Empathy has always been important to me. I have always practiced empathy, even before I knew the word. I have always believed that empathy is the base of any healthy relationship. Chapter 5, titled “Understanding Others” discusses exactly this concept. Thus, I was excited to read the chapter. The first thing that stuck out to me is the mention of the English Language being the only one to capitalize the word referencing to oneself, “I”. I am bilingual, and yet had never even thought twice about the fact that in English, “I” is capitalized, but “yo” (me) in Spanish is not capitalized. The discussion of the difference between Western tradition from other traditions, especially regarding the importance of individuality and collectivity is very interesting.
I am currently taking a Women’s, Environment and Gender class, so the section titled “Understanding Gender Diversity” sparked my interest. I found that this book used many of the same ideas and terms as my Women’s studies class, so it was interesting to compare these views. I found that this book brought up several of the issues I discussed in my class, including sex and gender roles and societal expectations.
I also found the section titled “Understanding Cultural Diversity” to be very interesting. I think that empathizing with people of other cultures is much different than doing so with the opposite gender. There are so many differing cultures with differing traditions, many of which go against the beliefs of each other. Culture is deeply engrained in every person, and because there are so many different cultures in the world, many individuals and groups conflict.
The idea of being part of a “majority” is very interesting. I had never really reflected on this idea and the implications of being part of a majority until today. I find it very unfair, yet real, that the majority in an area enjoys privileges. I enjoyed reading about the Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity. This is something I have seen as I attended a small private international high school in Costa Rica. There were only 45 students in my graduating class, yet there were over 15 different nationalities. Thus, I can relate my experience there to this model. I believe that we were successfully able to achieve stage 6, “Integration of Difference”
Given that I am part of several different communities, both within this institution and outside of it, I found this chapter to be very relevant to my life. The first thing that surprised me about this chapter is that it says, “A true community cannot exist without diversity,” (290). I found this interesting because I have noticed that people tend to surround themselves with people who are similar to them. After deeper analyzing this statement and reading further into the chapter I came to understand this statement. It is true that members of any community need to have different strengths, weaknesses and beliefs in order to progress and move in any direction.
The mentions of the rise of cyber communities caught my attention and caused me to greater reflect on this. In a way, the cyber world facilitates community, but is this equal to physical community? Is it impeding the growth and development of physical communities? It is undermining the importance of physical interaction? It seems as if every day we become more dependent on technology, and further our interactions through those. Yes, we are able to have more contact with people we are not around, but is this negatively impacting the relationships we have with people around us? Lately I have noticed that when I am with my community of friends, or sorority community, people are constantly using technology to communicate with people who are not physically present. Also, people at work distract themselves through technology and take their mind elsewhere. I believe that the rise of technology is allowing more communities to form, but it is causing people to put less energy and effort into their communities, because it impedes us from being mentally present.
I am actually currently facing an issue with my living community (I live with 4 friends), so I found this chapter to be helpful not only for my future leadership endeavors, but also for my present situation. I really liked reading about the concept of “serial reciprocity” (297). This is a simple idea of reciprocated kindness and selflessness, but it does go a long way in promoting community. I believe this to be the most important aspect of a community, and the foundation to all others. I also liked reading about Scott Peck’s four stages of community because I was able to relate those to my own experience with my roommates. I have identified that we are currently in the second stage, “chaos”. Reading through this has helped me map out a way to move out of this stage.
This chapter discusses change. It was an interesting read because change is a part of everyone’s lives; it is relevant to any person in any situation. Although all of the chapters of the book thus far are relatable to life, I found this one to be especially relatable because it discusses situations that we face daily. I also liked how it explores the psychology of change. As the author says, “to understand how change is facilitated is to understand how human transformations take place” (411). I found O’Toole’s hypothesis regarding why people resist change very interesting and truthful. I feel as though the factors he suggests symbolize weak and self-interested people. Thus, this shows that a person must be strong and self confident in order to embrace change. The idea of Myopia, however, is something I had never thought of, or even heard of. However, it makes sense, I can see how an inability to visualize change would cause opposition to it.
I liked how the book listed steps to resolve several issues. For example, there are 3 steps listed to addressing immunity to change: guide, ask and engage. In relation to those, I found the list of questions that can be used to identify competing commitments very useful. In addition, I appreciated the listed “steps that can be used in questioning the big assumptions,” (418) by Kubler-Ross. These are just a couple examples of how the chapter lists and allows readers to visualize and solidify solutions.
Chapter 9 is a chapter that I can highly relate to as my father owns and runs a complex organization: a hotel that is not run by usual conventions. Thus I really enjoyed reading it as I could actually picture the concepts and ideas discussed in the chapter and how they would affect a complex organization. The first thing I liked about the chapter is the mention of “The Nine Laws of God”. I think that these are all very humane concepts on how to treat people in a positive manner, which will improve happiness and thus productivity.
I was surprised to read about the traditional organizational structure and how organizational structures have changed and developed. I was also surprised to see the Inverted Organizational Structure. Where I work, there are posters of inverted triangles all over a wall, and inverted triangles are used to show employees successes of moving down the triangle. I had never thought twice about these inverted triangles until I saw them in the book. I also really like the concept of the Web Structure and how it is based on a common purpose. I also liked reading the section about Organizational Renewal. I paid special attention to this section because my father is currently attempting to renew and revamp the organizational structure of his organization. However, I do wish that this chapter had addressed issues regarding social hierarchies, which may develop within an organization.
