Free Delivery within Ireland
 

High Quality Leadership

A Self Assessment Guide for Individuals and Teams

Author(s): Ruth Sean

ISBN13: 9781853909429

ISBN10: 1853909424

Publisher: Veritas

Bookmark and Share
 
 


  • Everyone can exercise leadership whether or not they are in a position of authority. High-Quality Leadership: A Self-Assessment Guide for Individuals and Teams enables people to assess their own leadership qualities and gives guidance on how to lead effectively whether individually or as part of a pastoral council or parish team. Each chapter contains a brief section on the theoretical aspects of leadership along with a set of questions that help individuals and groups to assess their skills in this area.

    As well as examining leadership at both an individual and a group level, this approach also looks at their leadership in the context of change and liberation. In particular, it explores the implications for leadership of working with diverse groups of people, with different social identities (e.g. age, gender, culture, nationality, class and so on), facing issues of inequality, marginalisation and oppression. It lays stress on the key role of leadership as a resource for liberation.

    The guide also highlights practical issues and difficulties around such processes as authority, decision making, conflict resolution, attacks, listening and influencing.

  • Ruth Sean


    Seán Ruth is an Organisational Psychologist and author of the ground-breaking book, Leadership and Liberation: A Psychological Approach, 2006. Since 1992 he has run his own training and consultancy business and specialises in the areas of:Leadership Development
    Conflict Resolution
    Oppression and Liberation
    Equality/diversity
    Facilitation, Strategic Planning, and Team Building
    He also works as a facilitator of leadership/management teams, work-based teams, project committees and union-management groups and has designed and run a number of facilitator training programmes. The model that he uses views leadership as a natural human ability that anyone has the potential to develop and use. From this perspective, leadership is a collaborative, non-hierarchical, two-way process of influence between leaders and those around them. Further information about Seán can be found on www.seanruth.com


  • Be the first to review this product


    As well as examining leadership at both an individual and a group level, Seán Ruth, an organizational psychologist, looks at leadership in the context of change and liberation. In particular, it explores the implications for leadership of working with diverse groups of people, with different social identities, facing issues of equality, marginalization and oppression. She examines he role of leadership as a resource for liberation This book enables people to assess their own leadership ability and gives guidance on how to lead effectively whether individually or as part of a pastoral council, parish team, school or congregational leadership team, or any other leadership group. Each chapter contains a brief section on the theoretical aspects of leadership along with a set of questions that help individuals and groups to assess their skills in this area. Catholic Ireland.Net

    Sean Ruth as developed a useful tool for leaders to assess their leadership skills and reflect on what they have got right, and where they are struggling and how they need to change. Ruth has written this guide with the practitioner in mind and for an audience that includes both those in visible leadership positions and those who play informal but clear leadership roles. The guide focuses on participative and collaborative models of leadership that exist in work, social, education and community environments that are increasingly replacing the authoritarian or hierarchical models that were rationally associated with leadership. Many of the practical exercises in this guide could be used as part of a leadership development programme or an organization development intervention.

    - The Irish Psychologist, September 2006



  • Introduction

    Participative and collaborative models of leadership are increasingly being adopted in a wide range of educational, pastoral, religious, social, nonprofit, community and other settings. A similar trend is evident in the commercial public and private sectors. Some of these are being used in contexts where the traditional or historical model of leadership was one that was largely distant, authoritarian and hierarchical. Increasingly, people who would have been excluded from any significant leadership role are being invited to work collaboratively on leadership teams, pastoral councils, management committees, task forces, partnership groups, steering groups and a range of other collective leadership bodies. This book is aimed at the members of any such leadership teams.

    At the same time as new leadership structures and processes are being adopted, there is much confusion about the nature of leadership and what exactly the functions and roles of leaders are. There is also a degree of suspicion and cynicism about the idea of leadership, based, to a large degree, on peoples bad experiences with traditional, authoritarian styles of leadership. To add to the confusion and the difficulties, these changes are taking place in what is an increasingly diverse society with a growing recognition of the different needs, backgrounds, identities, interests, experiences and concerns that people bring to their collaborative projects.

    In this dynamic and changing environment there are rarely any simple blueprints for success. As leaders, we continually have to monitor and adjust our performance to take account of new circumstances, new challenges and new opportunities. The collaborative process constantly requires us to modify our thinking, question our assumptions, devise new strategies, accommodate new perspectives and remain flexible, creative and innovative in how we approach our tasks.

