Leadership refers to a course of public influence. This happens in situations where a given person may enroll the support and aid of others with the main view being the achievement of a common task. In big organizations and institutions, the leadership may entail more than one person in order to oversee the effective running of the events. Small institutions may however have one leader who oversees everything. The roles of the various leaders are often defined and each assigned a particular part in which they are best suited. However, problems may arise in instances when the roles are not well defined. If the roles overlap, conflicts may arise. This is detrimental to the organization’s ambitions. Description of the roles is therefore of paramount importance.
I am a member of a student organization in our school. Our main role as such is to act as the intermediary between the students and the teachers. As such, I have come across many leadership scenarios, some of which I agree on the way that they were handled, while I completely disagreed with others. Being a student’s organization, with the aim of representing other students, the style of leadership that we employed was democratic/participative leadership. This can be argued to be the most effective style of leadership, when compared to other leadership styles such as the delegative leadership style. In our campus, we hold free and fair elections for the students to choose their leaders. This is done annually. The student leaders are therefore expected to offer guidance to other students as pertains to issues that concern their welfare. We always engage other students in the process of making major decisions and as such, they feel part and parcel of the organization. Through this, they also feel motivated. However, not all the leaders are cooperative.
This is more so problematic when two leaders of an organization/institution hold different views on a given subject, creating bad blood between them.
In our organization, majority of the leaders thought that the chairman was being manipulated by the administration in order to suppress the student’s grievances. The chair was clearly sleeping on his role. The chairperson was our spokesperson and representative to the administration. However, in many occasions, he turned down our suggestions and proposals, terming them unnecessary. To us, this was unacceptable because, regardless of how small or big the problems were; they needed to be addressed urgently for the smooth running of events in the school and for life to be bearable in school. This issue became more complicated when other members started taking sides, creating two groups within the organization. Some thought the chairperson was right in defying our directions, while others thought this was unacceptable. The impact of this was the creation of tension within members of the organization. Things needed to be sorted out urgently or else the leadership could collapse.
With time, the situation kept on getting worse. The students whom we were representing lost confidence in us and even threatened to go on strike if we did not find an amicable solution to the issue. To them, this was a sign of betrayal and sycophancy of the highest order. They had entrusted us to champion for their problems but we had failed terribly to do so. Throught the history of the student leadership, this was the possible lowest moment, since there was no harmony. The school administration threatened to call for fresh elections. The reason behind this was that the misunderstanding was too much to the extent that the gap between the students and the teachers was widening. We knew we had to find a way to save us from this embarrassment.
We had to find a resolution to this conflict. One of the reasons for this is that whenever a conflict goes unaddressed, it normally creates an unconstructive effect on the teamwork and productivity of the organization/group. Our working environment had to be healthy and as such, we had to employ some conflict resolution strategies. It is in this stage that precise leadership skills, ability to solve problems and other decision making skills were called into action. We all gathered in the boardroom some few minutes after lunch to discuss conclusively on the matter. First, the nature of the conflict was outlined and the issues at hand were explained to all the members who were present. Every individual was then asked to give their views and their take on the whole subject. By every individual member speaking out, a full understanding of the issue/conflict was intended to be achieved. In the meeting, which was chaired by the organization’s chairperson, all members were to be considered equal and were free to mark out their observations. This was essential in that the members could speak out the facts without fear or favour. It is through this that the root course of the problem could be achieved. We were also encouraged not to take sides. Our opinions were to be guided purely by our take on the matter, not just taking sides or favouring a person. We were to look at the situation from all angles. This could help us come up with reasonable and fair solutions.
Conflicts ought to be addressed immediately they arise or at the earliest opportunity. This is to prevent the situation from escalating, leading to poor performance in the prescribed roles. In our meeting, we constantly reminded each other that regardless of the outcome or the final decisions and directions we were to give, all members were to be winners. Nobody should feel as if they lost because it was a solution for the common good of the running of the organization. Teamwork was to remain being our motto. Each single individual was reminded of how important they were to the organization, and that they were still needed after resolving the conflict. Motivation and encouragement serves an important role of ensuring the members will still give their best for the realization of the set goals and objectives. After the issue had been analyzed keenly and deeply, a majority of the members felt that the chairperson had no option other than communicating the grievances of other students. He did not have the permission or authority to decide by himself on which issues to communicate and on which ones to ignore. The argument behind this was very simple: not all students are equal. They all hail from different economic backgrounds and it was the role of the school to ensure they felt at home. What is so serious on a given student may be of less value or importance to the other. The chairperson therefore had to desist from being judgemental on the magnitude of the issues. This is because the student body was mainly to act as a link between the students and the teachers/staff. Ignoring to represent some issues could therefore mean that some students could end up suffering for the mere reason that their issues were ignored.
The intended purpose of the meeting was to come with a solution agreed by all the members of the organization on how to handle such a situation. It was also our intention to employ mechanisms necessary to avoid future conflicts of that nature. In our discussion, various communication strategies were employed. First, we were specific to the point on what we were addressing. Each and every individual who had to contribute therefore needed to be precise and avoid vagueness. The essence of this was to avoid us dragging other issues that were unrelated with the main conflict into discussion. The members also gave out well-reasoned and convincing arguments, which were also persuasive. This had the general impact of everyone feeling at home and appreciated. Throughout the discussion, the members were always confident that a solution could be found. All were assured of their personal abilities to make wise decisions and judgements. This is to avoid the members from making shaky decisions which they do not belief in. Another communication strategy that was employed was that of being forceful. The members’ arguments and reasoning were characterized by power and strength. They looked pushy by trying to make some powerful impressions authoritatively. This even swayed the few that were yet to make their decisions on the matter.
The effect of the group dynamics cannot be assumed either. Being a discussion in which different people came with different ideas, a lot of arguing and persuading was needed in order to convince somebody that they should join a given line of argument. For instance, some members, including the chairman thought that there was no need of reporting on the small issues. To them, this was a waste of time and resources. However, they needed to be persuaded to look at things from different perspectives. They needed to place themselves in the shoes of the less fortunate and then make a decision. It was after a lot of persuasion and explaining that they accepted to adopt a common stand and share the same opinion.
The integrity of the whole process was also kept superb. The morals and values of each individual were respected and communication throughout the discussion was at a controllable level. Although sometimes people differed in their opinions, it did not go to the extent of engaging in abusive language. Everybody rightly lowered themselves and their ego to a manageable level. It is through this that the meeting yielded the expected outcomes of finding a common solution to address the issue. The main concern was to find a solution which was to be accepted by all the parties that were around in the meeting. This was handled in a very effective manner by all the members present accepting to conduct themselves maturely and appreciating each and every person’s opinion. This was regardless of whether they agreed with it or not. Everything, according to me, worked perfectly. I would not change a thing on how we handled the whole issue.
In conclusion, it is important to note that effective communication is essential in any undertaking. We need communication in all the times, particularly when we are trying to resolve problems. Sharing our opinions with others and also at the same time making them understand the position we take on a given issue is essential to resolve issues. Communication is a basic tool in any place of work or organization, since it helps to promote transparency.