For the final blog on this book, I wanted to first start it off by talking about his commencement speech. I actually went online to watch the full speech and it was powerful! One of the things that he addresses is the fact that we are all going to die. It’s inevitable. This speech actually tugged on a few things for me on an emotional level because one of my biggest fears is the fear of embarrassment and failure. I’m scared I’m not going to finish college (Even though this is my last class and I think I’m at least doing well enough to pass) and disappoint my family and friends who have helped me get this far and I’m scared to open up my own business even though I want to do it so bad. Listening to his speech not only me think about how that was all menial but also gave me the motivation to do it and take the risk. He made me actually feel kind of silly for sitting here stressed out for hours at a time when in reality, there are much bigger things out there for me to be worried about. Maybe it’s just hitting me a little stronger than some because I’ve been in a very delicate state of mind for a while now but I needed to hear that. I’m sure there had to have been others at the ceremony as well who appreciated that as much as I did. I don’t know if I want to say it’s the way he articulated his words or just the composition of it but in this case, I would say that he is a leader because he is telling people that there is so much more to life and he’s motivating people to strive for their dreams. Another portion of the book that I had read that I felt really represented good leadership actually came when they were talking about how Jobs organized a meeting with many of the top-level CEO’s from the US who could possibly have useful insight for the president. He even started the dinner off by saying “Regardless of our political persuasions, I want you to know that we’re here to do whatever you ask to help our country”. That to me shows a level of selflessness that is hard to see nowadays. Just like the other gentleman in the room who was more concerned about himself and lining his pockets a little more, I’ve seen what money can do to people and its ugly. So to me reading that he helped organize something so beneficial for the greater good of people was amazing to me. We need more leaders like that today. To conclude and kind of go along with that idea, reading about his personality at first was a little abrasive and I didn’t quite like him at the start but after reading about everything he’s done, what he’s accomplished, what he’s overcome, and the legacy he left was actually really inspiring. He taught me that there is nothing wrong with being passionate about something and that it’s ok to be a perfectionist. He may have been a little extreme but look at what he has created. Maybe that is what it takes sometimes.
My Volunteering experience
So, I realized now that I was supposed to do two different entries for my volunteering experience however, I really did not have much to blog about. I decided to volunteer at the Salvation Army Store on Lafayette Blvd. and unfortunately, I did not have the best experience. I spent my hours sorting and hanging clothing items to get put up on the racks for sale. Although it was slightly tedious, and I didn’t really feel like I was contributing much I still got it done and didn’t complain about it. I actually got really good at it and managed to put out a significant amount of clothes and was on par with the gentleman who had been doing it for years. There were actually a few staff members who were really nice while I was volunteering but one of the main managers there was kind of nasty to me the whole time I was there. Even though I was just hanging up clothing I had no guidance as to how I was supposed to do it and just got thrown into it. Like here are the clothes, here are the hangers, come get me when the racks are full. Apparently, I hung things up on the hangers backward. They were all facing the same direction, but I didn’t realize that they were supposed to face a specific direction so when she came back to tag them all she made it out to me like I was the biggest inconvenience. By no means was it intentional, I apologized and offered to fix it since it was a really simple fix, all you had to do was literally swing the item around since the hooks swiveled but again she got really angry with me and made me feel like a nuisance the entire 3 days I was there. I really wish I knew about the orientation day in time for the SPCA because I think I would really have enjoyed that more. On the bright side I found out about the SPCA’s Adventure tails program and I’m in love. Basically, you can “check out” and animal for a few hours and take them out and about so they can spend time outside of their kennels. I’m actually going to start doing that over the weekends once the semester is over so I’m super excited about that. To go back to the point of volunteering, if it’s ok, I’m actually just going to use my experience as a volunteer firefighter/EMT as my example. I used to volunteer at my local fire department and did that for a few years, I just took a break during my junior and senior year of college because it became a lot to handle. There are a few connections that I can make between volunteering and leadership. The first is learning about the different styles of leadership first hand without the constructs of having to be employed. At least at the firehouse, there were multiple individuals whom I looked up to when I was there. I had the fire chief who had been in the industry for over 40 years, my training lieutenant, and even some of the other firefighters who I had met during my time there. All of them had drastically different styles of leadership and it was interesting to see how everyone responded to the different types of leadership throughout the company. Having those different types of leadership also helped give me an idea of who I wanted to become and how to get there and that in and of itself was very valuable to me. I just wish I had known about this prior to my time there because of how much I could have taken away from it. I may be reaching for this one but I feel like another reason why it is important to volunteer your time is because I feel that good leaders are compassionate, caring, and considerate and those were all qualities that I thought I had prior to volunteering but once I had actually started to do it it was a much deeper connection. You gain a sense of gratification for doing something for others and personally, I feel like I developed a lot more as an individual because of it.
Week 4 Summary
This weeks’ assigned readings have taught me a bunch about the importance of empowerment, the impressions others have on you and authority. When it comes to empowerment it is important to make your employees and those who work around you feel like the work that they are doing means something. This helps keep motivation up in the workplace which can contribute to an increase in profits for a company. Empowering others is also a good way to help them build their own self-leadership and further develop themselves on a personal level and on a professional level. For larger companies, it is important to be able to continue to develop lower-level staff members just as much as upper because building self-leadership and empowering them sets a foundation for a potentially strong employee and manager. This can also be important if there is an unexpected resignation within the company. Instead of scrambling to find someone to fill the position, it can give upper-level management peace at mind knowing that they can potentially promote someone from within the company who has been developing these leadership qualities. The other big thing was the impressions that a leader leaves on people. I kind of took this in two different ways. The first being the way employees feel about you from a professional side and then the second being the way those who do not work directly with you see you. At work, impressions can be a good thing and a bad thing. Someone who doesn’t seem to take work very seriously or frequent shows up late can leave the impression that he/she is a lazy worker. It doesn’t take much to leave impressions so it’s best to be mindful of your actions. On the other hand, it can be used to help smooth over embarrassing situations and help others save face. The last thing that really stuck with me was how peoples impressions of you correlated with the amount of authority that people respond to. I know at work, the manager is having issues with a few employees because they don’t take him seriously when he tells them to do something and part of that is because the employees think he’s a hypocrite and does the same thing. So now it has been this back and forth of passive-aggressive complaints between them all regarding anything the manager says. The manager has left kind of a bad impression with a few of the employees and now those guys aren’t respecting his authority. So to kind of sum it up, empowerment, impressions, and authority are all in some way tied together and neglecting one can cause a cascade of effects on those who follow you.
