Colin Edwards


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Self-Reflection Paper


            Self-evaluation is often
difficult and uncomfortable. However, it is necessary to learn and grow. Being
able to open your mind to the fact that you are not perfect, but rather possess
a number of deficiencies in your traits, perceptions, skills, and behaviors is
essential to effective self-evaluation and personal growth. While there is
nothing inherently wrong in possessing these shortcomings, ignoring them
entirely and failing to acknowledge the potential to improve certainly goes
against human nature. For professionals, failure to address and improve upon
personal flaws is simply unacceptable. These negligent individuals will be left
behind if they are not outright removed from an organization.

            The process of
self-evaluation begins with assessing one’s personality. Developing a deep
understanding of one’s self allows for clear and objective self-reflection and
provides a framework by which one can understand what leadership styles they
can utilize most effectively. After an understanding of one’s personality is
established, an analysis of personal perspectives and attitudes about
leadership can be developed. They can then come to academically understand the
theories of leadership, contemplate their strengths and weaknesses, and assess
their personal roles as a leader and best styles of leadership.

            In evaluating my own
personality, an excellent tool to begin the process was the Meyers-Briggs Type
Indicator. While this assessment was developed and first published in 1944, it
remains among the most popular personality tests. After completing the battery
at both the beginning and end of the semester, I have determined that my type
is ISTJ: Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, and Judging. “Introversion” relays
that I am generally more reserved and private, preferring the role of observer
over the role of the observed. I prefer to listen and learn whenever possible
and to provide input through formal, written communication over informal and
verbal means. “Sensing” relates the methods in which I take in information. I tend
to focus on the reality, facts, and details of circumstances. I am very literal
and practical and prefer specificity over ambiguity. “Thinking” refers to how I
make decisions. I generally remain impersonal, focusing on equality and logic instead
of allowing others’ personalities and feelings to affect my decision-making. “Judging”
relates how I prefer to interact in the world. I prefer situations be settled
and resolved, respect and expect deadlines to be maintained, and prefer to make
and adhere to plans.

It must be understood, however, that these personality
traits are not concrete and extreme. For example, I am not extremely
introverted. Although I prefer a night at home alone with my significant other
or with a few very close friends, I can interact with extroverts and in large
groups of strangers when it is required of me. Similarly, if I believe that
there is something to be learned from interactions with others, I am happy to
take the initiative. Understanding other cultures is one example of this. I
have been fortunate enough to do a good deal of traveling, and despite my
introverted tendencies, I cannot forgo the opportunity to engage people from
other countries and cultures. Similarly, despite my classification as a judger
instead of a perceiver, I can also see the value in flexibility for certain
situations. For example, although I prefer a firm itinerary and plan while
traveling, being able to read changing situations and adjust accordingly has
presented opportunities to learn and explore these places more comprehensively
and intimately.

While the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator is useful in
understanding my own personality traits and tendencies, it is not
comprehensive. Another test, based on the Big Five model, can help explain
personality traits further. The Big Five model describes individual personality
based upon five criteria spectra: 1) Extraversion, 2) Agreeableness, 3)
Conscientiousness, 4) Neuroticism, and 5) Openness to Experience. On this test
I scored very highly in the areas of Openness to Experience and
Conscientiousness, medium in Neuroticism, and low in Extroversion and

These results reinforce the fact that I am
introverted. It also relates that I am curious and seek new experiences and
intellectual pursuits, which would explain my ability to enter the realm of the
extrovert when I deem it necessary or as an opportunity to learn. My low score
in agreeableness relates that I prefer to maintain my behavior regardless of my
company. This is certainly true as I have discovered that the best way to
maintain my integrity is to behave consistently. I was aware of my personality trait
of being honest and hard-working as my high score in Conscientiousness
indicates. However, I was slightly surprised by my medium-high score in
Neuroticism as I have generally perceived myself as very level-headed, emotionally
stable, but not extraordinarily empathetic. Perhaps my goal to remain as
emotionally level as possible in my role as a retail manager and supervising
200 employees has blurred my perception to the reality that I am much more

The next step in the self-evaluation process is to
understand my own perceptions of leadership. According to the questionnaire
from the Northouse text, I perceive good leadership as being highly skilled and
possessing strong process abilities. I also believe that leadership is neither
trait or natural ability based. According to the research, trait based
leadership is not an accurate portrayal of what constitutes good leadership and
indicates that leadership can be learned and developed.

These results reinforce my existing perceptions. It is
because of my own experience helping to train and develop other leaders at work.
I have witnessed department managers who scored terribly on the company’s
leadership assessment one year, and with the help of peers and supervisors,
develop their skills and score highly on the following year’s assessment. The
course material has simply reinforced my perceptions that leadership is a skill
that can be learned and improved by focusing on personal strengths and
improving upon weaknesses.

Understanding your own personality will help you
discover and analyze your strengths and weaknesses. My strengths are in
analysis, implementation, and innovation while my weaknesses are in mediation
and encouragement. This correlates directly with my personality type. For
instance, since I am an Introvert, it is harder for me to make the personal
connections required to be encouraging and mediate interpersonal problems.
Since I am a Thinker and Sensor, analyzing information and constructing plans
for implementation come much more naturally. However, I consider one of my
greatest strengths to be my ability to self-reflect and rationally evaluate my
weaknesses and improve upon them. I know that I am not naturally skilled at
engaging individuals and connecting with them. Therefore, I allocate time and
energy at work or school specifically towards working with others and
developing my interpersonal skills. This effort has proven successful as is
evident in my annual leadership assessments and the group assessments taken in
this class. My peers rated me higher in “encouraging the heart” and “enabling
others to act” than “challenge the process” and “inspire a shared vision.” The
fact that I scored myself lower in
these areas as consistent with my previous work assessments, relates that I
have made improvements, even if I am not yet acutely aware of them.

Having evaluated my personality, perceptions of
leadership, and my strengths and weaknesses, I can analyze my leadership
styles. As a retail manager I felt more influenced by the ideology of Theory X,
where employees do not want to work and must constantly be motivated and
monitored by an authoritarian leader. I have always wanted to believe in Theory
Y, and view my recent experiences in college as living examples. Moving forward
in my career, I expect to view the workplace in the frame of Theory Y.

Regardless of which theory feels more relevant in any
instance, I utilize similar leadership styles. I am a path-goal leader. I
believe it is the mission of a leader to enable their followers to reach their
potential. As such, a leader must identify obstacles and help followers
overcome them. This is reinforced by my colleagues rating “Enable Others to
Act” as my second highest area. By providing structure to Katie’s excellent,
yet broad, group activity idea, and by supplementing Madison’s stolen notes I
have aimed to help group members reach their objectives.  They rated me highest in “Model the Way.”
Based on my own perceptions of leadership, it is logical that I strive to set
the example of what everyone can achieve and produce.

Regarding the task-relationship dynamic, I focus more
on tasks than relationships which is related to my inclination towards
introversion. I am not a charismatic or transformational leader as I am not
very good at inspiring people to a shared vision I have helped create. These
are areas to which I will pay close attention moving forward. I may never face
the adversity of charismatic leaders, and like emergent leaders, rise during a
crisis to inspire masses, but I will certainly learn from their examples and
strive to create a unifying organizational mission to which I can motivate
others to achieve. Despite the possibility that the differences between my past
work assessments and those from this course are simply a result of changing
environments, I believe that it provides strong evidence for, if not proves,
that I am able to change my leadership style through concentrated effort and
constant feedback.