In developing this idea of what leadership is, I examined what was most important to me in being a leader. Since leadership is such a broad term, this could not be a process whereby I could generalize leadership for everyone. Rather, the task is to determine who I am as a leader. I asked myself, what is it that shapes the vision? What are the factors that comprise a leader, and what makes these things add up to create something larger than ourselves as leaders? Thoughtful reflections on these things lead me to generate the following definition of leadership: Leadership is about more than simply having followers; it is not a title, and it is not achieved by just following a few principles. Leadership is complex, though at its core, it is having the courage to make the right choices – not just the popular ones, engaging others in a vision, and empowering followers to pursue a shared purpose of achieving a positive, lasting impact.
My leadership philosophy has been shaped by several factors, the first of which is the knowledge of self. I am a firm believer that until you know yourself first, you are not able to meet your fullest potential as a leader. The greatest relationships exist when each person knows first themselves and what they bring to the table, impacting all leader/follower relationships. The leader approaches the relationship confidently, knowing that the leader and follower can mutually benefit from their interaction. One of the most important things that I have done in terms of my personal development is to identify my core values.
Possibly the most critical step to becoming an effective leader is to determine and understand one’s core values. Many of my values are a result of my childhood; however, these values have been shaped and tested throughout my time at Queens. I have determined the following items as my top eight core values:
Authenticity: One cannot be an effective leader without first having a comfortable knowledge of him or herself. Once this understanding is gained, decisions should be made in such a way that the leader stays true to his or her ideals. An authentic leader stays true not only to themselves, but to others. This means consistency in behaviors and decisions, and an appropriate degree of openness with followers. Followers should be aware of the leader’s values and decision‐making process, and should trust that the leader is being genuine in interactions.
Integrity: Ethical practice has a significant place in the Queens community, particularly in my academic experience with the nursing school, and throughout all the complex definitions and descriptions of ethics and integrity, it boils down to knowing what is right, and doing it, regardless of whether or not anyone is watching. Perhaps the most important of the values, integrity sets the framework within which the leader will make all decisions. Without integrity, there is no motivation to pursue other values.