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Leadership Under the Microscope: A Leadership Philosophy

Leadership Philosophy Final
Samantha Garcia
EDAD 570: Leadership in Education I
Jake L. Diaz, Ed.D.
June 5, 2014


Leadership Under the Microscope: A Leadership Philosophy

Having the ability to define leadership thoroughly takes years of self-development

and exploration. Self-development means a person has to go beyond his or her own nose
and see into what is around them. A person must open up his or her eyes to the world and
accept what there may be. Through self-development a person gathers the courage to
continuously explore the world. A true explorer does not stop once they have come to the
summit of K-2, they move on to climb Mt. Everest. Exploring is a constant endeavor that no
one will complete in a lifetime because there is so much to see. This is why I believe there is
no end to developing my definition of leadership. I know without forcing it to, will change
over the years. It has certainly done so in the almost five years I have been in institutions of
higher learning.
What is Leadership?

A leader is an open mind ready for any idea to be thrown at them. The leader

assesses an idea, discovers its potential and flaws, then asks the followers how they will
make this idea a reality. They ask the followers to examine the idea further and seek the
truth about it. That is what a leader does, they seek truth. A leader that denies the truth,
staring them dead in the eye, is not an affective leader. A self-aware follower can easily see
that a leader has denied the truth and lose respect for them entirely. In order for a leader to
be effective she or he must simply be honest with themselves and the followers. A leader
that shows their followers that they are human too and not afraid to admit it, is an affective
leader. In reference to the Deal and Peterson (2000) text, my view of leadership relates
closely to the symbolic role of visionary. The visionary must work with other leaders and
the community to define a deeply value-focused picture of the future (Deal & Peterson,


2000). Vision allows the truth of an organization to surface. The truth is the lifeline and
essence of a community that a leader cannot deny because its power is unparalleled.

Amid all the evidence that our world is radically changing, we cling to what has

worked in the past, (Wheatley, 2006). I agree with Wheatley that we are comfortable with
the past because the nature of humans is to fear change and the uncertainty it brings.
However, a good leader recognizes their fears and steps up anyway because they recognize
a real need for change. Change does not need to come from a dramatic event, even though
that is where it is most often seen. Preemptive change is less common because it takes so
much strength from an individual, team, and collective organization. When a leader is able
to recognize that traditional practice is not what is best for the success of the organization
and is no longer serving the people, than they must step up. This leader does not need to be
a formally elected individual, simply an opinion leader of the community (Rogers, 1983).

I like to relate my ideas of leadership to servant leadership. A leader must be self-

less. Now, I am not going to get into egoism too much because I believe that there is nothing
wrong with doing what makes you feel good. It is not selfishness; it is identification of what
makes you happy. You are only doing what is meant for you in your lifetime. However, to be
a servant leader you must look at the broad scope of things, assess all angles of a situation,
and then act in the best interest of the organization and the people within it. You must put
aside your needs for the needs of others. When you have done this, you are a servant
It is a basic concept to put others before yourself, but a very difficult one. A true
servant leader sees past their needs immediately and performs in the best interest of the
world around them. I think it is noble to be a servant leader and the only way for this world


to become a better a place. A servant leader hears the voice of the people and enacts what
they see best for society; they do not force their views but rather weigh the benefits of how
the people can positively affect one another.

A leader must also be aware of in and out-group dynamics. They must strive to make

the out-group apart of the in-group. Symbolically, the leader must become the healer of
the community (Deal & Peterson, 2000). If the out-group people are left where they stand,
they can become stagnate and bitter towards the organization and leader. It is a negligent
leader that does not do their best to enact change between groups. It is in the best interest
of the organization to make one giant in-group. It is like an engine; if all of the pistons are
not firing then the engine does not function, however if you are careful to maintain your
engine and inspect it often then all pistons should be firing together making it an affective
machine. In non-shop talk, if a leader is aware of their group dynamics and makes an effort
to keep everyone together then the organization will be better for it and subsequently
healed (Deal & Peterson, 2000).

