CHAPTER 3: REFLECTION ON PERSONAL PRACTICES
In this chapter the researcher reflects on his learning journey at UOG and gives a critical analysis of some of the key skills set learned and how these have impacted on his performance as a leader at his workplace, family and community. The researcher’s emphasis will be on three main themes namely Influencing skill, Time Management Skill and Delegation Skill.
3.1 Influencing Skill
Leadership is largely concerned with exerting influence in a way that encourages others to follow the desired outcome. According to (Tzu, 2005), influence is the way of leadership which entails inducing people to have the same goals as the leadership so as to share death and share life without fear of danger. He adds that, leadership is about relationships, strategy and a dynamic that aligns a shared vision that may also require those aligned to take action which may transcend personal self interest. The definition also considers the collaborative dynamic that a leader and follower share in participating in this vision hence they all share the benefits and risk in its pursuit.
The inner dynamic of the shared vision was also consistent with other schools of thought which the researcher aligned with. Senge’s works (1990; 1994; 1999) on learning organisations theory cemented the need for personal mastery, which is defined as an openness to question one’s own perspectives. Senge’s work also introduced the researcher to systems thinking and to the understanding of the integrated wholeness of the organisation.
The fundamental learning of the researcher was the principle which, according to (Bodenhamer & Hall, 1999), the person with the most flexibility exercises the most influence on the system. The principle emphasized the significance of self mastery, driving the point that the person who exercises the greatest mastery over their own behaviour and attitudes is able to exercise the most influence with others.
Concuring to this notion (Quin, Spreitzer, & Brown, 2000), emphasized that transactional change occurs when we decide to change ourselves, usually by opting for the behaviour which is self sacrificing in nature.
3.2 Application of learnt Influencing skills
3.1.1 Building a rapport with team members and respect their opinions and not being dismissive.
3.1.2 The researcher will adopt and tailor makes his ideas to accommodate the individual needs and concerns of the team members or peers.
3.1.3 Work actively to show flexibility while holding firm on his beliefs.
3.1.4 Develop expertise by attending professional conferences or breakfast meetings that will keep the researcher updated with current knowledge.
3.2 Time Management Skill
The researcher will use the Pareto Principle and Coveys Time Management Matrix to unpack his key learning points on time management skill set applying concepts thereof to the identified various disciplines of time management.
(Koch, 1998), refers to the 80/20 rule of time management, which is founded in what is known as the Pareto Principle. This theory states that 20 percent of the tasks we do give us 80 percent of the rewards or satisfaction. Learning to recognize and focusing on that 20 percent is the key to making the most effective use of one’s time.
The researcher, however, is of the view that at times it is impossible to separate among responsibilities which all appears important.
In this instance (Covey, Merill, ; Merill, 2016), suggets the use of the Important versus Urgent matrix to assist in prioritizing task. This model or matrix distinguishes between importance and urgency. (Refer to Appendix 15)
According to (Covey,et al, 2016), applying the time management matrix to ones professional it can be noted that the majority of activities will be found within quadrant I and III, with quadrant II being neglected by most people particularly in their areas of development. He emphasis that any gap in quadrant II suggest that ones focus is skewed on the operative aspect while the strategic perspective is lagging behind. On this basis, Covey advocates quadrant II as an important part of the matix. In the abscence of this quadrant II, efficient time management will not be possible as it requires strategic elements as well.
The researcher learnt that time management is not a one size fits all discipline and plays a critical role in determining productivity levels. Accordingly, the researcher’s emphasis will be on goal setting, prioritization, Delegation, self awareness, and self motivation disciplines of time management set skills.
The researcher have learnt that effective delegation does not only provide a leader more time to handle more important issues, but also increases teams confidence in their abilities. (Taylor, 1991) argued that delegation must be a tasks that has an element of importance or urgency embeded in it. Emphasizing on the need to identify which of the quadrants the task falls in. For an unimportant and non urgent task the emphasis is dont waste peoples time delegating as this can be elimanted.(Refer to apendix 15 )
3.2.2 Goal Setting
The researcher learnt that goal setting marks the beginning of time management skills. How time is utilized should be driven by effective goal setting. Any decision regarding what to focus must always be cognizant of one’s goals.
The Pareto Principle or 80/20 time management rule suggests that 20% of one’s efforts tend to produce 80% of one’s results; hence prioritizing effectively is a must. The biggest lesson to the researcher is that prioritization should not commence by focusing on getting more things done, but commence by focusing eliminating work that one should not be doing. The researcher discovered that prioritization skill is fundamental when one have too many good ideas as these are worthless unless implemented. In concurring (Covey, et al, 2016), alludes that the underlying key is not to prioritize whats on your schedule or to do list but to schedule your priorities .
3.2.4 Self Awareness
The message to the researcher on this skill is that one needs to have a better understanding of own likes, dislikes and needs. There are no individuals who like working the same way. These personal preferences can affect one’s work hence it is fundamental to regularly create time for reflection so as to observe how to get the best from oneself.
3.2.5 Self Motivation
The researcher learnt that lacking the ability to motivate oneself makes one experience large amounts of pressure and stress. In this era of the knowledge worker where jobs are less defined one needs to have the motivation to define his job, goals and priorities before engaging in any activity. Thereafter motivation is required to get the work done; hence self motivation is fundamental amongst time management skills.
