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Everybody is a leader, whether you are senior manager or a factory worker. The person who sets an example is a leader just as the one who implements the project. The one who takes is a leader similar to the one who influences. Every person can be a leader regardless of his/her status; the main challenge however has always been how to be an effective leader. While there is no “one-fits-all” character of effective leaders, these individuals usually possess relevant knowledge of their tasks, are always diligent, are committed to their work, and they influence and nurture good characters among their followers. I started to express my leadership traits early in my childhood by mimicking my father’s behavior. My father is a senior manager at Saudi Aramco Oil Company, a major industrial gas and oil company in Saudi Arabia. In this position, he always expressed desirable leadership traits which I always admired. In particular, I always woke up early and prepared myself for the day, from a very young age, a behavior that I had learned from my dad.
Background and History
I was born and raised in a moderately wealthy family in Saudi Arabia. My father, who is my role model, worked as a purchasing coordinator at Saudi Aramco Oil Company. I was particularly impressed by how he was able to take care of our family despite having a lot of work commitments. Accordingly, my father showed impressive leadership traits both at home and at work. For example, my father was very caring, and he provided all our family needs. Also, he regularly took us out during the weekends, ensured that we attended class and did our assignments, and that were respectful and responsible individuals. Despite committing a lot of energy and time for the family, he was also diligent in his work duties. I do not remember a day when my dad was late for work. Additionally, he would even at times carry home some of his office work. Since I was privileged to directly experience my dad’s leadership when I was a child, he influenced and shaped my character in my formative ages.
I graduated from high school with a GPA score of 2.66 out of 4. I was heartbroken since I thought that I would have gotten a better score; nonetheless, I never gave up on my desires to aim for better academic performance in the future. Accordingly, I decided to pursue my studies in the United States where I would have a better learning environment than Saudi Arabia. I arrived in the USA in January 2010 and began my course at St. Cloud State University’s Intensive English Center (IEC). I graduated from the school after just two years, in the fall of 2011. In the spring of 2012, I returned to St. Cloud State University to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and management until December 2015 when I graduated. In 2014, I married, and my first son was born a year later. Additionally, my younger brother came to study in the United States during this time.
Being a family man has significantly influenced my leadership traits. While in the past I was only responsible for myself, I am currently aware that my actions have a significant impact on both my wife and child. Overall I have become more responsible by being diligent, focused, organized in all my activities. Additionally, I am aware that my behavior and conduct influences those of my followers, especially my younger siblings who look after me. Therefore, I regularly strive to improve my leadership skills so that I can affect their characters positively.
I always desire to be an effective leader to my followers so that I can influence their behavior. Accordingly, I portray desirable characters in the manner that I conduct myself. In particular, I am diligent, disciplined, empathetic, open to criticism, a good communicator, a team builder, and visionary. These traits help me to express myself and influence my followers through my actions. My team members, who spend a lot of time with me, are usually hardworking and focused since I always influence their behaviors. Importantly, my traits of being a team builder and also being visionary enable me to motivate groups to work towards achieving their goals. These characters are complemented by the fact that I am a good communicator and I can, therefore, express my opinions. Further, I am usually open to criticism and accept contrary opinions.
Foundation as a Leader
Overall, the leadership course has enabled me to enhance my leadership traits. When I started this class, I had partially developed leadership traits. For example, I had been able to become a Chair Person of the Saudi Club where I organized various initiatives. Unfortunately, I had not been successful in enabling the club to have a significant impact on the school’s fraternity at large. For example, although the club could have made a major social implication such as assisting in charity programs or in finding a scholarship for needy but diligent students, the organization was mostly dormant, and when active, it mainly participated in fun activities. From my current training, I have gained a lot of leadership traits that will enable me to have significant impacts on the society.
Currently, I have enhanced my leadership skills by becoming more visionary, open-to-criticism, inspiring, and also by being a better role model. My ability to be visionary enable me to encourage individuals to work as teams to achieve their common goals. My openness to criticism helps me to listen and discuss with people that we have conflicting views. This character trait has further enabled me to express my contradictory opinion during discussions easily. Despite my positive leadership traits, I have not fully developed the character of allowing others to act. Unfortunately, I usually interject conversations during meetings without allowing the speaker to express his/her views. I am currently taming myself by learning to wait for a speaker first to give his/her thoughts before I express myself.
I have also developed strong leadership principles that have enabled me to enhance my effectiveness as a leader. I currently make a difference in all my leadership roles since I always share ideas and listen to my followers. I also give credible advice and information to my followers. Importantly, this information enables me to build trust among them, in turn, these leads to the establishment of more objective and active teams. Further, I aspire to add value to my team members by being committed in all my activities. Before undertaking any task, I always examine myself to find if the task is in line with my beliefs and values. Effectively, this process enables me to work in groups where I fully express my leadership traits. Also, I am a team player who focuses on achieving set future objectives. As a leader, I am always humbled to accept that in group activities I should consider the views of my follower and I should commit to the shared values. Finally, I am always committed to learning new ways of doing things from my followers, and I am always empathetic to them.
