Project Leader Personal Learning Contract Learning Within Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Project Leader

Personal Learning Contract

Learning within organizations is vital to success. It is the lifeblood that grows and sustains human capital (Bassi & McMurrer, 2004; Noe, 2008; Senge, 1990) through human resource development (HRD) and the management of technology which, according to Thamhain (2001), is the key to competitiveness and wealth creation.

In this essay the researcher attempts to explore the challenges he will be facing as a leader and the competencies he will need to handle these challenges. The essay is divided into two parts. Part-I reflects the challenges, difficulties, scope and required competencies to be leader in the organization and how the writer will develop himself to fulfill the requirements of the role. While in Part-II the author has stated how to keep balance among personal and professional life.


Contract Title: What I want to work on. The leadership contribution and capability I want to build.

Leadership is "an inherently relational process of working with others to accomplish a goal or to promote change" (Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education, 2006, p.320). Defining what leadership isd certainly differs among individuals or groups. According to Stogdill (1974); "there are almost as many definitions of leadership as there are persons who have attempted to define the concept" (p.259). Examples of the various definitions asserted by leadership scholars provide insight into how leadership is conceptualized, described and articulated. Yukl (2002) states that, "Leadership is the process of influencing others to understand and agree about what needs to be done and how it can be done effectively and the process of facilitating individual and collective efforts to accomplish the shared projects" (p.7). Gardiner (1990) defines leadership as "the process of persuasion or example by which an individual

Self-organization, spontaneous emergence of structures and behaviours (Capra, 1996) is founded upon the interactions among the agents of the system (as cited in McDaniel, 2007) as opposed to being dictated by a central command and control. Self-organization is more spontaneous and takes advantage of the white space (Rummler & Brache, 1995) on the organization chart. It happens in the shadow systems instead of the formal organization. The information used in self-organization passes informally through patterns of communication relationships.

I have selected the role of project manager for myself. "Construction projects have reported a high degree of risk; not being on time, not within budget, and not meeting the expectations of the client" (CMAA, 2004; Post, 1998). Efforts to improve performance have included lean construction, partnering, construction management, and supply chain management (Sullivan et al., 2005). Another solution has been to implement increased project management (PM), direction, and control (Hwang & Liang, 2005; Gordon & Akinci, 2007; Cottrell, 2006).

Many factors involve in the successfulness of a construction project, like project complication, contractual actions, and associations between project participants, the capability of project managers, and the expertise of key project members (Baker et at., 1983; Chua et at., 1999; Mohsini et al., 1992; Jaselskis et al., 1991). The most of current project performance measurement tools centring on financial aspects like the profit on investment and profit per unit (Sanger, 1998) squabble that financial parameters are helpful, but there are insufficiencies, such as lagging metrics (Boynton, Zmund, 1984; Ghalayini, Noble, 1996), a need for strategic focus, and a not succeeding in providing data on quality, relations, and the surroundings (Hayes, Wheelwright, Clark, 1998; Johnson, Kaplan, 1987; Neely, 1999).

Importance and Scope of the Role

Construction industry is one of the most important industries for United States. It has a large contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) of nearly about 8.2% (Simonson, 2007). Construction industry is the second major employer in the country only to the U.S. Government, which comprise the Armed Forces (Engineering Technology, 2004).

These numbers well define the fact that construction industry is an integral part of the country's progress; however, ironically, failure of the industry is also second highest as construction companies have a bankruptcy rate of 95%. Previous research indicate that among one-third and one-half of all projects are out of budget or in the wake of schedule and also that more than one-third of proprietors of main new projects are mixed up in adjudication or litigation of contract claims. Almost three-quarters (72%) expansion has been seen in the number of change orders (Molenaar, 2003).

