Is Leadership Measurable? My Experience In “Leadership In Organizations” Class

Is Leadership Measurable? My Experience In “Leadership In Organizations” Class

This semester, I enrolled in a class called “Leadership in Organizations” taught by professor Pamela Brandes. It is a fun class with many actual practices to help identify your personal traits relative to leadership. In class, we also discuss leadership styles on individual, group and organizational levels, and study the way leaders interact with their followers. The process of continuously engaging in the class is really enjoyable since I never thought that leadership could be taught; there is a measurable system on someone’s leadership capacity. I used to think leaders were born with a trait necessary to be a leader, but the class changes my mind.

Normally, we will be tasked to complete several question-answer surveys each class to help us identify the traits we may not have realized we had. So far, we have done tests like leadership orientation, personal leadership style, locus of control and MBTI. The one that gives me the most surprises is the MBTI test which identities someone’s personality and possible choice occupation preference by measuring four dimensions as introversion/extroversion, sensing/intuition, thinking/feeling and judging/perceiving via 32 multiple-choice questions. It really surprised me when I found out my result was sort of opposite of the one I did in undergrad. It really reflected the change of mental processes for me from being an undergrad to a grad student. In our classes from the last two weeks, our focus point was to use communication processes to be a better listener and communication transmitter. We had communication exercises last week to help us to get rid of bad listening habits like faking to listen during the communication process. The class was divided into several communication pairs. When one of the group members determines a topic to start conversation, the other must write down the number of words that starts with “a”, “b” and “c”. It’s really hard to distract yourself from the conversation content when you are counting. I think the purpose of performing the exercise is to warn us how sensitive we are to ignoring information when we talk to each other every day. With poor information communication processes, there could be no way for an excellent leadership to implement itself.

In addition, it made a significant impression on me when the class talked about the notion of emotional intelligence. It is a concept first brought up by the science journalist Daniel Goleman in 1995 via his book Emotional Intelligence. Goleman thinks the key ingredient in shaping a great leader is “not a person’s IQ or technical skill, but the ability to utilize the emotional information to maximize the leadership result and boost the followers’ performance.” The criteria for measuring emotional intelligence is built on five dimensions: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skill. As students in leadership class, my classmates and I also completed a simple test measuring our own emotional intelligence by answering a series of questions. My test result was really surprising; I have always thought that I am less likely to become the leader-type of person, but my result indicates that I have a high emotional intelligence value. That value shows I actually hold the potential of being a good leader of a team. In a way, the test outcome gives me great confidence about preparing myself to be a good leader in my future career.

Is leadership measurable? Could leadership be learnt through personal experience? After attending weeks of class, I think I could answer partly on this question I used to ask myself. In the emotional intelligence case written by Goleman, he told the audience a story of how a grumpy Wall Street executive improved his emotional intelligence by constantly understanding and revising they way he treated others. I think the story is really inspiring as it encourages people to improve and polish their leadership style by learning, rather than insisting they are born so. By having the leadership class, I also found myself more aware of my own personality and what kind of leadership I am more prone to developing in the future.

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Kailin Hu

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