After reading another excerpt from the Steve Jobs novel one of the first things that stuck out to me was in chapter 17 where they had said: “Sculley was so eager for Steve’s approval that he was unable to stand up to him,”. That reverberated in my head because it’s happening at my workplace now. If you couldn’t already tell from my previous blog posts, my current workplace is basically a circus. Anyways, our main service writer has been having constant issues with the manager regarding the everyday functions at work. On average 90% of those problems are caused by bad management and he doesn’t have the heart to tell him because he doesn’t want to make him mad. The only issue is that it is constantly creating problems at the shop and no one wants to actually address them. The other thing that was an overall theme for the first few chapters talked about how hard it was to work with him during his time with apple. I thought that it was interesting how they hired Sculley to keep an eye on Jobs and reel him in from all of the crazy ideas that he has. What I connected to this was almost like a checks and balances system. I thought that this was something that would really be important for a business of any size. Originally, before I read this, I thought that that would have only been an issue that small businesses had but he made it very clear that it could be a problem with larger companies like Apple. I know at my previous job the co-owner of the shop always had the elaborate and honestly fun ideas for our marketing and pop-up events, however, the other owner was basically her Sculley having to try and reel her back into more practical ideas that were more cost-efficient before they actually released an idea. I think that it is important for management to be able to recognize and consider the ideas of someone who tends to think a little differently from them. Personally, I thought it was a great combination having someone who always had these great ideas because it kept the innovation up within the company but at the same time you still need to remain practical from a business point of view.
Chapter 9 was a chapter that I felt that I could relate to on a deeper and personal level. Recently I’ve been struggling with a certain loved on about my future and what I have planned for it. Personally, I have big dreams and big plans. I want to be a business owner, I want to make a lot of money, and I want to be successful. One thing that I really like to do is set goals for myself in increments. For example, I have a goal set for after I graduate, 5 years after I graduate, and 10 years after I graduate. I am also very motivated and optimistic about those goals. However, a certain family member believes that those goals are a little too extravagant and a little unrealistic. Don’t get me wrong, I understand what they are saying, and I get that they just don’t want to see me get hurt in the process, however it has taken a toll on my own self-motivation and self-management. Reading this chapter helped me realize that the feelings that I have are normal. That is what happens when people put you down and to me, it was reassuring reading this chapter. It taught me that no matter what I should continue to reach for my goals and continue to be motivated. It also made me realize how toxic those people can be on my motivation. For example, they reduced want to better myself and lost the hope that I have for the future. That to me is the opposite of what a good leader should be. You want to encourage and empower people to shoot for the stars and progress with their lives. Not doing so has even affected my work ethic and that can be an issue for a manager with employees. Chapter 10 taught me the difference between authentic leaders and servant leaders and made me realize that I work for a servant leader. Which now makes sense considering he is in a way (not in a mean way) a puppet for the owners. Chapter 11 and 12 kind of went hand in hand with me. It talked about establishing an identity as if you are a leader or a follower and then talked about how having authority and power plays a huge role in your persuasion and your following in a workplace. I’ve noticed at work that if you don’t respect someone as a leader, their authority really means nothing to you. That then cascades into not respecting their power and you don’t listen to what they are trying to persuade you to do. This has created problems at my job with people not doing their work which takes a toll on not just the business but the employees that work there as well. Chapter 13 actually made me think of one of our service writers at work. He is the person that we go to when we have what we call “trash can fires”. He is extremely good at calming situations down and resolving whatever problems we may be having and the biggest thing with that is because of his charisma and honestly his dialogue. He is an extremely well-spoken individual. Even though he is only 24, he is extremely good at putting his thoughts together and saying them in a way that gets through to people without the need of raising his voice or talking down to people. That not only helps us re-establish a sense of trust with our customers but leaves a much better impression of the shop and of him as they leave. This is something that I hope to learn from him as we work together. I’ve watched him calm down an owner with an old classic stingray, which, unfortunately, our technician actually caused a little bit of body damage to and this car was in mint condition. This customer went from screaming and cursing up a storm to laughing and joking with him within 30 minutes. Even though the owner was probably 30 years older than him, because of the way he handled the situation and talked with the customer, the customer actually talked to him as if he was a leader and in charge of the situation and that tied in really well with this chapter. The last chapter was a chapter that I remember touching on in some of my previous classes but I never quite understood what it meant. My understanding is that transactional leaders are the kinds of leaders that focus on the nitty-gritty rules and regulations within a company. They are more focused on the way work is actually being completed vs the more intangible aspects of leadership. This chapter made me realize the importance of what I do. I like to think that even though my job isn’t necessarily a management position, I am still in charge of managing certain aspects of the administrative processes and it is my job to lead others to follow those processes. It really just gave me a different approach to what a leader can be. It is my job to lead the other employees in making sure all of the receipts for parts are attached to the completed ticket. It is my job to lead those employees to make sure they notify me when they are running low on supplies and fill out paperwork properly. Even though I may not always be face to face with employees, the administrative properties are still just as important to maintain! Overall, this was a great cluster of chapters, I think personally my favorites were chapter 9, 13, and 14. Those chapters I really felt like I learned more on a deeper level and am excited to be able to apply those to my everyday life and professional career!