As alluded to in Komives et. al. (2006) the Relational Leadership Model says that a

leader is purposeful, ethical, gives empowerment, is inclusive, and defines a process.

Purposefulness of a leader is extremely important. It is something I strive for everyday.
Purpose is what defines a good leader from one that is not. When a leader is purposeful
they have a vision and goals that are well developed and backed up by their followers.
Being an ethical leader helps garner respect from the people around us. If people
understand that your actions are for the greater good than they will respect you.
Empowering your followers is a great way to help them grow and develop while
simultaneously growing the organization. Being inclusive is a lot like in-group and out-


group theory and all rules apply to being inclusive. Now, defining a process is something I
have not touched on yet. To define a process for developing the organization and its people
brings structure to all that you do as a leader. Having structure reinforces purpose to
everything you do.

As defined by the everyday person, I am a leader because I have held multiple

formal leadership positions particularly in my undergraduate career. However, as I have

moved away from home and removed myself from all that I know, I have provided myself a
chance to critically reflect on my time at Texas A&M University. While this is not a humble
thing to say, I do consider myself to be a leader outside of the formal, traditional realm. I
say this is not humble because I have to admit that I am afraid of my light. As humans, we
tend to believe that we are most afraid of our dark but it is our light that truly frightens us.
When we live in our light, we are vulnerable, and vulnerability to all of the people trapped
in their comfortable darkness is a terrifying place to be but others opinions and darkness
cannot dampen our light for it is much too bright. I have seen the positive impact my
example has had on students that are still at Texas A&M. While I was a student, I did not
know that people actually looked up to me but they do and, even now, they are kind enough
to admit it. However, they are the ones that truly inspire me because they have been so
lovely enough to recognize my light when I have trapped myself in darkness. It is a
privilege to have these people in my life because they make me want to shine bright so that
I may help them live in their light.
While a leader is an explorer and must maintain an open mind and heart wherever
they go and with whomever they meet, they are also a truth seeker for not only an
organization but for themselves and the community they live in.


What informs my leadership?

As Aristotle said, Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom. I cannot hide
who I am from others therefore I should not try to hide it from myself. Authenticity is
revealed in the exploration of oneself then through the projection of your truths to the
world. I strive to be an authentic leader; I strive to know who I am. Some things that I have
learned about myself are that I am resilient, adaptable, humane, and saliently identify as a
The salient identity of being a woman was never a prominent piece before reading
Vital Voices (Nelson, 2012). The women discussed in the first chapter have inspired me.
Beyond what I have understood from the Relational Leadership Model, they have allowed
me to recognize the power of purpose, and how purpose can be found in issues that plague
women, society as a whole, and us as individuals. Being a woman is a powerful thing. It is
not a deficit; there is culture to womanhood. There is alliance to the struggles women have
faced and continue to face. Whether these struggles are at our doorstep or in nations far
away. The movement for the equal treatment of women is pervasive through time and
space where oceans, continents, mountains cannot divide us. We are all in the movement
for human rights together, at all times.
Some of the stories shared by the women in the Nelson (2012) text struck me
deeply. I tell very selective people this, but, I have been a victim of sexual assault and I have
always refused to see myself as a victim. Reading about the things some of the women in
Marina Pisklakovas story and what Sunitha Krishnan went through as a survivor and then
being a resource for women, has inspired me to truly be a survivor. I have not known what
to do with the things I have been through. I have moved past them but I see now I can truly


integrate these experiences in my work in a powerful way. I can be a voice, a resource, an