    To be effective and stay on track in such a turbulent and demanding process it helps enormously to step back periodically and assess how we are doing, both individually and collectively. The purpose of this book is to assist leaders to take stock, to identify what they have got right, where they are struggling and how they need to change. The focus is not just on those in very visible, formal leadership positions and with obvious leadership titles but also on those who, de facto, sometime~ informally and sometimes behind the scenes, are playing clear leadership roles. The type of leadership described in this book is about working collaboratively with other people, trying to influence what happens in order to bring about significant change.

    Each chapter contains a short overview of theory dealing with key facets of leadership. (1) The theory in each chapter is followed by a number of practical exercises that focus readers on important elements of their leadership style and effectiveness. These exercises enable each member of the team to assess the strengths and the shortcomings of their own personal approach to leadership as well as understanding how these are shaped by significant aspects of their social identity, their vision and their experience. The exercises also enable the team, as a group, to assess their collective strengths and shortcomings, to identify. key issues and challenges facing them, to align what they do with their values and their vision and to invent a range of responses and strategies that will ensure an effective, high-quality leadership.

    How to Use this Book
    This book can be used in a variety of ways depending on the amount of time available and the particular interest of the individual or group. To begin with, the theory and exercises that follow can be applied as part of an ongoing leadership development programme where the goal is to train and develop new leaders or to strengthen and enhance the effectiveness of existing leaders. By applying the theory and working through the exercises, people can assess the quality of their own leadership, get a much clearer picture of what their role is, as leaders, have greater confidence in their ability to lead and take initiative and identify significant changes and next steps that need to happen for them to become more effective.

    Closely related to this, the book can also form the basis of a team-building process to enhance the effectiveness and cohesion of leadership groups. The exercises in each chapter provide a means of identifying team strengths and difficulties as well as a process for devising effective steps to improve their functioning.

    The book can also be used as part of a strategic planning process, where individuals and groups use the exercises to strategise and plan how they will make a difference to the people they lead or serve. The questions for reflection guide the team through a process that identifies and clarifies key challenges and workable strategies for responding to them.

    More immediately, the exercises in this book can be undertaken in a gradual, chapter-by-chapter process stretching over an extended period of time. Used this way, one or a small number of selected exercises might be completed at regular intervals as a separate part of a longer business meeting. Alternatively, a number of exercises can be built into longer, more dedicated review or development meetings that are scheduled periodically and at which no other business is conducted. In a more comprehensive way still, the exercises can also be used to design a longer training, developmental and self-assessment workshop taking place over a number of days.

    In all cases, individual reflection exercises precede the team or group exercises. This is important in assisting people to clarify their own personal thinking, feelings and experience before trying to think about what is happening in their team or in their work. These individual exercises can be done privately and individually on paper; alternatively, they can be done as a dialogue with another individual where they take turns to listen to each other. Some people may find that there is a value in having someone pay attention to them while they think through the various questions and issues. Others may prefer some solitary time to put their thoughts together. In some cases, people may choose to do both. In addition, rather than being done during meetings, many of these individual exercises could also be done as homework prior to meetings, particularly if time is an issue.

    The team exercises build on the individual exercises and put considerable emphasis on having people listen well to each other with a minimum of argument or debate. The focus is on helping people to clarify and understand how their colleagues on the team see things and on identifying the key insights and issues that emerge from their discussions. It is particularly important in this context that they are conducted in a non-threatening, non-critical and non-blaming atmosphere. Safety and a relaxed climate will make it easier for people to be both open and honest about their concerns and their struggles around leadership. Particular guidelines for how discussions can be structured to" achieve this are given in Chapter 1.

    At the end of each chapter, having completed the various exercises, the team is asked to identify three practical steps they will take to follow through on what has emerged from their deliberations. In many cases, there may be more than this but, as a minimum, the team should aim to implement at least three next steps. Finally, exercises related to those in each chapter are indicated at the very end of the chapter. In this way, readers can choose to do exercises that have some similarity or that touch on a common theme. They can also compare their responses in one exercise to how they responded to the related ones.

    At the end of this process, individual team members, and the team as a collective, will have a much deeper insight into how they function as leaders as well as greater clarity about the practical steps they can take to offer highquality, effective leadership. As they progress through the exercises, this growing insight and clarity will be reflected in the quality of their working relationships, the soundness of their thinking about their work and the effectiveness of the decisions they make.

    Note
    1. A fuller account of this model of leadership is contained in my other book, Leadership and Liberation: A Psychological Approach (London: Routledge, 2006).

