Term Paper: Leadership and Advocacy

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Counseling

Selection Committee:

Thank you for asking me to outline my philosophy and goals as a counselor. I appreciate the chance to discuss with you this field that can contribute so much to the lives of the students that it touches. Indeed, it can also be seen to contribute deeply to the lives of the counselors themselves as we are privileged to see the transformations that can occur in the lives of those with whom we work.

I would first like to address my concept of the idea of leadership. There are a number of cliches about the role of leadership, that the respect that leaders need to function effectively is something that they must learn, that leaders cannot get too far ahead of their followers, that leaders must be humble. All of these things I believe to be true. But these barely begin to help one understand what are the qualities needed for a person to become a good, solid leader.

There are dozens of different types of leadership qualities, and it often seems -- both from the literature on leadership style and from the internal critical voices that guide my own actions -- that one must choose one or another of them. The longer I have considered the nature of good leadership, however, the more that I have come to realize that there is no reason at all to limit oneself to a single model of leadership. There is no form of leadership that will serve as well in every single situation. This thus requires a leader to choose from a basket of possibilities to find the best style in any given case. Indeed, the person who struggles to be the best possible leader that she or he can be must often combine different styles of leadership in a given situation.

What I believe to be most important in this process of selecting a leadership style that I have found to be the most effective in terms of working with young people is that the combination of leadership skills that I use as a leader for young people are consonant with each other. For example, I try never to use any style of leadership that I believe to be unethical or harmful. Among these styles of leadership I would designate an autocratic style of leadership, the kind of leadership that depends on being able to lead because the leader has more power than others in the group or system. While this is an important style of leadership in many contexts, I do not believe that it is ever effective in the context of educational counseling. Indeed, I am not sure that it is truly appropriate or effective in any situation.

I do not want the young people that I work with ever to believe that the best way to be a leader is to use brute force. One of the directions in which I want to lead the students with whom I work is toward the idea that while power can get other people to do what we want, this is never leadership. A dictator does not lead: He, or she, merely propels people in a direction that the dictator chooses. This is certainly not the way in which I interact with young people.

A key aspect to my concept of leadership in the context of educational counselor is that there always has to be a fine balance between empowering students and maintaining a protective shield around them. There are membership styles in which the leader and the followers can make emotional exchanges between the two. This has been a successful strategy within the context of educational counseling, but it has to be done very carefully or the students will feel that they can take control of the situation. This may initially be exhilarating but over time it will lead students feeling exposed and vulnerable. Thus while I advocate a system in which there is a certain amount of exchange between leader and followers, the leader must always be in charge of how much and what exactly is being exchanged.

Overall, I believe that my leadership style within the context of educational counseling, is one in which I share power with my students up to the point that empowerment helps young people find the right path forward to them while at the same time creating a same space for them. I am ready at any point to step in and support students by letting them know that though they should be willing to increase autonomy and self-responsibility as they grow older, so long as they are minors they can expect adults to step in and protect and guide them.

I consider this to be a participative form of relationship because I am willing to learn along the side of my students. Indeed, I am quite sure that I would not be to see myself as an authentic or effective leader if I were not able to make myself vulnerable and open to change in the same ways in which I ask my students to do. One of the reasons that I was drawn to this profession, which is the same reason that I intend to stay in it, is that I have always considered it to be a privilege to watch others grow and develop. I have often found that being in the presence of others as they find their professional way in the world (Hill, 2009).

Also part of being an effective leader and a skilled and ethical counselor is being continually attentive to the effect that various demographic factors have as they affect the counseling relationship. Gender, race, ethnicity, religion, country of origin are among the factors that can significantly color the way in which a student "hears" what the counselor is saying. It is essential that at all times a counselor is aware of the fact that what she or he is saying or advocating may not be heard or understood in the way that it is intended.

On the most basic level, such miscommunication can exist when a male counselor offers to give a female student a hug. This offer can be made in the most innocent way and in most cases (the counselor may have found) it is indeed therapeutic and received as a caring gesture. However, in some cases, the girl may have survived sexual assaults by a man and may panic. This may be worsened if she comes from a culture in which girls are not supposed to have physical contact with unrelated men.

One must always be aware as a counselor that there is great deal that is occurring in any encounter between people that is actually occurring "outside the room." Every time two people meet, they bring to the encounter the entire pasts. One of the key tasks of a counselor is to help an individual separate the past from the present without discounting the past but at the same time allowing the individual to live in the present (Ziomek-Daigle & Christensen, 2010).

Another case in which a counselor must be attentive to the ways in which culture can affect relationships at school would be in the case of an Orthodox Jewish girl who refuses to sing "Happy Birthday" to a fellow classmate. The classmate feels slighted and Jewish child is chastised. After this the Jewish girl feels marginalized and her grades begin to fall. An educational counselor, in addition to stepping in to provide services such as providing a tutor, could also explain to the teacher and the other students in the class that Orthodox Jewish females do not sing in front of boys.

One thing that has always troubled me as a professional is that the ethics of the profession are often set aside as if they did not inform the rest of practice. This has never been the case for me nor will it ever be the case. One of the most important parts of my job, as I see it, is that once I establish a relationship with a young person then I am committed to that person for as long as she or he needs me (Duba, Paez, & Kindsvatter, 2010).

This long-term commitment to my clients brings me to another issue of mutual concern: How I see the projection of my path and professional identity going forward. In one year's time I would like to have established a good working relationship between myself and other professionals in the community. These connections are essential in allowing me to provide the necessary support and services for my clients. The concept of "wraparound" services has become a trendy one; this does not, however, mean that it is not a valid one.

One of the problems that I have seen in when observing the work of other counselors is that they feel that they can be, and indeed that they must be everything that their clients need. I believe that this concept of leadership is misguided. No… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Leadership and Advocacy.  (2012, March 14).  Retrieved May 25, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/leadership-advocacy/64018

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"Leadership and Advocacy."  Essaytown.com.  March 14, 2012.  Accessed May 25, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/leadership-advocacy/64018.