Week 3 Summary
This week has taught me a lot about the importance of the way you treat your employees and having one-on-one relationships with them. It has taught me that it is really difficult to treat every employee the same and that typically if you do that, it doesn’t work very well. I was actually able to make a lot of real-world connections with this weeks work again as well. Most of which I’ve been able to apply to myself and others to some of the people that I work with. I think looking back at this week, one of the more influential pieces that I had read was from The Prince when it started talking about what kind of leader you want to be. I found myself reflecting on a lot of the material and I really feel like I took the most from those few chapters. Depending on where I go with my career, I’ve always wanted to be in management and it can be really easy to see where you want to be and not know how to get there and that was kind of where I was at. I think it is important for managers to be aware of things like how people think of them. It can play a huge role in how the employees respond to you and can even affect their job performance. If you rush into these positions sometimes you lose sight of the important steps along the way and your employees or co-workers are an essential step to your success as well, so you have to build them up as you go along too.
Chapter 8 lectured on the importance of effect on emotions to leadership and decision making. I thought this was an interesting chapter because I see both sides of the argument when it comes to emotions in the workplace. I think being able to openly share your emotions is important depending on the situation. I think as a manager when it comes to decision making, employee’s feelings should be considered however I feel that it is important to realize whether or not you’re making that decision based off of your emotions or from the facts. As a strong leader, I think it is important to be able to handle a lot of emotions not only from yourself but from the employees as well and be able to handle them in stressful situations. The next big thing as a leader is not letting your emotions get the best of you. My current manager, as much as we love him, has problems with this. You can tell when he gets stressed out because not only does he wear it on his sleeve but he takes it out on the rest of us. Sometimes he snaps at you and its really uncalled for, other times he goes out of his way to try and tell you to do something so that way he has this feeling of control, and other times he’s in the back wrenching on a car yelling every curse word in the book, and then some. I get that everyone is human but after these fits, people start to look at him a little differently and people start to get sick of it. One of the other concepts that the book talks about that I’ve been familiar with for a while just couldn’t put the word together for was job satisfaction and performance. When you are constantly being bogged down by a negative attitude your job satisfaction starts to go down, bringing your performance down with it too. This can create almost like an extremely negative cycle making it difficult to pull employees back out of.
Steve Jobs 1-16
After finishing the first few chapters there were definitely a bunch of things that I had learned about Steve Jobs and his background that I had no idea about. The first thing was that he was an automotive mechanic before he became wealthy and then when he did have money, he spent it on performance cars. I ended up looking up some of the cars he purchased and apparently, he owned a BMW Z8 which is extremely rare and really cool and a couple of different Porsches which is one of my favorite makes! (The GT3 RS is my dream car that I’ll have someday 😉 ). For much of the first few chapters I was really just getting background information and didn’t quite know how to relate some of it back to the class, however, in chapter 11 it starts to talk about how Jobs was very motivational and made it so that way his employees believed that anything was possible. They called it his “reality distortion field” for all of us Trekkies out there! As I mentioned in some of my earlier blog posts, motivating your employees is extremely important. Not only does it help create a bond with your employees, but it also empowers them to strive for more and be creative. It also helps create the drive to achieve a common goal which can be essential for businesses to run.
The Prince 16 – 19
For these few chapters of the book, it mainly focused on the image of the leader. How people think of you, do they fear you, do they think you’re generous, or do they even hate you? What stuck out to me was in chapter 17 where he said, “Nevertheless a prince ought to be slow to believe and to act, and should not show fear. He should proceed in a calm manner with care and concern for others so that too much confidence does not make him careless and too much distrust does not make him always suspicious.” As soon as I read this, I instantly thought of someone I knew. The owner of a company that I used to work for really could have benefitted reading this, and quite honestly this book as well. To sum up a long story, this owner was very quick to jump down someone’s throat, blame, point fingers, criticize and even put down employees when they had done something that he didn’t approve of or was done incorrectly. As an outsider looking in, to me it seems like the way he yells and treats people is his form of control and how he holds authority but in reality, people would still listen to him and still respect him as an authoritative figure, possibly even more so if he approached it differently. There is a fine line between leading employees and dictating them and these couple chapter bring up the importance of balance. Chapter 19 talks about how you should avoid being hated or despised and that something that he could really think about because everyone one at that company would be much more willing to do him favors, work harder, stay late, and even just care about their jobs if it wasn’t for the fact that most of them really just resent him. It goes hand in hand with the previous chapters with getting people to fight for the same cause as you. I would be much more likely to help someone with their cause if it were something that I care about but when you’re an angry business owner yelling at employees, sorry but I’m not really going to care about the money I put in your pockets every month. There is nothing wrong about being stern or raising your voice every once in a while, it happens, but you have to be able to balance it out or people will start to resent you and leave.
