Being able to lead people is leadership by definition, Leadership is simply being able to influence other people in a positive way, and inspire subordinates to work hard for success of the organization (IAAP, 2009). Having this thought in mind about leaders and leadership, the first person that came into my mind as a potential to be interviewed for this assignment is one of our dear family friend, Mr. Karl Fuentes. Mr. Fuentes is of Filipino-descend but is living in the United States for quite some time. He is the manager of one of the McDonalds Store in Modesto California. McDonalds is headquartered in Oak Brook, Illinois, U.S. It is one of the largest fast food chains in the world and started its operation in 1940, and it is currently present in over 120 countries worldwide serving billions of consumer a day (Yahoo Finance, 2012). He started as a part time service crew for the store and after few years of working since he was already working full time, he got promoted as a manager of the branch.
Mr. Fuentes, now 23 is still a student at California State University and he became a manager at the age of 19. According to him, he did not expect to be promoted as a manager because he is only an immigrant. However, since God was on his side and good luck was born with him, he accepted the promotion without having second thought. According to him, the responsibilities of a service crew and a manager are can be compared to David and Goliath little and huge. As a service crew, your responsibilities was only to serve the food to the customers table, clean the store such as wiping the table and mop the floor; and sometimes, immediate person to handle customer complaints simple and linear.
However, according to Mr. Fuentes, when he became the manager, responsibilities did overwhelm him and shaken his confidence. You are the one responsible for the whole store, from inventory to management functions, to handling customer complaints and even monitoring and hitting sales quotas. You also need to assure the quality of the food, the cleanliness of the whole store as well as the marketing side of the store. All of that, you need to manage, monitor and maintain. Personally, I already have known the concepts or theories behind the responsibilities of a manager, but seeing the facial and bodily expression of Mr. Fuentes, I came to realize that it really isnt easy. There are a lot of sacrifices you need to do to cope with the duties and responsibilities of being a manager or as the leader in the store.
Well, before going deeper into personal experiences of Mr. Fuentes, I asked his opinion on the word Leader. In the back of my mind, I was thinking actually that he will go into deep explanation like theories from books, or any other materials. I didnt expect that his answers will be A leader should be a good follower and an active listener. This sentence is extremely a clich, but after he expounds his answer, like a leader should need to follow rules so his subordinate should follow him as well, I came to realize that a clich will never be a clich if its not true, or if it has not worked for many. Another question that pops out my mind after hearing his answer was also a clich question A leader is born or made? As expected, the answer was also a clich it can be both depending on the reference point. It can also be due to some luck, which made both of us laugh. Yes. It is true. I had also this opportunity to ask him if how would he differentiated a leader from others and if he believes that certain characteristics are needed to become a leader.
According to him, a leader is someone who is willing to listen to others opinion and but is actively participating on the tasks, discussion or problem solving. From the experts point of view, there is no specific characteristic that is required in order to be named as leader its just being true to you and being able to discern whats good or bad for your people and company. What I enjoyed in the whole part of interview was when he revealed the challenges he had undergone as a leader and the strategy he used to overcome such challenge. As according to him, in every level of the organization, there is always a challenge. It just so happened that the challenges passed on managers or leaders are really big as compared to low level employees. When he told me his toughest challenge so far which is to maintain the legacy of the store he is managing, and his strategy engaging everyone in idea generation, planning and implementation has inspired me and I have seen his sincere as well as passionate side as a leader. Though it was simple, his effective leadership has made the big difference.
When asked regarding his approached on leadership and management of his branch, he just cant utter an appropriate word to describe his style. According to him, it was actually combination of different styles, but he personally set the goal to become a charismatic-visionary leader while being a leader by objectives. By definition, a charismatic-visionary leader is someone that influences his people though a single vision (Goleman, Daniel, 2000, p-82-83) and the style is basically engaging the people to work with him. Leadership or management by objective is somehow similar to visionary only that the style is more directed to betterment of the people, fulfilling the pre-assigned objectives as well as coaching people in the workplace (Goleman, Daniel, 2000, p-82-83). Having said that, I suddenly remembered a scenario where in we had a dinner together few years back and someone asked him if who was his inspiration as a person, then he said, Nelson Mandela. Indeed, when I asked him if who was his inspiration as a leader, he named the same person.
