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Developing the Leader in You sample essay


Aristotle’s philosophy on leadership states, “Men make themselves leaders by performing acts of leadership”. This paper is written to bring forth a better understanding of leadership development. Following the understanding, will be an explanation of key factors that are salient to leadership, and why it must be covered. Great insight will be brought forth in elaborating on ‘collaboration’ as the key to developing great leaders. Life experiences will certainly have an impact on how effectively a leader develops good character, and how experiences can hinder and strengthen a leader’s ability to motivate others and create company growth. Flexibility and adaptability in spite of any circumstance can be the factor to make or break a situation, in coming toward the end of this paper it can be said that learning about continuous change can be deemed as extremely valuable in their leadership career in knowing how to bend when the wind blows. Finally, a lesson in life… it’s not a fairytale, learning to accept failures and successes alike.

The Leader in You
The most important factors…

Leadership principles can be taught to the masses, although behaviors in a great leader is a learned trait; acquired over time. The crucial word in leadership is “trustworthiness”, a behavior that Cam, Caldwell, et al. (2010) state is associated with an individual’s perception regarding image, knowledge, and development style is of utmost importance (p. 500). Developing the leader within entails evolving through experimentation as a person learns new innovative approaches to solutions and problems. In time, new challenges arise that once seemed insurmountable, are now a part of the pragmatic approach that defines a leaders leadership style and strategic ability to overcome. To reach this stage in leadership empowers an individual, and reaffirms the persons ability to exert the skills to make informed decisions. This also means that the leader is in no way influenced by anyone in what to say or do; guiding and directing is the mark of an effective leader.

The leader’s most effective tool is to constantly develop themselves; never stop learning. The most important characteristics of an effective leader are: to have their own identity, having openness to change, have self-respect, make good choices, be sincere and authentic, maintain a sense of humor, be willing to make mistakes-admit and learn from them, have an appreciation for cultural differences, genuinely care about others, maintain effective interpersonal communication skills, receive meaning and purpose from their work, be passionate about their work, and maintain healthy boundaries. Realize that no leader is perfect, and may not have all of these qualities… Although, should strive to be well-rounded for the sake of the people they are mentoring, and themselves. Truth be told, the key or ticket to accomplishing the most vexing challenges—collaboration. Collaboration is the key to developing great leaders

A collaborative relationship is based on mutual reciprocation of which is intended to assist each other in personal growth and development toward new levels of understanding to improve each others lives. In this section of the paper, the question that should be asked is, “What type of leader does a person want to be known for…and how do they wish to be perceived by the people they are developing?” This question has many answers, although to streamline it, the leader should be known for being innovative, results-oriented, and having a collaborative leadership style.

This means that the leader will creatively expand the proverbial ‘pie’ into equal sections, and bringing in different talents and abilities to work together to solve a problem. One of the advantages of working together is that everyone is enthusiastic, motivating each other, and willing to implement the group plan because they developed it. There is organizational empowerment that comes with collaborative work like this, it is a win/win for a company and the leader due to the fact that within these groups there is always an opportunity to: train new leaders, get broader substantive results, and assist subordinates to bond; learning that two or more heads are better than one in accomplishing projects. Bali (2011) states that,” leadership is less about what we do and more about what we become—and in the process—how we influence and learn from those around us.” (p.11)

People who aspire to become leaders, must know their strengths and weaknesses in order to develop either a stronger competence in the area they are weak in, or challenge themselves in areas where their strengths excel; this shows subordinates that you are not above personal self development and will encourage others to do the same. Competence is never enough for a great leader; it demands integrity and good moral character which influences the next generation of leaders. Leadership and good character

Competence without integrity and character is worthless. A leader may know how to perform the job and lead the people to accomplish tasks, although without character they may cut corners if you will, and not always ‘do the right thing’. This behavior is detrimental to a company’s future, and those of the people under them. A leader with good character, integrity, and competence is steadfast and can be counted on to do the right thing, build a company’s reputation to be strong and unyielding, and establishes a foundation of trust with everyone involved. The purpose that character and integrity serves has to do with the specific times when their leadership road gets ‘rocky’, and at the edge of failure… Time and time again it is seen in the media that people ‘fall’ from great heights within an organization, and instead of strategizing accordingly, their lack of integrity and character lead them to corruption, and sacrificing their reputations and principles for ‘immediate’ satisfaction due to their selfish need for self gratification.