Exercise 2: Commitment
I’ll be using my work example for this exercise as well. I think I’ve been pretty lucky with my manager. He has been very well rounded when it comes to having fun and being dependable. He’s invited my boyfriend and I over for Barbeques and birthday parties and they are always a great time, he’s invited us to go out on the boat and have a few beers so we’ve definitely had our fair share of fun but he’s also been very dependable and caring at the same time. Even though we work at an auto shop and that’s what he does for a living when my car broke down, I did not expect him to take it in after-hours and help me figure out what was going on. Most guys are typically exhausted at the end of the day and the last thing they want to do is work on another car when that’s all they’ve done all day long. So not only did he help with figure out what was going on, he let me borrow his other car in the meantime while parts were coming for mine. Even though I have a better relationship with him than some of the other employees, he’s offered the same thing for them too if they ever need it. Right now, one of our techs has a car down so he gets up an extra 40 minutes early to go drive out of his way to pick him up to get him to work on time. He even buys the shop lunch every once in a while. Even though it doesn’t seem like much, it shows that he cares, and it makes everyone feel much more appreciated. I haven’t really had any fair-weather friends (hard to have friends when you’re always busy!) but I understand the concept! If I had to choose between the life of the party and someone who would stick by my side through a big project, it would be a no brainer, someone who would stick by my side. To me, it shows that they care about you and that means so much more to me than going out to crazy parties.
Exercise 1 – In-Group/Out-Group
For this exercise, I chose to analyze my current workplace. Even though there aren’t too many employees, there is a pretty obvious group of favorites.
Employee 1 = 9
Employee 2 = 8
Employee 3 = 2
Employee 4 = 5
Employee 5 = 3
The current work environment is a little clicky and has caused issues in the past but thankfully it is slowly starting to shift. Two of the employees are rated fairly high because they were friends from the past, so we pretty much assumed that was going to happen at some point. However, we weren’t expecting the other two employees to either fell threatened or left out because of it but it has created minor problems. I marked myself as employee number 4 because I don’t have the best relationship with him but I can openly and freely talk to him about whatever it may be and often times it’s for me to help smooth over any issues that those in the “out-group” are facing. I think the main reason for the divide, asides from the fact that they were previous friends, is the fact that the manager has a type A personality and most people either love him or they hate him and those two just really don’t get along well with him.
This was another fun chapter, definitely up there as one of my favorites for this semester so far. This chapter focused on one-on-one relationships and the importance of that bond in the workplace. At the beginning of chapter one of the first headings is “Do leaders use the same approach with everyone?”. This concept was one that I was taught really early on in my professional career. When I took up a management position, one thing that I had learned first-hand was that you really can’t approach everyone the same. Everyone is different, they have different thoughts and opinions and that means that some individuals will react differently than others. I had realized this when it came to coaching a specific employee and realized that I wasn’t really getting through to her. At the time I was beginning to get frustrated because I wasn’t seeing the same improvements in her as I had the other girls and felt that it was because I was doing something wrong, and I was. I realized that she learned so much better by using some sort of example that she could relate to, specifically something that she was passionate about and her numbers nearly doubled the week after and it finally clicked in my head. I really think one-on-one relationships are extremely important in the workplace. Not only are you establishing a sense of trust with that employee and creating that bond, but you start to learn the little things about them that help you figure out the best approach when it comes to talking to them. It’s also a really good way to learn what your employees are good at and what their talents are. This is really important especially for managers because you can place people where their strengths can really be utilized. After talking with that same employee, I found that she really loves kids and loves talking with them. I put her in charge of the children’s toys and not only did she light up and shine there, but the kids and the parents loved her! I never would have found out if I didn’t pull her aside separately and got a chance to know her a little more!
Week 2 Summary
This week taught me a lot of valuable information on understanding the different types of leadership and the thought processes that go into them and thankfully I was able to observe a lot of this at work. Not only did it explain the different types, but it also explained how to kind of notice when one form of leadership really isn’t working and when and how to try and adjust it. Understanding this is important for multiple reasons. If you are a manager and you’re having a hard time getting through to your employees, not only can the profits suffer from the disconnect but you run the risk of losing employees. This can cause even more of a problem for businesses since it is super expensive to hire and train new employees, thus hurting the business even more. From an employee point of view, this information has taught me how to recognize these types of leadership and it has actually given me a different view of my current manager and how he leads us. Whether you want to manage or just be employed, the information learned this week was very applicable to everyday life.
The Prince 1-10
After reading the first 10 chapters or principles of The Prince, there were a few that really stood out to me that I could really relate to. Now, I did have a harder time understanding what it was that they were really talking about so my depiction may be a little different from others. However, one thing that stood out to me within the first few principles had to do with how leadership or power is obtained and different types of leadership. The part that stuck out to me was the difference between leaders who have been established for a while vs a new leader. I’ve personally been put into a new management position and it is harder to try and establish trust amongst the other employees. I always relate it to growing pains but there’s always a period where individuals need to adjust and sometimes there will be a period of distrust and getting past that can be extremely difficult. The other thing that he talked about was how sometimes it is best to take residence in the new state. That way you can address the problem quickly and efficiently. That principle can still be applied today. If managers are completely disconnected with what goes on in the work environment, the employees, and customers, they are really at a disadvantage for helping the employee’s problem solve. One example of this from my personal work experience actually happened recently. One of our new service writers, who is the person you speak to when you need to get your vehicle serviced, creates a ticket and gives it to the technician. The ticket tells them what job they are supposed to do and how much time it is supposed to take. He had recently started getting upset with a technician because it was taking him more time to complete the jobs then what the book time called for and told him that he needed to step up. Mind you, the service writer doesn’t have much experience working on cars and didn’t realize that sometimes, especially with older vehicles, bolts rust and become seized on the vehicle which means that instead of taking 30 seconds to take off it can be 10-20 minutes per, causing it to take longer than expected. Even though the technician explained that to him, he still wasn’t understanding, and it took the technician taking him out to the vehicle and making him try and do it for it to finally click. So that replayed in my mind when I was reading that. I think in situations like that or even in any industry, unless you are spending time out there doing or at least watching what the others are doing, you can be missing out on crucial aspects of the job. The last big thing that stuck out to me had to do with individuals taking up leadership positions based off of their ability. Experience is something that I’ve always respected versus just a title. This ties into the other two principles that I talked about. Most people tend to respect someone with more experience than someone that is brand new with no experience at all and typically those that have the skills and abilities to lead have at least been in the field long enough to understand how the mechanics of that business runs. Even though there was other really important principles mention in these chapters, these three really meant a lot to me and are all things that I’ve experienced personally that really helped consolidate that information for me.