advocate for women that are and are not victims. I feel empowered to not hide these
unfortunate experiences from my everyday life but instead take control of them and be a
survivor. A survivor in the sense that I have not only gotten my head above water but have
been able to get out of the pool and dry myself off. I have learned something from all that I
have been through, something I want no one to ever go through, but sexual assault happens
all too often, especially on college campuses. The energy I have gained from reading about
the courage the women posses in Vital Voices Chapter I, has sparked in me a sense of
purpose (Nelson, 2012).
This realization of my strong salient identity as a woman is a huge milestone for me.
I have never felt so alive. Truly representing myself as a woman in leadership I hope will
allow other women to open up similarly. I know we all have our own paths and energies to
find so I hope that my newfound glory can make a positive impact on the lives of people.
Strong identity in oneself is powerful and this is what I hope to continue to find for myself
and inspire others to find as well. As Julien Green says, The greatest explorer on this earth
never takes voyages as long as those of the [woman or] man who descends to the depth of
[her or] his heart. Self-discovery is a journey that can reveal so much and is not simply
done overnight. True self reflection and exploration will take a lifetime.
Another defining moment in my life happened my sophomore year of college at
Texas A&M University. My journey to becoming a full time student at Texas A&M is a bit
complicated. As a freshman I was accepted into Texas A&M through Blinn TEAM (Transfer
Enrollment at A&M), which meant that I could only take 5 hours of classes each semester at
A&M while taking the rest of my courses at Blinn College, a community college in the area.


To receive my full acceptance into Texas A&M I would have to complete two years at Blinn
and A&M maintaining a 3.5 GPA for both institutions, or apply for transfer into my college
of choice. Not wanting to leave my fate up to completing the Blinn TEAM requirements, I
applied for transfer every semester I could. One letter of rejection after another came back
to me eventually leaving me with the fact that I applied to Texas A&M a total of 5 times
before receiving my acceptance. As you can imagine, my acceptance was a monumental
accomplishment. I remember everything about the moment I opened my letter. I realized at
that moment that if there is something I love whole-heartedly than I will never give up on
it. I realized that my dreams come true through perseverance. Knowing this about myself
as I realize my strength as a woman and the power of purpose I am beginning to tap into,
will drive me through any obstacles that come up on my journey of being a voice for
Moving forward with my self-discovery and my newfound energy, I want to tap into
the resources already available for women, and men, that are victims of sexual assault.
However, while I want my work to help those people that are victims, I want to be sure that
it does a large part in prevention. I believe that I can connect best with young adults
because what happened to me occurred as a young adult. I want to share my stories, but
that terrifies me. Putting my life out there for people to judge, I am afraid of the hate that
could come from it, not necessarily at myself but at the attackers. While I do not condone
their actions, I still have not been able to deal with the consequences that they deserve. I
recognize that this internal conflict needs to be dealt with before I become a voice, but like I
have said, this is a journey that will not complete overnight. I need to tap into the resources


available at Seattle University like the Counseling Center, so that I may vet out the issues I
still have.
As I experience this internal conflict I am reminded of the quote by Oscar Wilde,
The well bred contradict other people. The wise contradict themselves. This reminds me
that I am not perfect and must continue down a path where I find conflict with myself and
know no other way to live. By keeping the contradiction going I allow myself to be
authentic with everyone I interact with. I choose to be vulnerable in this journey so that I
am real with all I encounter. To me this is the true mark of a servant leader. They put aside
themselves however their true self comes through with all they do. Like the examples of
Marina Pisklakova and Sunitha Krishnan, they found their driving purpose and set out to
fulfill it by helping and leading others.
Servant, authentic leaders can be powerful examples for positive choice, however
the risk of being authentic is that not everyone will want to follow you. I like authenticity
because I believe it is the best way to build connection with people. When it is combined
with stewardship, connection can be enhanced because people can see that you do not care
for pushing your own agendas. You care about each of them, their voices, stories, needs,
and most importantly how the organization can be representative of them. You make
choices for the collective, not the individual, and you do this transparently. Servant,
authentic leaders can do their best to connect with people and create an inclusive
environment, but not everyone will connect. This brings me to question if a servant,
authentic leader is enough to bring cohesion to a group. However the quote in Vital Voices
from Hafsat Abiola reminds me that no matter what, [..]There is enough. We are enough.
[] There are enough resources for everyone and they will expand as they are shared. We



