Leadership is a difficult topic to discuss for various reasons. People do not like to talk about what makes a good leader and the characteristics that make someone a bad leader. Researchers discuss and evaluate leaders for the way they handle situations and how they interact with people. Good leaders can find the best in the people around them and help them achieve future goals. Leadership is not about being in charge or finding the appropriate means to dictate a person’s actions. It is not about making promises or giving people rewards when they are successful. Organizations are known to make choices when it comes to leadership that is sometimes not in the best interest of the other employees (Sullivan, 2017). People are sometimes left with the feeling they are left behind or not valued. This student has observed both good and bad leadership and organizations that are striving with multiple types of leaders at the helm.
Models of Leadership
One such organization this student has observed is a local police department. Kouzes and Posner’s leadership practice is the idea of inspiring a shared vision to entice others through spirit uplifting and guidance (Posner, 2016). A local police department is known for changing leadership every few years with a high turnover ratio. One change in leadership was more positive and successful than some of the others, and looking at this change, it is evident that one leader inspired a shared vision. The one commander had a vision of building a more successful community-oriented police agency. This leader believed if he motivated and inspired others to perform their duties with integrity and service. The Kouzes and Posner model reflected the work due to this commander’s ability to achieve small victories that would build all the officers’ confidence. The model suggests that leaders must work towards finding success by appealing to a person’s interest, their hopes, and their individual goals in their career (Vanourek, 2016). Leaders can inspire others to become better at their profession to reach their objectives. “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24, NIV).
The local police department this student observed has also been victim to numerous leaders who needed to work towards motivating and inspiring others towards the goals and objectives of the department. One such time, supervisors within the agency were failing to set examples for the employees. The leadership at that time was not following its policy manual or procedures. The failure to motivate and inspire by leading by example was a great example of what can happen when leadership practices are not taken seriously. Officers under the failing supervisors quickly pointed out the supervisor’s faults, and respect was not earned. In this case, a leader-member exchange form of leadership could have successfully built trust and respect. Instead of failing to follow the rules and showing no care for their employees, the leaders should have tried to build relationships and work with them.
Leadership is defined as working with people close to finding a common path towards a goal, then coming up with solutions to success (Klindtworth, 2020). “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what helps build others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29, NIV). The bible verse teaches people to listen and think about the needs of others. The bible verse is a good example for any leader because leaders should listen to their employees’ needs and try to help them obtain what they need.
Many different researchers and theorists define leadership in multiple ways with many meanings. It is according to what profession a particular leader is in that it is defined differently. Some leaders can inspire others, while some cause tension among employees. It is apparent in most organizations who the leaders are due to the amount of respect or lack thereof for people. If a leader can inspire, motivate, excite, appeal to others, and set examples for others to follow, other people will follow.
According to the ‘Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership’ theory created by Kouzes and Posner (2017), ‘Practice One’ requires the leader to ‘Model the Way.’ When a person begins their journey of leadership, they must have first determined the personal ethos that drives their character. In essence, the value system of the leader must be clarified within the organization. This value system must be communicated to followers, and the leader must set the example by ensuring that their actions mesh with their shared value system. To accomplish this task, the leader must share their leadership philosophy with their followers frequently, and the leader must be willing to demonstrate through their work and deeds that their value system guides their actions. Through the process of modeling the way things should be accomplished, a commitment begins to form within the organization, from the followers, that will allow tasks to be completed in accordance with the leader’s value system (Kouzes and Posner, 2017).
The United States Marine Corps represents the epitome of military leadership among the different branches of the United States Armed Forces. Having spent six years of young adulthood in the United States Marine Corps, this author experienced first-hand what it is that sets Marines apart from other service members in different branches of the military. Certainly, all military service members are exposed to a command structure where good order and discipline are essential in maintaining military readiness. However, the United States Marine Corps is considered to be the world’s most elite fighting force. This reputation has been in existence since the Marine Corps was founded. United States Marines are often convinced beyond reason that they are the best of the best. The question that should be answered, is why do United States Marines feel this way? The answer, as this writer has personally experienced, is phenomenal leadership and continual advanced leadership training for each leadership rank in the organization.
The United States Marine Corps, has a motto they utilize in the Commander’s Course for Marines, “You lead people, and you manage things” (USMC, 2002). In essence, effective leaders are generally always effective managers of things. However, an effective manager is not always an effective leader. This lack of effectiveness often comes because managers devote too much focus on tasks and objects instead of people. People are not objects or tasks that are void of emotion and thought. People need to be led not managed. Marine Corps readiness relies on a well trained and motivated workforce. Marine Corps leaders are effective because they are taught to continually ‘model the way’ for the Marines that are subordinate to them.
Just as Jesus spoke to his disciples in Matthew 20:26 concerning leadership, the disciples should be the greatest leaders among us (King James Version). In Philippians 2:5-11, we learned that Jesus had a servant’s heart that led him to act for the benefit of others. Jesus was a leader to his disciples in urging them to follow his example in John 13:12-17. Christ the Father truly modeled the way every day of his earthly life until he was crucified on the cross. Leaders should embrace the philosophy of modeling the way each and every day.