The overall theme and lesson for this chapter have to deal with the behavioral approach to leadership and women in leadership. This is another chapter that I feel is extremely important for those interested or already in positions of management or leadership. One section that really stood out to me was when the book talked about the differences between men and women in positions of leadership and the work structure and culture that is created with it. Like I had previously discussed in my other blog post, the work environment that I was in from the shop with a male manager and the bath shop with a female manager were almost polar opposites. One of the things the book had mentioned was that traditionally women tend to be much more nurturing and caregiving because as a woman, we are used to being put in these types of roles like raising children and nursing. Thus, that attitude is then transferred into the work environment. It is also why on average, there are much more female HR employees than there are men. Times have been changing for a while now but on average most of the traits have continued on. One reason why I feel that it is necessary to understand these differences is that it may be able to help those in leadership positions understand the people that work with them. I feel that a huge portion of the management is really based off of the employees and sometimes it’s best to really analyze how they are responding to you and think about alternative ways to approach these situations. For example, if a male leader were to take a more traditional male leadership approach, some of his employees might not work well with that style. Having that knowledge can make it to where the leader understands this and can adapt his style to what is considered to be more traditional of a female’s and analyze the results.
Brace yourself, this is a long one. For chapter four, the overall theme and lesson for this chapter had to deal with how emotional intelligence, skills, and competencies increase leader effectiveness. This was another chapter that I felt like I had real-world experience with so it’s nice being able to connect the dots. I’ve been blessed to have as many opportunities to work in all sorts of environments with different types of people which is one of the main reasons why I’m really interested in this class and one of the biggest things that I have noticed with working with multiple small business owners is how they handle their emotions and how that correlates with the success and overall attitude of the business. Now I will say that 80% of my job experience is in the automotive industry and for anyone who has ever worked in that field, I am sure you know how quickly and how often tensions rise in that industry. I’m sure it’s applicable in multiple industries, but if the automotive industry has really taught me anything, it’s how hard it really is to manage your feelings, the feelings of those around you, and how to constructively move forward. There is one shop that really stands out to me for this chapter. Won’t say which but, to be blunt, the owner had no idea how to handle his emotions. Anytime something didn’t go as planned, he would blow up on all the technicians, pretty much tell them that they don’t know how to do their jobs, fire most of them, and overall it just creates a hostile environment. I watched him go through over 50 technicians in one year. FIFTY! Fredericksburg is having a shortage of technicians and he managed to burn through so many of them solely because of the way he handled his emotions. Now during his little rage fits, I watched this man go from being an intelligent individual to not in no time at all. Since he couldn’t control his emotions, it made it seem like it put blinders on and he only saw one thing. If you tried to tell him anything else during one of those periods it wasn’t going to happen. It actually cost him a new motor at one point because he was so angry and didn’t want to listen to what a technician was trying to tell him. The ability to control your emotions, skills and competencies all go hand in hand with each other. So needless to say, I learned a lot about management and leadership just by watching him. Now on the other side of things, I also worked for a small business in Downtown Fredericksburg that sells soaps and bath bombs and any other fun bath and body products. The owner is the polar opposite and is the calmest and most collected individual I’ve ever worked for. Even when she was stressed out about things, she knew that sometimes taking a break from everything for just 10 minutes can be essential to having a clear mind, and she preached that to all of us. Even if it was peak time during the holidays and the line was back all the way out of the store (which happens every year), if at any point we needed to step into the back and collect ourselves she always backed us up, no questions asked. She taught us that there is no way we can do our jobs to the fullest extent, or even help other customers if we were stressed or emotionally drained. She could even read how the employees were feeling and try her best to accommodate that in any way that she could. I can’t even put to words the amount of information I had learned from her about most of the information in this chapter. So, to briefly summarize this, the owner of the auto shop was the worst leader/manager I’ve ever worked for and the owner for the bath and body apothecary to this day has been the best. They both were professionals and what they did and were both very knowledgeable, but a leader who can’t manage his emotions hinders not only himself but those he guides as well.
This chapter mainly talked about the differences in intelligence and education on leadership. This is a concept that I’ve actually talked about with family and friends for a while. It is actually the main reason why I switched my major to business during my junior year. As someone who wants to be an entrepreneur, a lot of the small business owners I’ve met in this area alone has stressed the importance of having higher level education before opening up a business. Now looking back as a senior having taken all of these business classes at UMW, I understand why now. Not only was it for the nitty gritty factors like understanding how to manage your finances, accounting, and marketing, but the intangible assets like staffing and management. If I were to open up shop four years ago, with what I’ve learned thus far, I would have been at a pretty large disadvantage. When I was going through chapter one of the things that really stood out to me was the study done by Duke University and the Kauffman Foundation about the educational backgrounds of successful companies. They found that out of 549 successful companies, 95% of them had at least a bachelor’s degree. Many of them even had advance graduate degrees beyond that as well. Like I had mentioned earlier, If I were to have written about this 3 years ago I really wouldn’t have much of a background to be able to base the information off of, but now as a senior I understand the importance of having a strong education before making the jump to owning a business and with becoming a strong and influential leader
Carnegie 1-3 & Humphrey 1
For this section, I went ahead and lumped the four chapters together. For the first chapter, the overall lesson taught was that it is important to not criticize, condemn, or complain. What really stood out to me in this chapter was the letter that President Abraham Lincoln was planning on sending out to the general during the battle Gettysburg. Not only was the letter extremely well written, but it was worded in such a way that the message was very clear, yet it was not done in a way that was condemning or demeaning. Even at that, he had never mailed it. That scenario alone made me understand the importance and significance of having patience and really thinking about what it is you’re doing as a leader. There are so many other approaches you can take to try and improve a situation that isn’t negative like criticizing, condemning, or complaining. It reminds me of the saying “two wrongs don’t make a right” but with a twist like “Two negatives don’t make a positive.”
