Leadership in a Current Event

Following the Parkland, FL shooting, there has been much discussion surrounding safer school environments and gun control. Trump has chosen to promote arming certain teachers in schools across the nation. He claims that this will solve the problem and he does not approve of enforcing active shooter drills. There is a lot of opposition concerning the arming of teachers nationwide and people are pushing for stricter gun control.

I do not feel Trump’s response is the most effective method of leadership in this situation. Although there are proponents of arming teachers, this solution doesn’t serve to ease people’s concerns in finding a way to stop school shootings. In fact, for many people, it presents more of a concern, because of the constant presence of weapons on campus. Even if teachers are trained to use the guns properly only in the case of a school shooting, there’s still the possibility something could go wrong in a heated moment and something terrible could happen. My mom is a teacher and I’ve heard her say before that she would no longer teach if teachers were armed in her school district. She has a number of concerns with this and I understand and agree with them.

I feel the best way to lead in this situation is to more directly address people’s concerns, which has to do with enforcing stricter gun control and better preparing students and teachers in case of an emergency. I believe leadership is based on relationship and although Trump may not be able to reach everyone impacted by school shootings, he should listen to their concerns and find a way to more directly address those. He should talk to concerned teachers and families, as well as students and he should reach out to those previously impacted and listen to them with respect and compassion. He should be willing to help them and their interests in order to make positive societal change.

The Importance of Diversity to Leadership

  1. Diversity is key to leadership because it brings so much more knowledge to the table. People from different backgrounds or cultures have experienced vastly different things from one another and thus what’s important to one group of people may not be on the forefront of another group’s concern. Diversity enables leaders to see a wider variety of areas in which improvement is needed and it provides a wider variety of ideas to approach the issue and bring about positive change. Diversity ensures everyone has a say in the project and in leading the project forward. Also, diversity leads to a broader world view and understanding which would not be possible otherwise. Thus, diversity opens more doors for positive change and equality.

2.  In the U.S. where there is tension around diversity, it’s important to teach kids at an early age to appreciate diversity. I was fortunate enough to grow up where diversity was highly valued. My best friend in elementary school was from Nepal and it was always eye opening to learn about her traditions and her language. It was so different from my own, but taught me so much about a part of the world I never would’ve payed attention to if not for her. I also had a classmate in elementary school from Tibet and it was from him that I learned of the struggle for Tibetan independence. I also had many classmates who were from Mexico or their families were. Diversity and community were highly valued at my high school. I graduated realizing all four of my closest friends were bilingual. I feel my own appreciation for diversity arose because of the relationships I formed with these people. I found I learned so much more just in conversation with them than anywhere else. In addition to valuing diversity in the education system, it’s important for people to address their biases and recognize where they come from and how the prejudices they hold are likely not true.

Benefits of Leadership

Should leaders have certain qualities or characteristics?

Leaders should have certain characteristics in common such as respect, determination, openness, and a commitment to make change for the better. However, each leader should have their own unique set of characteristics reflective of their personality. These characteristics would also reflect an individual’s strengths which give rise to a wide variety of leadership styles and opportunities for people. Leadership wouldn’t be such an exciting thing to learn about if everyone had the same qualities or characteristics in their leadership. Respect, determination, openness, and a commitment to positive change are a basis of characteristics all leaders should possess, but beyond that characteristics of leaders can be vastly different from one another.

How do leaders gain credibility?

Leaders gain credibility by gaining respect from other people. Often this comes in the form of building relationships with others. They also gain credibility by having confidence and being dedicated to what they believe in. As in any situation, it’s important for a leader to be themselves. This means their strengths and personality must come through in their leadership style and how they connect with people, otherwise they run the risk of seeming fake and not gaining credibility.

What is the purpose of leadership?

The purpose of leadership in my view is to collaborate with others to make positive change in the community. There’s always a need for positive change in the world and always improvements to be made, and leadership allows that to become a reality. Through collaborations with others, ideas can become strategy which can then be implemented to make the change needed. If people were acting on their own individual accord, it would result in very limited possibilities for creating positive change.

Can individuals who cause harm be leaders?

Individuals who cause harm are often referred to as leaders and I understand why that is. Many of these people are very influential and know how to gain a large following. They are often intellectual and are able to use rhetoric as well as their passion in order to gain credibility from others. However, in my opinion while they may be influential and can gain such large followings, they are not really leaders. This opinion is based on my ideas of a definition for leadership and the purpose of leadership. According to other definitions, they very likely would be considered leaders and in the world-wide view they typically are, but because I feel positive change is at the root of leadership, I cannot view people who cause harm as being true leaders.

Leadership Theories

My Preferred Leadership Theories and Why They’re Important

  • Contingency Theory: This theory states that there is no single “best” way to be a leader. The most appropriate way to lead a group depends on specific situations. I like this theory, because I do think there are a wide variety of ways to lead a group and I’ve found in my own experience, the right path of leadership depends largely on the situation and the assignment at hand. It’s important to acknowledge there is not a ready-made leader mold to fit in order to be a leader. Anyone can be a leader, because there are so many different ways in which one can lead.
  • Leader-Member Exchange: In the leader-member exchange theory, leaders develop personal relationships with each member. I think this aspect of the theory, because I have found knowing the people you’re leading in a personal sense can lead to the best results and creates a positive environment for all to work well together. However, there is an in group and an out group in this leadership theory, which feels very exclusive and is an aspect to the theory that I do not like. However, even with a dislike of that aspect of the theory, I feel relationships are essential to being an effective leader and is still an interesting theory to consider.
  • Social Change Model: This leadership theory is probably my favorite, because it focuses on leadership as a process beginning with self, the group, and then society as a whole in order to make positive social change. This is the model that LEAD follows and I have found it to be quite effective in helping me develop my leadership skills and be more aware of where positive social change is needed. This model is helpful in any situation, because it doesn’t require a large leadership role to put into effect. The knowledge of self is important in any part of life, even just creating life goals. Being able to work in a group is necessary in any career or position held in life, regardless of whether you seem to be taking a leadership role or not. Finally, seeing where change is needed in society can best be done with the ability to know oneself and to work effectively in groups with others.

Further Leadership Research

Further leadership research could include peace studies leadership. A lot of the leadership theories focused on workplace situations or broadly could be applied to a variety of situations. However, I feel there would be something much more specified in regards to leading peace movements for large scale social change in such a way that would encourage better collaboration with people.

Even in general, further leadership research could be more specified on exact leadership positions held and situations that need to be dealt with. For example, I attended a Catholic leadership conference in early January which gave me a very specific set of leadership skills that I am unlikely to use in most other leadership settings. When I used to help coach basketball, my leadership style was very unique and differed greatly from even leadership positions I held at my high school. In this sense, I feel there is a lot of room for research in more specified fields of leadership that may not apply across the board but may end in the best possible results in specific situations. Most of this research would likely be based in already existing leadership theories, however some could potentially give rise to new leadership theories, especially some that may work better on a larger scale.