The research is in agreement that personality archetypes do affect leadership style, success, and outcomes in the workplace. 54 – 56 Although difficult to manage without a high degree of self-awareness, the first step in any leadership development process is to recognize potential weaknesses or areas for improvement. Some of this understanding will come with experience. Other professional development areas will present themselves with personal self-recognition. This chapter has provided some tools for the latter kind of diagnosis.
By the time many students get to college, they have already established certain predispositions toward one or more of the personality archetypes presented in this text. Simple predispositions may be perceived as habits at first, such as reading alone or studying to music. These habits, or preferred predispositions, may provide clues to early discovery of mental hard-wiring. Social networking and competing in sports and intramurals may suggest a tendency toward Type A behavior, whereas preferring the company of small groups of intimate friends and social clubs may suggest a predisposition for Type B behaviors.
If an individual aspires to become a CEO of a large and munificent healthcare organization and is predisposed to Type B personality traits, he or she must either reconsider entering into a career field where high external presence is mandatory or gradually exercise those areas of the individual’s personality that may be lying dormant, but are open to cultivation. Remember—leadership styles, knowledge, skills, and abilities can be learned as well as enhanced. Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers: The Story of Success, suggests that 10,000 hours of practice, experience, trial and error, and self-discovery are required to become a master or an expert in anything, with rare exception to this standard. 57 Gladwell also states that the average graduate student has an intelligence quotient (IQ) of 115 or higher 58 ; this point suggests that you are intellectually poised to learn and master health leadership whether you are innately gifted or just willing to learn.
STRATEGIES TO MAXIMIZE YOUR NATURE VERSUS NURTURE LEADERSHIP STATE OF BEING
Numerous strategies are available to early careerists to help them cultivate dormant personality capabilities. For example, joining professional organizations is critical for success, because they provide opportunities for exercising leadership skills in closed and friendly environments that may not have direct visibility in the workplace. For instance, if an individual is predisposed to be a Skeptic, volunteering to support a continuing health education event with a local professional organization can provide the opportunity to be a follower without the pressure of being scrutinized in terms of professional outcomes that may end up in a performance appraisal in the workplace. The classroom setting is uniquely suited for trial and error; mistakes are used to learn and improve rather than having negative career implications. Take advantage of the classroom environment to practice leadership by volunteering for group leader roles, community service project leadership, and similar opportunities. Find ways to lead people in a useful endeavor and find ways to manage resources in useful endeavors; build up your experience to achieve the 10,000 hours of practice!
Within the workplace, early careerists can seek out professional mentors not in their direct supervisory chain who can provide both education and candid professional development advice from a nonperformance appraisal perspective. Although joining a professional organization may provide an opportunity for mentorship, many large organizations now have formal mentor programs where mentees can be paired up with volunteer mentors in a structured environment.
Self-development and self-directed learning may be the easiest method for individuals to gain a perspective on how to develop and cultivate dormant leader traits. Many professional development books include self-diagnostic scales that provide tools and strategies to augment leader skills.
Finally, the value of self-awareness and acceptance cannot be underscored enough in this chapter. Although none of the assessments in this chapter are by themselves 100% valid and reliable predictors of personality traits and leadership skills, they should be considered one part in your personal puzzle. The synthesis of these assessments should form an initial picture of your current situation—a situation you can improve and develop into a great health leader. To ignore these assessments because you are not pleased with the outcome is essentially paramount to ignoring your own potential.
USING WHAT YOU LEARN ABOUT YOURSELF
What do you do once you learn about your personality, your strengths, and your weaknesses? The important reality is: You can learn, adapt, improve, and change to be a better leader. Several theories and models, presented in this text, can help you develop a plan to become a better leader; in essence, that is what this text is about. It is about assisting you to be a better leader. For example, goal-setting theory is a great framework to use to set goals for yourself while your motivation will spur you on to achieve your goals. Another theory, the theory of planned behavior (TPB), is another framework to assist you in improving once you know yourself.
The theory of planned behavior was proposed by Icek Ajzen in 1985 in his article “From Intentions to Actions: A Theory of Planned Behavior.” According to the theory of planned behavior, human action is guided by three kinds of considerations: beliefs about the likely outcomes of the behavior and the evaluations of these outcomes (behavioral beliefs), beliefs about the normative expectations of others and motivation to comply with these expectations (normative beliefs), and beliefs about the presence of factors that may facilitate or impede performance of the behavior and the perceived power of these factors (control beliefs). 59 The theory was developed from the theory of reasoned action, which was proposed by Martin Fishbein together with Icek Ajzen in 1975. This theory was grounded in models dealing with attitudes such as learning theories, expectancy-value theories, consistency theories, and attribution theory. 60 The addition of the construct of perception of behavioral control differentiates the theory of reasoned action from the theory of planned behavior. Ajzen’s three considerations are crucial in improvement (including self-improvement, as is the context in this chapter), leading projects, and directing programs when changing people’s behavior. 61
In order to apply the TPB to your leadership improvement project, the key constructs or concepts are salient. The theory of planned behavior helps to clarify how to change the behavior of people. The TPB predicts deliberate behavior, because behavior can be deliberative and planned as opposed to purely spontaneous. 62 As shown in Figure 2-3 , TPB posits that individual behavior is driven by behavioral intentions, where behavioral intentions are a function of an individual’s attitude toward the behavior, the subjective norms surrounding the performance of the behavior, and the individual’s perception of the ease with which the behavior can be performed (behavioral control). Attitude toward the behavior is the individual’s positive or negative feelings about performing a behavior. The subjective norm is an individual’s perception of whether people important to the individual think the behavior should be performed. Behavioral control is defined as one’s perception of the difficulty of performing a behavior. 63 Goal-setting theory can reinforce the TPB by setting goals to obtain a specific behavior within an organization, whether it be a health behavior, human actions, or adopting a new technology, or a way of improving yourself and your leadership competence, styles, or behaviors. Basically, once you determine what to improve, you determine how to improve, surround yourself with those leaders who can reinforce your improvement plan, and implement your improvement plan. In essence, that is the theory of planned behavior.
So, in applying the theory of planned behavior, identify your attitudes, the subjective norms (of your colleagues that influence you), and your perceived behavioral control, and then devise an improvement plan. Once you have a plan and goals, work toward achieving your goals. Knowing yourself is the first step.
FIGURE 2-3 Theory of planned behavior.
Source: Reproduced from Ajzen, I. (1991). The theory of planned behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50, 179–211, with permission from Elsevier.
This chapter provided a small sample of minimal diagnostic self-examinations that provide usable information for professional development in a course setting. Although the authors do not recommend taking all of these assessments, when completed under the supervision of your course director, these evaluations will support the learning outcomes of your program.
Following successful completion of several of these assessments, you should conduct an analysis and look for trends and patterns that may reveal areas of personality dominance or personality void. You might then write a paper integrating your personal findings into one composite essay. The final essay should include a personal plan to hone existing traits while also cultivating knowledge, skills, and abilities that may present themselves for development later. Ideally, the course director, executive in residence, or professional community leader will then sit down with each student and provide a mentoring session aimed at leadership and career success.
Strong personalities with high levels of education dominate the health environment. As a person progresses up the corporate ladder, he or she will encounter new and different personality types at all levels. Leaders will most likely have to develop different personality skill sets to foster and cultivate relationships in the various environments in which they work. Knowing oneself will provide an edge for success and a platform for improvement and mastery of leadership. Lastly, the theory of planned behavior provides a framework to think about, plan, and then improve your leadership behaviors, competencies, and, ultimately, your organization’s performance.