Like most, my earliest experience with leadership came from interactions with my teachers in primary/secondary school who practiced a transactional leadership style as it is most widely used in education settings (Khan et al., 2017), but it has been through my work history that has given me the most experience. It is these past working relationships that served as my basis to initially rank the attributes of leadership. Rightly or wrongly, as there is a tendency of the human brain is to focus on the negative, I found myself zeroing in on my previous managers weaknesses, and thus my top rankings reflected some of the attributes these managers lacked. I initially ranked “honest” as number one as I consider it a cornerstone for most other attributes – if a leader can’t be honest, whether it be about good or bad circumstances, how can they be expected to be dependable, straightforward, etc.
In retrospect, I now recognize that had I ranked the attributes according to a specific leadership style, my rankings would have been quite different, such as ranking “forward thinking” as number one for an adaptive leadership style. Overall, I enjoyed the exercise, although I felt that 20 attributes were almost too many to rank – after the first ten, the exercise became more of a guessing game.
Personal Leadership Perspective
Through the readings for Unit 1, I was introduced to various leadership styles, including values-based leadership which seems like the ideal leadership style. According to O’Toole (2008), values-based leaders do not focus on their personal needs, rather they act on behalf of others to help them achieve their needs. However, with the likes of Moses, George Washington, and Winston Churchill considered to be value-based leaders, values-based leadership seems almost impossible to emulate.
While I have never held an official leadership position, I admire leaders who use a mix of both adaptive leadership and reflective leadership. I like that the adaptive leader prepares for change as much as possible while the reflective leader focuses on “behaviours, situations and consequences with the goal of improving organizational performance” (Castelli, 2016, p.217). The combination of these two styles allows for leaders to focus on the current situation, while assessing any potential changes and the risks involved.
Digital Learning Environments
Within digital learning environments, technology both supports traditional teaching and gives students more influence over their learning experience (McLeod, 2015). Likewise, the workforce is now a combination of generations with the arrival of millennials and iGens who are more tech-savvy and prefer to communicate through digital media (Petrucci & Rivera, 2018). As digital devices and online environments can be both transformative and disruptive in any environment, challenges will occur, therefore it is important for digital leaders to be proactive. (McLeod, 2015)
According to McLeod (2015), digital leadership is not just about technology and “whether formal or informal, the focus of technology-related professional learning should be on student learning, not on the tools or devices” (para.22). Digital leaders must recognize the potential for resistance towards technology (Sheninger, 2019). Therefore, adaptive leadership, with its focus on “leading with a plan for dealing with change” (Khan, 2017, p.179) would be an ideal leadership style for digital learning environments.
Castelli, P. A. (2016). Reflective leadership review: A framework for improving organisational performance. The Journal of Management Development, 35(2), 217-236. http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.royalroads.ca/10.1108/JMD-08-2015-0112
Khan, N. (2017). Adaptive or transactional leadership in current higher education: a brief comparison. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 18(3), 178-183. https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v18i3.3294
McLeod, S. (2015). The Challenges of Digital Leadership. Independent School, 74(2). https://www.nais.org/magazine/independent-school/winter-2015/the-challenges-of-digital-leadership/
O’Toole, J. (2008). Notes Toward a Definition of Values-Based Leadership. The Journal of Values-Based Leadership, 1(1), 10. https://scholar.valpo.edu/jvbl/vol1/iss1/10
Petrucci, T., & Rivera, M. (2018). Leading growth through the digital leader. Journal of Leadership Studies, 12(3), 53–53. https://doi.org/10.1002/jls.21595
Sheninger, E. (2019). Pillars of Digital Leadership. International Center for Leadership in Education. https://leadered.com/pillars-of-digital-leadership/