Despite having made significant progress in my leadership skills, I have not yet perfected my communication abilities. As a result, I always have a challenge in expressing my views. I am currently improving my communication skills by participating in various leadership roles. Additionally, I am always afraid of speaking to large crowds. However, I have significantly enhanced my confidence levels when I compare with my experience. Although I am still fearful of speaking to large crowds, I have considerably increased my confidence, and I am now able to give speeches in small gatherings.
Self-Assessment
Comparing my current leadership skills with those that I possessed before this training, I am convinced that my skills have greatly improved. Before the training, I was an averagely experienced leader. Indeed, I had led in various roles such as in the Saudi Club and also been the leader of a group of friends who prepared communal meals during the Ramadhan festivals. However, my leadership skills were significantly low when I compare to my current abilities.
Currently, I am a good listener and open minded. While I used to carelessly interject during conversations, nowadays I always wait for the speaker expressing his/her opinion before I give my views. Unlike in the past, I now accept criticism and empathize with my followers. The acceptance of criticism has helped me identify my weakness, in turn, transforming me into a more competent leader. My developed leadership skills have also made me to learn that people are unique and dynamic. Accordingly, I am more empathetic and compassionate to my followers. Effectively, I am now able to see the bigger picture when making my decisions. Furthermore, this character now helps me to consider the interests of all my followers, which enhances my team-building.
The training on leadership has made me realize that it is incumbent upon the leader to set the tone for his/her team by focusing on the group’s main objective. As a result, I have become a visionary leader and I am now able to reflect on my experiences and I inspire my followers to work towards achieving our shared goals. The training has also made me a more creative leader. As a result, I currently share more ideas in group meetings, which make my followers participate in group work.
Besides being creative, I have learned on how to identify problems by imagining on the implications of certain decisions. This skill has been enhanced by the fact that I am now more willing to express my opinions even when they conflict with those of my colleagues, which has made me improve the quality of ideas that I share with my followers. Additionally, I have become more ready to challenge thoughts so that I can improve the quality of ideas that my team members make. In turn, this has led to my groups becoming more innovative and imaginative.
Finally, the leadership training has made me more empathetic to my followers. Majorly, I have learned that to become an effective leader I am required to impact positively in my community. As a result, I am more helpful and considerate. My improved communication skills have also enabled me to build trust with my followers since I am now more able to express my ideas and opinions. Additionally, I also consider the views of all my followers, which makes them have more trust in me. This openness in my groups has increased the quality of meetings that I hold with my followers, it has enhanced team building, and has made all group members more responsible.
Areas to Improve
Leadership is always work-in-progress. As a result, there is no perfect leader, and all individuals always aim at enhancing their skills. Despite my improved leadership skills, I still struggle with decision making, communicating with my colleagues, and making timely decisions. These weaknesses have caused me not to exploit my leadership potentials fully.
With regards to decision making, I am always afraid of making unpopular decisions. As a leader, I am always confronted with various challenges that require immediate decision making. However, I always fear that some of the decisions may be unpopular. Accordingly, my struggle is always between implementing the right decision or choosing the one that is popular. As a responsible leader, I always select the right decision, although with the fear that I may be confronted with a backlash from my followers, especially when this action is unpopular.
Procrastinating is one major challenge that has negatively affected my leadership skills. I normally take a long time to take actions on various decisions. I am currently improving my punctuality when it comes to making decisions by becoming more accountable for my actions. In particular, I have developed a to-do list, which enables me to complete all the pending tasks in my schedule.
Although I have improved my communication skills, I am yet to perfect this skill. Since English is my second language, I always have a problem expressing myself, especially during formal meetings where I am required to address people in English. Currently, I have developed a habit of always speaking and writing in English, which I believe will improve my communication skills. In fact, compared with the first time I arrived in the United States, I have significantly improved my communication abilities. The improvement in my communication skills will enable me to easily express myself, which will make me influence my followers.
Vision
My primary goal is to become a participative leader, by making decisions after sharing my views with my team members and also listening to their opinions. This type of leaders boosts the morale of his/her followers and employees since he/she involves them in the decision making process. Additionally, this leadership results in more participation and unity in groups since individuals feel that they that their opinions matter.
Being a participative leader will enable me to solve the problems that are in my hometown of Sihat, Saudi Arabia. The main challenge in my hometown is the high rate of road carnage, which has claimed the lives of many young adults. As a participative leader, I will be able to organize meetings with all members of my community so that we can establish ways of reducing traffic accidents. I must be able to inspire my community to take responsibility for stopping road accidents by inspiring positive change in them. To achieve this goal, I will have to share my opinion with all road users in Sihat; this will include pedestrians, truck drivers, and drivers of personal vehicles. Importantly, we will establish policies and strategies that we will follow to reduce road carnage. These policies may include behavioral change among drivers such as avoiding car racing on public roads. Further, we can even agree on establishing a designated racing track so that racers can safely have fun without risking the lives of other road users.