are enough. We have the ability within us to solve all the problems that plague our
world.(Nelson, 2012, pg. 27).
I am excited for the road ahead and terrified at the same time. However, having
found a spark in purpose I am fueled to persevere through all obstacles. This makes me
happy and I know I am heading in a good direction as Lucille Ball encourages me to believe
that, It's a helluva start, being able to recognize what makes you happy.
How do I do Leadership?
We must first learn how to lead ourselves before we can effectively serve others. As
I have gone through the process of writing my leadership philosophy I am reminded that
the authentic part of my journey is not in the texts, models, theories, but in myself. True
authenticity lies within me and it is my duty to find it so that I may be the most effective
leader possible for the betterment of those I serve. Now, I do not doubt my abilities to lead,
but I recognize the room for growth. With that being said, I recently went on a journey that
taught me a little bit more about life. I took a hike.
It is a beautiful Sunday morning as the sun shines through my blinds and rouses me
to greet the dawn. The previous evening had been a terrible, no good, awful, very bad
evening. However, this morning as I rise I am not reminded of the gut wrenching feelings of
the night prior but only elated at the gift of another day. Getting out of bed, I think to
myself, What do I want to do today?. I want to go out, I want to be in the sun, but where? I
then remember my brief research on Wallace Falls State Park I had done a few weeks ago
for work. Yes! That is where Ill go, Ill go for a hike! I say to myself. I am taking no one, I
am tackling this on my own, I am letting go of that which I have allowed myself to be held
back by the fear of being alone.



The fear of being alone was a debilitating one. It was holding me back from my own
potential and a change needed to be made. So I faced it, I made myself be alone and accept
that it is perfectly fine to be that way. I learned that it takes leaps of faith into our fears to
finally rely on catching ourselves. In this leap I found my driving energy for life and
authentic self. In this realization, I grew not only as an individual but as someone who has
the potential to be a better leader because I faced my internal conflict of fear and desire to
be free.
Before making this decision to face my fear, I had to recognize the internal conflict I
was experiencing and create the reasonable middleman that could help both sides (Bolman
& Gallos, 2011). On one hand I wanted to grow, move on, let go and just let myself be free.
On the other hand was the fear of uncertainty: what going out in the world alone would
mean and could I face the unknown. To appease this internal conflict I managed the fear
into following the path best suited for my development.
There may come a time when I am in middle management and need to help an
organization grow. My experience with managing this internal emotional conflict will come
in handy when I need to communicate a change from upper management to personnel. I
imagine personnel will come up with their own issues with change and have fears along
with it. However, it will be my duty to recognize these fears, validate them, but then also
provide support by hearing their concerns. I believe that by giving people the opportunity
to have their voices heard and taken into account they will feel valued, which can
simultaneously boost organization moral.
Emotions are apart of what makes an organization function because people are
what make an organization function. You cannot separate humans from the effectiveness of



an organization and cannot separate emotions from humans therefore it is imperative to

reach people on a level that allows them to share their emotions and concerns. When
people are heard they allow space to then hear you and will often times come to
understand the most reasonable move forward. Leading from the middle is not about
making everyone happy but about making everyone feel valued.

From my hike into the wild of my fears and natural world, I have come to learn how

to make myself feel valued. I need to listen to the voice inside of me that often gets shushed
by fears. In my journey ahead this is a valuable lesson, as it will help me continue to explore
my identity as a woman, a survivor, and how I show up as a leader. For a leader is an
explorer of self, the world, and society, and must maintain an open mind and heart
wherever they go and with whomever they meet to purposefully listen for the call to serve.



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educational leadership (2006). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Komives, S., Mainella, F., Osteen, L., Longerbeam, S., & Owen, J. (2006). A Leadership
Identity Development Model: Applications From A Grounded Theory. Journal of
College Student Development, 47, 401-418.
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