According to him, Nelson Mandela is one of the best examples of a charismatic-visionary leader as he was able to move people by one Vision, which is to help the country to move forward, lessening the poverty and eliminating racism. Such attitude and vision like giving your whole self to save the country have inspired a lot of people and has led him to be the first South African leader to be elected via a democratic election (The Nobel Foundation, 1993). By then, there are a lot of things running on my mind just by observing him, listening to his intelligent answers, jokes, and his non-verbal actions. Before the start of the interview, my connotation of a leader is always serious, task oriented with stern appearance and the like, however, while doing the interview, I came to realize that my connotation before was very bookish as they say. Leaders are still human and are able to laugh, joke around and sometimes, act childish. Indeed, I was partly wrong back then.
Being inspired by the answers of Mr. Fuentes to my simple questions, I did not pass the chance to ask for some advice on how to be an effective leader. His advice was, just be you, lead by example, know how to listen to your members and of course, respect others opinion. As time goes by, the interview also went on, and I must say that I really learned a lot from him. I came to realize that a leader has this charisma that when he speaks, you are drive to listen to whatever it is. It was like being mesmerized to what he has achieved in life and at the same time, I was inspired to be somehow like him. The overview interview went smoothly as expected and also filled with humour, which did contribute to my learning subconsciously. I truly learned a lot from the leadership interview and I gained knowledge not only on textbook but from the expert himself which is a very overwhelming experience in my part. I must say that learning from the textbook and articles about leadership is really not enough.
Books, and other printed sources will only help you understand the concept of leadership especially on the theory part, but it leaves you the thinking or imagine what a leader would really be like. Therefore, the formulation of a leader image depends on the use of words written and dependent on the persons creative imagination. We should keep in mind that there is no perfect person, and since our backgrounds are diverse, we might interpret a single word differently, thus, our connotation of the word leader, leadership and management also varies.
Though they mind be the basis for some, readings, textbooks and articles are only a guide in defining the concept of leader, leadership and management, also, since it is based on majority or most leaders really posses this attitude, it may then become a standard qualification for the concept. However, we must keep in mind that each leader or person is exposed to different stimuli and reacts differently under certain circumstances, therefore, in order to know the traits of a leader, it is better to consult a leader itself and witness with your own eyes the qualities that he/she possess as a leader. Thus, this experience of being able to interview a true leader in his field or designation, made me witness the real persona of a leader the way he act, the coolness when he answers the questions and the substance of every word that came out in his mind.
* Goleman, Daniel,. (March-April 2000). Leadership that Gets Results. Harvard Business Review, p. 82-83. * IAAP. (April 28, 2009). Leadership Theories and Styles. 2009 Administrative Professionals Week, 1-5. * McDonalds. (2010-2013). McDonalds: Our History. Retrieved from mcdonalds.com: http://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en/our_story/our_history.html * The Nobel Foundation. (1993). Nelson Mandela Biography. Retrieved from Nobelprize.org: http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1993/mandela-bio.html * Ricketts, K. G. (2009). Leadership vs. Management. UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY COLLEGE OF AGRICULTURE.
Interview Questions and Answers:
1. Please introduce you, current job and position.
Im Karl Fuentes and I am a manager of one of the McDonalds branch in Modesto California. 2. What are your lines of responsibilities in the company? I started as a service crew at the restaurant, and got promoted as a manager few years ago. My lines of responsibilities from a service crew and as a manager are really different. Working as a service crew, I just need to get the order from the kitchen, and then deliver it to the customer, clean the table and the place. As simple as it sound, isnt it? However, now being a manager, my responsibilities have become bigger which does not only concerns you but the whole branch as well from employees performance, to sales, to inventories, customer complaints, and a lot more. As a manager, you need to coordinate all the functions which really need a lot of effort. 3. In your own opinion, what is a leader?
For me, as a leader, you also need to be a good follower. You need to follow rules and regulations set by the company and act in accordance to that rules. A leader also needs to be a good listener. A leader needs to listen to his subordinates not only to resolve the problems or glitches right away based on fair judgment and also to solicit opinion from them. Through listening to subordinates or people around you, you will learn a lot like from their own experiences and stuffs like that. Thus, in order to understand each and every one, you need to listen to them first. 4. Whats your stand on this issue, A leader is Born or Made? Wow. What a clich question. Well, Ive came across this question often times even when I was in school. My personal opinion for that point is actually, it can be both. There are leaders in our society who were born as leaders meaning, the leader lineage in their family is very evident. In simple sense, being leaders runs in their blood.
