This essay aims to critically evaluate the role of Leadership-as-practice form of leadership through Gibbs reflective cycle. The said cycle was developed by Graham Gibbs in 1998 and involves 6 steps, namely, description, feelings, evaluation, analysis, action and conclusion. It is one of the best methods to learn from experiences and here it will be used to analyze the way leadership-as-practice can be applied in an organization.
Leadership in organizations tend to be more biased towards individualists and a more heroic version of the leader. This, more often not, creates the problem of making the “darker” effects and the blind spots of the leader more acceptable, and “othering” of those who do not agree with the leader’s worldview. Let us suppose I become a leader of an organization, and have the responsibility of ensuring organizational development through effective leadership. This kind of organizational policy indicates that it is the key responsibility of the leader to ensure that its followers are able to realize the organizational goals. However, at the same time, it is not possible for the leader to do everything by himself, mainly since the organization includes numerous other individuals, and the relationship between the leader and them can significantly affect the organizational outcome.
After comprehending the organizational situation, I realized that leadership is not something which resides in the behaviours and traits of individuals, it is something which occurs as a practice. Being the leader of the organization, I will have to coordinate the efforts of the participants who achieve a distinctive outcome through their own rules. By doing so I will care less about what a singly individual does or things and will be more concerned about what they can achieve together. I was quite disappointed and disheartened to realise that I will be inhibiting the individuality of organizational member. But I was also happy as this will allow me to be more inclusive in practice.
I came across both negative and positive things during the evaluation process. While leadership-as-practice approach was creating the organization more inclusive and was facilitating fair dialogical exchange among other, it was also making the organization more collectivist and was inhibiting the individual achievements of the organizational members. Still, I think leadership-as-practice should be followed by contemporary leaders, especially considering its moral implications. The experience ended well on the organizational part as it allowed the organization to capitalize on the dialogic orientations of the organizational members, rather than the overreliance of the actions of the leader. In addition to this, it also helped to improve mutual openness, trust and co-development in the organization which further improved the organizational performance.
Through the analysis of the given scenario, I came to realize that organizational should train their leaders to take a more holistic approach towards leadership, which is more inclusive and supportive of other members of the organization. Often leaders tend to become more individualist and try to impose their world view on the organization and its operations. This view of the leadership also tends to ignore the political and emotional dynamics of the organizational environment. It was also analyzed that the traditional views of leadership are overly relied on the personal attributes of the leader which fosters an organizational environment in which leaders have free run to shape the operations as per their beliefs which can prove to be detrimental for the organization. Simply put, the traditional leadership approach makes it difficult to create an inclusive environment in the organization and neglects the dyadic relationship between followers and leaders.
Rather than this, the Leadership-as-practice approach depicts an ecumenical approach to practices emerging from discursive, recurring and mutually evolving patterns. According to me this approach is far superior in terms of enabling the organizational members to realize the organizational goals, and to address the need for structural changes within the organization. I believe that this approach can promote co-development, mutual openness and trust within the organization to drive the democratic change. This is so mainly due to the fact that leadership is a social process and requires an effective interplay of various individuals and the relationship between them. I believe that we need to strengthen reflexivity about the current leadership practices and must consider the political and emotional dynamics of the organizational environment to address the broader issues related to leadership such as social divisiveness, corporate social responsibility and ethical decision making.
In conclusion, through this reflective process, I understood that creating an inclusive organizational environment and understanding the external environment is important to become a successful leader. This can be facilitated by the leadership-as-practice approach which foster generative organizational dynamics through effective dialogic practices. Leaders need to reduce the emphasis of their own individual role and need to recognize the importance of every organizational member who supports the organizational goal. Moreover, it can also help to bring diverse groups and people into productive coordination through the same and can help to ascertain the connectedness within the organizational members. The importance of such an leadership approach is also illustrated in the fact that no leader is independent of the relational patters within which they operate. However, at the same time one needs to be cautious of dispensing the attention to individual achievement and development as it also comes with an emotional cost which should be addressed by the manager. According to me, leaders need to understand that even though they are important it is the relationship between diverse organizational elements which helps to realize organizational goals.
According to my opinion, we need to reexamine the role of leaders in the organization and have to emphasize the role of different organizational members and the relationship within them. I believe shared learning is the best available option to do so.
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