Leadership: From theory to practice and self reflection

Assessment Task Two: Leadership: From theory to practice and self reflection
Due Date: Friday, Week 09
Type: Individual
Weighting: 50%
Length:  2,500-3,000 words


This assessment is designed to lead you from analysis of another leader to reflect on how you can improve your own leadership qualities.

The first stage is to select a person whom you consider to be a successful and effective leader. This person could be someone you work with or for, or with whom you have the opportunity to interact. Then, through your observation, you will identify the person’s leadership traits, behaviours and/or styles. The learning outcome of this stage is that you are challenged to apply the theories in this course with your observation.

For the second stage, you are asked to ‘interview’ the person who has served as your role model in the first stage. From the interview you are expected to learn not only from your role model’s experience but also about the complexities of leadership. During the interview stage, you will also get feedback from your chosen leader on your findings from stage one.

In the final stage, ‘self reflection and improvement’, you are asked to reflect on your own leadership, based on what you learnt the first and second stages, and consider how your own leadership skills and qualities could be improved. By going through these three stages, you should be able to critically evaluate leadership theories and practices and understand how to improve your own leadership skills and qualities.
Please Note: Students are required to get feedback from their lecturer in Week 04. To do this, students should prepare an initial plan. The plan may include; details of the chosen leader (role, position; organisation); draft of interview questions; timeline of activities; key references. The initial plan should provide you some practical idea of how to prepare a plan for a major writing task. It will also provide you with an opportunity to get some idea and feedback from your lecturer regarding the assessment task. This is an important proactive step to help you ensure that your final essay write-up is on right track. The plan should be submitted in week 4 which will leave you sufficient time to prepare a plan and get necessary feedback from your lecturer before the major assignment is due.
First Task: Observation

Identify a person who you consider to be a successful or effective leader. This could be someone you work with or for (for example: business, professional, sport, volunteer work, religious organisations etc.) or anyone who through some association you judge to be a good leader. It needs to be someone you can observe in person, not a public figure or someone you have read about.

Describe in detail:

  • what you perceive this person’s leadership styles, behaviours, traits;
  • how he/she uses power and influence tactics to make him/her an effective leader; and
  • whether the person changes his/her leadership in various situations.

You must be able to apply theories/concepts/models covered in this course to support your observation.

Second Task: Interview

As simple observation will not capture the complexities of  leadership, interview the leader. Ask your chosen leader to describe his/her leadership style, behaviours, traits and his/her use of power and influence tactics, whether and how he/she changes his/her leadership in various situations and see if his/her feedback can confirm your findings from your earlier observation.

Using the ideas and knowledge you have gained from the course to guide you, but keeping your questions open ended, ask them what they think are the characteristics of a good and effective leader.  Encourage them to be specific – a good way to do this is to ask, after their initial responses, that they give examples or share stories that illustrate when they felt they displayed good and effective leadership.  Then try and get them to focus on the skills, traits, styles, behaviours that enabled them to be an effective leader. Also, ask them what they think it takes to lead successfully based on their experience and what not to do. Again, you must demonstrate your ability to link the theories, models, and concepts to support your conclusions from your interview.

Third Task: Self-Reflection & Improvement

Reflect on what you have learned from the first two stages. Discuss:

  • What have you learnt about the complexities of leadership (comparing what theory says and what you found i.e. do your findings support the theories covered in the course?)
  • Given what you have found, how might your own leadership practice be improved as a result of undertaking this assessment?

This assignment should have the following format:
a) Introduction (~100 words)
b) Body with headings and sub-headings (i.e. Observation, Interview, Reflection ~ 2,300-2,800 words)
c) Conclusion (~100 words)

It is expected that you will use at least 10 academic references, preferably specific topic books or journal/research articles. Websites, such as wikipedia, will not be accepted, other than for providing general details of the leaders and these will not be counted in the minimum references required. Please familiarise yourself with the RMIT Plagiarism policy.
Interview questions must be included in the Appendix section (after ‘Reference List’).

Assessment Criteria:
• Ability to describe in detail of the leader’s leadership styles, behaviours, traits, qualities, his/her use of power and influence tactics and contingency leadership referred to the observation.
• Demonstrate a good understanding of relevant leadership theories/issues referred to the observation.
• Key leadership issues expertly presented and supported by interview results
• Accurate knowledge and understanding of relevant leadership theories/issues referred to the interview.
• Ability to compare and confirm between the observation and interview results
• Critical analysis of relevant theories/issues (Comparison between theories and results found i.e. do the findings support the theories in the course?)
• Demonstrate clear understanding of how to become a better leader as a result of undertaking the assessment.
• Ability to identify areas of leadership self-improvement.
• Minimum 10 references (exclude internet websites) and Relevance and range of references
• Overall presentation of Report