Conceptual theories on leadership can help
explain areas where I excelled and areas where I could have improved upon. My
leadership journey began with this project, as did a journey of self-discovery.
I had an idealised view of what I could achieve by the end of the year. I
believed I possessed the qualities to make this happen, and to produce a
lasting change. I had studied concepts of leadership, management and
followership at university and I was keen to apply my knowledge.
I decided not to join any other existing
projects or any other teams, as I wanted sole ownership of a successful
project. This almost heroic view of leadership is currently being surpassed by
ideas that conceptualise it as a dynamic, interactive process (Kings Fund
2011). We are being taught to look at leadership on a deeper level than merely
one of a person created for the role. Indeed, leaders with innate charisma only
can become over dependenct on their team-members (Burke 2006). Positively, I
was passionate in the project idea and was successful creating a plan. In this
scenario, my initial prerogative was to create change by innovation, however I
was not in full control of the situation and my idea relied heavily on others
for fruition. Goleman (2000) describes the leadership climate that gets
results: authoritative, affiliative, democratic and coaching. I adapted a more
authoritative role but lacked in creating an affiliative and democratic
environment, proposing an idea without much collaboration. What I ultimately
lacked and desperately needed for this project, was the help of a cohesive team
to achieve my goal.
Day (2001) and Benington and Hartley (2010) have said leadership development
isn’t a solo task, it involves the collaboration of a team. Northouse (2004) identifies
common themes in how leadership is conceived: it is a process that involves
influence, occurring in a group context, aiming for goal attainment. These elements were clearly missing from my
Furthermore, under Fiedler’s (1978) contingency
model, I played the part of a task-orientated rather than relationship
orientated leader. Task orientated leaders can get things done, however not in
situations of intermediate favourability, which requires
relationship-orientated leaders. I had a recipe for a successful quality
improvement project, but no one to help me implement it.