Overall theme/point: Don’t criticize, condemn or complain
The next chapter talked about giving honest and sincere appreciation. This is something that I feel like I can relate to not only my personal life but my work life as well. I’ve been in a few long-term relationships now (about 4 years each) and one of the biggest reasons or causes of fights was because of a lack of appreciation. Actions that are done over and over again become a norm and people often forget to appreciate it over time. It happens at work as well, you go in and do the job every day and when you first start working there you get that reassurance that gives you that drive to keep going and over time it slowly diminishes to the point to where you’ve lost your drive to go above and beyond. So, I believe that as a leader that is something that you need to take into consideration. It doesn’t need to be something that you put on the schedule and every Tuesday tell them that they’re doing a great job but just be mindful of it. Maybe after a really busy day, stop everyone before they head home and tell them that they did a great job today and that you’re proud of them. It can go a long way for employees.
Overall theme/point: Give honest and sincere appreciation
The third chapter talked about inspiring those around you to want the same outcomes. It is really easy to apply for a job and just work for a company for money. However, from a management perspective, they could be losing out on having an employee who genuinely cares about the company, who wants the company to do well because that would mean that in return, so is the employee. Those employees who want the company to do well tend to be more creative, they have ideas on how to help improve the company vs employees who just clock in and clock out every day. If as a leader you can inspire people to want the company to prosper not only will the employees want to work with one another on improving, that means that as a manager or as a leader you are playing a role in the betterment of the company which not only looks good to your superiors but can possibly affect you monetarily.
Overall theme/point: Arouse in the other person an eager want.
The first chapter of Humphrey really went over what are leaders, what do they do, what types or leaders are there, and what constitutes a good leader. One thing that really stuck out to me in this chapter was just a different perspective of a leader and that is that they are like employee representatives to upper level management. That was something that I had never really thought of, but it had made a bunch of sense to me. Even though they are supposed to be managing us, they are our way as lower level employees to voice our opinions to the superiors. In a perfect world I can see how this is extremely important in keeping larger organizations operating smoothly and efficiently.
Chapter 1 exercise 2
Strategic management – Warren C.
Motivating others – Faith K.
Empathy – Crystal W.
The three skills I want to learn more about as a leader are strategic management, motivating others, and empathy. I chose these because I felt that strategic management is an overall skill that is extremely important for any business in just about any field. I also chose motivating others and empathy because they were two topics that were introduced this week that I now have a new found respect for and I felt that it is something that I could work on as well. For strategic management, the person who I felt like I could learn this from is actually a gentleman named Warren C. He owns two separate businesses and one of them actually has 5 different locations up and down the east coast. I chose him because he is extremely good at knowing what jobs call for what and who would be the best suited for those jobs. On a good day he has about 10 different open jobs so I can only imagine what it is like having to manage all of those sites.
The second skill I picked was motivating others and the person I chose for this is an old manager of mine Faith K. She was my first real manager and she was still to this day my favorite manager. She always knew how to keep us motivated and did it in a way that made it fun. I want to say that out of all of the managers and jobs that I had, I worked extremely hard under her management and I actually enjoyed it. She made 12-hour days feel like 6 even though my feet would be blistered by the end of every day. She is who I idolize as one of the best managers and who I aspire to be most like.
The last skill that I really wanted to be better with is empathy. I can still be awkward in the sense that I don’t connect well with others sometimes and when people come to me with personal problems, I don’t really know how to handle them well. Someone who always stuck out to me as being able to do that very well was the owner of a company I used to work for. Even though she always joked about hating people (always in a joking matter) she was always extremely good at handling them, whatever the situation may be. I always admired that about her. I’ve watched her take screaming customers and calm them down enough to where they are laughing together and to me it’s something that I feel is really important to customer service that I could personally improve.
Chapter 2 exercise 1
Who am I?
Canvas week 1/2 responses
Seeing Dark Matter as the Key to the Universe — And Human Empathy
So, after reading “Seeing Dark Matter as the Key to the Universe – and Human Empathy” a few things have really stuck out to me. Fair warning, this is all based on my opinion and what I think I’m taking away from this article so bear with me on it. The first thing I wanted to start off with is the fact that the day before I read this article, I actually had a debate with people I know regarding race and how we can be predisposed to ideas and what not. So, I may have been going into this with a bias towards what I thought the point of the article was. However, from what I’m gathering from this article what I’m hearing is that individuals spend most of their life judging other off of predispositions that society has created. Living life like that not only spreads that mentality around to those you interact with, they might actually adopt those thoughts and beliefs. it’s no different than going throughout life with blinders on. That image was something that stuck in my head. I can relate that to so many aspects of life, whether its someone’s races, the type of job they have, their religion, shoot, sometimes I even see someone walk into the shop and think to myself “Oh great, this is going to be fun” when in reality I am limiting myself from growing or possibly learning new things from that individual. Those thoughts or actions that I do based off of reaction is something that is invisible for the most part but influences so many aspects of my life and those around me and is something that I need to be cautious of and take into consideration.
Another point is that I personally think that it’s human nature to be scared of things we don’t know or understand and with that fear comes and all sorts of possible negative attitudes. This is something that I have always felt pretty firm about when it came to the subject of race and religion so the author using dark matter as an example I felt was really well thought out and a great representation.
