Leadership styles can affect every aspect of the team. Needless to say, it’s important to know what kind of leader you want to be. I graduated high school last year from the French school. Looking back now, I can analyze what kind of leadership styles each teacher had, and it’s interesting to figure out why I may not have liked certain teachers as much as others. It offers an insight as to what leadership style I enjoy most and what other people seemed to get the most out of as well.

WHAT IS THE BEST LEADERSHIP STYLE, FREDDIE?

Well, let me tell you. There’s a lot of ways to define leadership styles. There’s no standard. Psychologist Kurt Lewin developed the Lewin’s Leadership Style Framework in the 1930’s, and it provided a foundation for recognizing different leadership styles. He listed three major styles of leadership:

  1. Autocratic leaders make decisions without consulting their team members. Good to make decisions quickly. However, this style can be demoralizing, and it can lead to a lot of staff turnover. Appropriate for high risk jobs .
  2. Democratic leaders make the final decisions, but they include team members in the decision-making process. This engages people with projects. Not ideal for when you need to make a quick decision.
  3. Laissez-faire leaders give their team members a lot of freedom in how they do their work, and how they set their deadlines. If team members don’t manage their time well, or if they don’t have the knowledge, skills, or self motivation to do their work effectively, this style cannot work.

Each style has their own pros and cons. They need to be well analyzed before being used in any situation. There have been many methods to help determine leadership styles developed over the years (e.g The Blake-Mouton Managerial Grid, Path-Goal Theory, Flamholtz and Randle’s Leadership Style Matrix, etc.). Those three styles from Lewin are usually elaborated on in other, newer lists. For instance in the Path-Goal Theory the list is Directive, Supportive, Participative or Achievement oriented, however the general style of leadership across all frameworks that seems to be most popular is…

TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERS

leadership styles

fact: fire uses transformational leadership.

“Transformational leadership is a style of leadership where a leader works with subordinates to identify needed change, creating a vision to guide the change through inspiration, and executing the change in tandem with committed members of a group.”

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“Transformational leaders have integrity and high emotional intelligence. They motivate people with a shared vision of the future, and they communicate well… Transformational leaders inspire their team members because they expect the best from everyone, and they hold themselves accountable for their actions.”

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This leadership style is highly effective in a lot of situations. It has the leader working with their team, it helps keep morale high, and it keeps the leader innovative. Transformational leadership is defined by four components.

  1. Idealized Influence
    1. the leader serves as an ideal role model for followers
  2. Inspirational Motivation
    1. transformational leaders have the ability to inspire and motivate followers.
  3. Individualized Consideration
    1. transformational leaders demonstrate genuine concern for the needs and feelings of followers.
  4. Intellectual Stimulation
    1. the leader challenges followers to be innovative and creative.

This style of leadership is used by many influential people, such as Nelson Mandela, Franklin Roosevelt, and Bill Gates. People will follow a person who inspires them, therefore a  person with vision and passion can achieve great things.

PAST LEADERS 

Throughout school, I’ve experienced a lot of leadership styles. My favorite teachers were all transformational leaders. For example, during my senior year, one teacher was teaching a class he didn’t specialize in. He said that even though the students were more knowledgeable on the subject, he still wanted to learn along with us. He let us help build the curriculum by letting us suggest project ideas. It inspired us to come up with Raspberry Pi projects, building a bow for an arrow shooting competition and disassembling lawn mower engines. It was the most I had learned in all my years of school. Everyday that semester it was the only class I’d look forward to.

However, I didn’t respond well to bureaucratic leadership. Teachers that were so by the book everyone would dread their class, just painfully sitting through useless classes about nothing is not worth the time. Teachers that would just hand out worksheets like candy, not guiding us when we would ask for help (that’s not a joke, one teacher only answered questions with more questions). I had lower grades with these types of leadership styles, and definitely less fun.

By looking back and finding out generally what kind of leadership style I preferred throughout high school, I can better formulate my own style for when I am a multi-billionaire business tycoon (and everything in between). Transformational leadership is the way to go.  I want to have an active role, and help my team members as much as I can. I want to take input from team members, and I want us to succeed and innovate.

