I currently work as a manager for hardwood flooring company. I am 22 years old and started this job at the age of 20. My responsibilities range from keeping client accounts, maintaining the books, managing projects, and client relations. Being a young manager it was hard work earning the respect of the work force. I overlook 2 crews each containing 3 employees. Most of the individuals in the team are almost twice my age. My skills at first were mainly in the business aspect of the field. I only knew the actual labor in theory, not practice. Since I was unable to spend much time on the field, I did not have much of a relationship with the team out on the job site. There was a gap between management and the labor force. At this point I was an assigned leader. They had to listen to me because I had the position power associated with being a manager. Northouse breaks down position powers into legitimate, reward, and coercive powers (Northouse, p. 10). I knew that in order to be a better, more effective leader I would need to transition from an assigned leader to an emergent leader.
I learned a lot about being a leader during my first year. I made many mistakes but was able to learn from them. There was an instance where the owner had gone on vacation for a couple of weeks. During that time my authority as a leader was tested. The biggest lesson I have learned so far was with an employee who was slacking off. Several employees had come to me and brought it to my attention. At first I did not react. I was letting it go until I saw him go outside and use the phone multiple times. When he came back, without thinking, I reprimanded him in front of everyone. My actions caused tension for the remainder of the day. The employee told me he would not be working again until the owner returned from vacation. After that event I sat down and began evaluating my leadership skills. I realized that I needed to form a relationship with my crew and have better communication. This is the “process” in the definition of leadership. With out this aspect I am only someone who they have to listen to in order to get paid. From that moment on I decided to integrate myself into the work force and learn from them. I started spending more time doing the actual labor and thus gaining their respect. Once I became part of the team I bridged the gap between management and the workforce.
Northouse, P.G. (2013). Leadership: Theory and Practice. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.