Leadership Interview

The leader I have chosen to interview is my mother Vickie Palky. I chose her for the interview because she has demonstrated to me numerous times in the past that she can lead well. She was a manager at Norton Labs which was a laboratory in Lincoln out by the airport at the time. She started this position at the company when she was 19 years old back in 1973. What the laboratory would do was preform autoclave on pieces of material, which would remove all of the bacteria from the object. She demonstrated to me how the machines would work there and that some of the tasks for her position were to train other employees to use the machines correctly. One of the techniques required the user of the machine to raise the temperature of the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit at 15 psi for 15 minutes. This practice was mainly to sterilize medical equipment such as pipettes and other tools, so sterilization was key to reach in order to not endanger the future user of the equipment by not being sterilized. Being only 19 years old and having that amount of responsibility on your hands does require a high level of leadership since the task at hand was very important towards other peoples’ health and because other people are doing the task for her. Maintaining the workplace process at the laboratory was very crucial in her position. If one of her workers did not follow the necessary guidelines above to completely sterilize the object, the company could get sued for it. Since she was the manager at the time she would have gotten in trouble for the mistake and not the worker doing the procedure. Vickie explained to me in that certain position, it worked better for her to explain the entire process of what was going on to the employee. What she meant by that was telling the employee her unique situation where if something were to go wrong, like stated above, she would get in trouble and probably lose her position. Vickie said that it works much better when she would work with people toward a task versus just telling that employee what to do. The example here that Vickie told me does further make me think that she is a very good leader since she explained to me that, even at the age of 19, she could work well with people even in a more serious situation like this. And that she realized that informing the employee of the entire situation between her and the worker would create a more efficient workplace environment versus traditional tell people what to do because I am your boss workplace environment.

She was also self-employed throughout her career including owning a tanning salon and owning and running her own cleaning business. When I was very young her occupation used to be cleaning houses for clients. She was completely self-employed and everything that was scheduled, accounted for, or completed all was in her hands. She never had a manager, an accountant, or a marketing team it was all on her own. It would require great leadership and responsibility to do something like that for 15 years and be able to live off of it having 5 kids. I am the youngest out of her five. Another woman from a town about ten minutes away was retiring from cleaning houses at the time which sparked an idea from Vickie that would maybe get into a possible customer database for her new cleaning business. This was back in 1994 so the internet was not popular at all to get a customer base so she knew this woman in the other town would be a good idea to consider. Ronda was the woman from the neighboring town and Vickie did not know her very well but she knew of her and Vickie heard about the situation and looked in the phone book for Ronda’s number. Vickie called Ronda and Ronda agreed to give Vickie her customer database since she was retired already and did still care about her ex-clients’ houses remaining clean. Vickie informed me that she never did advertise after that database acquirement, just word of mouth expanded her customer database. She demonstrated great leadership by respecting that she was in another person’s house and that she was working with other peoples’ items and belongings. She mentioned again that she had to be the leader out of the company because she was the only person in it. There was no one else around to discipline her or help her in any way including the task at hand and the accounting of the company. Even outside of the workplace she had to maintain her reputation as a good human being since she would run into her clients even outside of their homes.

Vickie talked about how leadership in the virtual world also is very important for anyone to know in the business world. She used to own a tanning salon up until last year. Most of her client business was in person however she would network with other companies that she would order from over the phone and over e-mail. Throughout her seven years owning the business she purchased three tanning beds all from different companies. Most of her research was done online but she also called and e-mailed the companies for more information. Vickie mentioned that in an e-mail, everything needs to be spelled correctly and formatted correctly. She also said to keep the e-mail short since longer e-mails made it seem more like spam for the other user. Over the phone, Vickie said that she could talk more about her day or how the other person is doing but also just to keep it simpler and to the point. Phone calls not being as short as e-mails but still much shorter of a conversation than in person.

Vickie also had given me some advice for people communicating in the virtual world which was to establish trust with the user, both in e-mails and phone calls. Without trust, Vickie said that it may seem like spam or a possible racketeering scam. Establishing trust would maybe include informing the other user that your company has been in business for so many years or that you have a certain number of clients and prove that information in some way. Vickie mentioned creating contracts between people during a purchase like when she bought her second tanning bed that she made sure she had a contract that stated not only what the warranty was but that it would get shipped and installed completely free within a certain time. The company was out of Miami and they had to have it shipped and installed within 30 days, which they followed through on. The contract established trust between Vickie’s company and the bed manufacturing company. Vickie also had given me advice on making sure that you are not wasting the other person’s time and have a point for both you and the other party in the conversation. She said in-person networking can be less direct and less serious since you and the other party are sharing a moment together or hanging out you could say. But over the phone or via e-mail, you and the other party are not chilling or hanging out at all she said. That other person could possibly read the e-mail when something serious just happened in his or her life. In person, you could sense that he or she is not in the best mood but over the phone or via e-mail you must be more to the point to establish a good connection a higher percentage of the time.

Reflecting the information from Vickie towards the text book, she used the situational approach towards her employees when she managed at Norton Labs. This included the path-goal theory when she motivated her employees to perform the task correctly to enhance their satisfaction and performance by informing them what would happen if they didn’t do their job correctly and make sure the objects were completely sterilized. She also used the contingency theory by converging both the employee’s and her situation at the laboratory. Vickie let her workers know the variables of the task in order to best inform every one of the current situation.

The leadership that Vickie has are the styles of leadership that I would like to practice also. I am a fan of the situational approach since it is a very adaptive approach to leadership. What works for a certain person may be different than what will work for another person, creating a necessity to adapt to the unique situation that needs to be lead. Another approach that I like is the relational approach because it focuses on building a relationship between the members. Vickie used this towards her clients in her cleaning business by communicating to them professionally both in person and over the phone to inform and double-check that everyone is on the same page towards the task. I plan to use the relationship approach greatly throughout my career because it is important to create long lasting relationships when you network in order to create further communication in the future.

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