Global Entrepreneurship Week at UIT is quite the time. All sorts of exciting activities for the UIT cohort this week. I attended two events during school hours, and one in the evening. Each event was a great experience, and in hindsight, I wish I had gone to more.

The week started with a visit in the lounge from Jeff and Phyl Amerine during class hours. They started by watching a couple brave volunteers who pitched their projects to them, which they seemed to like. Then we all went to Flavour 19 for the afternoon and had a workshop about being coachable with Jeff and Permjot.

I had planned on attending the UIT monthly mixer on Tuesday, but work said no.

On Wednesday we had another event during class, but this time it was in Navigate. Darren Gallop and Jeff put on a workshop about creating good company culture. Permjot also made an appearance and somewhat blew our minds with how a Sigmoid curve can relate to the success of a company.

global entrepreneurship week sigmoid curve ride thingy

click the image for a longer blog about this theory!

He went on to explain that there are measurable peaks and declines in the success of your business, and to be aware of when you’re possibly nearing a peak. When you realize this, you should begin thinking of ways to branch off or better your business. (i hope i remembered that right)

The last event I went to was the panel with Jeff, Darren, Joella Foulds, co-founder of Celtic Colours International Festival, and Chad Munro, founder and CEO of Halifax Biomedical. This event took place at seven in the lounge, and about 20-30 people showed up (five UIT nerds). The panel talked about their businesses and how they came to be.

I didn’t go to the other three or so events, and as of writing this I don’t have the schedule anymore. However, the ones I did end up going to were certainly excellent learning and networking opportunities. The mentors are definitely one of the biggest things that sets UIT apart from any other tech program I’ve seen.

I vote Global Entrepreneurship Week should be monthly.

This week was Global Entrepreneurship Week, and because of that, there were tons of super cool workshops and events happening. Visitors came all the way from Arkansas to meet the UIT class: Jeff and Phyl Amerine, of Startup Junkie Consulting. Everyone got to hear some very valuable advice from Jeff, Permjot Valia, as well as the co-founder of local startup Marcato, Darren Gallop. We all learned a lot of valuable information on subjects such as mentors and company culture. There’s a particular experience I’ve been wanting to write out: why I’m glad I put myself in an awkward situation.

Presentations

We started off the week on Monday by being introduced to Jeff and Phyl, and a few of us students (Ben, Dave and myself) pitched our projects and ideas to them. Ben pitched his chat app: “Text and Paper Chat“. Dave, his company idea: “Invisible Hand”. I pitched my SaaS (Software as a Service) app I’ve just started working on. It’s a visual-based task/project management app called Vennio. It relies more on motions and gestures and visual representations than other projects in the market. Everyone did a really solid presentation, with tons of noticeable improvement. Everyone presented their idea in a way that sounded clear and natural, and it’s awesome to be able to see the progress as it’s happening!

I’m hoping my pitch seemed that way as well to others. But at the same time, I knew going into this that I would be taking my chances. This was the first time I’d pitched the idea to anyone, so it was like an experiment. I wanted to challenge myself to see how they would take to my idea. There would be nothing to really lose from giving it a shot anyway. If my idea got ripped up, so be it. It’s the early stages and I know it might not seem like an idea that’s completely solid.

"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take - Wayne Gretzky" - Michael Scott

Some solid advice from Mr Scott

Starting off strong…ish

While I was presenting, I felt pretty good – probably a 6 or 7 on the confidence meter. The only thing that bugged me was that I felt like I couldn’t get the point of my idea across in a way that represented how I felt about it, and what my goals were. 

I’ve spent a lot of time working on the programming side of things, but I didn’t really spend much time thinking about what the real incentive is for others to use the product. I mean, I have a general idea – The project is meant to be targeted towards creative and visual learners. But, I haven’t truly gravitated towards a distinct aspect of that area. I think that’s just because of how new the idea is to me. That should improve as I spend more time getting to know the project, so I’m not too worried about it.

Questions I have no idea how to answer

After the presentation however, I was asked a lot of questions which I didn’t have the answers to yet. I know for a fact that I stammered my words more than once. I have to admit the confidence level dropped to maybe a 3. When I was finished answering questions, I sat down and shook it off, because that’s what I expected to happen anyway, and being put in that awkward position will just help me in the long run.

