Leadership Skills & Style
I never realized how quickly this program would pass me by. I am not looking forward to saying goodbye to this fabulous island, but alas, I will have to very soon. At my placement this past week, I was moved to a later shift with the night manager. It was pretty eye-opening because I did not realize how much the night manager is responsible. Not only do they have to manage the food and beverage operation, but also cover reception and other basic managerial duties. Working for a week with the night managers truly, showed me there are no limits or office hours for leaders. People in high decision-making roles need to be available in a hospitality operation that is open 24 hours, 7 days a week.
Before this internship experience, I would have described my leadership style as a mix of participative and delegative. I believe it is imperative to include the team or group in the decision-making process. I have been a student leader since my first year of high school, and I found this aspect of inclusion very important to manage efficient decision-making on behalf of these student groups. I have carried on this notion because I have seen it create new bonds, output high productivity, and increase group satisfaction. In the workplace, a manager cannot always include a majority of the group to make decisions, but I believe it is essential to incorporate as much as possible. For example, brainstorming with coworkers or employees who will be affected by the new decision is crucial to making a well-rounded judgment. Most recently, at my placement, the general manager conducted a tasting of a new summer menu on some regular members of the club. The decision of the menu tasting was hastily made without proper consultation with the staff, and everything was kept hidden until the day before. This put the kitchen staff in the most stressful of predicaments as they did not have enough ingredients or staff to handle the complex menu tasting on top of a full dining room. This was just a one-time deal, but I hope the general manager thinks with a more precise head and works on better communicating these plans so the staff is not stretched to this point again.
A leader also has to be mindful of the groupthink syndrome. This phenomenon happens when a group works together with the desire to find a common consensus, and opportunities to express alternatives or other opinions are overridden to appease the group. Groupthink is a syndrome that results in poor creative thinking and decision-making. Other negative outcomes include blindness to flaws of the decision, failure to accept criticism regarding the decision, and the suppression of innovation. To subdue this from happening as a leader, I try to implement delegative leadership when appropriate. For some groups, individual work is preferred. In some instances, I find this most influential when reports are shared of individual findings with the group. This motivates individuals to take advantage of their competence, experiences, and creative thinking skills.
I have found that while everything I have mentioned has worked perfectly fine for me as a student leader of clubs and organizations, my experience as an international intern has challenged my outlook on effective leadership styles in the workplace. While working abroad, I have been thrust into a new environment where communication styles, leadership expectations, and working culture are somewhat different than what I am used to in the United States. This opportunity has given me plenty of prospects for personal and professional growth. One aspect I have come to admire is the diversity-orientated approach to leadership. This approach applies the idea that effective leaders must adapt their behavior to the context of the environment, including people, culture, and situations. At my placement, there are employees from all over the world. I have found it admirable to witness managers adapt their leadership skills depending on the situation with employees.
Overall this study abroad experience has given me an insight into human behavior in the workplace and the environment to apply my classroom theories in real life. Working at a placement that believes in my abilities has also increased my self-confidence, which will only help me become a better leader when I am faced with difficult or new problems. Without the safety of familiarity, I have been able to rise to the occasion and discover what I am truly capable of. I have also improved my listening skills and further enhanced my nonverbal communication skills.