I really enjoyed reading chapter 8 because the discussion about teamwork is something that I can relate to. I have participated in teams for school projects, work tasks and volunteer tasks. I have interacted with all kinds of people, and experienced many different situations with group projects. This chapter allowed me to understand why group projects play out the way they do, and how to improve the situations. I found the Relational Leadership and Stages of Group Development section to be very interesting because it outlines how all group work plays out. Although all teamwork differs, they all follow he same steps. I also liked reading about understanding groups. This section gives me a greater understanding as to why groups develop differently depending on varying factors, like time limited groups.
I also liked reading the section about group decision-making. This is something I have always had trouble with, especially when roles are not clearly defined. I was surprised to read about Yukl’s different types of decision-making models. I had never really thought of the amount of different ways in which decisions can be made. I also liked reading about Johnson and Johnson’s seven methods of decision-making. I have always had issues because I like to b a leader, however, I do not like to make decisions. However, reading about these different ways to make decisions has allowed me to realize that I can be a leader while still allowing others to have input in the decision making process.
I really enjoyed reading the chapter about Leading with Integrity. First of all, I really liked how the chapter started off by giving situations and asking the reader rhetorical questions. This really got me engaged in the reading and much more interested and excited to read through the chapter. I liked how the chapter was clearly separated into groups. I especially found the section titled “creating and sustaining an ethical organizational environment” to be very interesting. I was able to relate to this section due to my past experiences of working in groups, and attempting to lead these. I also liked how it discussed the learning experience that can be achieved through failure. I was slightly surprised to read about the cultural assumptions regarding leadership. I do agree that there are universal values regarding leadership. I also enjoyed all of the focus that is put on morals and ethics. I am continually pleased to read about how important it is for leadership to be ethical. It is very heartening and encouraging.
Chapter 4 Reflection
Chapter 4 has been my favorite chapter thus far. I found this chapter to be the most useful of all, as it has been the easiest to relate to. In addition, it has allowed to realize what my strengths and weaknesses are. More importantly, it has aided me in managing my weaknesses. I first liked how this chapter mentioned the importance of finding our self-concept and realizing what we believe in. I find this to be very important, because we must understand ourselves before we attempt to understand others, and much less lead them.
My favorite part of the chapter was reading about how to “honor strengths and address weaknesses,”(p. 157). I feel that many times we tend to focus on our weaknesses. We continuously talk about how bad we are at things, and neglect our strengths. This section allowed me to further reflect on my strengths and build on my self-confidence and feelings of self-worth. In addition, I enjoyed the portion on “managing weaknesses”. I was able to relate to the example of rather than seeing yourself as “shy and quiet” to embrace being “thoughtful and reflective”(p.159). I was able to relate to this because I tend to be shy and quiet. The textbook allowed me to see that there are strengths within weaknesses.
Chapter 3 Reflection
I really enjoyed reading this chapter about Relational Leadership. It is interesting to read about how leadership occurs in social and relational contexts, and how these contexts affect leadership. I also like how this chapter explains that any person in any position in an organization can take on leadership; it is not only those in powerful positions. I was also very pleased to read about all the ethical standards and positive expectations of leadership. For example, in page 96 it is explained that leadership is “Inclusive, empowering and ethical”. I think these are all very important elements. I also noted that this chapter gives a larger importance to knowledge than the previous chapters. Prior to this chapter, I was slightly confused about the lack of mention of knowledge. However, this chapter includes the importance of knowledge about values, others, decision-making models, community among others.
Aside from enjoying the positive content of this chapter, I appreciate the way in which the information was presented. Many graphs and diagrams and tables were included which really aided my learning. The way in which this information is presented makes it much easier to understand, and thus makes it an enjoyable read. For example, figure 3.2 on page 115 does a great job of illustrating a complex situation.
The second chapter, titled “The Changing Nature of Leadership” of Exploring Leadership by Susan R. Komives, Nance Lucas and Timothy R. McMahon discusses the changing theories and definitions of leadership over time. Early in the chapter, ancient myths about leadership are discussed. I found some of these myths to be entertaining, while others shocking. For example, in ancient Greece, only men with “potbellies” were considered to be good leaders. It’s very interesting to read about the perspectives of ancient civilizations.
I enjoyed reading about the different approaches to leadership that have been developed through time. I found that the Trait Approach is the closest to what I thought of leadership prior to beginning this class. Among the Trait Approach’s major assumptions are that leaders have special traits that separate them from followers, and that certain people have a natural ability to lead. I identified closely with this approach because I always considered people to be natural leaders, and that certain traits make them more fit to lead. As I read through the approaches, one of the ones I liked the most was the Servant Leadership approach, which says that “the servant, through focusing on the primary needs of others and the organization, then transforms himself into a leader,” (p. 69). I liked this approach because I believe that a person who can best lead and influence others is one that has been in the shoes of those who he/she is leading. In addition, this approach says that leaders do not choose to lead in order to be applauded or to receive any compensation; rather they do it out of self-sacrifice. I was very surprised after reading about all of these approaches, to realize that so many different ones have been developed throughout the years.
I appreciated the explanation of the movement from conventional leadership to current leadership. I think the table of words was a great illustration of the movement, and really allowed me to comprehend how the perspective and expectations of leadership have changed throughout time. This table allowed me to realize that leadership today is much healthier than what it was in the past; it has taken a more positive and enlightening rout