3.2.6 Application of learnt Time management skills
188.8.131.52 Implement the Pareto principle to stay focused on the 20% of work that’s really important and work smart on the right things.
184.108.40.206 Have a plan in place to execute not urgent but important items to avoid same becoming urgent and important items.
220.127.116.11 Minimizing or eliminate interruptions. Have discipline to work on a task single mindedly until completed.
3.3 Delegation Skills
According to (Dunham ; Pierce, 1989), delegation is the process adopted by managers to transfer formal authority from one position to another in an organisational setting, thus intstalling authority systems they have designed into place.
(Grove, 1983) alludes that there are three levels of competence and that a leaders delegation style and technique should vary according to which level the individual possesses. He referred to this principle as Task Relevant Maturity.
The researchers understanding of the delegation skill set is founded on the concept of task relevance maturity (Refer to appendix 15). The following are the learnt skills to be considered for an effective delegation.
3.3.1 Selecting the right person for the job
Matching the right person to a certain task ensures success of a delegated task. (Koontz ; Cyril, 2011) mentions that the individual who is assigned a task should have the competence to complete same, thus should have the knowledge, skills and attitude to execute the task. They said critical projects must be delegated to more experienced team members and less complex tasks should be delegated to those with little experience to enhance their confidence. Accordingly, (Koontz ; Cyril, 2011) argument aligns with (Grove, 1983) principle of task maturity level.
3.3.2 Give Full Responsibility
(Myrna, 2010) says it is damaging to delegate a task without giving sufficient responsibility to the chosen person. Delegating hundred percent responsibilities for a project is a major performance motivator. Thus the more frequent a leader assigns responsibility to the right people the more they become competent.
The researcher is of the view that when the leader gives a team member the full responsibility to execute a project, he must take cognisant of the task maturity level principle and ensure the identified team member has the requisite knowledge, skill, attitude and experience to execute the required task.
According to (Koontz ; Cyril, 2011) it is a huge mistake for a leader when delegating a task to split same among team members, as it will be difficult for them to see where their responsibilities start and end. They added that should the chosen person decide to in turn delegate parts of the task, it is for them to decide and accept the responsibilty of ensuring success.
The researcher is averse the idea of a team member assigned to a specific task to have the flexibility to in turn delegate parts of the task. The third person assigned might not have the appropriate skill, knowledge and experience required to execute a high task maturity level and this will unnecessarily compromise on output quality and delivery timelines.
3.3.3 Give Constructive and positive Feedback
Delegating an assignment to someone does not mean the leader is not responsible.
There is need to check with the team member at the end of the task to ensure the set goals are met (Mueller ; Vogelsmeier, 2013).
Positive messages from the leaders feedback will gain the leader respect and cooperation. This is particularly effective when things are not turning out as expected. Focusing on the best ways to resolve emerging problems compared to placing blame, the leader will achieve the positive outcome. The feeling by team members of their leaders support urges them to expend more effort in ensuring successful outcome, (Koontz ; Cyril, 2011).
3.3.4 Delegate the Objective not the Proceedure.
(Taylor, 1991) mentioned that the leader should have two objectives when delegating a task to someone namely getting the job done well and getting someone to do it well. He adds that to achieve both objectives the leader should not tell people what to do but tell them the wanted result. Only when the job is done well, the leader can now establish how it was done and in that way he might learn few things.
In concurrence (Koontz ; Cyril, 2011) adds that from the outset the leader must state clearly the required outcomes, explaining what must be achieved and what the measurements will be.
3.3.5 Give Clear Directions
The leader has the responsibility to provide the team member with all the relevant information needed to understand exactly what is expected from the job being delegated and a clear understanding of the importance of the task (Myrna, 2010).
Listening is a fundamental communication skill to use when delegating. As a leader it is important to listen to concerns of your team member and ensure they appreciate ones expectations, (Koontz ; Cyril, 2011).
3.3.6 Application of learnt Delegation Skills to practice
To ensure the delegated activities are completed safely and competently in the manner that is required the researcher will implement monitoring strategies as discussed hereunder.
18.104.22.168 Simple Routine Tasks.
In monitoring simple routine tasks, the researcher will apply recurrent or directive style of delegation. The skills and competencies required for such frequently conducted tasks will be low task maturity level. The researcher will conduct intermittent monitoring, carefully monitoring the process and subsequently offer constructive feedback to assist the team member learn from their past mistakes. The indirect type of monitoring will be adopted for similar simple routine tasks.
22.214.171.124 Simple Non Routine Tasks
As regards tasks that are occasionally conducted the researcher will apply new delegation to an individual with Medium Task Relevant Maturity. Such individuals will have demonstrated a certain level of competency in undertaking tasks similar to the one being delegated. Management by objectives style of delegation will be implemented and the researcher will give clarity on the goals and objectives of the task assigned. The individual will have to establish how best to accomplish same and revert back with a plan. Progress will be monitored by periodic reports that will be agreed to at critical points along the completion chain.
126.96.36.199 Complex Non Routine Task.
In monitoring such complex task that has never been conducted, the researcher will use new delegation to an individual with Task Relevant Maturity who has a great deal of experience in the field. The individual might be an expert possibly with more expertise in the area superior to that of the researcher. Under the circumstance the researcher will apply a leadership style of delegation. There will be frequent continuous monitoring using direct monitoring and supervision at all times