Since leadership has the ability to increase output, competence, and presentation (Collins, 2001; Liker, 2004) which comes off smart thinking and vision, a large amount of money is being spent on research for development of good winning leadership programs and trainings (Crain, 2007; MIT, 2003). Employers put their employees into leadership trainings and seminars (Toor, Ofori, 2008). The researchers have mostly agreed upon the four factors that cover up the mechanism of real leadership: fair processing, internalized ethical perspective, reasonable clearness and self-awareness (Avolio et al., 2009). A survey of the American Council of Engineering Companies exposed community engineers are not mostly considered as community leaders whilst a large fraction of correspondents professed them as technical consultants (Russell, Stouffler, 2003).

Since early in the 20th century organizations were thought of as machine-like and the people within the organization as replaceable parts (Wheatley, 2006). This metaphor extended to thinking that futures could be predicted and forecasted and still is an important characteristic of organizations and their ability to thrive within a competitive marketplace. The idea that you cannot manage it if you cannot measure it is still valid today (Rummler & Brache, 1995). Measuring performance at the organizational, process, and individual levels of the organization is still a necessary component of the recipe for success in the marketplace. But according to Wheatley (2007); "if we think of organizations as machines, we remain blind to the power of self-organized networks" (p. 63).

Importance of Self Development

Self-organizing networks are a characteristic of living systems (Barabasi, 2002; Strogatz, 1994) and according to Capra (2002) we need to understand human organizations as living systems in order for self-organizing networks to be accepted as a learning mechanism.

An example of an informal shadow system is the "white space" in the organization chart described by Rummler and Brache (1995) where cross functional processes intersect with formal departmental boundaries. They suggest that the communication and learning that takes place in the white space is important to optimum performance.

An example of the new forms of behaviour in Capra's definition of self-organization is Argyris' (1990) double loop learning. He suggests that we not only need to learn directly from the feedback from our actions but also by rethinking the assumptions of our learning. Constantly reflecting on our assumptions facilitates examination of our paradigms which can change our thinking, which can change our learning, which can change our actions. Senge (1990) seems to endorse the "far from equilibrium" stance by recommending that organizations experiment with new concepts and paradigms. The experimentation idea is also espoused by Davenport and Harris (2008) in their research on organizations that are successful with using business analytics as a competitive advantage.

Staying too close to equilibrium can dampen the creative dynamics that complexity science says is needed for survival (Rowland, 2007). The order that comes from the paradoxical edge of chaos does not come from intentional command and control but from a complex spider web of sparsely connected elements (Kauffman, 1995). In living systems cognition, the process of knowing, is intertwined with the very process of life (Maturana & Varela, 1987). "The interactions of a living organism -- plant, animal, or human -- with its environment are cognitive interactions" (Capra, 2002, p. 34). Living and learning are always connected and help create the process of autopoiesis, the self-generation of living networks (Maturana & Varela, 1987). Autopoietic systems constantly undergo structural changes while maintaining their patterns of organization. Living systems couple themselves structurally to their environment which causes changes to both the organism and the environment.

2. 2. Diagnosis of the opportunity to focus and enhance your contribution through ROLE.

Leadership development is at or near the top in importance to senior executives within organizations (McAlearney, 2006; Towers-Perrin, 2005). In the criteria for the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award, leadership has the second highest weighting, second only to business results but ahead of customer focus, measurement, analysis, knowledge management, workforce focus, process management, and strategic planning (Noe, 2008). It is estimated that between $20-30 billion was spent on leadership development programs (LDPs) in 2008 (ASTD, 2009). Studies show the impact of formal leadership training on the acquisition and development of leadership skills (Russ-Eft & Preskill, 2001).

However, my objective in informal learning as I am now not playing this role but planning to play and prepare myself for this role through peer learning. So I need to develop such skills. As there is growing interest in informal learning (Collis & Margaryan, 2005; Eraut, 2004; Terrion, 2006)) and investment is being placed in leadership development. So if it may be possible that informal learning influences the acquisition of leadership skills to the same degree as formal learning? Leadership development…

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