Leadership and mentoring

A session on leadership and mentoring, as part of my Management module, has prompted me to reflect on what I see as a good leader, and on what I learnt and what I will do differently in future as a leader as a result of this session.

Leadership

We learnt there are three broad styles of leadership;

  • Authoritarian/Autocratic: The focus of power is with the manager
  • Democratic: The focus of power is with the group. Leadership functions are shared within the group.
  • Laissez-faire: The manager observes things working well, and makes a conscious decision to pass the focus of power to the group. Doesn’t interfere unless necessary.

Many people in the class had experience of all these styles, and it was interesting to hear their anecdotes and examples.

As part of the preparation for this class, we were asked to watch the following TEDtalk, and reflect on the lessons about leadership it contains.

 

For me, the theme that struck me most was that these conductors are on a wide spectrum, from autocratic to laissez-faire, but each style is legitimate (though it obviously depends on the situation at hand).

Along with a discussion of the video, we also identified a leader we admire, and considered their personal qualities which we feel are the most significant in making them a good leader. Our team came up with the following as characteristics of a good leader:

  • Vision
  • Effectiveness
  • Supportive
  • Approachable
  • Communication

Mentoring

The second part of the class was a discussion with Christopher Cipkin, Arts and Humanities Team Manager at the University of Reading, about the benefits of mentoring.

Mentoring is not something I had previously given much thought. The only knowledge I had was that it is part of the chartership process, something I plan to do in the future. I was surprised to learn about how it can be used for other forms of professional development. The main benefit of mentoring, it seemed, was the formalisation of achieving goals; it provides an infrastructure of defined meetings and action points in which to achieve clearly defined goals, with the help and guidance of another person’s experiences and knowledge.

What have I learned? What will I do differently?

Leadership, in some form, will definitely feature in my future career, whether I like it or not! I tend to shy away from taking the lead of a group or team, but actually, it doesn’t have to be as scary as I think. I am going to try to improve my confidence in this area by taking on more leadership roles when I can.

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