What is interestingly true, is that the leader who does have a strong-steadfast foundation within them, leads the organization in a smooth, effective, and successful manner so much so that because they have avoided potential threats a company may face… most of the time they will not receive the credit due them because there wasn’t any catastrophe to see. This leader is defined as having intrinsic motivation in their leadership style that states they are internally motivated with their passion and vision to reach their goals instead of using external motivation like money and rewards. Eubanks et al. (2012), state that organizations should proactively develop leaders’ sensemaking skills so that they can better understand and enact ethical decisions (p. 2). A great leader is able adapt to change for the betterment of a company’s future endeavors and growth, and is perhaps the single most important leadership competency.

Having to bend when the wind blows…

Flexibility and adaptability to change… It helps a leader understand that they have control over their destinies in spite of the current circumstances and they can change it all by the choices they make in the present that affect the future; learning from the past in order to press forward. Leaders know that major change is hard enough, but continuous change is much harder. What is meant by this is that most companies have a strategy that works and they stick to it, and then establish a system that ensures it will always work for them. Most companies will find that when the bottom line is not being met, they place as much as much effort as they can to try and reboot or resuscitate a system doomed to fail because they have not established long term back up plans. So what is left, is a company in a position where stagnation is festering.

In order to improve, great leaders will recognize they have to change and adapt to new innovative ways so that the company can work its way out of stagnation and into a position of growth; reinventing the structure of the company forcing stabilization. Mastery in this level of leadership involves someone who is seasoned enough to know that through many experiences throughout their carrier, it is flexibility and adaptability that is the core driving a company to new heights.

A company knows that the value within doesn’t come from the people filling in positions, but the skills they bring to the table that make a company thrive! It is because of these skilled individuals that an effective leader can motivate and guide people to reach their potential and achieve tougher and challenging goals; especially in uncertain times (Nixon et al., 2012, p. 208). Leadership is a fine art, where hope, aspirations, and innovation are the catalysts that bring forth new approaches from different perspectives which lift the constraints of old practices that hinder the progress of a company. The flip-side to great leadership is that things don’t always turn out the way they are suppose to, and the results can be anything but a fairytale! Leadership, anything but a fairytale!

Reality is the last thing that would ever be discussed in a fairytale, much less the detrimental repercussions of the characters actions. Nearly everyone’s world begins with parents reading their child fairytales, and their impressionable minds continue to believe that life will go on this smoothly. Although the underlying reason is to give everyone hope, imagination, and to strive for that happiness—in the business world, and leadership positions… people are being set up for failure; high expectations are great, as long as they aren’t unrealistic.

Penner (2009) states, “The problem arises when we benchmark our lives with these greats. We find that in the real world life is generally not perfect, that we do have to work hard at what we do and sometimes we are not successful.”(p.2). Innovative minds come from creative thinking outside the box, which does come from fairytales, but have to be used constructively. Steve Jobs, leader in technology, will be the first to tell you, ‘People who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are usually the ones that do.”


Throughout this paper, I have expressed my thoughts on the development of leadership and effects on a company, collaborative relationships, adaptability and change, why good character in leadership is important, and the most important factors in leadership… This paper is full of valuable insight for those who plan on enhancing their careers in their current field of leadership, or those whose future career may depend on the knowledge. Leadership is a gift, one that directly affects the lives of others, in developing the skills for future leadership positions. In finishing this paper, one can conclude that leadership traits can influence the success and failure of a company, and mentorship of one or many individuals.


Bali, V. (2011). Leadership lessons from everyday life. Leader to Leader, 60, 7-11.

Caldwell, C., Hayes, L.A., & Long, D.T. (2010). Leadership, trustworthiness, and ethical stewardship. Journal of Business Ethics, 96(4), 497-512. doi: 10.1007/s10551-010-0489-y

Eubanks, D.L., Brown, A.D., & Yberna, S. (2012). Leadership, identity, and ethics. Journal of Business Ethics, 107(1), 1-3. doi: 10.1007/s10551-012-1295-5.

Nixon, P., Harrington, M., & Parker, D. (2012). Leadership performance is significant to project success or failure: a critical analysis. International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, 61(2), 204-216. doi: 10.1108/17410401211194699

Penner, D.S. (2009). Leadership: Facing the fairytale. Journal of Applied Christian Leadership, 3(1), 7-10.

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