Two year anniversary with Networks

To my Networks Family;
Well, I have been at Networks for 2 years and I finally connected the dots to identify what is the underlying difference between Networks and everywhere else I have every worked. This week as I was doing research on topics that are hot in OT and how they may connect to our work, I gathered articles on Technology and client centered planning and taking care of caregivers, but another article caught my eye. It was a CE article in my OT journal, Authentic Leadership in Occupational Therapy by Melissa Sweetman OTD, OTR/L, So as is typical, I take the test at the end before I read the article to see how familiar I am with the content. As I am reading the questions, I realize that I truly do know what this is but really didn’t have a label for it. Why? Because it was describing the leadership style of Networks! Now it all makes sense to me.

Here is a summarization of the article:
Authentic leadership is an evidence-based approach that enables us to effectively serve as leaders. We frequently interchange the terms “management” and “leadership” as if they are one in the same. Perhaps the most well-know description of management vs leadership is attributed to Bennis and Nanus (1985) . “ Managers are people who do things right and leaders are people who do the right thing”. Leaders focus on the big picture-envisioning the future and developing a strategic path to successful outcomes. They inspire followers to joint together behind an optimistic vision of the future. The focus of management is not on self-actualization or personal fulfillment of employees but instead on matching job tasks to talents to get a particular job accomplished.
The article defines three types of leadership.
1. Assigned leadership: person is assigned a leadership role within a group. However merely holding the title of leader does not make someone a true leader.
2. Emergent leadership: Someone who has influence over others but does not have an official title. A leader can emerge from within a team.
3. Shared leadership: Leadership functions are distributed among group members. No one person has total power . The purpose is so increase the participation of other members of the organizational team. A study conducted by Drescher et al (2014) found that when leadership is shared there is a greater sense of trust within an organization and greater organizational performance is noted.

The concept of Authentic leadership emerged after the corporate scandals of 1900s and early 2000s. Authentic leaders are honest, genuine and trustworthy, true to their own personality or spirit. They behave in a way that aligns personal beliefs, convictions, needs and feelings with actions that are genuine and sincere and reflected in their body language.
Authentic leadership is defined from several perspectives.
1: Intrapersonal: emphasis on self-knowledge, self-regulation, and self-concept.
2. Interpersonal: interactions between leader and followers
3. Developmental: Leadership can be developed over time and does not have to be an innate trait or skill.

The components of an Authentic Leader are:
1. Self-awareness: deep examination of one values, identities, emotions, motives and goals. This process occurs over time.
2. Internalized moral perspective: the ability to act on ones personal beliefs and ethics without being influenced by others.
3. Balanced processing: Ability to remain open minded and consider other’s points of view
4. Relational transparency: ability to acknowledge one’s own perspective while exploring the perspectives of others.

Research has shown that authentic leadership leads to successful outcomes.
1. Laschinger, Wong and Grau (2012) found that authentic leadership led to reduced bullying in the workplace, and decreased emotional exhaustion .
2. Wang, Sui, Luthans, Wang and Wu (2014) found a positive influence on follower performance, especially for those who demonstrated lower levels of hope, efficacy, resiliency and optimism.

Leadership takes time and conscious effort to develop. Steps for fostering Authentic leadership.
1. Allowing time for self-awareness through reflection. This could be journaling, exploring inventories or tests that help provide insight to communication styles, relationships, values and thought processing.
2. Clarify your values and be comfortable with the fact that not everyone shares them.
3. Be open minded and willing to consider the perspectives of others. Development of Perspective-taking.
4. Consider the perspectives of others in an unbiased manner. This is the ability to consider situations not as having only two sides (black or white) but as having multiple possibilities. (shades of gray)
5. Develop relationship transparency. Be open and honest in communications and actions with others. This will encourage others to feel more comfortable sharing suggestions, concerns and ideas. Use that old assertive training technique of the three part “I statement” I feel _____when you ____and I would like _____.

Leadership and management are frequently used interchangeably yet are significantly different. Leaders are visionaries who inspire others to achieve outcomes and managers are task-oriented, systems experts who rely on processes and such as planning and budgeting to achieve goals. Authentic leaders see followers not simply as human resources but as human beings each with distinct needs, values, visions and talents.

After reading this article, my vision has become clear regarding what Networks is and how it works. I see a true shared authentic leadership style, something I had never experienced before.
When I first started, I struggled to see who was “in charge” . Was it Rosa? She formed Networks. Was is Shauna? She helps organize us. Was it Jess? She was mentoring and guiding me. Everyone seemed to have a significant leadership role and skill set. Since Networks evolved before the trendy term, “Authentic Leadership” of the early 2000’s, it appears a very intuitive group of people got together and started leading with this style which has continued on.

Perhaps you all knew what Authentic leadership was and jumped right in or maybe you were like me and tried to see the management style of leadership and couldn’t really find it and felt a bit perplexed as to why you only can catch glimpses of it once in awhile as it pertains to just day to day operations. I am grateful to have come across this article to help turn the lightbulb on for me.

Love my Networks family!
So happy to be celebrating my 2 year anniversary with you all!