Leadership interview analysis written 9/20/2018

What does it mean to be a leader? How do you lead? These are questions everyone should ask themselves. Leadership skills are not only for politicians. It’s an effective skill useful for career progression, teamwork, and even being a parent. A great way to learn effective leadership skills is to talk to a leader you look up to. In this essay, I will be doing a leadership analysis of a respected leader and reflecting on the theoretical and practical approaches to leadership that is seen and used in a given workplace.

Cinthya Escalante is a Senior Manager at Manhattan Associates, an international software company. She was born in Costa Rica and moved to the United States at the age of 11. After finishing high school in 3 years, she decided to go back to Costa Rica for her undergraduate. With an interest in psychology and computers, she ultimately chose to major in Systems Engineering. After finishing college and missing her family, Cinthya decided to move to Atlanta where most of her family had settled down and attended a master’s program at Kennesaw State University. She faced difficulty obtaining a student visa and almost gave up, but she persisted because she wanted to challenge herself, and ultimately, she was able to attend KSU. Graduating at the age of 25 with a Master’s in Information Systems, Cinthya had an internship as a developer in a small software company. Three to four years later she came to a place when she was no longer learning. Seeking a challenge, she started looking for jobs. Immediately she was recruited and after a 4-hour interview, she was hired as a consultant 11 years ago.  As a consultant, she had more interaction with clients, which she enjoyed. Every 2 years she was promoted and now she’s working on a promotion to the director.

Working her first job as a software developer was very technical. She changed jobs and became a consultant which required more people skills, which she enjoyed. Now as a senior manager Cinthya oversees a group of consultants and her job requires more conceptual skills and less technical. This supports Katz’s (as cited in Northouse, 2019, p. 44) Three-Skill Approach which states that technical, human, and conceptual skills are all important in management but depending on the level some skills are favored over others.

When analyzing Cinthya’s leadership style I believe she utilizes a mix of situational and path-goal approaches. She compares being a leader to a psychologist, “you have to identify [how they are motivated] and get to know who you’re leading so you can do a better job at leading them” (C. Escalante, Personal Communication, September 8th, 2018). She changes leadership style towards each person based on a number of variables, stating that “Fairness does not equal equality” (C. Escalante, Personal Communication, September 8th, 2018).  She believes that you must treat your team with fairness which doesn’t necessarily mean equal. She gives an example of a great employee she had that would work hard, even the days she was sick. Although Cinthya would send her home she would stay and continue to work. On the other hand, she had an employee that would ask to work from home at the slightest hint of sickness. Knowing what’s fair doesn’t mean you have to do the same for each employee. When asked if her leadership style has changed over time she stated that because of her perfectionist nature she had to learn to trust her team (C. Escalante, Personal Communication, September 8th, 2018). When first promoted from consultant to a manager she had a more directive leadership style. She would want it done a certain way. Now she is more of a supportive, participative, and achievement-oriented leadership style. Explaining how now she identifies her followers’ strengths and weaknesses and enables them to improve by guiding them instead of just giving them the answers. She believes her method enables her team to think for themselves and gain the confidence to be a better consultant (C. Escalante, Personal Communication, September 8th 2018).

Because of globalization cross-culture communication has never been so important. Culture can affect the leadership process. Cinthya is from Costa Rica, a country in Latin America, and she spent her adolescence in the united states. According to the 2004 House & Javidan GLOBE research on culture leadership behaviors (as cited in Northouse, 2019, p. 447), Latin America “places the most importance on charismatic/value-based, team-oriented, and self-protective leadership.” The cultural influence on her leadership behavior is evident in her belief that leadership is about impacting others, helping to guide the company in a positive way, and presenting a calm demeanor in the face of adversity. She attributes her open-mindedness to her cultural background and traveling (C. Escalante, Personal Communication, September 8th, 2018).

With a global company like Manhattan Associates Cinthya’s diverse background is a positive feature of her leadership skills. Overseeing a team here and in India, to be an effective leader she must overcome ethnocentrism and have no prejudice (Northouse, 2019, p. 434). A similarity between India and Latin American culture is the emphasis on in-group collectivism, meaning they value family. She sat on a multicultural council that implemented how to work with one another, stressing the ability to be accepting.

On the topic of women in leadership, Cinthya believes that there are still some people that are prejudice but does not experience it in her work environment (C. Escalante, Personal Communication, September 8th, 2018). Her company encourages leadership in women with Women in Network (WIN) a program that addresses the challenges of leadership women face. This is all evidence that women’s leadership is starting to become more accepted. Although her company encourages women in the workplace, there is only one executive that is a woman. This could be evidence of the “glass ceiling” (Northouse, 2019, p. 404) women face in moving up the corporate ladder.

I very much enjoyed doing the interview. I can connect concepts better when I have real life examples of application. With the three skills approach I understand the practicality of management levels and how the further up in management level you go into the least technical skills are required and the more conceptual skills are required. A good understanding of people skills is always necessary in any management level. With the aspirations of being in a leadership position one day I absorb the importance of situational and path-goal leadership. These two approaches seem the most useful to me. Learning about your followers can help analyze the best leadership style for the situation and the right motivation for the person. Everyone is different, and they have different needs I believe leaders need to be conscious of to be able to work efficiently. As a first-generation American I am proud that cultural differences are encouraged in the work place and even contribute to a more accepting leadership style. I believe I’m a mix of the Latin American and Anglo cultural cluster. This could be a useful trait in an international company, like Manhattan Associates, where cross cultural communication is necessary.

In conclusion, I’d like to thank Cinthya Escalante for her time and advice. I learned which leadership approaches work best in certain situations. Support and guidance make more efficient followers. I hope to apply the information I learned to future leadership positions.

References

Northouse, P. G. (2019). Leadership: Theories and Practice (8th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

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