Reflective Paper, 2,500 words
You are required to write a reflective paper of about 2,500 words. You will describe an incident from your workplace that relates to team/group leadership. You will then use theory
from this course to analyse and reflect on that incident. More detailed information follows.
How should the paper be structured?
The first 500 to 700 words should describe the incident itself. You need to say what you or the leader did, what you said and what you were thinking as the events unfolded. You also
need to record what other people said and did and remember to record how you reacted to these. You are the primary ‘object’ for reflection in this paper, so you are recording these events from this perspective.
Section 2 – Relevant theory
The second part of the paper (approximately 1,200 words) is where you reflect on the event. You do this primarily using theory to support or challenge your behaviour and or thinking in
this situation. One of the intentions of this kind of reflection is to identify the underlying (often previously unarticulated) assumptions you are making about yourself and colleagues
and team/group leadership in this event. When you have identified these assumptions you can then use the theory to challenge or support them, to accept or reject them. You will also find some more personal (less theory-based) commentary is inevitable and useful – but keep this to a minimum. Perhaps your scenario may be about conflict between two colleagues and in the course of your reflections you realise that you are prone to avoid conflict—even when it may be necessary, for example, as part of a leadership role. This is appropriate and legitimate personalisation of the reflection process.
Section 3 – Reflection, recommendations and conclusions
The reflection process should conclude with some sense of closure on the incident, some sense of what you would do differently in the same situation, or how your thinking has changed about these kinds of incidents. Be careful not to apportion blame to any participant, but analyse all the participants’ and your own contribution to the situation. Use the relevant theory to substantiate your arguments.
Any recommendations you make about the future should relate to you. Use the relevant theory to substantiate your arguments. For example, if your reflection scenario describes an
unsatisfactory supervision process where you find your supervisor at fault, you cannot make recommendations that they improve their people management skills. The bigger question is
how will you show leadership despite this problem.
Ideally, writing these incidents should help you gain an insight into your personal professional framework for leadership practice. The incident should help you clarify the
leadership behaviours/processes/actions you wish to use when you exercise leadership and most important help you to identify when you feel these constitute good leadership. The last
section of the assignment would be about 800 words.
What kind of incident should I select?
The incidents you select need to be:
1. Specific. For example, rather than generally reflecting on your group/team meetings select a specific meeting to reflect on or indeed a specific incident within a specific meeting to reflect on. Do not write that there is ‘generally a lot of apathy in our group meetings’. You must describe a specific incident that illustrates the group’s apathy in action.
2. Real life issues from your workplace that interest you. You have invested a lot of time to complete this course. I would prefer that you walked out of your study with some learning
that you personally value.
3. Relate to group/team leadership. The issue here is not so much the incident that you select as the theory that you select to analyse the incident. For example, there may be two members of your group who do not get along with each other. You will lose marks if you analyse this just using conflict theory. You can use conflict theory, but you need to then place that discussion in the larger context of group/team leadership theory. What does the theory tell you about the impact of this conflict on the rest of the group? How should the group/the leader manage this conflict.
4. Incidents in which you were personally involved, either as one of the main actors or as an observer. At the end of the day the point of this exercise is for you to come up with theoretically valid, new ways for you to operate with your group or team at work. If you select an incident that you observed, then your recommendations still need to relate to you and how you operate at work. Please note: you do not have to be acting in a leadership position in these incidents, but still need to be able to relate the incident to group/team leadership theory. Do not try to blame a supervisor or other senior manager.
How do I write the incident up?
1. Clear and vivid. Your description of the case study needs to be vivid enough to allow the reader to be able to see the incident like a little movie in their head. They also need to see
your role in the incident clearly and the actions and reactions of any other main players in the incident.
2. Concise. You only have 500 to 700 words as a maximum to describe your incident, the bulk of each paper should be devoted to analysis of the issue and recommendations. If you can describe the incident sufficiently clearly in less than 500 to 700 words you are encouraged to do so. That will leave you more words for your discussion of the incident.
3. Personally responsible. Do not regard this exercise as an opportunity to ‘attack’ a supervisor or colleague with impunity. You need to own any disappointment you feel with colleagues’ behaviour as your problem, not theirs. If you are working in a toxic environment this is an opportunity for you to try to see this situation in a new light and develop some strategies that you can implement to improve your work life. Concluding your reflections with a recommendation that your supervisor be replaced—no matter how bad their behaviour—is not acceptable. You have no control over when or if your supervisor will be replaced and making these kinds of unrealistic recommendations leaves you in a powerless position. Use the relevant theory to substantiate your arguments. You are expected to conclude your reflections with some comment on how you will manage this experience of leadership in the future. To this end, you need to make recommendations about the only things you control, the ways you think about and the ways you act in your workplace. Use the relevant theory to substantiate your arguments. Recall the incident I mentioned earlier. The student involved sought personalised mentorship outside her supervision relationship when she realised this lack of personal support from her supervisor was compromising her experience of work.
What theory do I need to use?
The theory you use needs to relate to group/team leadership. As stated earlier, theory that is generally related to group or interpersonal processes is not acceptable unless you relate it back to group/team leadership. You would do this by saying how these factors would impact on group/team leadership. You can use theory from any module in the course for any incident. Do not, for example, avoid conflict related incidents simply because they are not covered until the last module of the course. If, for example, the incident you encounter relates to conflict within groups/teams then by all means skip ahead and refer to the content in the relevant module if it is useful. You are encouraged to also to use theory from outside the text and course materials. here is a great deal of leadership relevant theory that has not been covered in this course that you may need to access.
Rothwell, JD 2012, In mixed company: communication in small groups, 8th edn, Wadsworth Cengage Learning, Boston, Massachusetts.