It’s not over… ever

Anyway, going back to what I was saying, it was hard to get across what my app is, just because of how new it is to me. The experience of being put on the spot and asked difficult questions was what I was kind of hoping would happen. I knew if I were to get asked any detailed questions, it would make me uncomfortable, but I’ve heard time and time again that the only way to become comfortable is to put yourself in uncomfortable situations.

To anyone else who feels awkward stepping out of their comfort zone: Don’t even think about it. Just get it over with. It’s worth it. It won’t feel easier right away, but over time you can learn how to manage your awkwardness. That’s what I’m in the process of right now.

And so, I feel pretty proud of myself that I went up to do that.  But it’s not a one time thing, that I can just sit back and never have to think about again. I’m going to have to do this lots of times. And if I want to improve and minimise the awkward factor, I better start getting used to it…

One of the great things about UIT is that everyone who teaches you has real-life experience in the industry. In a typical university, the professors are academics who have studied the fields they’re in for many years. For a lot of subjects, that model seems to work pretty well, as the professors know quite a bit about what they’re teaching. But for some subjects, that teaching model just seems wrong. For example, look at programming and business – the two core features of the UIT program.

I know I’d definitely rather learn programming from people who practice it every day as part of their job. And I know I’d want to learn how to run a business from people who have that experience of their own! That’s why we have mentors. Not only do we get the dynamic duo of Rob and Eric every class but we also have guests come in occasionally. This week we had two separate mentors come in.

First, we got to meet Gavin Uhma. He’s the founder of this program, and the ‘U’ in the name of it. We each pitched our chat apps for him briefly as well as showed him our demos. Personally, mine didn’t go as well as I’d hoped.  I kind of rushed through it. Part of it was because I was slightly nervous. Part of it was because I was sick as a dog (which contributed to the nervousness). After the presentation I mentioned to Eric how I felt about it. After talking with him, I agreed that it’s better to do a presentation while you’re sick, than to not do it at all.

The same week we also had Gab White come to UIT to do a workshop on design. Gab is a professional web developer/designer from Halifax. In the workshop, she gave everyone some valuable insights on how to make a web page not just visually appealing, but a good experience for the user. She also showed us how to use the mockup creator, Sketch. It’s a pretty cool program I must say!

I wasn’t sure how much the class would interest me, only because of the fact that I’m much more of a programmer than a designer. When I’m working on something that has a visual interface, design sometimes gets put on the backburner. However, I found the workshop really interesting, and Gab gave a great presentation. Surprisingly, it was relieving taking a break from coding for once, which was an unexpected feeling. And thanks to the presentation, it will be easier for me to get through the design side of programming, using Sketch. Also, it will help me out in the future if I have to collaborate with a designer. I’ll be able to know where they’re coming from and put myself in their shoes better!

I prefer design to code, like I probably said in the past. I’ve been playing with Photoshop for something like 5 years or so. I really enjoyed Gab’s workshop, because it was good to learn concepts I’ve only ever done in Photoshop, and Sketch seems much quicker and easier to work with. I still have Photoshop on both my computers, but I’ve been wireframing my SaaS in sketch, which so far I’ve been really enjoying.

Sketch is super simple and intuitive. With my Photoshop experience, it was no problem to pick up over the last week or so. Gab covered the basics of website wireframing, which was quite fun to learn. She also shared a spreadsheet with her design resources which is incredibly useful to have. I think we should get more of those!

In my opinion, it was a great idea to bring in a mentor to teach a whole new aspect of the class. I think it worked really well, and just looking around the class I can see people wireframing their apps and they look a lot better than the other stuff we’ve made so far. I’m really excited to see how everyone’s website will turn out. I’m glad we had someone come in who had a background in design and really knew what she was doing.

My SaaS is going to be implemented into my chat app, so I’ve been redesigning the login, chat and the market-thingy. It’s a place where you can pay tutors to come help you with homework or any math equations you may need to figure out. So far I’ve had no issues with Sketch at all, it’s been really fun to use. One thing though, I wish the magic wand tool worked better like Photoshop in Sketch, but it really sucks.

We started learning Angular this week too. Its looks pretty neat, and I’m pretty excited to get working with it on Mathboard.