culminating in attaining a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership.
Throughout my four-decade-long professional journey, I studied diverse leadership theories, perused the latest literature on leadership development, and invested ample time in comprehending my leadership style, all to hone my leadership skills to the highest degree possible to prepare me to lead others with excellence. Leadership was important to me; however, I never aspired to be a ‘leader.’ Leadership pursued me, and I found myself in positions where I was the ‘leader’ by definition or function; leadership beckoned me to lead, and I wanted to be the best.
My passion for understanding leadership led to further exploration of the study of leadership and began with Aristotle, the ancient Greek philosopher, who believed that leadership is a virtue that developed through education and practice. In his work “Politics,” Aristotle stated that a good leader aims to promote the common good of the people they lead rather than the leader’s interests. He also emphasized the importance of character and moral virtues in a leader. He believed that a good leader should possess virtues such as wisdom, courage, justice, and self-control and that these virtues would enable the leader to make ethical and well-informed decisions that benefit the people they lead. Moreover, Aristotle suggested that leadership is about individual character and the ability to communicate and collaborate effectively with others. He emphasized the importance of cultivating good relationships with followers and the need for leaders to be able to listen to the opinions and concerns of others. Aristotle’s leadership philosophy stresses the importance of ethical behavior, moral virtues, and collaboration in effective leadership.
As a religious text, I also studied the Bible to understand the attributes and characteristics of leaders and leadership through the numerous stories and teachings relevant to the subject. One well-known example is the story of Moses, who led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and towards the Promised Land. Moses, often regarded as a model of effective leadership, had a clear vision, was dedicated to his mission, and could inspire and motivate his followers. Other biblical figures, such as King David and the Apostle Paul, are often cited as influential leaders. In the New Testament, Jesus is the ultimate example of a servant leader who demonstrated humility and selflessness in his interactions with others. The Bible contains numerous teachings on leadership, including the importance of serving others, humility, and stewardship. I found these teachings provided guidance and inspiration to individuals seeking to develop their leadership skills in a manner consistent with biblical principles.
Furthermore, I learned leadership from contemporary leadership practitioners like John C. Maxwell and Stephen Covey. Maxwell, an esteemed American author, speaker, and authority on leadership, has been acknowledged as one of the world’s most influential leadership experts by several leading publications, including Inc. magazine, Business Insider, and The Huffington Post. Maxwell’s book, “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You” (2007), offers a notable definition of leadership. As per the book (p. 11), leadership is described as “influence – nothing more, nothing less.” Additionally, the same book (p. 22) outlines the characteristics of a leader as “someone who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” Stephen Covey is an author and speaker who developed the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” concept, emphasizing the importance of personal responsibility and self-improvement in leadership. The habits include being proactive, beginning with the end in mind, putting first things first, thinking win-win, seeking first to understand, then to be understood, synergizing, and sharpening the saw. Covey argues that these habits are essential for personal and professional success, and anyone willing to put in the effort can develop them.
During my Ph.D. journey, my professors introduced different theories of leadership like the Great Man Theory (Carlyle, 1841), Trait Theory (Stogdill, 1948), Contingency Theory (Fiedler, 1967), Situational Leadership Theory (Hersey and Blanchard, 1969), Servant Leadership Theory (Greenleaf, 1970), Path-Goal Theory (House, 1971), Transformational Leadership Theory (Burns, 1978, Bass, 1990), Charismatic Leadership Theory (Weber, 1992), Adaptive Leadership Theory (Heifetz, 1994), Emotional Intelligence Theory (Goleman, 1995), Leader-Member Exchange Theory (Graen and Uhl-Bien, 1995), Authentic Leadership Theory (George, 2003), and Ethical Leadership Theory, (Treviño and Brown, 2004).
The study of leadership has captivated my interest, ultimately inspiring me to develop the Convening Leadership Theory, where convening leadership is defined as “the ability to bring together, mobilize, and lead stakeholders toward the common good in solving complex societal and global issues (Clary, 2021). In upcoming articles, I will explore different leadership theories and their application in the context of convening leadership because community matters.
You can contact her through the following channels:
– LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/pat-clary/
– Facebook: PatriciaAClaryPhD
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