Becoming a participative leader will also enable me to increase the performance of my business. In future, I want to establish a roadside service company. My skills as a participative leader will help me to become more cooperative with my employees. In this case, I will be able to regularly hold meetings with my workers and consider their opinions when making various business decisions. In turn, my workers will feel that I respect their views and that their opinions matter. Further, this form of leadership will enhance teamwork in my organization since my workers will not feel as if any action is imposed on them. Moreover, the democratic running of the business will make my colleagues more open to me, which will result in them sharing more ideas with me on how we can enhance the organization’s performance.
Plan
There are various objectives that I want to accomplish to enhance my leadership skills. In particular, I want to complete my leadership training and my Master’s Degree in Technology Management Engineering at the University of St. Thomas. These academic competencies will equip me with essential leadership characters that will help me to be an effective leader. In particular, an effective leader must be competent in his/her skill. Since I want to open a roadside service garage company after completing school within the next two years, the engineering course will help me get the relevant skills needed to operate this business. Additionally, the skills that I will learn from the leadership training course will enable me to become a competent and influential leader in my company.
Besides establishing a company in my hometown within the next three years, I also want to develop a committee that will stop reckless road driving in my hometown of Sihat, Saudi Arabia. Currently, there has been a high rate of road carnage due to reckless driving, especially cases of overspending. Within the next three years, I will have already completed my studies and returned to Saudi Arabia. Once I arrive in the country, I will just rest for one month and establish a committee that will be used to sensitize the community on the dangers of reckless driving. In this committee, I will act as volunteer trainer in schools and driving license centers where I will inform the youths on the dangers of careless driving, especially drifting and over speeding on public streets. The cases of careless driving have led to a lot of unnecessary loss of lives in my community. Therefore, my efforts to stop these accidents will make my organization to receive support from the society. Since I already have a lot of friends in Sihat, I will be able to seek their help in making my committee to be effective on its duties of creating positive social change in the community.
Finally, in addition to creating progressive leadership initiatives, I will also seek to ensure that I consistently improve on my leadership skills. Usually, the most appropriate way to improve on leadership skills is by receiving feedback from friends and colleagues and continuously improving on the weakness, while aiming to learn new skills. On my part, I will always receive feedbacks from members of my team, and especially from my wife. Since I will normally spend a lot of time with her when planning for my leadership forums, providing leadership at home, and even in giving her briefs on the successes and failures of my career. Her feedbacks will be essential in improving my leadership skills. I will always note down my leadership weaknesses and strengths that she will point out in a sounding board. Importantly, I will always have a two hours weekly evaluation on my progress in improving my leadership skills. To ensure that I improve on my performance, I will always establish steps that will guide me in improving my performance as a leader. In particular, she will enable me to make better plans for my meetings and also identify some of my strengths and weaknesses, and how they can be improved.
Besides advice from my wife, I will also get guidance from my teacher Sheryl who teaches leadership, my Saudi club advisor Dr. Tamarat who helped me during my presidency, and Dr. Bassey. I will maintain constant communication with these individual when I finish school through various communication channels such e-mails, skype, and phone conversations. Additionally, I will always update them on my performance as a leader, including both my leadership strengths, weaknesses, and roles. I particular my teacher Sheryl and Dr. Saudi will always inform me on ways I can enhance my leadership skills will Dr. Bassey will assist in enhancing my communication skills. I will always note on my sounding board any weaknesses or strengths that these individuals will point out. In partnership with them, I will establish ways of improving my strengths and also how to overcome my weaknesses. I will then write a program, which I will follow to progressively improve my leadership skills.
Similarly, feedback from my father, workmates, and even employees will be essential in enabling me identify my strengths and weaknesses. My regular home visits and interactions with my dad will enable me to received advice on leadership from my dad. My interactions with my colleagues and employees will also assist me to receive guidance from them. I will always write the information on my strengths and weakness that they would provide to me on my sounding board. Importantly, I will develop a training schedule, which I will use to improve my leadership skills.
Conclusion
Everybody is a leader in his/her capacity. However, not all persons are effective leaders. Given the abundance of challenges that are ever increasing day-by-day, we should all aspire to become effective leaders. The training on leadership has been necessary in enhancing my leadership skills. In particular, it has enabled me to become a better team player, more diligent, responsible, organized, and empathetic. Additionally, it has made me improve my communication skills, become more caring, visionary, and also enabled me to inspire my followers. Although I am not yet a perfect leader, I am appreciative of the fact that leadership is always work-in-progress. Accordingly, even the best leaders are consistently learning new skills and behaviors that enhance their abilities to influence their followers. Moving forward, the leadership skills that I have learned will help me in my professional career and also in my personal life. I will be able to use this skill to establish a cooperative and disciplined team of workers in my company. I will also use this skill to form a committee, in Sihat, which will work with the local community to reduce cases of careless driving, in turn, reducing the instances of road accidents. I will also regularly receive feedback on my leadership skills from my wife, my teacher Sheryl who teaches leadership, my Saudi club advisor Dr. Tamarat who helped me during my presidency, and Dr. Bassey, my father, and colleagues, which will enable me to continuously improve on my skills. Noteworthy, I will use a sounding board to regularly assess my leadership skills. Finally, this training has had a positive impact on my behavior, which has made me be a role model for my family, especially my siblings and son.