    Chapter One: Leadership and thinking about people
    A central role of leadership is to think about people, about the work and about the situation facing them. This involves being aware of ourselves (our strengths and our struggles), thinking about others (their strengths and their struggles), thinking about the work (whats going well and whats difficult) and thinking about the wider situation (whats happening in the world at large that has implications for us). What is special about high-quality leaders is their ability to think well, or think clearly, about these different aspects. In particular, it is their ability to think big about each of these, to see the whole picture. Everything else they do as leaders rests on the quality of this thinking.

    All of this thinking that leaders have to do is also done over the longer term. Not only do we have to be aware of what has happened in the past in regard to each of these elements, we also have to think about the present and what may happen in the future. A challenge for leaders is to take a longer view and to see the bigger picture. This is why having an inspiring vision is often a characteristic of
    those we admire as great leaders. This high-quality thinking will be reflected in the leaders overall awareness of the situation around them, which we sometimes refer to simply as soundness.

    If we are thinking clearly about people, not only will we see their current strengths and the places where they struggle, but we will also see their potential and how they can be supported to become even more effective leaders. Implicit in this central thinking role of leadership is the ability to spot and develop talent. In a very real way, if we did little else as leaders but encourage and support the people around us to see themselves as leaders and take initiative, we would be highly effective and influential. Our leadership would make a significant difference.

    Thus, a key role of any leader and any leadership team is to think. The question we face is how sound is our thinking. How clear are we about whats going on around us? Have we got our finger on the pulse of the situation? Can we see where people are struggling? Can we see their potential? As we try to do this, there are these two over-arching questions we are all the time trying to answer: Whats going on here? And, what needs to happen

    If we put thinking at the heart of this model of leadership this also means accepting that no one person can possibly hope to do all the thinking for everyone else. If we are to think dearly about any situation we will have to draw on the thinking and experience of the people around us. This, in turn, means recognising that it is not the role of leaders to know all the answers or to be experts. The role of the leader is to facilitate and work through other people to find the answers. This both simplifies the role and helps lift some of the burden of the unrealistic expectations that we sometimes impose on ourselves or other leaders.

    If we are to be effective in providing leadership, it is important that we regularly step back to take the pulse of the situation. A danger for some leadership teams is that they get so bogged down in day-to-day problems, fire-fighting or simply administration that they never have enough time to think. A high-quality leadership team will stay connected to and in touch with people. It will also stop every so often to check in with people and take stock of where they have got to and where they need to go next. Thinking is not the only important role for a leadership team but it is a key one. In the chapters that follow we shall examine other significant aspects of this job.

    EXERCISES
    Exercise 1.1: Individual Reflection: Me as a leader
    The aim of this exercise is to think about yourself as a leader. There are no right or wrong answers. You may be clearer about some aspects more than others. Notice where you have difficulty answering any of the questions: these may be places where you need more information, where you may need someone to listen to you while you think out loud or where you need to listen to others about what it is like for them.

    Alternatively, this exercise may be done in pairs as a mutual listening and sharing of experience.

    Think about yourself as someone who plays a leadership role, even if you do not happen to occupy any formal position of leadership or have a leadership title.

    1. What are my strengths as a leader? What, in particular, is special or unique about me as a leader or the way I lead? In what ways have I modelled good leadership? How do I make a difference for the people around me?

    2. Where is it a struggle for me as a leader? Where has it been hard for me over the past period? What has made it difficult for me to be more energetic, more visible, more committed, more involved, more hopeful and so on? What are the difficult feelings I struggle with?

    Exercise 1.2
    Step 1 - Team Sharing: Me As A leader
    The aim of this exercise is to get a picture of the strengths and the struggles facing each person as a leader based on their reflections in Exercise 1.1.

    Keep the focus on this as a listening exercise and avoid getting side-tracked into any type of intellectual discussion about peoples experiences. As you listen, notice the themes that emerge or the issues that get raised repeatedly or echoed in what different people say.

    Some detailed guidelines for group discussion are given at the end of this chapter. Keep in mind, for this exercise in particular, the references to confidentiality. In answering the following questions, there are two options: each person in turn may take time to answer both questions together; alternatively, each person may in turn answer the first question and then the second. The latter option takes longer but makes it easier to see the common themes in what people say.

    Given the more personal nature of this exercise, finish off by asking everyone to affirm or appreciate another person in the group. For example, ask each person in turn to say one thing they appreciated, respected or admired about the person on their left-hand side. In a smaller team, there might be time for each person to get an appreciation from everyone else in the group.

    1. What are my strengths as a leader? What, in particular, is special or unique about me as a leader or the way I lead? In what ways have I modelled good leadership? How do I make a difference for the people around me?

    2. Where is it a struggle for me as a leader? Where has it been hard for me over the past period? What has made it difficult for me to be more energetic, more visible, more committed, more involved, more hopeful and so on? What are the difficult feelings I struggle with?