Now if we are going to relate this back to leadership, what I’m taking away is that we as individuals are quick to judge people, and to me it is no different than looking for potential job applicants and seeing something like a grammatical error on someone’s resume and not offering them the job based on that when in reality they could have been the most detail-oriented person in the workplace. Or not hiring someone because their first language wasn’t English, but they could have been the best technician you could have hired. Being a leader, you need to acknowledge that these things are happening and be conscious of it if you’re in a position like hiring a new employee. It needs to be something you are aware of if you’re a business owner, a manager, or even if you’re just an employee. You could be blowing off someone with the greatest thoughts and ideas because they’re just a little different than you. I think being able to acknowledge that is just another step closer in human empathy and I’m hoping that was what this article was trying to say.
Overall theme/point: Be empathetic
After listening to this TED talk, the most important thing that stuck out to me was the example of the difference between those who work for the paycheck and those who work because they believe in the cause. That was something that definitely reverberated in my head for a little. This was something that I was able to connect to something in my life and right now I work at a small mom and pop shop and we’ve been having issues with hiring new employees after the management had changed specifically because of this reason. The people who we hired were only there to pick up a paycheck and leave. Two of them actually only stayed with us for about 2 weeks before the took another job offer that apparently paid more and left without a warning. However, it is pretty apparent that the people who have stayed throughout it all actually care about the shop and how well it’s doing. I’ll probably end up showing this ted talk to my manager because it might be something he takes into consideration when we hire again and maybe we can find a solution to how to avoid this problem in the future.
Now to relate this back into leadership, one thing that I think is important is the fact that as a leader, you are in a powerful position. It is up to you to lead those under you and by that, I mean it’s up to you to inspire those beneath you to achieve the same goal that you want. If you as a manager don’t care about the business and you’re only there to get paid, then that attitude can get passed onto those around you and quickly become contagious. I think it is important to understand that as a leader and learn how to encourage your employees. This mindset can help give the business a competitive advantage in the long run.
Overall theme/point: Inspire people
For Those Who Want to Lead, Read
I’ll be honest reading this article “For Those Who Want to Lead, Read” was kind of a bitter pill to swallow for me. I’ll be the first one to admit that I am not a strong reader by any means. I can read something over and over and over again and still not understand what is going on. I’m just really an audible learner, so give me an audiobook and I’m set. However, like I said this article was a little hard to swallow for me mainly because I know I’m not a good reader and honestly its extremely frustrating for me sometimes, so I never do it. I’ve even resorted to taking extra classes to help and it still really didn’t do much for me. Asides from all of that, when I say it’s a bitter pill to swallow, I mean that I 100% understand that there is a correlation between people who read and success and intelligence. Whether its millionaires or those who are just extremely intelligent, I can agree and accept the fact that there is a correlation between the two. And again, it’s frustrating because everyone wants to be like that including myself. I want to be successful and have tons of money to go blow on all the cars I want. It is something that I am going to have to work on myself, but I can agree that a good leader can learn a lot about thought processes, ideas, reasoning skills, and just having overall knowledge on all of this can be a huge asset in a leader. Those are the people who tend to be the best at problem-solving, being quick on their toes if something happens, or even being able to connect with customers or other businessmen on an intellectual level. I do want to become a good leader so I’m going to have to take their advice and start working on some of their tips in the future.
Overall theme/point: Develop Yourself
How smart learners stay smart
After reading this article, my biggest take away from it was that smarter people (or good leaders) tend to be more open-minded and always take into consideration the other side to arguments or even play devil’s advocate not to argue but to bring light to the discussion on factors that may have not been considered. I recently took a BCOM class here at UMW with professor Oxford and one of the things I absolutely loved about her class was the fact that she encouraged arguments. Obviously, it wasn’t like screaming matches or anything, but it gave you a space to think openly and hear what those around you have to say and learn from it. That’s something that I’ve noticed was almost like an overall theme for this article. I always thought being open-minded was an essential characteristic for good managers as well. I think it helps promote problem-solving skills, team bonding, and an overall healthy environment to work and grow your career. In all of these steps, I can relate how those behaviors are key in becoming a great leader and like the previous articles I feel that they are important for all leaders to be aware of.
Overall theme/point: Keep an open mind
You are not special
My take away from the speech is that obviously, you are not special, there are people just like you out in the world every day. Understanding that is what can help differentiate you from them. It is important to do things for yourself, for your soul, not for anyone else but for you. We live in a society where it’s a social norm to do things and show it off so that way people think you’re cool or normal, well what I think he is saying is to break that chain and don’t be normal. Don’t let the reason why you want to go to Paris just be so you can take a photo of yourself in front of the Eifel tower just to share it on your social media. Do it because you actually want to go, experience Paris, the food, the music, the art, do it to learn for yourself. Step outside of your comfort zone, don’t eat at the Mc Donald’s there just because you know the food, find a hole in the wall restaurant that you’ll remember for a lifetime.
Another thing he brought up which I thought was a really good point was that we don’t know everything. Even now with some college education and real-world experiences, we don’t know everything. My parents don’t know everything, my grandparents don’t know everything. We are all little sponges trying to soak up what the world has to offer us but that is so much. It is our job to go out there and search for that information. It’s not magically going to pour itself into our brains. That is where as a leader it is important to take all of the opportunities to learn something new seriously. Maybe you’re a manager and you have an employee who has an idea for helping the business function smoother. Even if you feel like the business is doing just fine, give them the opportunity to voice their thoughts and opinions and you never know, you might actually learn something new and you may have a wonderful idea brought to light because of it.