However, there are also leaders in our society or even in school that were just made as leader. The reason also varies from person to person. It may be influenced by their peers, level of education, innate passion or just luck. Let me give you an example, Mark Zuckerburg is the CEO of Apple right? What is his status before becoming a leader of a multi-billion company? Isnt it that he was just an a weirdo student at Harvard who often locked in his room, go to classes, drinks beer with his friends and the like? Hes just a typical Harvard Student. Who would have thought that he will be a well-known CEO in the future? In my opinion he is one of the examples of people who have become leader by luck.
Though he is really an intelligent guy, his intelligence isnt enough to achieve the stop where he is now. In my opinion, it was actually out of luck that the website he developed became a hit. 5. How would you differentiate a leader from a bystander, a follower, an initiator or an outspoken person? Leader is someone who listens, take part or participate in a forum, discussion and the like. Bystanders are people who always on the side, though they are physically present, they themselves are mentally absent. Followers are those people who always follow someone without complain. Initiators are the ones who initiate the thought but are unable to finish it. Outspoken are those people who are just talking endlessly without considering others opinion.
6. From your own experience, what are the challenges of being a leader? Are there also opportunities of being a leader what are those? Being a leader is no joke. You need to think less of yourself and think more of others. In our store, its inevitable that there are always conflicts between subordinates, shortage in inventory, deficit in sales and a lot of customer complaints. As the manager of the store, you are expected to face these challenges and solve it in any means. What I did was, to hear each side of the coin and plan the action. Planning comes first as it directs the implementation to a clear and single line.
A leader does not always face negative circumstances, sometimes; it allows you to discover other things that you yourself cannot imagine that you can do it. If you are a leader, you have subordinates, thus, tasks assigned will be done faster because there are a lot of brains working. You can also express yourself well as you do a lot of coordination, talking and mediating. Leaders really offer a lot of opportunities for a person. 7. In your own experience, what was the most difficult obstacle or challenges you have faced as a leader ad how you were able to resolve it? In all McDonalds store, there is actually that competition every year ends on being the Most Outstanding Store in the area. Before my team, our store was always the winner.
During my leadership, there are actually lots of hardship that the store had undergone including fiscal crisis, lots of worker lay-offs, and others which have threaten the sale of the store. It was November then when I and my team realized that we might fall short on the qualification criteria since our sales is not peaking up. As a leader, what I did was, after shift, I gathered my team and discussed possible turn-around strategy that we could do for the store to spike up the sales. I solicited opinions from each of my members and they all contributed their own ideas. After hearing each opinion, we have grouped alike opinions into one category and categorized it according to objectives. Then, each of us chose the best idea and the idea that gathered most of the votes were the one implemented. Luckily, the promotion or strategy that we have implemented did really help us to qualify for the award and later on, won the award. So I guess the best strategy that I did as a leader was soliciting ideas from my members and make them feel that they are part of the company, so, we need to go hand in hand to solve the problem.
8. Are there any special traits, abilities or knowledge that a person should possess in order to become a leader? I dont think there is. Everyone can be a leader in their own ways. 9. Personally, what are your Philosophies towards leadership and management? Basically, I dont really have those Philosophies when it comes to leadership and management topic. I just do what I think and my members are right as long as it will be beneficial for the store. 10. Im sure you are aware of the management or leadership styles, of all, what do you think are your leadership style? How? Yes. I am aware of it. Me? I actually dont know my leadership styles but since then I am trying really hard to become charismatic-visionary leader and a management by objective at the same time. 11. Having experienced being a follower and a leader, which do you think is the most convenient to your lifestyle or attitude? For me, I guess, it is becoming a leader. Its not because of the power or authority I have acquired of becoming a leader, but a sense of responsibility that I have acquired. I have always been very independent since and according to people around me I am very responsible. I am mindful of my actions and can become a perfectionist at the same time.
12. Is there a specific leader that you look up to? Who and Why? When a word Leader is mentioned, theres this one person that immediately pops out of my mind Nelson Mandela. He is very charismatic leader and down to earth. He has vision for his country and was able to revive the spirit of his countrymen. I guess, those qualities has made me more curious about him and in the end, I became his fan. 13. Lastly, what would you advise me so that I would become an effective leader as you are? Advise as a leader? Hmmm. I dont really have any. But I guess, to become an effective leader, you should know how to listen to other peoples opinion, Motivate people to work hard because you yourself are working hard. Generally, live as an example. You should act, look and think like a leader for others to respect and follow your orders.