Leadership is one of the most needed qualities and skills in today's world. Because of globalization, more and more diverse interests and cultures are coming into greater contact with one another. To reconcile these differences is the task of leadership (Rondinelli & Heffron, 2009). Effective leadership can help society to realize the promises of such interactions while ineffective leadership is more likely to stoke such differences and amass power from the differences within society. This holds true for society as a whole as well as for different institutions within society such as religion, education, business and economy.
My personal leadership approach has been shaped by a variety of factors. My parental upbringing, socialization, inborn traits, formal education, interpersonal relationships, religion and exposure to the media have all contributed to shaping my perceptions of human beings, the relationships they share with one another, their interests and the potential for achieving the common good by harnessing the power of these interests. Being of Jordanian origin, the Arab culture and Islamic teachings have greatly shaped my outlook towards life and my view of the relationships between people. Islamic teachings stress the precedence of upright character and moral qualities over wealth, status and lineage for attaining leadership. Islamic ethical values have also found place in modern corporate management (Abbasi, 2011). Therefore, I also believe in democratic right to leadership of every individual. I also believe that leadership can be inculcated and developed just as moral character can. Islam also teaches that leadership is not a reward but a responsibility to serve the community. Therefore, I also believe in the concept of servant leadership where it is the responsibility of the leader to serve the best interests of the followers instead of using them as tools for advancing his or her personal ambitions (Spears, 2011).
In addition to the above mentioned factors, I also believe that my personal qualities and inborn traits have also played a great part in shaping my personal approach to leadership. I tend to be a friendly and affectionate person and this makes me quite capable of treating people with warmth and openness. Secondly, I am also demonstrative of my feelings and I frankly communicate my views to people. This makes me capable of expressing positive statements to the people under my leadership and of helping to raise their self-esteem. I have seen people around me work hard to develop these qualities but it seems to come naturally to me. Therefore, I believe that the trait leadership theories are not as irrelevant as claimed in current leadership theory. In fact, trait leadership theories should not be used to ignore other aspects of leadership such as moral values and skills that can be developed through effort.
I have demonstrated the above mentioned qualities in several instances during my life. Being a father of five daughters, I have to assume the responsibility of leadership for my family. I have to make sure that all my daughters are treated fairly by me, that they are healthy and happy, and that they receive all their rights. I also have to make sure that the environment at home is positive and that all problems are dealt with effectively. When my eldest daughter was facing bullying at school and I found out about it, she refused any help from me in this matter as she felt it would be embarrassing for her. I could have ignored her request and taken up the matter with her teacher without her knowing about it but I did not. I sat down with my daughter and told her that she was very brave. I also explained to her that it was important to speak up for oneself if one was being treated unfairly. I also assured her that I would not do anything without her permission but that I simply wanted to invite the girl and her parents to dinner. She consented and during the dinner I talked to her parents about the problem. They agreed to talk to the girl and since then the two have had a less adversarial relationship.
I believe that it was my personal ability to respect personal decisions of my daughter, my desire to gain and keep her trust, and to use dialogue and discussion with all stakeholders to resolve a problem that enabled me to help my daughter.
As stated in the introductory paragraph, globalization has brought about unique challenges for leadership. The globalized world is far ahead of the mechanical world of certainty and predictability that I had grown up in. It is now more necessary for people to live with uncertainty and deal with it in such a way that their interests are not jeopardized (Obolensky, 2010). Leadership plays an important part here because decisions have to be taken that can have serious consequences for all the people involved. My experience as an IT manager has exposed me to the duality of prescribed theories and emergent practices in dealing with environmental challenges. While working on my IT projects, I have had to deal with the prescriptions of theories and procedures on the one hand and with the practicalities of the situation on the other. Such challenges have strengthened me to become more tolerant and comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty around me. This allows me to keep my head in challenging times and think of solutions instead of worrying about the changes taking place. I believe that my personal style of leadership is based on my ability to analyze situational factors and use my knowledge and intuition to develop effective solutions. Because of these strengths, I have been able to grow successfully in the IT field for ten whole years and consider myself competent enough to undertake post graduate education to take up the strategic leadership of my company.
I also believe that the role of leadership is to develop followers through work instead of the other way round. Therefore, in my professional capacity as a trainer, I have tried to develop and coach my colleagues around me to achieve their best results. In addition, as a counselor I have tried to help my clients understand their problems from a technical as well as a business point-of-view and present solutions to them that are in their best interests as well as the best interests of my company. This ability to strike win-win relationships is an important part of the twenty-first century leadership where there is greater potential for conflict and competition compared to cooperation. It is therefore, important for leadership to embrace diversity and view it as a source of strength and enrichment rather than as a threat or competition. Because of my ability to relate to people at a human level, I have been able to extract the best performance out of my team members and inspire them to continue to aim for higher levels of productivity.
I also believe that leadership is not limited to an organization or to an institution but that it has a broader role to play for the society. Leadership requires taking the initiative when the opportunity arises and to speak up for fairness and right. After the attacks of 9/11 I realized that there was a need to present a balanced picture of Islam in the United States to prevent negative stereotypes of Islam and Muslims from taking root in the society. Thankfully, I found that many people from diverse backgrounds in American society shared my ideals and it became possible for me to present a moderate face of Islam. At the same time, I also identified some of the problems and resistance towards integrations faced by Muslim communities in the United States. I tried to motivate and inspire them to assume ownership of their country and live as responsible Muslims and American citizens. The ability to identify possibilities instead of limitations helped me to exercise leadership within my community.
I also feel that leadership ought to be based on intuition and common sense instead of complex models and theories. As stated by Bennis and O'Toole (2009), the leaders coming out of most business schools have been fed on the importance and infallibility of scientific principles and methodology so much so that they attempt to implement the same principles on people as are meant to be applied to inanimate objects. Dealing with human beings is not the same as dealing with the subject matter of physics or chemistry. Human beings possess will and motivation. These can be used instead of manipulative tactics to inspire performance and excellence. This belief has helped me to relate to people as human beings and motivate them towards self-actualization.
It is important for leadership to present a role model to the community. Therefore, I believe that the personal qualities, values and character are essential elements of leadership. These values and traits, in particular intelligence, concern for people and fairness in decision making inspire others to adopt those qualities and behaviors (Lussier & Achua, 2010). I have tried to…