Title: Business Leadership
Assignment: Leadership Experience Paper
Good writing skills are essential for success in any academic or professional work. This is particularly true for people in a leader position, where writing is the major way to communicate ideas to lower-echelon managers or entry-level employees. Good writing is a skill that requires practice to become perfect.
The purpose of the Leadership Experience Paper is to apply the leadership concepts (from the lectures, class notes, book, additional readings,…) to your personal life: to reflect on your strengths and weaknesses as a leader and to recognize which situations align with your style, and which do not.
Use leadership concepts to systematically evaluate your leadership and your relationship with your followers. Specifically, think about a time when you were in a leadership position and when you had to influence others. For example, you can talk about a situation that happened in school (e.g., group project, school event) or outside of school (e.g., summer jobs, internships, volunteer work). Address and evaluate your leadership behaviors/ style and your relationship with your followers. Please arrange your paper in the following way:
- Context. Briefly describe the context. Make sure you briefly (i.e., one or two sentences for each question) address the following questions: What was the setting (e.g., school, work, …)? Who was involved? What was your main task? What was your goal? Who were your followers? How many followers did you have? In other words, tell me only what I need to know to understand your analysis.
- Analysis. After describing the context, you should relate the experience to the leadership literature. Focus on a limited set of leadership aspects and explain how you addressed these. Show that you truly understand the aspects you wish to focus on by providing an insightful description.
Specifically, use leadership concepts we discussed during class (LMX and others that fit your analysis) to address the following questions (you do not have to tackle all these questions, I prefer you select some and answer them in a thorough way than answering all of them in a shallow way):
- What was your relationship with your followers like? How did you develop that specific relationship (e.g., if it was good, why was it good? If it was weak, why was it weak)? Why did they follow you? What was the quality of your relationship with your followers? Make sure you explain this relationship.
- Explain how you motivated the followers. How did you inspire them?
- Which types of power did you have over your followers? Explain. How did you use the power?
- What was your leadership style? How did it help you/hurt you? Would another style be more appropriate? Explain. How did the followers see you as a leader? (see “Leadership that gets results”).
- Examine the quadrants of the Situational Leadership Theory. What situational leadership style do you find to be the most natural to you? Explain your answer. Did this match the types of followers you had to lead? Discuss how you would realistically work with the 3 other types of followers. What challenges would you face? When would you be successful? How do you think you would realistically handle such followers? Make sure you support your answers with examples or hypothetical examples (if you don’t have experience working with that specific group of followers).
- Which phases of the leadership making (LMX) did you go through? Explain how you went through the different phases.
- Did you have to manage some conflicts? How?
Make sure you explain and support your claims and make sure you provide specific examples and relate them to leadership theories. Include other class principles/ leadership theories to support your statements, when appropriate.
- Were you successful in influencing and leading your followers? If so, why were you successful? If you were not successful in leading others, why were you not successful? Make sure you address how your success was measured. What would you do different next time?
- What aspects of being a leader do you value most? Give arguments why these aspects are indeed important to focus on (give evidence why they are useful for a leader).
Make sure that you add the necessary theoretical foundations. Make sure that you support any claim that you make. For example, saying “I had an in-group relationship with my followers” will not earn you points. Instead, elaborate on how you know which type of a relationship you had, how your followers showed that, how you showed that, etc. Saying “My more participatory leadership style works best with individuals who are willing and able to do work” will also not earn you many points. Full credit will be granted for drawing clear links between your examples and class concepts (i.e., why is your style conducive to working with individuals who are willing, but unable to do work? What was your outcome?). Last example: if you find being an ethical and fair leader is important, it is necessary to substantiate this more in terms of, for example: what kind of fairness was important in your experience, fairness to whom, why was fairness important and what did it signal to the followers? You can formulate such questions to make sure you provide a deeper description of the aspects you are discussing.
Your paper will be evaluated the depth of your analyses. If another theory is obvious and you do not discuss it, you will be penalized.
Make a coherent story by relating theories to each other and tightening the description of your analyses, and the theoretical background.
Pay attention to spelling, grammar and sentence construction. This is not a writing course, but I do care about details.
To communicate effectively as a leader, it’s important to be concise and remove all clutter. Therefore, your leadership paper should be maximum 3 typed pages (excluding possible references) in length, 1 1/2 spaced, 12pt font. Hence, this is also an exercise in getting your message across in a space-efficient manner.
Don’t Plagiarize! In academia, one of the worst sins you can commit is to plagiarize. To plagiarize means claiming someone else’s ideas or writing as your own. When you don’t acknowledge that you are using someone else’s ideas or writing, that is plagiarism. In academic writing, you acknowledge the ideas of others by citing them in the body of your paper and in the bibliography. The use of unacknowledged ideas or writing is plagiarism. This includes published works, but also includes using papers written by other students.
Don’t procrastinate! The due date for your leadership paper will arrive rapidly and it will coincide with other demands in this course, such as preparing your groups’ presentation, as well as demands in your other courses.
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