As a leader, there is typically a conflict between the leader we aspire to be and the leader we actually are. While one can determine the characteristics of the leader they aspire to be, it is the opinions of others that largely reflects the actual characteristics of a leader. When describing myself as a leader, I am more likely to highlight all of my most positive attributes. While I am aware of where I fall short as a leader, which is an important element of understanding oneself as a person and leader, I am not as likely to highlight those negative attributes when describing my leadership skills or style. Therefore, I am portraying the leader I aspire to be. Alternatively, if someone else were asked about my leadership, some of their statements might corroborate mine, while others might be vastly different. Those I am leading have a better sense of who I actually am as a leader. Therefore, it is important to me to be open to constructive criticism and feedback on how my leadership style impacts others. One’s personality definitely plays a major role in determining how a leader might describe themselves. I have found that my sense of self and my perception of my abilities greatly shape how I characterize myself as a leader. My personality, especially the person I aspire to be, also plays a role in changing how I would describe myself as a leader.
As a leader, I value honesty, transparency, relationships, communication, hardwork, and fun. Being a leader has taught me many wonderful lessons, and also been one of the most challenging experiences of my life. When I consider that I am being entrusted with leading others and an organization to new heights, it creates a welcomed fear within me. While I might have visions, plans, and goals, I recognize that sometimes, we cannot plan for certain outcomes. This has especially been true in my experiences in S.M.A.R.T. Yet, despite some of the setbacks I may have encountered, I want others to describe me as a leader who was honest and upfront. I am one of the first people to remind others that I am not perfect, nor do I aspire to be. When I make a mistake, I aim to own up to it, whether it be with other members of my executive board or the general membership. Such transparency is important because it establishes a trusting relationship between myself and others. I believe it also reminds them that they are welcomed to make mistakes as well. I am not perfect and I do not expect them to be either. Additionally, I want people to describe me as a leader who was relatable and “just like them.” While it has been an honor to be the President of S.M.A.R.T., I strive to not take the title too seriously. I am more concerned with the work that needs to get done than the title I hold. Therefore, it was one of the best compliments I’d received when another executive board members described me as seeming like “one of the members.” I was proud of this comment because I want others to see me, in some respects, as one of them. To me, it is very important as a leader to not expect my members or others to do something that I would not do myself. Thus, when they see me as one of them, they are able to relate to me a bit more and see me as Charisma the person and not associate me as closely with my title. In the same regard, I am also cautious about maintaining the respect and responsibility of actually leading. While I want others to see me as one of them, I also want them to respect the authority I do have in the organization. This is not to suggest that I am a dictator or ruler, but as a president, there is a certain authority and expectation of respect that comes with the position. I hope others are able to see me as relatable without disrespecting me. Lastly, I want others to describe me as a leader who is passionate and cares. My passion is what motivates me to keep going. Throughout my years in S.M.A.R.T., it was my love for our mission and purpose that kept me dedicated to the organization. It is important for me that others recognize the dedication and passion I have for what I am leading. My philosophy is that I would rather not do something at all if I know I cannot give it my full effort. Therefore, if others perceive me as the leader who shows that she does not care, I feel like I am failing at fulfilling my purpose as a leader.
My personality plays a major role in the aforementioned potential descriptions of my leadership. I am a very goal-driven person and I believe the leader I aspire to be, and be perceived as, is also very ambitious. While I rebuke being called “perfect,” I have come to terms with my strong desire to be the best. I believe my leadership descriptions also invoke this sense of wanting to be the best- I want to be relatable to my members but also a respected authority, I want to show my passion by being involved in everything and being an example, I want to be honest and transparent. Ultimately, I hope to be taken seriously but also perceived as humble. While I welcome constructive criticism, I know if a comment is too critical, I will take it more personally than I hope. I recognize that as a person, and as a leader, I enjoy making others happy. In my personal life, I would prefer to be perceived in a more positive light than negative. Therefore, even in my leadership (wanting to be accepted by others, etc.), I can detect that there is a fundamental desire to be liked by those I am leading. I recognize that sometimes, leadership requires making decisions that are not pleasing to everyone, and I believe I am able to handle those situations when they arise. However, I would much rather make most of the population happy. To me, this is merely compromising to meet the needs of others, which is important because leadership is more about others’ needs to me than my own. My personality also plays a role as I am a rather outgoing person, and my desire to be relatable and establish relationships with others is definitely reflective of this. Lastly, I would also describe myself as someone who is very charismatic. I would hope that the way I carry myself and lead inspires something within others. An underlying theme with all of my leadership descriptions is this desire to be an example for others to follow. The charismatic aspect of my personality definitely shines through in this respect.
Overall, I believe our personality plays a great role in shaping how we describe ourselves as leaders as well as how we hope others might describe us. It is difficult to separate one’s personality from their leadership. I can definitely see how my personality impacts my decision-making and interactions as a leader. While I tend to be sweet and understanding as a person and as a leader, I also have a side of me that gets “fired up” and can be dominating and uncompromising. While I try to keep that side of me at bay, it does come out every now and again, whether I am passionately arguing a point on behalf of my organization or if I am upset about something in my personal life. It is interesting to actually analyze the ways in which our leadership is impacted by our personalities. While I have always been aware of the correlation, I have never explicitly examined exactly how it does have an impact.