Overall theme/point: You don’t know everything, you are always learning
Shut up and sit down
After reading this article, there were a few things that really stood out to me. The first thing the really stuck in my head was when they were talking about how leadership development and succession management constitutes their number one human capital priority. Now the main reason why this jumped out to me was that earlier this summer I took a Human resources class with Professor Dunn and this was a topic that I had never really given much thought. I knew that anytime someone left a company that there are obvious costs involved but I had never really known about how big of a problem that could cause. Nor did I know that it was that expensive to replace people. So, between this article and what I had learned from the HR class was that, as a leader, you need to plan for everything despite the fact that it may not seem like a problem now.
The next thing that stuck out to me was when Weber wrote “The world revolved around “old-type” rulers, who could be “moved by personal sympathy and favor, by grace and gratitude.” Modern rulers, by contrast, are supposed to be emotionally detached; they work within a network of laws and systems designed to eliminate nonrational considerations like love and hatred.” Now I know in this instance they are talking mostly about politicians and I can 100% see what they are talking about, but I can also see the resemblance to how that pertains to management and leadership within businesses. I’ve always joked with friends about how there are two different types of bosses to work for and this quote is a close example of what I was talking about. Sometimes you get the boss who is reasonable, who understands that people are human, and humans make mistakes. The other is the one that really sticks to guidelines and rules and maybe one morning you get stuck behind an accident and you get to work a few minutes late and instead of giving you a warning they write you up. Not that there is anything wrong with that but I’m sure we would all prefer the latter. From my personal experiences I’ve noticed that bosses that take the old-type of leadership tend to be more pleasant to work for and I ended up actually learning more from them in the long run.
The next thing that they had brought up that really stuck with me was about searching for new CEO’s, the process in which they searched, and the characteristics they looked for. After reading that the first thing that came to mind was that they were searching for a brand ambassador. Someone who on the exterior looks charming has charisma and is at least intelligent enough to be the face of the company. From a business point of view, I see what they’re looking for and it sounds good on a superficial level but, they may not be the best fit for the position. If it were my company, I would choose the person most qualified by searching within the company. Even if they weren’t the most charismatic person, I would take someone who has been with the company for a long time who understands the corporate culture and how things are supposed to flow.
To sum it up, this article gave me insight into the different types of leadership and things to look for when you’re trying to fill a leadership position.
Overall theme/point: Lionization of leadership
First, Let’s Get Rid of All the Bosses
The main points that I had taken away from this article were that everything is good in moderation. The structure is good, managers are good, corporate culture is good, things are good in moderation. Now sometimes things can be essential and necessary for things to run and after reading this article I feel quite firmly about that. I feel like it is human nature to one of two types of people. Those who lead and those who follow. To me, it is important to have the proper balance between leaders and followers in the workplace. Too many leaders mean that there are chances that people will not get alone and potentially create problems in the workplace. Or, like in Zappos case, no leaders create problems for everyone involved, especially followers. Without their guidance, it can be difficult as a follower to know where you stand within the company, how you’re doing, and what authority you have within the company. After getting rid of all of the managers the employees naturally created a small community where they had “lead links” who helped round everything up, but depending on your take on the definition of managers, the lead links were basically managers that the employees elected to take charge because they felt that it was necessary for the company because they had no guidance. It is no different than having horses pulling a carriage with no driver and telling the string of 8 horses to go but not tell them where. Now you have a carriage with horses all trying to go different directions and not actually move. So, I think in cases where you work for a larger company where you have to work with multiple other individuals’ managers are necessary, they allow the operation to progress smoothly. In cases of a smaller business, the teal approach might actually be favorable, but this article showed me the importance of having leadership within a company.
Overall theme/point: Sometimes structure is good
Bryan A. Stevenson
After listening to Mr. Stevenson speak, a few things stuck out to me throughout the speech and the first was that it is important for you to get involved. If you feel passionate about something, do something about it. If you are upset about your living situation, do something about it. Nothing is going to get done for you, you have to be the one to do it. To relate that back to leadership I think that another characteristic of good leaders is the ones that initiate and strive for change. Its really easy to be a manager of a business and just collect your paycheck and go home despite the fact that there are aspects of the business that probably need to be changed or developed a little more to help with any potential problems but sometimes people just don’t care enough to do anything about it or they are worried or even scared to try. Another example is when managers or superiors work with you to do the same job. Its difference between telling your subordinates to sweep the whole warehouse while you watch and telling the employees to sweep the whole warehouse while you help.
The next thing that really stuck out to me was about changing the narrative. And this made me reflect back on the first article about empathy. Sometimes as humans we create these stories about people regardless of whether or not they’re accurate, but we associate it that story to people of similar characteristics. The most obvious being race and religion. If we can change that story or change that narrative, we would have such a different outlook on life and really just create a more inclusive and loving society. It’s the same reason for leaders too. If leaders are predisposed to feel certain ways about certain individuals then we as a society are failing these people by not letting them prosper and show us what they can do, like we would for anyone else. And as a leader, you have a responsibility to teach those below you. Attitudes and beliefs are contagious.
The last thing that he talked about that I felt was really important to leaders is the fact that it is important to do things that make you uncomfortable. It can be as simple as trying a new food or going to a place you’ve never been before or even reading a book you thought you might not like. Doing things that make you uncomfortable opens up so many new ideas and information around you that you could have possibly never even known. Good leaders look for that information to help teach those around them. It doesn’t even need to be in a workplace environment, it could be at home with your children or even out with your friends. You never know, you may find something new that you absolutely love and by not stepping out of your comfort zone you would have never even known about it.
He talked about a few other things that I really enjoyed as well like protecting your hopefulness, but I think of all of the articles and speeches I’ve watched and read this week, he was my favorite. Puts a lot of things into perspective and sheds light on subjects that I feel strongly about.
Overall theme/point: Get involved and change the narrative, protect your hopefulness, do things that make you uncomfortable.