    Step 2 - Team Reflection: Implications
    Having heard each person talk about their own leadership, the team should now take time to answer the following questions.

    It is not necessary that you agree with each other. What is important is that you are clear about what people are saying. (See Guidelines for Group Discussion at the end of this chapter)

    1. What struck me most or stood out as I listened to people talking about themselves as leaders?

    2. What implications do I think this has for us as a team and how we support each other?

    Exercise 1.3: Individual Reflection: The Others on the Team
    The aim of this exercise is to step back and think about the other people on the team. This is purely an individual exercise and will not be shared in the wider group.

    Think about each of the people on your team individually and what you have heard from them and know of them.

    1. What are their particular individual strengths? What leadership potential do they have?

    Team Member A .
    Team Member B .
    Team Member C .
    Team Member D .
    Team Member E .
    Team Member F .

    2. What difficult feelings or struggles do I see them facing?

    Team Member A .
    Team Member B .
    Team Member C .
    Team Member D .
    Team Member E .
    Team Member F .

    3. How have I been a good support for them individually?

    Team Member A .
    Team Member B .
    Team Member C .
    Team Member D .
    Team Member E .
    Team Member F .

    4. Where in particular do I think each of them needs more support?

    Team Member A .
    Team Member B .
    Team Member C .
    Team Member D .
    Team Member E .
    Team Member F .

    5. In what particular ways will I support them in the coming period? How will I help them reach their full potential?

    Team Member A .
    Team Member B .
    Team Member C .
    Team Member D .
    Team Member E .
    Team Member F .

    Exercise 1.4: Individual Reflection: The Team As A Whole
    The aim of this exercise is to think about the team as a whole and how well it functions.

    This particular exercise may be done as an individual reflection or in pairs as a mutual listening and sharing of experience.

    Think about the team as a whole.

    1. In what ways do I think we work well together? What are our strengths as a team?

    2. What do I find difficult about the way we work together?

    3. What do I think is happening in our group that needs to be addressed as a key issue?

    Exercise 1.5: Step 1 - Team Sharing: The Team as a Whole
    The aim of this exercise is to get a picture of how each person experiences being a member of the team based on their reflections in Exercise 1.4 above.

    Keep the focus on this as a listening exercise and avoid getting side-tracked into any type of intellectual discussion about peoples experiences. As you listen, notice the themes that emerge or the issues that are raised repeatedly or are echoed in what different people say.

    Keep in mind the Guidelines for Group Discussion at the end of this chapter.

    1. In what ways do I think we work well together? What are our strengths as a team?

    2. What do I personally find difficult about the way we work together?

    3. What do I think is happening in our group that needs to be addressed as a key issue?

    Step 2 - Team Reflection: Implications
    Having heard each person talk about the team as a whole, take time to answer the following questions.

    It is not necessary that you agree with each other. What is important is that you are clear about what people are saying. (See Guidelines for Group Discussion at the end of this chapter.)

    1. What struck me most or stood out as I listened to people talking about the team as a whole?

    2. What implications do I think this has for us as a team?

    Guidelines for Group Discussion

    1. See that everyone gets equal time to talk.
    To help ensure this, agree a ground rule that no one should speak twice until everyone has had the opportunity to speak at least once. (Individuals may pass on their turn but everyone is given the chance to speak before anyone comes in a second time.)

    Since everyone will get a turn, people can relax and listen without having to worry about interrupting to be heard. This ground rule also means that no one person will dominate the discussion.

    2. Keep the focus on listening and understanding rather than discussion, debate, argument or disagreement.
    To help ensure this, do not have any discussion until everyone has made their individual contribution. Use this discussion at the end to summarise the key points or issues emerging from the listening.

    By structuring out the discussion after each persons contribution, we make it safer for people to speak and easier for the group to pick up the broad themes and key issues emerging.

    3. Speak from a personal perspective.
    Encourage each person to speak from their own personal perspective rather than generalising or speaking for others, i.e. their own personal viewpoint, their own personal experiences, their own personal feelings and so on. It is easier to listen to, and harder to disagree with, someone who simply speaks from a personal point of view.

    4. Keep it confidential.
    Do not discuss what anyone says with people outside the group. Do not refer to anything that is said at a meeting in any way that can identify who said what.

    In relation to sensitive or personal issues, in conversations outside the meeting, do not refer back to what anyone said without, first of all, asking their permission. This is a matter both of courtesy and of safety.

Availability: 2 in stock
€12.25


High Quality Leadership

 
prev next